#65 - "Doh, of course it should be done al fresco"- theatre review, King Lear 01/09/17

Shakespeare's Globe

Doh! Of course Lear should be done al fresco! Even on a balmy night the Globe’s bare, exposed stage seems apt, giving Nancy Meckler’s production an admirable simplicity. She mines humour from the play without tipping into farce, for there is aching pathos too in Kevin R McNally’s blustering, bristling Lear, whose apparent haleness is belied by spasms of pain. There’s richly characterful support from Burt Caesar’s Gloucester, Joshua James’s nuanced Edgar and Saskia Reeves as Kent – the latter proving gender changes can go unremarked. The use of drums to indicate both battles and storms is stirring and inspired. Doh! Again. Obvious, really.

#65 - "Simple, rough theatre, deftly directed but given a kicking" (1/2) - theatre review, Knives in Hens, 30/08/17

Donmar Warehouse

David Harrower’s play is an earthily austere portrait of sex, power, language and belief – and of how self-expression affects all these things. I’m biased in my fondness for it: my first date with my wife was to the London premiere 22 years ago at the Bush, and I interviewed and liked the director of this revival, Yael Farber.  True, on one level it’s a writer banging on about how great writing is, and the muiddy formality of the dialogue borders on the Pythonesque at times. But the rural pre-industrial love-triangle of ploughman, wife, and despised miller is acted out with vigour and brio…

#64 - "Simple, rough theatre, deftly directed but given a kicking" (2/2) - theatre review, Knives in Hens, 30/08/17

Donmar Warehouse

…and the huge themes and formal simplicity of Harrower’s writing must be acknowledged. Yet the play was critically mauled, in part I suspect because the failure of Farber’s recent Salome at the National has made it legitimate to give this deeply serious international director a kicking for perceived pomposity. Weird: because Knives in Hens is simple, rough theatre, deftly directed and quite beautifully designed by Soutra Gilmour and the only time the young cast looked uncertain was the curtain call. Usually I’m ashamed of my former colleagues, full-time theatre critics, because they’re too soft: this time, it’s the opposite.

#63 - "It'd be gimmicky if everything were not both beautiful and delicious" - restaurant review, Magpie 08/08/17

Heddon St

Dishes arrive by trolley and tray at this cool new venture from the boys behind Pidgin, which might seem gimmicky if almost every one were not beautiful and delicious.  A starter of oysters with light vinegar (mirin?) and small apple cubes sets up the palate for explosive umami fried chicken, steak tartar concealing a naughty wodge of taleggio, and a piece of braised celeriac with watermelon so vivid it could convert me to vegetarianism. These were the standouts amid the nine (of 13) tray dishes we tried, augmented with poky cocktails, excellent wine by the glass and a consoling a la carte main of fat pasta noodles with kale, followed by a sprightly strawberry panzanella. Bravo.

#62 - "A beady role that Stockard Channing can and does play effortlessly" - theatre review, Apologia 08/08/17

Trafalgar Studios

A sixties idealist squares up to her angry adult sons and their partners in Alexei Kaye Campbell’s enjoyably well-crafted 2009 comedy, part of the growing canon of work calling the baby boomers to account. The role of beady American art historian Kristin is one that Stockard Channing can and does play effortlessly in Jamie Lloyd’s relaxed production. The oppositions of religion and politics, high and low art set up rather too obviously, and some characterisation is lazy. But Joseph Millson ably plays both brothers, Laura Carmichael turns in a superb performance as gauche Jesus freak Trudi and there are some firecracker moments from the luminous Freema Agyeman.

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