Theatre

Being uncle Topol

By John Nathan, June 20, 2008

The iconic Israeli actor is to take on a caddish father-figure role in London. So what happens to that inner Fiddler that has defined his career?

Chaim Topol is singing. To make a point about a lyric, he wants to get to a particular line in a particular song which, when he sings it on stage this summer, will induce sighs of fond recognition in some, and stony disapproval in others. “Thank heaven for little girls…” He is singing sotto voce so as not to attract attention in the Maida Vale café, not far from his West London apartment.

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Review: Afterlife

By John Nathan, June 13, 2008


Lyttelton, National Theatre, London SE1

Michael Frayn’s new play is stalked by mortality. It comes in the form of Death, the character in the morality play-within-a-play staged by Frayn’s hero, Jewish impresario Max Reinhardt, creator of the Salzburg Festival. And mortality is also present in the form of Muller, the Austrian Everyman, a sinister presence as Reinhardt’s success is matched by that of the Nazis.

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Review: Golda's Balcony

By John Nathan, June 13, 2008


Shaw Theatre, London NW1

It is not hard to see why Tovah Feldshuh received a Tony nomination on Broadway.

It is the Yom Kippur War and Feldshuh’s croaky-voiced Golda Meir cuts a lonely figure puffing on endless cigarettes and grappling with military and moral dilemmas.

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Review: The Revenger's Tragedy

By John Nathan, June 13, 2008


Olivier, National Theatre, London SE1

Although Middleton’s 1606 tragedy centres on one man who is driven to avenge his mistress’s murder, this is a play where many are out to get even. Melly Still’s modern-dress production straddles both 17th and 21st centuries with techno music and voluptuous Renaissance imagery. The revolving set reveals corridors of conspiracy and a debauched court populated with hedonists.

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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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Enjoy musicals? Watch this man

By Benjamin Wolf, June 6, 2008

Alexander Bermange went abroad to get his break as a musical-theatre composer. But there are signs that he is going to be as big in the West End as he is in Frankfurt

The world of musicals — glamorous on the outside, competitive and demanding on the inside — is not always an easy place to be. To succeed there, you need passion, drive, luck and at least a modicum of talent. Alexander Bermange appears to have all these qualities. Born in 1976, he wrote his first musical, Nessie, in 1994, at the age of 17.

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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: 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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