Theatre

Review: The River

By John Nathan, November 2, 2012

How do you follow the expansive, all-conquering Jerusalem, one of the finest plays of the modern era?

Jez Butterworth and his long-time collaborator, director Ian Rickson, do it with a claustrophobic exploration of true love that suggests the emotions that come after experiencing the real thing are a kind of deceit.

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Review: 55 Days

By John Nathan, November 2, 2012

Howard Brenton’s meaty new history play, set during the final 55 days in the life of Charles I, brings to mind a very modern problem.

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Review: This House

By John Nathan, October 22, 2012

In 1974 you could tell a Labour politician from a Tory by the suit he or (less often) she wore.

Or as Labour’s chief whip says in James Graham’s new play, you can tell by the shoes visible under the doors of the Commons toilet cubicles — all the better to flush MPs out before a crucial vote.

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Review: Red Velvet

By John Nathan, October 19, 2012

When in 1833 Edmund Kean, the greatest actor of his generation, collapsed on stage while playing Othello at Covent Garden’s Theatre Royal, the theatre’s manager risked public outrage by hiring an African-American called Ira Aldridge – terrifically played here by Adrian Lester – to step into Kean’s shoes.

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Review: Berenice

By John Nathan, October 11, 2012

Jean Racine's rarely produced (in Britain) Roman tragedy takes place in the aftermath of victory over the Jews of Judea and is set in a Rome bedecked with Jewish booty. Not that you can see any in Lucy Osborne's sand-strewn set which gives Josie Rourke's production a timeless quality.

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Review: Our Boys

By John Nathan, October 11, 2012

An all-male cast comprised of six TV and film actors has breathed new life into Jonathan Lewis's cracking 1993 play about British soldiers. Set in ward 9, bay 4 of a Woolwich military hospital in 1984, Lewis's play reveals the humanity that lies beneath all that filthy (and very funny) banter and aggression.

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Review: Scenes from an Execution

By John Nathan, October 11, 2012

You might say that the National Theatre has done for Howard Barker what, in Barker's play, the Doge of Venice does for the 16th-century female artist, Galactia.

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Review: Three Sisters - it's a Russian revolution as Chekhov is modernised

By John Nathan, September 27, 2012

Anton Chekhov’s masterpiece has been reworked before, and with rewarding results. In 2008, a version by Diane Samuels and Tracy-Ann Oberman set the play in post-war Jewish Liverpool. Instead of yearning to see Moscow, the siblings were in a New York state of mind. And instead of Olga, Masha and Irina, we had Gertie, May and Rita.

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Review: Hedda Gabler - Sheridan Smith triumphant as Ibsen's heroine

By John Nathan, September 20, 2012

It had long been on the cards that Sheridan Smith would complete the transition from frothy TV sitcom to the classical stage. On the way she delivered acclaimed performances, such as her Olivier-winning Elle Woods in the musical Legally Blonde and a cameo as a lonely wife in Flare Path.

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Review: Love and Information - Caryl Churchill offends again, but only against theatre convention

By John Nathan, September 20, 2012

There has probably never been a play quite like it. In almost two uninterrupted hours this new offering by Caryl Churchill propels us through countless short, seemingly unconnected conversations. There is no plot, no setting — but for the giant white cube in which each conversation takes place — and for much of the time the play does not make much sense.

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