News: National Theatre reveal 2 new production and a tour

The National Theatre today announces two new productions, and the booking dates of two previously announced productions, to be performed on all three South Bank stages this Autumn, as well as the UK and Ireland tour of The Ocean at the End of The Lane.

Lyndsey Turner (Under Milk Wood) will direct Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in the Olivier theatre in September. A gripping parable of power and its abuse, this urgent new staging will see Brendan Cowell (Yerma) make his National Theatre debut as John Proctor alongside Erin Doherty (The Crown, My Name is Rachel Corrie) playing the role of Abigail. Further casting includes Fisayo Akinade, Rachelle Diedericks, Nick Fletcher, Karl Johnson, Gracie McGonigal, Matthew Marsh and Eileen Walsh

With set design by Es Devlin, costume design by Catherine Fay and lighting design by Tim Lutkin. Sound design by Tingying Dong (content design) and Paul Arditti (system design). Staff director is Blythe Stewart, and dialect coaches are Majella Hurley and Hazel Holder. Continue reading “News: National Theatre reveal 2 new production and a tour”

Round-up of March theatre news

© Muse

Everyone loves a ghost story and audiences have really loved 2:22 – A Ghost Story as it returns to the West End once again for a third season. And it continues to attact strong casts as Tom Felton (Sam), Mandip Gill (Jenny), Beatriz Romilly (Lauren) and Sam Swainsbury (Ben) will take on the challenge of trying to scare the crap out of people. The show opens at the Criterion Theatre from 7th May. Continue reading “Round-up of March theatre news”

Review: Henry V, Donmar Warehouse

There’s way too much going on in this production of Henry V at the Donmar Warehouse, despite Kit Harington’s return to the stage

“Every subject’s soul is his own”

There’s a lot of good ideas in Max Webster’s production of Henry V for the Donmar Warehouse. Too many in fact, as it frequently feels like all of them have been thrown at the back wall in order to see what sticks. And given the intimacy of the stage and the efficacy of Shakespeare’s words, the end result is often overstuffed and overwhelming. 

The idea of playing scenes between French characters in French makes sense on paper and certainly reinforces Webster’s thesis about entrenched ideas about national identity. But somehow it doesn’t quite fly on stage, surtitles distracting from what should be a comic scene in the second act, and at the point where Mandarin is introduced you can’t help but be a little puzzled. Continue reading “Review: Henry V, Donmar Warehouse”

Review: Richard II, Jack Studio Theatre

We Are Animate offers Shakespeare with a reinvigorating point of view with this fresh look at Richard II, playing at the lovely Jack Studio Theatre now

“Remember who you are?”

You can see why many a theatre company turns to Shakespeare, especially after a period of such economic turbulence for the industry, but going for a safe pair of hands doesn’t always result in the greatest level of artistic excitement. Fortunately, We Are Animate are perhaps fully aware of this and so their production of Richard II arrives at Jack Studio (ever the friendliest of venues) with real points of interest (and Robyn on the soundrack).

A majority female ensemble, a running time slimmed down to 80 minutes and inventive Daily Mail-aping castsheets that leave us in no doubt as to where the inspiration for choosing this play about power-hungry elites and feckless, flailing rulers came from. The result is a crafty and considered approach to the play that crucially, has something to say to us now, not least in how those elites treat the people they rule. Continue reading “Review: Richard II, Jack Studio Theatre”

News: National Theatre announces Summer 2022 season

The National Theatre has announced new productions for all three South Bank stages this summer: Jack Absolute Flies Again in the Olivier theatre, Much Ado About Nothing in the Lyttelton theatre and All of Us in the Dorfman theatre with tickets on sale to the public from Thursday 10 March.  

Jack Absolute Flies Again a riotous and comedic new version of Sheridan’s The Rivals, co-written by Richard Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors) and Oliver Chris (Emma), will play in the Olivier theatre in July. Originally due to open in April 2020, Emily Burns (The Comeback) will direct Laurie Davidson (Cats) as Jack Absolute alongside Caroline Quentin (Jonathan Creek) as Mrs Malaprop, Natalie Simpson (Three Sisters) as Lydia Languish, Kelvin Fletcher (Emmerdale) as Dudley Scunthorpe and Kerry Howard (Him & Her) as Lucy, James Corrigan, Theo Cowan, Jordan Metcalfe, George Kemp, Akshay Sharan, Tim Steed, Geoffrey Towers, Shona White and Helena Wilson also join the company.  

Set and costume design is by Mark Thompson, lighting design by Tim Lutkin, composer is Paul Englishby, sound design by Paul Arditti and video and projection design by Jeff Sugg. Physical comedy director is Toby Park and choreography is by Lizzi Gee. Staff director is Cara Nolan.  Continue reading “News: National Theatre announces Summer 2022 season”

Some February casting news

Casting announced for But I’m A Cheerleader: The Musical, the Six the musical tour and the National’s touring Hamlet plus the line-up for Roles We’ll Never Play


Photo © Mark Senior

The cast of the Turbine Theatre’s soon-to-arrive But I’m A Cheerleader: The Musical has been announced. Alice Croft leads the cast as high school cheerleader Megan Williams who goes through a sexual awakening and self-realization at the rehabilitation camp where her parents send her when they suspect she is a lesbian.

Joining her are Oliver Brooks (Dad/Larry), Edward Chitticks (Jared/Rock), Damon Gould (André), Tiffany Graves (Mary Brown), Jodie Jacobs (Mom/Lloyd), Lemuel Knights (Mike), Evie Rose Lane (Graham), Harry Singh (Jalal), Jodie Steele (Kimberly/Hilary), Aaron Teoh (Dolph) and Kia-Paris Walcott (Sinead). Continue reading “Some February casting news”

My 10 favourite shows of 2021

Just a little bit late… Here’s 10 of my favourite shows, both online and onstage but fully acknowledging that I saw a lot less than usual, I might actually have broken the back of this theatre obsession – it just took a global pandemic to do it…!

1. Anything Goes, Barbican
A joyous shot in the arm that felt like the perfect welcome back into the theatre this summer. Naturally, it is coming back next year to the Barbican and a UK tour but will it be led by the irrepressible Sutton Foster? You have to hope so as she was the epitome of Broadway class.

2. The Normal Heart, National Theatre
Almost unbearably moving, Larry Kramer’s 1985 loosely autobiographical play got a masterful revival from Dominic Cooke, making the most of the Olivier being in the round and blessed with a cast full of commitment and compassion.

3. Constellations, Vaudeville Theatre
Perhaps predictable for those that know me, but the four-way revival featuring Omari Douglas & Russell Tovey and Anna Maxwell Martin & Chris O’Dowd and Sheila Atim & Ivanno Jeremiah and Peter Capaldi & Zoë Wanamaker turned out to be a great way to revisit this play.

4. Cabaret, The Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre
At least there’s a sense that they’re earning a bit of their hugely inflated ticket prices, as Rebecca Frecknall and Tom Scutt’s reinvention of the theatre is matched with a fearless reinterpretation of the classic musical which proves hauntingly effective.

5. What They Forgot To Tell Us (and other stories), BOLD Elephant
One of the more unexpected theatrical experiences of the year. I had no idea of what to expect and no real idea of why it moved me quite as much as it did. 

6. DJ Bazzer’s Year 6 Disco, Golden Goose Theatre
Gently immersive and quietly heartbreaking, this playful and powerful monologue really took me by surprise, totally captivating as Jack Sunderland’s emotionally broken Baz tries to chase the demons of both the past and present.

7. Still Life: Untold Stories of Nottingham Now
5 short stories of lockdown life in Nottingham turned out to be hugely affecting, featuring a wide range of the intimately human stories that make up a global pandemic and star performances from the likes of Frances De La Tour and Julie Hesmondhalgh.

8. Mum, Soho Theatre
Led by a scorching performance from Sophie Melville, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s new play took a sledgehammer to Insta-perfect narratives of new motherhood to offer up something of a nightmare of early parenthood. Absolutely exhilarating.

9. Gay Generations, White Bear Theatre
With a loose focus on older LGBT+ narratives, this double bill of new gay plays was quietly impressive and in the case of Michael McManus’ A Certain Term made me sob like a baby

10. Romeo and Juliet
The National led from the front in lockdown, able to parlay its resources into transforming its intended stage production of this teen tragedy into a deluxe filmed version with a delicious cast led by Jessie Buckley and Josh O’Connor.

#AdventwithClowns Day 18 – King John (RSC via Britbox)

Eleanor Rhode offers up a vibrantly contemporary production of King John for the RSC, with a striking lead performance from Rosie Sheehy

“Mad world! mad kings! mad composition!”

You wouldn’t normally turn to King John for an eye-openingly modern piece of Shakespeare but this 2019 RSC production really seems to buck the trend. Vibrantly directed by Eleanor Rhode with some superb design work from Max Johns, it’s ostensibly set somewhere in the mid-20th century, powerful parallels emerge with the vagaries of our contemporary administration.

Rosie Sheehy is a vivid presence as the titular monarch, full of artifice in her public persona but unable to stop a full moral disintegration eating away from within. And Charlotte Randle is awesome as Constance, the King’s sister-in-law and mother to a rival pretender to the throne. pushing home the personal costs of a cut-throat political system that takes no prisoners in any of its battles.

Photo: Steve Tanner
King John is available to watch on Britbox

#AdventwithClowns Day 17 – Ian McKellen on Stage

A one-man-show like no other, Sir Ian McKellen proves himself a raconteur par excellence in Ian McKellen on Stage

“Sounds like a line out of Vicious

After a remarkable UK tour celebrating his 80th birthday and fundraising for venues right across the realm, Ian McKellen brought his one-man show Ian McKellen on Stage into the West End for a substantial residency, from whence it was recorded for posterity and included in Amazon Prime’s first Great British Theatre series.

The second half is a bravura romp through Shakespeare’s canon – inviting the audience to call out the names of his play, McKellen adorns each one with an anecdote or recital or drily witty comment (am totally onboard with his feelings about Troilus and Cressida). But the first half is the real winner, as he details the birth of his love affair with theatre.

Ian McKellen on Stage is available to watch on Amazon Prime

#AdventwithClowns Day 14 – Othello, RSC (Britbox)

This 2015 RSC production of Othello soars with its lead pairing of Hugh Quarshie and Lucian Msamati, I really should have gone to see this one 

“We then have done you bold and saucy wrongs”

In all honesty, it’s hard to get myself roused for a lot of Shakespeare productions now, the same old plays coming round and round again not appealing like it once did. So it takes something special, or some canning casting choices, to make me sit up and pay attention and Iqbal Khan’s 2015 production of Othello for the RSC certainly has both in spades.

The first production in Stratford to cast a black in Iago in the wonderful Lucian Msamati against Hugh Quarshie’s Othello, the central relationship of the play is blisteringly recast and remixed. The racial dynamic naturally becomes something totally new but entirely fitting, and compelling, you might not quite sympathise with this Iago but you see much more of his point of view. Continue reading “#AdventwithClowns Day 14 – Othello, RSC (Britbox)”