Review: Scandaltown, Lyric Hammersmith

Mike Bartlett’s third concurrent London opening is the silly, superficial and entertaining Scandaltown at the Lyric Hammersmith

“The world is a terrible place, full of evil people like Andrew Neil”

Does theatre always have to be so deep and meaningful? Can we just sometimes get a bit of beautifully designed frivolity that we need to chew over on the way home? That most prolific of writers right now Mike Bartlett might seem to think so as Scandaltown – his third show to open in London in recent weeks – suggests, embracing the silliness.

Toying with form once again as he likes to do, this show sees him transplant the world of Restoration comedy into the 21st century. And he lines up a series of targets – societal hypocrisy whether in the media or politics, generational gaps in attitude and empathy, obsession with media in all forms – which he hits with a gently satirical bent in Rachel O’Riordan’s entertaining production. Continue reading “Review: Scandaltown, Lyric Hammersmith”

Review: The 47th, Old Vic Theatre

Some wickedly funny writing and tremendous work from Bertie Carvel, Tamara Tunie and Lydia Wilson can’t quite make The 47th great again at the Old Vic Theatre

“It’s not a game for gentlemen we’re playing,
Political and civilized.
This is Historic”

Much has been made of Mike Bartlett’s forthcoming omnipresence on London stages. Cock has just been revived in the West End, the Lyric Hammersmith is about to open Scandaltown and the Old Vic now hosts The 47th, all probing at different elements of Bartlett’s skill as a writer. The 47th harks back to King Charles III in some ways, a return to Shakespearean future history play mode, but one is left wondering why now, why this theatre, why this writer?

Bartlett has pressed the fast-forward button just slightly to take us to 2024 and the next US presidential election. The Republican primaries are about to start and Trump has got his beady eye on them, whilst Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are in their own negotiations on the other side. And as the race to the White House heats up once again to insurrectionist levels, a case study of the perilous and precarious state of US democracy is played out in front of us. Continue reading “Review: The 47th, Old Vic Theatre”

News: Joel Harper-Jackson officially steps into the role of M alongside Jonathan Bailey

Joel Harper-Jackson will take over the role of M in Mike Bartlett’s razor sharp, hilarious play Cock until the end of the run.

The part was originally played in this production by Taron Egerton,  who has had to  withdraw from the production due to personal reasons. Joel understudied the role and has been playing the part of M for the past ten days while Taron was absent from the production having tested positive for Covid. He also released a cracking debut album last year. Continue reading “News: Joel Harper-Jackson officially steps into the role of M alongside Jonathan Bailey”

Review: Cock, Ambassadors Theatre

If some of the detail of Mike Bartlett’s Cock now feels a little dated, the skill of his writing is as fresh as ever, performed brilliantly by Taron Egerton and Jonathan Bailey at the Ambassadors Theatre

“The fact is that some of us like women and some like men and that’s fine that’s good in fact that’s good, a good thing, but it seems to me that you’ve become confused”

There’s a slight smugness that comes with being one of the ones who got to see the original cast of Mike Bartlett’s 2009 play Cock. In the intimacy of the Royal Court Upstairs transformed by Miriam Buether’s playful design, Ben Whishaw, Andrew Scott, Katherine Parkinson and Paul Jesson knocked it out of the park with a ferocious intensity. Bartlett’s stock as a writer has since soared and the play has been a popular one (Chichester revived it and I caught a US production online last year) and now it arrives in the West End for a starry run.

The play centres on John, a man who has spent the last seven years in a relationship with a guy, but who now finds himself enjoying a dalliance with a woman after a flirtatious encounter on his commute. What does his first sexual relationship with a woman mean for his sexuality? Has he moved from gay to bisexual? Do labels matter? And as John tries to figure out his new situation, we see what really does matter is untangling the relationships in his life, his indecision endlessly complicating matters for his pretty little heart. Continue reading “Review: Cock, Ambassadors Theatre”

Plays update for March

So much play casting news!

Mike Bartlett’s political comedy The 47th opens at the Old Vic on 29th March. Joining the previously announced Bertie Carvel as Donald Trump, Tamara Tunie as Kamala Harris and Lydia Wilson as Ivanka Trump will be James Cooney as Charlie Takahashi, James Garnon as Ted Cruz, Richard Hansell as Steve Richetti, Oscar Lloyd as Donald Junior, Jenni Maitland as Heidi Cruz, Freddie Meredith as Eric Trump, Ben Onwukwe as Barack Obama, Cherrelle Skeete as Tina Flournoy, Ami Tredrea as Rosie Takahashi and Simon Williams as Joe Biden, with all other parts played by the company. 

Directed by Rupert Goold, with set design by Miriam Buether, costume design by Evie Gurney, lighting by Neil Austin, sound by Tony Gayle, original music and sound score by Adam Cork, video by Ash J Woodward, movement by Lynne Page, wigs, hair and make-up by Richard Mawbey, casting by Jessica Ronane CDG, US casting by Jim Carnahan, voice by Joel Trill and dialect by Brett Tyne. Continue reading “Plays update for March”

News: Casting announced for Mike Bartlett’s new comedy Scandaltown

Full casting has been announced today for Scandaltown, a brand new comedy by Mike Bartlett (Doctor Foster, King Charles III) directed by the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre’s Artistic Director Rachel O’Riordan (Olivier Award winning Killology). The world premiere production runs at the West London venue from 07 April to 14 May with opening night for press on 14 April. Tickets are on sale at

Scandaltown is a modern restoration comedy and irreverent satire, set in post-pandemic London, full of immorality, political hypocrisy and the machinations of a fame-hungry elite. It brings together a 12-strong cast including Rachael Stirling (The Bletchley Circle; Love, Love, Love – Lyric Hammersmith Theatre) as Lady Susan Climber, Richard Goulding (The Windsors, King Charles III) as Matt Eton and Emma Cunniffe (Queen Anne – RSC) as Aunty Julie and Rachel De Souza. Also confirmed are Cecilia Appiah (The Long Song – CFT) as Phoebe Virtue, Matthew Broome as Jack Virtue in his stage debut, Henry Everett (Antony and Cleopatra – National Theatre, The Memory of Water – Hampstead) as Peter Media OBE, Luke Hornsby (1917, Harlots) as Freddie Peripheral, Thomas Josling (Habeas Corpus – Menier) as Tom Double-Budget, Aysha Kala (BAFTA Breakthrough Brit, The Welkin – National Theatre) as Hannah Tweetwell, Annette McLaughlin (Matilda, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child) as Rosalind Double-Budget and Scrub, Ami Okumura Jones (EastEnders, Wendy & Peter Pan – Leeds Playhouse) as Jenny Bright, and Chukwuma Omambala (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hecuba – RSC) as Sir Dennis Hedge and Kevin the Postman. Continue reading “News: Casting announced for Mike Bartlett’s new comedy Scandaltown”

New Images of Cock’s Taron Egerton, Jonathan Bailey, Jade Anouka and Phil Daniels released

New images of Taron Egerton, Jonathan Bailey, Jade Anouka and Phil Daniels, the stars of C O C K by Mike Bartlett, have been released

Directed by Tony and Olivier award winning Marianne Elliott, the award-wnning play about love and identity will have a limited run at the Ambassadors Theatre in London from Saturday 5 March 2022 to Saturday 4 June 2022, with a press night on Tuesday 15 March 2022

 “The fact is that some of us like women and some like men and that’s fine that’s good in fact that’s good, a good thing, but it seems to me that you’ve become confused.” Continue reading “New Images of Cock’s Taron Egerton, Jonathan Bailey, Jade Anouka and Phil Daniels released”

News: the Old Vic reveals some of its 2022 plans

Matthew Warchus’ programme for the Old Vic’s 2022 includes an interesting couple of choices and the return of a festive favourite for the sixth year running

The 47th
29 Mar–28 May 2022

The world premiere of Mike Bartlett’s viciously funny new play The 47th, directed by Rupert Goold with Bertie Carvel, Tamara Tunie and Lydia Wilson. A chaotic glimpse into the underbelly of the greatest political show on earth – the next presidential race.

09 Jun–09 Jul 2022

The London premiere of Baylis Director Tinuke Craig’s five-star production of August Wilson’s Jitney, with cast including Geoff AymerLeanne HenlonWil JohnsonLeemore Marrett Jr and Tony Marshall. A groundbreaking modern classic exploring the fragile bond between eight men in a racially segregated, post-Vietnam America. Continue reading “News: the Old Vic reveals some of its 2022 plans”

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”

News: Mike Bartlett’s C O C K re-emerges in the West End

Taron Egerton, Jonathan BaileyJade Anouka and Phil Daniels have been announced as the cast of C O C K, the first West End production of Mike Bartlett’s Olivier award winning play about love and identity which opened at the Royal Court upstairs in 2009 with Ben Whishaw and Andrew Scott and has also played Chichester and Washington DC.

Directed by Tony and Olivier award winning Marianne Elliott, it will have a limited run at the intimate-for-the-West-End Ambassadors Theatre. Given the intensity and intimacy of the play itself, it will fascinating to see how it fares in a bigger space. Audiences will be able to find out for themselves from Saturday 5 March 2022 to Saturday 4 June 2022,

Tickets are on sale now here. Continue reading “News: Mike Bartlett’s C O C K re-emerges in the West End”