Theatre

Review: I Am Yusuf And This Is My Brother

By John Nathan, January 28, 2010

There are a lot of plays about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a subject that exercises playwrights across the political spectrum and the theatrical landscape, from the top of the establishment to the fringiest agitprop.

So many offerings are there in fact, you would think that a major season would have sprung up by now. Such an event might allow audiences who seek out one perspective to be exposed to another.

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Review: The Little Dog Laughed

By John Nathan, January 28, 2010

What fun. And what paradoxes are exposed when a ruthless lesbian Hollywood agent (Tamsin Greig) attempts to hide the sexuality of her gay client (Rupert Friend) so that he can land the role of a gay – yes, gay – character in a breakthrough movie.

The point so eloquently made by Douglas Carter Beane’s cracking little comedy on Hollywood hypocrisy — and so wittily expressed by Greig’s megalomaniacal Diane — is that for a straight actor to take on a gay character is brave, whereas for a gay actor, it’s more like bragging.

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When a Jew loves an Arab

By John Nathan, January 21, 2010

So vast and varied is London theatre that sometimes it throws up unplanned seasons on its own, with no controlling hand. Plays about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict abound. Well, there are a few.

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Review: Six Degrees of Separation

By John Nathan, January 21, 2010

The title refers to the notion that no more than six people connect any two individuals on the planet. Whether it is the Queen and an Inuit fisherman or, as in John Guare’s still-relevant 1990 play, a black hustler called Paul and the wealthy New York couple into whose life he inveigles himself by pretending to be the sophisticated, highly educated son of the Hollywood actor Sidney Poitier.

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Review: Legally Blonde

By John Nathan, January 14, 2010

This is the popular Broadway musical version of the famous film that was based on the American novel that nobody had heard of.

It appears a pattern has formed. Legally Blonde arrives in London hardish on the heels of Sister Act, another musical version of a Hollywood comedy.

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Review: The Lady Or The Tiger

By John Nathan, January 7, 2010

Michael Richmond’s and Nola York’s quirky little musical made its debut at the Orange Tree in 1975 and, judging by this revival, overreached and overachieved when it transferred to the Fortune Theatre in the West End.

Perhaps it became a victim of its own success. The show built up quite a following when it first appeared. Queues went around the block when the block was the pub in whose upstairs room founding Orange Tree artistic director Sam Walters set up shop in 1971. These days the venue has its own building over the road.

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A shtetl wedding on the trapeze

By Simon Round, December 30, 2009

Think of acrobats, jugglers and clowns in Eastern Europe and the image that comes to mind is the Moscow State Circus.

However, there is a show coming to London which uses traditional circus skills in a new context — a unique cultural fusion called Circus Klezmer. The performers use circus tricks to tell the story of a wedding in an Eastern European shtetl, to the accompaniment of klezmer music. And if all that is not culturally fused enough, all the parts and instruments are played by a cast from the Spanish Catalan region.

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Review: Rope

By John Nathan, December 29, 2009

I admit to a rush of guilty pleasure when it was announced that the Almeida had chosen Rope for its seasonal offering. It arrived with childhood flashbacks of a Sunday afternoon in front of the telly gripped by the Hitchcock film and enthralled — and appalled — by the ruthlessness of the conceit, that killing can be a creative act, and that murder can be a civilising influence.

I would have been even more fascinated had I known that the film was based, via Patrick Hamilton’s play, on real events.

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Review: Misanthrope

By John Nathan, December 22, 2009

Two lessons were learned during one of the biggest opening nights of the year. One was that Keira Knightley is a very good actor; the other is that Martin Crimp’s modern London version of Molière’s comedy has less to say about today’s facile obsession with celebrity and status than the 17th-century Parisian original.

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Review: Red

By John Nathan, December 22, 2009

John Logan’s two-hander focuses on the dilemma faced by Jewish artist Mark Rothko over accepting a commission to paint murals for a restaurant. Has he sold out or not? Alfred Molina glowers splendidly as the troubled artist but it is Eddie Redmayne as his questioning helper who shines.

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