Theatre

Review: Hannah and Martin

By John Nathan, June 6, 2008


The Courtyard Theatre, London N1

One of the fainter blips on the fringe radar is host to a terrific production of a remarkably confident debut by American writer Kate Fodor.

Central to her biographical work is the affair between two of Germany’s great 20th-century thinkers. One is Martin Heidegger, the philosopher who flourished under the Nazis, giving the barbarians a veneer of intellectual credibility. The other is Hannah Arendt, his Jewish student who would later carve her own formidable reputation.

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Review: Topless Mum

By John Nathan, June 6, 2008


Tricycle Theatre, London NW6

When Annie (Emma Lowndes) offers her tabloid editor Kyle (Giles Fagan) proof that Afghani prisoners have been tortured by British soldiers, the focus of the story is about exposing atrocity. When the photo evidence, supplied by a wounded squadie (Alistair Wilkinson) and his savvy, chavvy wife (Louise Kempton) is revealed as fake, it becomes about a war hero who seeks to expose the harsh realities faced by his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan.

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Review: Rosmersholm

By John Nathan, June 6, 2008


Almeida Theatre, London N1

In Ibsen’s bleak play, Rosmersholm — or the house of Rosmer — is a place where, for generations of influential Rosmers, “children do not cry, nor do they laugh when they grow up”.

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Review: The Common Pursuit

By John Nathan, June 6, 2008


Menier Chocolate Factory, London SE1

This 25-year-old, quietly moving comedy about personal and intellectual idealism is a surprise choice for a venue gorging on the success of big musicals. Gray’s remote world is populated by four Cambridge graduates whose intellectual integrity is embodied by their uncompromising magazine, The Common Pursuit.

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Review: Fat Pig

By John Nathan, May 30, 2008


Trafalgar Studios , London SW1A 2DY

Sometimes you become so conscious of a production, you can hardly see the play. This is one of those times.

It features four British comedy stars — ok, not stars, but three famous, one not so famous faces, who have been cast in this play mainly because of their TV appearances — and America’s hottest playwright. Well, not as hot as he was, but still, one of the best of his generation.

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Review: The Pitmen Painters

By John Nathan, May 30, 2008

 
Cottesloe, National Theatre, London SE1

Lee Hall is alive to the guilty, middle-class pleasure of watching the working classes broaden their cultural horizons. So in his comedy — partly fictional but mostly factual, about the coalminers of the pit town of Ashington, whose paintings became an art movement of the ’30s and ’40s — middle-class patronising attitudes get it with both barrels.

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Review: Pygmalion

By John Nathan, May 30, 2008


Old Vic, London SE1

The Old Vic’s Kevin Spacey said Peter Hall’s Bath production “had to be seen in London”. But he would say that, wouldn’t he, especially because Spacey was looking to fill the hole left by Sam Mendes’s cancelled Hamlet and The Tempest. He was right: Hall’s terrific production is anchored by Tim Piggot-Smith’s Professor Higgins and sent soaring by Michelle Dockery’s firstly sour, then serene Eliza Doolittle. (Tel: 0870 060 6628)

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Review: That Face

By John Nathan, May 23, 2008

 

Duke of York’s Theatre, London WC2

I did not see Polly Stenham’s debut play about a posh dysfunctional family when it appeared last year at the Royal Court. But I suspect that this transfer from the Court’s tiny theatre upstairs — where the audience would have felt the full impact of the play’s sordid scenes — to the Duke of York’s larger stage, where Jeremy Herrin’s production has been endowed with West End production values, has resulted in a case of more is less.

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Review: Marguerite

By John Nathan, May 23, 2008

Theatre Royal Haymarket, London SW1

The best part of two acts is a long time to wait to start caring about a show’s main characters. One of them is the eponymous Marguerite — powerfully played by Ruthie Henshall — a chanteuse and courtesan of a Nazi officer in occupied Paris. The other is Julian Ovenden’s infatuated Armand, the piano man in a jazz quartet with whom Marguerite falls in love.

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Review: The Good Soul Of Szechuan

By John Nathan, May 23, 2008

 

The Young Vic, London SE1

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