Theatre

Review: Imagine This

By John Nathan, November 20, 2008

Rarely, if ever, have more doubts been expressed about a show before its world premiere. Doubts about the wisdom of opening a musical with an unfamiliar score in a recession; doubts about whether a largely non-Jewish audience will take to a story with Jewish heroes; but most of all, doubts about whether it is in good taste to set a musical in Warsaw's Jewish ghetto in 1942 with the Holocaust as the background.

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Review: Ordinary Days

By John Nathan, November 13, 2008

If, like me, you are partial to American musicals and view the presence of annoyingly self-regarding New York neurotics as a price worth paying to hear some decent songs, then give composer Adam Gwon a chance.

You will have to forgive that he has directed his talents to creating a New York cliché populated by characters who hang out at the Metropolitan Museum and who might not make it as a couple (yawn) or as friends (is that the time?). But wait.

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Review: Rank

By John Nathan, November 13, 2008

Two of the most enjoyable plays at the most politically committed venue in the country have had nothing to do with politics. Conclude from that what you will, but the Tricycle has not hosted a show so deserving of hit status since The 39 Steps, which for the past two years has gone on to enjoy success in the West End and on Broadway.

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Review: Gethsemane

By John Nathan, November 13, 2008

David Hare's latest play arrives amid a rash of disclaimers and denials. There is even a whiff of affidavit in the programme note, in which Hare says his play is drawn from "public events" yet is a work of "pure fiction". The words "eat", "have" and "cake" come to mind.

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Why our ‘Holocaust’ musical is not offensive

By John Nathan, November 6, 2008

The headlines are calling it a Holocaust musical, a phrase so loaded with bad taste that it immediately conjures images of Springtime For Hitler, the show in Mel Brooks' The Producers created to guarantee Broadway failure.

But headlines can be misleading. Imagine This, which began previewing at the New London Theatre this week, is a musical. And true, its story, which takes place in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942, is, of course, set against the background of the Holocaust.

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Review: La Cage Aux Folles

November 6, 2008

Playhouse Theatre, London WC2

VWhile DV8 delivers its serious message about gay rights at the National, this revival of Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein's musical handles the same theme with a much lighter touch. It is yet another transfer from the Menier Chocolate Factory, the tiny South London powerhouse that scooped the Olivier awards with its revival of Sunday in the Park With George.

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Review: To Be Straight With You

By John Nathan, November 6, 2008

Lyttelton, National Theatre, London SE1

DV8's dance piece makes a strong case to refine an old adage - that a society should be judged by how it treats its minorities.

Eighty-five people living in the UK were asked about their attitudes towards religion and homosexuality. It is these voices, many of them homophobic, some of them belonging to the victims of homophobia, that with varying degrees of success DV8's dancers translate into movement.

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Review: Lucky Seven

By John Nathan, November 6, 2008

Hampstead Theatre, London NW3

There is a powerful poignancy in watching a child's hope morph into an adult's disappointment. But poignancy is a quality conspicuously absent from Alexis Zegerman's comedy.

Inspired by Seven Up!, the television series that famously documented the lives of several people from their childhood, this cleverly constructed play leaps back and forth between its characters' early adulthood and middle-age.

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Review: Rue Magique

By John Nathan, October 30, 2008

Kings Head, London N1

There is no such thing as an unsuitable subject for a musical - whether it is the Holocaust (which is the background to the forthcoming Imagine This) or child prostitution, the subject of Brett Kahr's debut musical.

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Review: Faces in the Crowd

By John Nathan, October 30, 2008

Royal Court Upstairs, London SW1

It happened with 9/11, now its happening with the credit crunch. In the wake of world shattering events, every other play in relatively closeted theatre-land suddenly seems informed by crisis. So is Leo Butler's raw two-hander the first credit-crunch play?

It reunites Dave (Con O'Neill) with his wife, Joanne (Amanda Drew), 10 years after he abandoned her and their debt-ridden, materialistic existence in Sheffield.

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