Review: The Lehman Trilogy, National Theatre

Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles and Adam Godley are superb in new epic play The Lehman Trilogy at the National Theatre

“Let’s go to this magical music box called America”

At a time when Lady Liberty’s message was actually heeded, when the USA lifted the lamp to its golden door and welcomed all that immigrants could bring, three German Jewish brothers made the journey from Bavaria in the 1840s and set up shop in Montgomery, Alabama. From selling cotton cloth to brokering cotton sales to diversifying into other markets, other cities, they built up their family business into a financial services behemoth, the very embodiment of the American Dream. The name of that firm – Lehman Brothers…

Thus The Lehman Trilogy is a tale of boom to bust. Stefano Massini’s epic play, adapted here by Ben Power in a National Theatre and Neal Street Productions co-production, takes a generational viewpoint to move us through 170 years of American history and three generations of Lehman men. And in the hands of Simon Russell Beale (Henry), Ben Miles (Emanuel) and Adam Godley (Mayer), they could scarcely be better in Sam Mendes’ sleekly poised and pacey production. Not only do they play the brothers, their son and their grandsons, they cover all the other roles as they narrate their own story – it truly is an acting tour-de-force. Continue reading “Review: The Lehman Trilogy, National Theatre”

Review: The Worst Was This, Hope Theatre

“I have no gift for filling up a page”

The Hope Theatre’s Gothic Season continues with The Worst Was This – a steampunkish take on Elizabethan London where the troubled relationship between two guys named Will and Chris plays out in a local hostelry, The Wayward Sisters’ Bar and Grill. You might know them better by their last names, Shakespeare and Marlowe, but make no mistake, this is no ordinary take on the authorship question.

For we’re in a parallel world where war and plague has devastated the land and the three sisters who run the pub have to eke out a living by taking inspiration from Mrs Lovett in recycling corpses for their meat pies. Marlowe, left disfigured after a street brawl and cared for by Odette, clearly holds a torch for aspiring handsome actor Will but long-hidden secrets threaten to bubble up and it is soon apparent that there’s little place for affection in this cruel world.

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