#171 - Inventive, invigorating, daft - theatre review, Hadestown 2/11/18

National Theatre, Olivier

How inventive, how invigorating, and how incurably daft is this bluesy musical based on the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice? Anais Mitchell’s show, based on her concept album, has been ramped into vivid dimensional life by director Rachel Chavkin and a ballsy cast featuring some extraordinary voices. But beneath all the sass and swagger it’s a schmaltzy story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl to the King of the Underworld, boy meets and loses girl again. Worse, Patrick Page’s stentorian Hades is equated with Trump as an industrialist, polluter and wall-builder, which makes no sense. Overall it’s great fun but after the protracted denouement you come out thinking…. Really?

#170 - "Simply charming" - concert review, Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra 17/11/18

Cadogan Hall

There wasn’t much jazz in Jeff Goldblum’s jazz concert but it didn’t matter. The actor and gifted amateur keyboard noodler interspersed an unchallenging set of standards with chat, bantz and outrageous flirtation and ego-flaunting that would be creepy in another performer but seemed simply charming from him. (His wife, mother of his two young children, was in the audience.) When he did settle down to the ivories he had fun, buoyed up and made better by the professional side men of the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, and by soulful guest vocalist Imelda May. He ended on a jazzy rendition of the Jurassic Park theme: classy, brilliant

#169 - "Domestic intimacy and a strong supernatural tang" - theatre review, Macbeth 14/11/18

Evening Standard

Having real-life spouses Michelle Terry and Paul Ready play the Macbeths adds an air of domestic intimacy to Shakespeare’s play, especially in this close, candlelit space. Terry is the more powerful actor (and, as Globe director, her husband’s boss) and her Lady Macbeth is the more vividly realised of the murderous duo. Read’s soliloquies tend to drift, though he snaps into focus at the end. Robert Hastie’s production can seem a little, er, hurried, but it has a strong supernatural tang. If you’re looking for something weightier than panto this year, look no further.

#168 - "A superb central performance by Threlfall" - theatre review, Don Quixote 13/11/18

Garrick Theatre

The slapstick humour of Angus Jackson’s delightful, teeming adaptation of Cervantes’ pioneering novel is anchored by David Threlfall’s superb central performance. His bittersweet Quixote grows in pathos as his mind and body weaken, and there is extraordinary physical and vocal precision in his characterisation. Rufus Hound’s genial Sancho Panza lacks energy, but the affection between the two – the characters and the actors – is palpable. It’s all served up with typical RSC largesse – hordes of actors and musicians, great sets and props – but with audience participation and self-deprecating wit substituted for the company’s usual po-faced pomp. A real pleasure.

#167 - "Are we hitting peak Pinter" - theatre review, Pinter Three 12/11/18

Harold Pinter Theatre

Are we hitting peak Pinter? This is the third tranche in a season programmed by director Jamie Lloyd, pulling together all 20 of the playwright’s short plays, and I confess I felt fatigue setting in. It’s a delight to see Tamsin Greig and Keith Allen’s nuanced, gentle performances in both A Kind of Alaska (1982) and Landscape (1969), but precious little links these mainstays of the evening. Lee Evans’s pre-interval performance of Monologue (1973) is swamped by the bittier sketches and one-acters that crowd around it. The whole season is staged on the same revolving box of a set, and that, too, is showing diminishing returns.

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