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Theatre


Mammals at the Bush Theatre, London
The instinctive speech and behaviour of the children unwittingly expresses the human condition better than the self-analysis of their adult counterparts, because ultimately, no matter how hard we try to define ourselves as humans, explanations will always elude us.
Hannah Knowles

The Heiress of the Cane Fields at the Greenwich Plahouse, London
Julio Dinis' is a familiar literary theme; pivotal moments of socio-political change have always offered great artistic and dramatic potential. There are traces of Hardy in his affiliation with the countryside; yet the author has generally been overlooked in the canon of European artists.
Rhona Foulis

Pyrenees at the Menier Chocolate Factory, London
Greig has created an intricate exploration of memory and the fluid nature of identity. He shows how even the way we self-identify in terms of nationality or ethnicity has as much to do with our own conscious or unconscious personal choice as it has to do with our actual circumstances.
Chris Wilkinson

Thomas More at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-on-Avon
The play contains a plea for the essential universal condition of humanity. In this production though, the RSC is trying to make a more modern - a more relevant - and ultimately a more crass point.
Austin Williams

The Girl with Red Hair at Hampstead Theatre, London
There is a pleasing sense of emotional development to a play in which nothing much happens: we feel, rather than see, the dramatic denouement.
Rhona Foulis

Poor Beck at Soho Theatre, London
For me, the disappointing brilliant Persil-white of Myrrha's underpants takes something from the play's dramatic climax, but this could conceivably be symbolic.
Dolan Cummings

Midwinter at Soho Theatre, London
Midwinter is interestingly lyrical in its writing, but Harris's guarded production doesn't reveal the symbolism of her poetry. Where are we? What is the war? And who are these people? An oblique narrative spirals into too many unanswered questions, with too little drama to sustain our interest in resolving them.
Rhona Foulis

Mercury Fur at the Menier Chocolate Factory, London
It is occasionally hard to relate the innate sense of societal cynicism to Philip Ridley's apparent faith in the basic goodness of the individual and, well, the power of love, but his writing, the acting, and the design of the entire production make Mercury Fur theatrically intriguing.
Amy Matthews

A Raisin in the Sun at the Lyric Hammersmith, London
The script is full of drama and dramatic potential. Hansberry shows the economic, social and familial ramifications of racially stratified 1950s America. By exclusively focusing on one black family, she conveys intra-racial conflict with not a hint of blame and a lot of humanity.
Rhona Foulis

Body Anonymous at Baron's Court Theatre, London
All the play's characters are afraid of being unimportant, unwanted, rejected. These fears dominate their behaviour and make them lead deeply self-centred lives, particularly the maddening Jen who is so scared of never being loved that she becomes obsessed with the indifferent Mark, because he is vaguely nice to her.
Hannah Knowles

Project C on Principle at BAC, London
We are presented with a well chosen set of characters who give a convincing picture of life at the top and bottom ends of London society. The actors double-, triple-, even quintuple-up their roles with a good deal of precision.
Andrew Haydon

Lovers From Hell at the Oval House Theatre, London
The themes are universal, those of love, lust and loss, but the tone still lies, perhaps a little uncomfortably, between established gay culture and a more objective exploration of theatre's relationship with homosexual characters.
Amy Matthews

Whose Life Is It Anyway? at Comedy Theatre , London
The fact that this play hasn't caused offence should be a worry for anybody who takes what, for once, deserves to be called a 'life and death' issue seriously.
David Clements

Miss Julie at the Greenwich Playhouse, London
Miss Julie is still a thoroughly modern (or indeed postmodern) character; her malaise - manifested by moods, depression and confusion about identity - is of far greater relevance to the situation of the masses in the 21st century than the jobsworth inverse snobbery of the maid Christine.
Patrick Hayes

Cargo at the Oval House Theatre, London
They bring disease and terrorism; they swamp our schools and rape our women; sometimes, they even eat swans...
Chris Wilkinson

Take Me Away at the Bush Theatre, London
Through bleak humour, Gerald Murphy charts the corruption of the patriarchal family. Take Me Away questions the status of the family institution today, but proffers no alternative for disaffected men, who refuse to relate to each other.
Rhona Foulis

The Small Things at the Menier Chocolate Factory, London
Bernard Gallagher and Valerie Lilley are too good in their roles, almost perfectly capturing the flaws and weariness of the two isolated characters, ironically to the detriment of any sense of a universal human tragedy.
Patrick Hayes

Etta Jenks at the Finborough Theatre, London
Meyer comes to the trite conclusion that as porn pawns, women have lost control of their bodies and therefore themselves. The play could more interestingly have explored the ways in which screen actresses and celebrities in general lose ownership of their bodies.
Rhona Foulis

Colder Than Here at Soho Theatre, London
What do you do when you know you are going to die? Myra devises a PowerPoint presentation on homemade funerals, complete with tacky sound effects. Her husband and daughters struggle to see the funny side, until Myra forces them to confront their own fears, and get on with their lives and each other.
Beckie Mills

Tejas Verdes at the Bush Theatre, London
It is a fundamentally human tragedy of inconceivable torture. In this appropriately intimate performance space, five powerful actors deliver their monologues directly at the audience, showing that the political is essentially personal.
Rhona Foulis

Strictly Dandia at the Lyric Hammersmith, London
The obvious themes of the Romeo recipe recur and resonate with Indian traditions: arranged marriage, defined and justified as 'fate'; parental control and expectations; and the radical potential of all-conquering love.
Rhona Foulis

Blood Wedding at the Baron's Court Theatre, London
Perhaps director Susie Clare added the introduction because she was afraid Lorca's highly poetic, stylised language would prove alienating to the audience. Instead it is the awkward exchanges in the new material and the radical shift in tone between this and the play itself that proves difficult to comprehend.
Hannah Knowles

Macbeth at the Almeida, London
Macbeth here dies laughing, a blessed release from a godless world, but it is not moving. Because if it were moving then this would not be a true portrait of pointlessly cruel, unnecessary and postmodern existence.
Matt Warman

Bites at the Bush Theatre, London
Whether or not Bites really does scare the audience, it is not itself entirely at ease. In a sequence of food-related playlets, it roves from place to place, looking for trouble, and finding it everywhere.
Michael Caines

Losing Louis at the Hampstead Theatre, London
I can see why people are talking about this play deserving a West End transfer. The production itself is superb, and although the script may not change the world, it certainly makes for a highly enjoyable evening.
Rachel Wagstaff

Head/Case at Soho Theatre, London
The complexity of the relationship between language and identity is vividly brought to life by characters who experience language as meaningless, yet cling to words which provide them with security.
Ruth Sheldon

Patience at the Finborough Theatre, London
Where did it all go wrong? Can you pinpoint the moment, the bad decision or the unlucky break that made your life fall apart? The message of Jason Sherman's play seems to be that everyone's life is always falling apart.
Dolan Cummings

Fix Up at the National Theatre, London
Kiyi's bookshop and his history have become not so much a source of knowledge and enlightenment as a painful retreat, a pathetic excuse for a real life.
Matt Warman

World Cup Final 1966 at BAC, London
Arguably, the audience is one of theatre's great underexploited resources, but World Cup Final 1966 makes use of everything including our hair and teeth.
Dolan Cummings

The History Boys at the National Theatre, London
The play is uproariously funny, but cleverly turns to a tone of gentle seriousness, its social message refusing to be dismissed as mere comedic fun.
Rhona Foulis

 

 
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