Thursday, February 29

London

Nachtland – Young Vic
London

Nachtland – Young Vic

This play by Marius von Mayenberg  presented in a translation by Maja Zade sells itself as “a jagged new satire” and is set in modern-day Germany. Siblings Nicola (Dorothea Myar-Bennett) and Philipp (a nervously downtrodden John Heffernan) are clearing out their late father's house. Curiously most of his goods are being cleared from the stage as the audience file in, leaving one item wrapped in brown paper, found in the attic. It’s a painting of a church, a simple piece, but the signature is of the most interest. Is it indeed a painting by Hitler, and if so how did it find its way here? There is plenty of mileage here for black humour or satire, but the pacing feels off and some segues are either head-scratching (Nicola’s husband Fabian (Gunnar Cauthery)’s behaviour takes...
The Merchant of Venice 1936 – The Criterion Theatre
London

The Merchant of Venice 1936 – The Criterion Theatre

Relocated from the traditional Venice of the 16th century, to 1930’s East End of London, this thoroughly re-worked and re-freshed version of The Merchant of Venice, uses a different period in history to tell its story.  The outline of the story remains unchanged.  Antonio (Raymond Coulthard) hopes to assist his friend Bassiano (Gavin Fowler) who wishes to court the wealthy Portia (Hannah Morrish); by obtaining a loan from Shylock (Tracey-Ann Oberman).  Antonio suffers financial setbacks, and cannot repay the loan, unfortunately, the penalties for this are not financial, Shylock wants her pound of flesh.  And yes, you noticed that Shylock is a woman!  Oberman imagined a Jewish matriarch, inspired by her grandmother who fled an antisemitic country to arrive in Lo...
Musclebound – Camden People’s Theatre
London

Musclebound – Camden People’s Theatre

Very niche and very funny! Rosy Carrick ruminates about the eroticised torture of bodybuilders in mainstream films of the 1980s and her personal sexual exploration through the years. Having co-hosted the poetry stages at Latitude and Glastonbury festivals for the last decade, Rosy has the gift of gab and will have your attention immediately after 'coming' into the room. It is not often that we have one-woman comedy take centre stage shamelessly about their first explorations around sex as a child, a teen, an adult, a mother of a teen, or an older woman pursuing exactly what she fancies. This new show is asking a lot of questions about the politics of female pleasure and untangling the creepers of shame, power, and torture around ideas of sexual exploration. Rosy has created a br...
King Lear – Almedia Theatre
London

King Lear – Almedia Theatre

Tour de force contextualising King Lear in the here and now.  Yaël Farber's directed recreations of Shakespeare have become synonymous with memorable action from the actors and actresses, moody lights and deep witnessing of self and others.  The earthy elements of the wind, rain and soil are brought alive on stage with outstanding craftsmanship. Max Perryment's music is brought centre stage by the talented actors and actresses who break into songs and by the infinite variety of instruments on stage and in the background. The violinist often contoured in inverted postures, usually a background in position but centre stage by adding additional flavourful notes.  Set designer Merle Hensel's delicate shimmering cascading fine chains curtain provides an aesthetic backgroun...
A Family Business – Omnibus Theatre
London

A Family Business – Omnibus Theatre

A show about how not to blow up the planet, a show about friendship, a show about diplomacy, and a show about what we all owe to each other as individuals and as nations, A Family Business is a genuinely thrilling and intensely educational experience. Written, performed, and introduced by the affable and erudite Chris Thorpe, watching this play feels like making a new friend. Clearly something Thorpe takes quite seriously, friendship is the foundation of this work, and his efforts to befriend experts and ignorant audiences alike are well worth their while. With a severe urgency befitting the play’s subject matter, director Claire O’Reilly weaves audiences confidently through Thorpe’s dense syllabus with more than a little hand holding. Photo: Andreas J. Etter With much the same e...
JAB – Finborough Theatre
London

JAB – Finborough Theatre

Married for 29 years, Anne and Don think they know each other well. They dance to their favourite music, share too many bottles of wine, muddle along in their empty-nest lives. Anne is an administrator with the NHS, Don runs a niche vintage shop that makes little money, leaving Anne as the main breadwinner. It works for them - until the pandemic hits and the country goes into lockdown. As Covid ravages the world, it also shows up the cracks in the marriage. Anne continues to work long hours from home while Don has to close his shop and lazes around reading the Daily Mail and soaking up far-right conspiracy theories.  It's just the flu, he insists. It will go away in a month, he says, parroting what he's read in the tabloids. Irritated by his increasing dependence on Anne, Don's sexis...
Othello – Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
London

Othello – Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Director Ola Ince rendition of Shakespeare’s dark tragedy   The authentic Shakespearean Othello ‘Moorish’ features as a top ranking detective police officer in the London metropolitan force, which offers up the notion that this is not your ordinary version of Othello. The opening scene introduces the characters Othello Ken Nwosu’s and Poppy Gilbert as his wife, Desdemona entwined in love a marriage vows. Shakespearean enthusiasts will recognise the familiar characters of the devious hateful Iago portrayed by Ralph Davis and Cassio played by Oli Higginson. References to police dialogue and officers switching from uniformed police, in body  armour  merges at times quite clumsily with the Shakespearean text, which at times feels wrong but as the sequence of events u...
Stitches – The Hope Theatre
London

Stitches – The Hope Theatre

My 19-year-old son has a teddy, or should I say a rag that used to be a teddy; I also had a favourite teddy (shh, I’ve still got him in a drawer at home), and for most of us, it is the first possession that we learn to care for.  Stitches, turns the story around, and the teddy becomes the narrator/obsessive observer of Chloe the baby, Teddy’s baby, and the story is born at Chloe’s birth.  Teddy was bought as a present for Chloe, and Teddy has rejection anxiety – will Chloe want me?  Am I cute enough?  He needn’t have worried, Chloe immediately cuddles him and squeezes his ear - the beginning of a life journey together! Written and performed by Jonathan Blakeley, this play is an exploration of commitment, to love someone through the good times and the bad.  It’s...
Lemn Sissay – Poetry Club at the Coronet Theatre
London

Lemn Sissay – Poetry Club at the Coronet Theatre

In 2016, I shared a green room with Lemn Sissay. We were both guests on BBC 2’s Newsnight. I’d been roped in at the last minute to discuss ‘bisexual erasure’. Sissay was on the show to highlight National Poetry Day and to mark the occasion, he delivered a blistering and hypnotic performance of ‘Architecture’. It’s a poem about awesome potential, chaos and evolution. Look it up YouTube. One minute and nineteen seconds that will leave you breathless. To be honest, I was more excited about being in a room with this exceptional poet, than being on live television or getting grilled by Evan Davis. Lemn Sissay is a BAFTA-nominated, award-winning one-man dynamo. He’s written collections of poetry and plays, while his memoir My Name Is Why was a number one Sunday Times bestseller. His work ...
Hir – Park Theatre
London

Hir – Park Theatre

Vomiting all over the kitchen-sink dramedy, Taylor Mac’s black comedy shakes a cynical showmanship and irreverent discursiveness into an acidic concoction that’s a good deal easier to swallow than it is to digest. Hir (pronounced ‘here’) is a tough watch. Content warnings for “strong profanity throughout, along with discussions of sex, sexuality, and descriptions and visual evidence of domestic violence, rape and drug abuse” can be found by hunting through the production’s online listing and should be heeded. As bashful as its humour is bleak, the play’s darkest scenes are also its most illuminating. Depicting a vision of the American family life metaphorically and literally set in Malvina Reynolds’ “little boxes” it is a claustrophobic environment with a set not quite big enough for its ...