Father Comes Home From The Wars

Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, London (****)

© Tristram Kenton, Steve Toussaint (Hero) and ever loyal wife, Penny (Nadine Marshall)

© Tristram Kenton, Steve Toussaint (Hero) and ever loyal wife, Penny (Nadine Marshall), in background Leo Wringer (The Oldest Old Man

More than a decade ago, Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog swaggered over from New York to the Royal Court.  Continue reading

The Complete Deaths

Assembly Hall, Shoreditch Town Hall (****)

© Ludovic des Cognets, Cleopatra and the serpents

© Ludovic des Cognets, Cleopatra and the serpents

Everyone likes a clown and Spymonkey must be amongst the best. Certainly to fill the main hall in the beautiful arts centre that was once Shoreditch Town Hall takes some following. Amazingly this is my first viewing of them but their credits stack up. Continue reading

No Man’s Land

Wyndhams Theatre, London (****)

© Johann Persson, Ian McKellen (Spooner), Patrick Stewart (Hirst)

© Johann Persson, Ian McKellen (Spooner), Patrick Stewart (Hirst)

Any review of Harold Pinter’s plays is so wreathed in legend and history it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. Indeed Sean Mathias’s production makes visible an arbour of trees suggesting the Hampstead Heath to which his main characters, Hirst and Spooner both refer for very different reasons. Continue reading

Things I know to be true

Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, London, then touring (*****)

© Manuel Harlan, the company

© Manuel Harlan, the company

If only more theatre companies could take a leaf from Frantic Assembly’s Scott Graham and State Theatre Company Australia director, Geordie Brookman! This I know to be true. They’ve found a way with Andrew Bovell’s heartfelt family drama to make every word count, every word audible – even the silences in between. And that, I can tell you, is a rare thing these days. Continue reading

The Alchemist

RSC Barbican Theatre, London (****)

© Helen Maybanks, Mark Lockyer as 1the alchemist', Subtle

© Helen Maybanks, Mark Lockyer as the `alchemist’, Subtle

It’s one of the abiding marks of our age, the con. Whether it’s flashy as in The Hustle, aspirational as in the Lottery, or sophisticated as in The Sting, the con runs through our lives. At any one moment, we’re only a hair’s breadth away from being taken for a ride. These days, it’s more likely to be an online or phone scam offering thousands of pounds at the press of a button or a computer to be saved from a terminal virus or even secondary glazing! Continue reading

Jess and Joe Forever

Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, London then touring  (***)

© The Other Richard, Nicola Coughlan (Jess), Rhys Isaac-Jones (Joe)

© The Other Richard, Nicola Coughlan (Jess), Rhys Isaac-Jones (Joe)

I wish I could say straight off how much I enjoyed Jess and Joe Forever. To tell truth, it was only after reading Zoe Cooper’s script that I really began to fully appreciate the beauty in it. And it is a remarkable script, a wonderfully imaginative treatment of the messy world of childhood merging into puberty and adolescence. Continue reading