Theatre

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: 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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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: Beau Jest

By John Nathan, May 16, 2008

Hackney Empire, London E8

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Review: Henry VI Parts I, II, and III; Richard III

By John Nathan, May 16, 2008

Roundhouse, London NW1

“I want to get the complete set of stickers,” said the man queuing for a pint of lager in the Roundhouse’s foyer. You get no sticker for each of Shakespeare’s eight history plays, but he makes the point well. This rare RSC eight-play cycle, which starts with Jonathan Slinger’s camp-as-Christmas Richard II and ends with his chillingly psychotic Richard III, leaves you with a hugely satisfying sense of completion.

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Review: The Birthday Party

By John Nathan, May 16, 2008

Lyric Hammersmith, London W6

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Review: What A State

By Bernard Josephs, May 16, 2008

Hampstead Town Hall, London NW3

Hard-line socialists and radical chic Hampsteadites are not known for their sense of humour. The world is just too serious a place for mirth, and the situation in the Middle East in particular is no laughing matter.

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Review: Israel 60 Gala Show

By Alex Kasriel, May 16, 2008

Wembley Arena, London

The organisers sold the event using Jackie Mason’s name as a draw, but in reality the audience Israel 60 Gala Show got a lot more excited about a lesser known performer on the night.

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