fri 17/08/2018

Theatre Reviews

Canary, Hampstead Theatre

aleks Sierz The cast of 'Canary': Harvey creates a kaleidoscope of history by filling the air with a mix of funny one-liners and wry observation

One of the least lamented (by me at least) genres that has fallen foul of social changes in the past two decades is the 1980s gay drama. You know the kind of thing: right-on coming-out speeches, painful but ridiculous instances of homophobia, and the compulsory dying-of-AIDS scene. The irony is that Jonathan Harvey, whose 1993 classic Beautiful Thing did so much to pull the gay play out of its ghetto, has now returned to this 1980s genre. His latest play, which opened last night and...

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I Am a Warehouse, Newhaven Fort, Brighton Festival Fringe

David Nice Anna-Maria Nabirye taking on the role of the bombed Gaza warehouse

Just say "Gaza" and it's like throwing a bombshell marked "Darwin" in among the Creationists. Only in this case it's not always clear who the antagonists might be. Several seemingly liberal theatre venues in Israel, where this project originated as a clear statement of the UN Relief and Works Agency's humanitarian role, cancelled at the last minute; more recently, supposedly enlightened sponsors suddenly withdrew substantial support. None had seen or read the content. It seems that telling the...

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Ditch, Old Vic Tunnels

aleks Sierz Gethin Anthony as James: the new arrival is soon introduced to the horrors of war

Dystopia is a genre that works like a rhetorical device. Take a government policy — let’s say the war in Afghanistan — then list the bad effects that this has had on the British people, exaggerate by a factor of ten, or more, add some obscure but sinister language, extrapolate by throwing in some nightmarish horrors, and then wrap it all up for a small cast. If you’re lucky, as Beth Steel has been with her debut play which opened last night at the Old Vic Tunnels, you’ll get a really...

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Peter Pan, Barbican Theatre

alexandra Coghlan

“All over the world children are safe – but not here, not on my ship.” Despite its wild pack of homeless children, a flesh-eating crocodile and some of the most gut-punching depictions of parental grief in all literature, J M Barrie’s Peter Pan has somehow been consigned to the theatrical remainders bin, its old-fashioned sentimentality acceptable really only at Christmas, or in pantomime form.

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A Thousand Stars Explode in the Sky, Lyric Hammersmith

aleks Sierz Ann Mitchell, Nigel Cooke and Harry McEntire: ‘Much of the dialogue is obstinately ordinary, with a deliberately insistent quotidien feel’

During the past week, as the first coalition government for 70 years has been formed in the UK, we were frequently warned that failure to find a solution might be the end of the world. It’s a solid, if usually over-used, metaphor. But what would happen if we really did face the end of life on Earth? You know, the real thing: a total catastrophe — the implosion of the universe — which we could predict, but not prevent? That is the premise of this unusual new play, a joint effort by playwrights...

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Love the Sinner, National Theatre

aleks Sierz

Religion, and a sense of the revival of belief, is such an important part of everyday life in the wider population that it is one of the stranger facts about contemporary theatre that so few plays tackle this subject. In fact, the last new British play to do this at the National was David Hare’s Racing Demon in 1990. Now, 20 years later, the same Cottesloe theatre space bears witness to a new play, which opened last night, about the same subject.

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Eurydice, Young Vic Theatre

Sam Marlowe Love's young dream: Ony Uhiara and Osi Okerafor

Since Eurydice was the ill-fated wife of Orpheus, master musician, it’s not inappropriate that this reworking of the classical myth by the award-winning US writer Sarah Ruhl should be so much like a song. Her language has a kind of blunt lyricism, and the action of her drama, with its recurrent waves of water imagery, has a vivid, surreal fluidity that eddies and flows like an elusive melody. Sometimes the playfulness is beguiling; sometimes it merely seems arch. And in Bijan Sheibani’s stark...

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Debbie Reynolds - Alive and Fabulous, Apollo Theatre

David Nice

Let me confess immediately: Debbie Reynolds didn't mean a great deal to me beyond Singin' in the Rain, warbling "Tammy" and Being Princess Leia's Mother (and believe me, she gets plenty of comic mileage out of the Carrie Fisher connection). But I knew she had a fabulous Hollywood history, and having been smitten by old troupers Elaine Stritch and Barbara Cook in London, I wondered if she could match them.

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Women Beware Women, National Theatre

aleks Sierz

The recent fuss about British culture being anti-Catholic just because some civil servant wrote a spoof memo satirising the Pope’s upcoming visit may have been overblown, but it is certainly true that, in the past, Italy was a byword for rank corruption. To doughty English Protestants, Rome was a stew of sin and Italians were Machiavellian plotters and idolators.

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Would Like to Meet, Barbican Centre

aleks Sierz non zero one: ‘the show will appeal more to idealistic youngsters than hardened cynics’

Is there such a thing as iPod theatre for a new digital generation? Given the enormous boom in site-specific performances and the growing use of electronic gadgets, the answer seems like yes, and this new show by non zero one - a group of recent graduates from Royal Holloway, University of London - is billed as an interrogation of the “new methods of communication that are designed to connect us over huge distances and in all scenarios”. An example of participant theatre, the 50-minute piece,...

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