Theatre

Review: A Little Night Music

By John Nathan, December 11, 2008

It could hardly be said that Trevor Nunn, whose illustrious career includes stints as artistic director of both the National Theatre and the RSC, needs a comeback. But make no mistake, after his previous musical — the awful Gone With the Wind (conspicuously absent from the list of Nunn productions in the programme biography for his latest offering) — Nunn needed this one.

And with this beautiful revival of Stephen Sondheim’s haunting homage to Ingmar Bergman’s film about lovers suspended in a twilight zone of Swedish nights and unfulfilling relationships, Nunn is back on form.

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Review: I Found My Horn

By John Nathan, December 4, 2008

Jasper Rees has joined the Toby Young brand of writing by turning himself into a show. Directed by Harry Burton, his one-man tale is set in post-divorce midlife crisis, the antidote to which is the French horn Rees blew as a boy. Jonathan Guy Lewis plays Rees, and the quirky characters he encounters on his way to redemption, with dishevelled charm.

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Review: Wig Out!

By John Nathan, December 4, 2008

Tarell Alvin McCraney’s latest offering is populated by style-obsessed transvestites — and is a case of style over substance. Family is McCraney’s theme, but I left Dominic Cooke’s traverse stage production with the lesson that as a subject viewed in isolation from the wider world, sexuality is just not very interesting.

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Review: In A Dark Dark House

By John Nathan, December 4, 2008

Neil LaBute’s latest offering, sensitively directed by Michael Attenborough, is partly autobiographical. Security guard Terry (David Morrissey) is the estranged older brother to the rich and annoyingly immature ex-lawyer Drew (Steven Mackintosh).

Drew needs Terry to testify to the child abuse they suffered at the hands of a summer-camp leader as mitigation for Drew’s driving misdemeanour.

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Review: August: Osage County

By John Nathan, December 4, 2008

Tracy Letts’s riveting family saga, written for Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, has won a hatful of awards. And it is easy to see why. Letts is the latest chronicler of the American dysfunctional family. Where his drama fails to deliver the emotional punch of, say, O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night, it compensates with pitch-dark humour.
The disappearance of the Westons’ alcoholic patriarch triggers a 10-strong family gathering spearheaded by his three lovelorn adult daughters. All have come to support their prescription pill-popping mother, Violet.

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Review: The Tragedy Of Thomas Hobbes

By John Nathan, November 27, 2008

Look hard enough and there is an instructive history play here. Unfortunately it is contained within Adriano Shaplin's rambling epic which has been cut to over three hours. Yes, cut.

Two thirds of that time would have been enough to focus on the fascinating themes uncovered by Shaplin's research, the most promising of which is how scientific experiment served as entertainment in the 17th century, when Oliver Cromwell closed the theatres.

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Review: Eddie Izzard - Stripped

By John Nathan, November 27, 2008

There is probably no easier target for a comedian than God. According to Eddie Izzard, if God existed he would have come down during the Nuremberg rallies and decapitated Hitler with a flick of his finger.

"Did Leni Riefenstahl catch that on camera?"

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Review: The Family Reunion

By John Nathan, November 27, 2008

This spooky verse drama makes for an uncertain centrepiece to the Donmar's T S Eliot festival. The play's ingredients - an English aristocratic country house; a confession of murder; even the arrival of a policeman bearing bad news - all bring to mind the pot-boiler.

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Review: In The Balance

By John Nathan, November 20, 2008

What would happen if the outcome of the American election rested on the vote of one man who had forgotten to vote? And what would happen if that man was Larry Bloom (David Burt), a none-too-bright low-rent Jewish crooner from Florida?

According to co-writers John Steinberg and (director) Ray Kilby, who have set their fitfully entertaining comedy in the near future, a press pack would doorstep Bloom's home and the crucial vote would be cast on live television in his living-room. All of which I can quite well believe.

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Review: Treasure Island

By John Nathan, November 20, 2008

These days, piracy is a word most likely to be used by copyright lawyers. Yet as Ken Ludwig's new stage adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic swashbuckler took to the stage, a real- life pirate drama was unfolding off the coast of Somalia with the hijacking of a Saudi oil tanker. But if the show is anything to go by, the least interesting of all kinds of pirate activity is the old-fashioned, skull-and-cross-bones kind.

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