Review: They're Playing Our Song

By John Nathan, August 8, 2008

Menier Chocolate Factory, London SE1

This 1978 New York musical was written by and about the Oscar-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch and lyricist Carole Bayer Sager, with a wise-cracking book by Neil Simon.

Connie Fisher plays eccentric lyricist Sonia (based on Sager) opposite Alistair McGowan's egocentric composer Vernon (based on Hamlisch, though looking remarkably like Jason Robert Brown).


Review: Under The Blue Sky

By Jenni Frazer, August 1, 2008

Duke of York's Theatre, London WC2

More than 100 years ago, Arthur Schnitzler's play La Ronde explored the idea of interlinking the love lives of several couples in a series of connecting scenes.

Now David Eldridge has taken Schnitzler's format and brought it into the present day with Under the Blue Sky, in which we learn about new loves, no loves, and old loves, rather improbably linked together by the fact that the three couples involved are all teachers.


Review: Moonlight And Magnolias

By John Nathan, August 1, 2008

Tricycle Theatre, London NW6

Since Ron Hutchinson's play made its UK premiere at the Tricycle last year, the ill-conceived and boringly scored West End musical version of Gone With the Wind has come and, thankfully, gone.

We should be just as grateful for the return of Hutchinson's play which imagines how producer David O Selznick, writer Ben Hecht and director Victor Fleming hammered out the film script to Gone With the Wind in just five days on a diet of peanuts and bananas.


Lionel Goldstein: ‘This version beats Olivier’s’

By John Nathan, August 1, 2008

The playwright tells us about the revival of his best-known play, and why he thinks Laurence Olivier was ‘terrible'


Few plays have attracted a greater acting pedigree than Halpern and Johnson which is being revived at the New End Theatre in Hampstead. Laurence Olivier and Jackie Gleason were the first to play the roles of a Jewish widower and a gentile accountant who meet at the funeral of a woman called Florence.

Johnson is the non-Jewish man she fell in love with. Halpern is the Jewish man she married.


Oberman did not write play, says co-author

By Candice Krieger, July 25, 2008

A simmering dispute between actress Tracy-Ann Oberman and playwright Diane Samuels broke dramatically into the open this week, when Ms Samuels spoke out against the former EastEnders star for appearing to claim sole authorship of a play to which they have joint credits. Ms Oberman in turn consulted her lawyers when the JC put Ms Samuels’s concerns to her.

The women are named as co-writers of a version of Chekhov’s Three Sisters, re-named 3 Sisters on Hope Street, staged earlier this year at London’s Hampstead Theatre.


Review: The Female Of The Species

By John Nathan, July 25, 2008

Vaudeville Theatre, London WC2


Eight years ago, the outspoken feminist academic Germaine Greer was held hostage by a female student who intruded into her secluded Essex home.

This is the event that inspired Joanna Murray-Smith to write a comedy in which a famous writer called Margot (Eileen Atkins) is tied up by Molly (Anna Maxwell Martin), a student bearing a grudge and a gun.


Review: Wink The Other Eye

By John Nathan, July 25, 2008

Wilton's Music Hall, London E1


"Is it a sin to present entertainment for the working classes?" asks Mr Wilton. One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, he built the world's oldest surviving music hall in London's East End, just off Cable Street.


Review: Hangover Square

By John Nathan, July 25, 2008
Finborough Theatre, London SW10


Staging Patrick Hamilton's seedy, pre-war Earl's Court novel in an Earl's Court theatre gives an extra edge to Fidelis Morgan's adaptation. In this tiny venue, Gemma Fairlie's production and Alex Marker's design miraculously serve up a rare, shadowy vision of London's underbelly in 1939.


Review: Zorro The Musical

By John Nathan, July 18, 2008

Garrick Theatre, London WC2

It is hard to take yourself seriously if you cavort around in a black, figure-hugging outfit, mask and cape, cracking a whip.

No, not the latest witness in the Max Mosley trial. We are talking about Zorro, the legend immortalised on screen by Douglas Fairbanks, and now the subject of the West End’s latest musical, loosely based on Isabelle Allende’s book, with a score by the Gipsy Kings and a hero played with charismatic self-deprecation by Matt Rawle.


Review: The Frontline

By John Nathan, July 18, 2008

Shakespeare’s Globe, London SE1

London audiences are used to the “Miserables”. Now meet the “Invisibles”. In the Globe’s first attempt to reflect modern London on its Shakespearean stage, this is how the hustlers, prostitutes, fantasists, drug dealers, drug users, do-gooders and ne’r-do-wells that populate Ché Walker’s play announce themselves.