News: National Theatre adds new productions to streaming platform NT at Home

The National Theatre has announced the latest productions to be made available on its National Theatre at Home streaming platform. Launching today, the Young Vic and Joshua Andrews’ production of Tennessee Williams’ timeless masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire featuring Gillian Anderson as Blanche DuBois, Ben Foster as Stanley and Vanessa Kirby as Stella, the NT’s recent production of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood with Michael Sheen and Nadia Fall’s verbatim play Home that explores homelessness in the UK featuring Michaela Coel. New productions are added each month and since launching in December 2020, there are now 31 productions available to stream on the platform.

It is also announced today some of the productions that audiences can expect to see on the platform in the coming months. Those productions are confirmed to include Antony & Cleopatra with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo in the title roles; Hedda Gabler with Ruth Wilson in the title role; Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls in the Lyttelton theatre from 2019Sally Cookson’s 2017 production of Peter Pan; Yaël Farber’s Salomé and James Graham’s political drama This House, alongside current NT productions; Kae Tempest’s Paradise with Lesley Sharp and Winsome Pinnock’s Rockets and Blue LightsIan McKellen on Stage will also join the platform this autumn for audiences outside the UK and Ireland. It is currently available in the UK and Ireland for Amazon Prime subscribers. Continue reading “News: National Theatre adds new productions to streaming platform NT at Home”

Review: Paradise, National Theatre

Kae Tempest makes a stirring National Theatre debut with Sophocles adaptation Paradise, starring a superb Lesley Sharp 

“If I don’t make it back and they ask what happened, make it a better story than it was

Tales of the Greeks are seemingly never far from any stage but in adapting Sophocles’ Philoctetes, Kae Tempest has at least tended towards one of the lesser known (at least for me). Paradise pleasingly sees the Olivier Theatre remain in the round and Ian Rickson’s production strikes gold with its all-female cast, catapulting leads Lesley Sharp, Gloria Obianyo and Anastasia Hille towards the divine.

Sharp plays Philoctetes, a renowned warrior abandoned years ago by Odysseus (Hille) after suffering an injury but now finding himself back in demand to help win another war. But years as a hermit have soured the traumatised hero and Odysseus and sidekick Neoptolemus (Obianyo) have their work cut out, trying to bring their former compatriot and his illustrious bow back into the fold. Continue reading “Review: Paradise, National Theatre”

News: National Theatre On Sale, July 2021 – January 2022

The National Theatre will return to performances with full capacity audiences from later this month. Additional seating will now be available for performances of After Life from 27 July alongside the previously-announced productions Rockets and Blue Lights in the Dorfman theatre and Paradise in the Olivier theatre, with extra tickets going on sale to the public from Monday 19 July.  

Tickets for The Normal Heart, East is East, Manor and Hex on sale to the public from Friday 30 July. Continue reading “News: National Theatre On Sale, July 2021 – January 2022”

News: The National Theatre announces 2021-22 programming and launches National Theatre Together

The National Theatre announces new programming and launches a major new campaign for its future, National Theatre Together

The National Theatre has announced its programming until the start of next year with productions on all three South Bank stages as well as three major UK tours, two productions on Broadway, a return to cinemas, and a new feature film to be broadcast on television this autumn. In the week the theatre reopened for audiences again, six new productions were announced, and five productions halted by the pandemic were confirmed to return to the South Bank.  

It has also announced the public launch of National Theatre Together, a new campaign with people at its heart, highlighting the importance of creativity and collaboration with theatre-makers and communities, for young people and audiences. The campaign cements the NT’s commitment to the people of this country and will raise vital funds for the theatre’s ambitious recovery post-pandemic.  Continue reading “News: The National Theatre announces 2021-22 programming and launches National Theatre Together”

Review: Crips Without Constraints Part 2

Graeae’s Crips Without Constraints Part 2 shows off UK Deaf and disabled artists firing brilliantly on all creative cylinders

“I think this could be the biggest challenge of my career”

Graeae’s Crips Without Constraints Part 2 feels like a great shot in the arm for those who might be tiring of the Zoom format that characterises so much of what new theatre we’re able to get at this moment in time. All five short plays in this collection have been written by alumni from Graeae’Write to Play programme and are directed by upcoming disabled directors. truly celebrating celebrating the best talent and creativity of UK Deaf and disabled artists.

What is particularly impressive is the way in which that talent matches up to the more established names taking part here. Just look at how Mandy Colleran squares up to Harriet Walter’s condescending actor in Kellan Frankland’s How Do You Make A Cup of Tea?, skewering the lie about who gets the opportunity to portray disability onstage or onscreen. Or the way Saida Ahmed’s incredible performance equals the magnificent Sharon D Clarke’s for emotional intensity in The Gift by Leanna Benjamin, as a mother and daughter attempt to deal with some hard-hitting truths. Continue reading “Review: Crips Without Constraints Part 2”

News: Crips Without Constraints Part 2 further casting announced

Crips Without Constraints Part 2, which runs from January to February this year, comprises five brand new short plays celebrating the best talent and creativity of Deaf and disabled artists from across the UK. 

Having released the first two plays, How Do You Make a Cup of Tea starring Dame Harriet Walter and Mandy Colleran (comedy duo No Excuses) and Flowers For The Chateau starring Naomi Wirthner (The Doctor – Almeida & West End) and Julie Graham (Benidorm – ITV, Doctor Who – BBC), Graeae continues the series on February 2 with The Gift starring Sharon D Clarke (Death of a Salesman – Young Vic, Holby City – BBC) and Saida Ahmed (Notes to Forgotten She-Wolves – Shakespeare’s Globe). The company can also reveal today that Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Years and Years – BBC1, Sex Education – Netflix) will be joining the line-up which also includes Cherylee Houston(Coronation Street) and Alex James.

The new plays, all bold and brilliant duologues, are written by Leanna Benjamin, Rebekah BowsherKaren FeatherstoneKellan Frankland and Jessica Lovett, all alumni from Graeae’s Write to Play programme, covering topics from sibling rivalry to death by post stick notes.  Additionally this year, the pieces will all be directed by upcoming disabled  directors Stephen BaileyHana Pascal KeeganCheryl MartinAlex Whiteley and Lilac Yosiphon

August 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 August.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, aka the Sheridan Smith show
Queen of the Mist, aka the surprisingly affecting one
Appropriate, aka all hail Monica Dolan
Waitress, aka ZZZZZZZOMGGGGG STUNT CASTING oh wait, Joe Suggs hasn’t started yet
The Doctor, aka all hail Juliet Stevenson
A Very Expensive Poison, aka it was a preview so I shouldn’t say anything
Blues in the Night, aka all hail Broadway-bound Sharon D Clarke (and Debbie Kurup, and Clive Rowe too)
The Night of the Iguana, aka justice for Skyler Continue reading “August theatre round-up”

Review: Against, Almeida Theatre

For

Against

  • Amanda Hale being excellent in an all-too-rare excursion to the stage
  • Ben Whishaw being Ben Whishaw in his Whishawy way, even if it’s not quite enough to enliven the play
  • Whishaw briefly in his pants, if you like that sort of thing
  • An intelligently sparse design from ULTZ
  • Did I mention Amanda Hale? She comes close to making it all worthwhile

  • The running time
  • The comparative lack of depth to Christopher Shinn’s writing which in no way justifies the above
  • The range of issues which touched upon but not interrogated despite the above
  • The structure of the play which exacerbates the above
  • The inherent misogyny in the writing which only allows men to talk about these issues, however unsatisfactorily
  • The cheap potshots at political correctness, seemingly designed for the Cavendishes and Purves of this world
  • Did I mention the running time?


Running time: 2 hours 45 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 30th September

Review: Evening at the Talk House, National Theatre

“You have to want to care what’s going to happen to these characters”

There’s a sequence towards the end of Evening at the Talk House where a character says things along the lines of ‘I’m so bored’, ‘I’m ready to die’ and ‘please help me get out of here’ and never have truer words been spoken. That last one might have been an internal voice though as the grinding horror of this new Wallace Shawn play rolled inexorably on. In some ways, I have no excuse. The one and only time I’ve seen his work before saw indignities inflicted on none other than Miranda Richardson, left to pretend to be a cat licking Shawn’s bald head, and so I had fair warning of Shawn’s singular style.

But it’s a style that I find utterly baffling. As a thespy crowd meet for a long awaited reunion at their old members club, they reminisce and chat effusively and endlessly about this actor who used to be in that TV show or that actress in this TV show – all made up ones of course – to a point of mind-numbing inanity. And in this version of the world, there’s a dystopian state-sponsored execution programme wiping out enemies of the state (and plenty more besides) which is carried out by out-of-work actors like many of the crew here. They also get served canapés about which they chatter excitedly, which is nice I suppose.  Continue reading “Review: Evening at the Talk House, National Theatre”