Review: Straight Line Crazy, Bridge Theatre

The Ralph Fiennes/David Hare show continues with Straight Line Crazy as Nick Hytner exerts his stranglehold over the Bridge Theatre’s programme

“A man who believes that the way you’re written about is as important as what you do”

I guess if you build your own theatre, you get to do whatever the hell you want in it but it’s still a little bit galling to see that from March through to November, the only person directing anything at the Bridge Theatre is Nick Hytner. And in commissioning David Hare once again, there’s a clear sense of reaffirming a clear middle-of-the-road identity for the theatre which undoubtedly makes financial sense, even as it stifles any hopes of creative stimulation.

Which gives you a bit of a steer as how to I felt about Straight Line Crazy. There’s no surprises here as Hare fashions a clunky play out of an intriguing concept and Hytner directs with unadventurous and diminishing returns, creating something which lacks any real fire or excitement, no matter how hard Ralph Fiennes tries (and he really does try hard).  Continue reading “Review: Straight Line Crazy, Bridge Theatre”

A few shows to look forward to

Rehearsal pics might not always be the most exciting thing but they do serve as a useful reminder of shows that you should be thinking about booking for – in this case, Cock, Broken Wings, Steve, Straight Line Crazy and if you can fit it in, Doubt


Cock opens at the Ambassadors Theatre on 5th March Continue reading “A few shows to look forward to”

#AdventwithClowns Day 8 – Beat the Devil

David Hare adapts and directs his own Beat the Devil with a strong Ralph Fiennes once again but suffers this time in the face of stronger Covid dramas

“It’s almost medieval what we’re seeing”

It is probably fair to say that Beat the Devil got a kinder reception than it might otherwise have done normally, being as it was one of the first shows to open in London after the first lockdown. I’m as guilty of that as anyone, finding that it did “does just about everything you’d expect a David Hare monologue to do” without really pulling him up on it because, well, it wasn’t really the time.

Being David Hare, he has managed to wangle a TV adaptation out of this Covid-19 monologue, delivered once again by Ralph Fiennes, but onscreen it feels slighter, less significant, not least because it now has to compete a raft of other cultural responses to Covid, including those written specifically for TV like Jack Thorne’s scorching Help for Channel 4. Continue reading “#AdventwithClowns Day 8 – Beat the Devil”

News: Angels in America amongst productions added to National Theatre at Home

The National Theatre has today announced three new filmed productions have been added to its streaming service National Theatre at Homeincluding Angels in America Part One: Millennium Approaches and Angels in America Part Two: Perestroika, Marianne Elliott (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, War Horse)’s multi-award-winning production of Tony Kushner’s two-part masterpiece, with a cast including Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), Denise Gough (Paula), Nathan Lane (American Crime Story), James McArdle (Ammonite), Susan Brown (It’s A Sin) and Russell Tovey (Years and Years). Continue reading “News: Angels in America amongst productions added to National Theatre at Home”

TV Review: Roadkill

The new David Hare political drama Roadkill proves to be the scariest thing about this year’s Hallowe’en, and not in a good way

“You can get away with anything if you just brazen it out”

Throwing in a cast like this can usually get me to forgive a lot but not even the combined thrills of Helen McCrory, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Sidse Babett Knudsen and Saskia Reeves could get me to like Roadkill. Maybe its the closeness of it all, Tory political corruption is headline news pretty much every day now, so why would we want it on our TV screens as drama as well.

Potential timing issues aside (though when are the Tories never out grasping for themselves…), there are more fundamental problems at play here though. David Hare’s writing feels particularly aimless here, there’s little sense of accretion in watching Hugh Laurie’s Teflon-coated minister Peter Laurence ride out any number of potential scandals, just a relentless, remorseless journey of scum rising to the top. Continue reading “TV Review: Roadkill”

New TV shows for winter

As the clocks go back, the prestige TV shows come out, so I checked out the first episodes of The Undoing, Roadkill and The Sister to find not one but two Scandiqueens

“Sounds like we’re digging in for a long answer”

With a company that includes Noma Dumezweni and the empress of jumpers Sofie Gråbøl, I was initially a little disappointed that neither appeared in the first episode of new HBO show The Undoing. But when your leads are Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, your writer is David E Kelley and your director is Susanne Bier, then there’s little to complain about. Based on a Jean Hanff Korelitz novel and set in the dripping wealth of the Upper East Side, the tantalising promise of murder and adultery is skilfully woven across this opening episode and I’m definitely hooked.  Continue reading “New TV shows for winter”

Review: Beat The Devil, Bridge Theatre

David Hare gets in first with his coronavirus monologue Beat The Devil at the Bridge Theatre, evocatively performed by Ralph Fiennes

“I don’t have survivor’s guilt. I have survivor’s rage”

The inbuilt flexibility of the Bridge Theatre’s auditorium means that it was always going to be a contender for one of the first theatres to be able to reopen. And with this season of monologues, headlined by David Hare’s Beat The Devil, it is indeed now welcoming back socially distanced audiences with a remarkably smooth and efficient FOH operation that should put most any worry at ease.

And rather than go for escapism, we’re in full-on mask-wearing reality as Hare dramatises his experience of contracting Covid-19, exploring the sickness not only of his own body but in the governmental response. The result is an intermittently affecting blend of personal struggle and political outrage. Continue reading “Review: Beat The Devil, Bridge Theatre”

News: the Bridge Theatre plots an autumn season of monologues

The Bridge Theatre has announce a repertoire of twelve one-person plays during September and October, using the theatre’s flexible auditorium to provide around 250 socially distanced seats.

An Evening With an Immigrant by Inua Ellams

Award-winning poet and playwright Inua Ellams left Nigeria for England in 1996 aged 12.

An Evening With An Immigrant is a potent and personal account of life as an immigrant told through poetry and music telling Ellam’s ridiculous, fantastic and poignant story – escaping fundamentalist Islam, experiencing prejudice and friendship in Dublin, performing solo at the National Theatre and drinking wine with the Queen of England – all the while without a country to belong to or place to call home. Continue reading “News: the Bridge Theatre plots an autumn season of monologues”

July theatre round-up

I might have taken a break from reviewing for the last couple of months, but I didn’t stop going to the theatre. Here’s some brief thoughts on most of what I saw  in July.

On Your Feet, aka the rhythm will get you, sometimes
the end of history…, aka how can you get cheese on toast so wrong
Equus, aka hell yes for Jessica Hung Han Yun’s lighting design
Games for Lovers, aka straight people be crazy
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, aka the one that got my goat
The Girl on the Train, aka Philip McGinley in shorts
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, aka Another Dream? dream on
Uncle Vanya, aka I really need to stop booking for plays like this with casts like that 
Jellyfish, aka justice for the second best play of last year
Sweat, aka Clare Perkins should always be on in the West End
Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 The Musical, aka yay for lovely new musicals in the West End
The Light in the Piazza, aka Molly Lynch fricking nails it
Jesus Christ Superstar, aka was third time the charm?
Continue reading “July theatre round-up”