2010’s

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Barbican Theatre, London ***

© Pia Johnson, Harriet Gordon-Anderson, Nikki Shiels and Elizabeth Nabben...the returned schoolgirls trying to find out what has happened and setting upon one of their teachers...

© Pia Johnson, Harriet Gordon-Anderson, Nikki Shiels and Elizabeth Nabben…the returned schoolgirls trying to find out what has happened and setting upon one of their teachers…

Somehow both the original novel by Joan Lindsay and the subsequent cult film by Peter Weir (1975) of the Australian `ghost’ story, Picnic at Hanging Rock escaped me. Continue reading

Girls & Boys

Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, London ****

© Marc Brenner, Carey Mulligan coolly describing terrible things...

© Marc Brenner, Carey Mulligan, sensational as raconteur, coolly describing terrible things…

The thing about Dennis Kelly is he likes to leave audiences with a moral question mark. Not for him easy platitudes. Or neat little conclusions. No wonder you’ll find him listed, amongst his credits, as author of the `book’ for Matilda the musical and the tv thriller, Utopia (also the comedy series, Pulling, on Netflix). Continue reading

Napoleon Disrobed

Arcola Theatre, London (****)

Paul Hunter as Napoleon

© Manuel Harlan, Paul Hunter as Napoleon

Who writes history? History is never permanent though the victors always like to think their version will be the one that survives into the millennia. Continue reading

The York Realist

Donmar Warehouse, London ****

© Johan Persson, Ben Batt as George, not so easy in his soul after all...

© Johan Persson, Ben Batt as George, not so easy in his soul after all…

Despite the fact that time has overtaken The York Realist to render it as almost as a parody of D H Lawrence, the writer Peter Gill himself championed and films such as the recent trail-blazer, God’s Own Country have made it seem almost too familiar, The York Realist still quietly insinuates its way into your heart. Continue reading

Gundog

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

© Manuel Harlan, Ria Zmitrowicz (Becky), Alec Secareanu (Guy) - it's tough out there on the land...

© Manuel Harlan, Ria Zmitrowicz (Becky), Alec Secareanu (Guy) – it’s tough out there on the land…

How lost can you feel in the countryside? According to Simon Longman’s new play, Gundog, a good deal. Longman’s rural family of shepherds are a sad lot. There’s Becky – school drop-out, couldn’t see the point of learning anything, `they don’t do lessons in shepherding’ – Anna, her older sister, quiet, monosyllabic, dependable.  And Ben, their angry, troubled brother, who turns up from time to time having been away but forced to return. He has no skills, other than being on the land. Continue reading

The war has not yet started

Southwark Playhouse, London (****)

© Steve Tanner, (l-r) Sarah Hadland, Hannah Britland, Mark Quartly - awaiting escape or maybe not, over the border, past custom control...

© Steve Tanner, (l-r) Sarah Hadland, Hannah Britland, Mark Quartly – awaiting escape or maybe not, over the border, past custom control…

Well, here’s a thing now, a season of plays up from Plymouth – but no ordinary season when steered by Simon Stokes and Jenny Topper. Continue reading