tue 14/08/2018

Theatre Reviews

Mood Music, Old Vic review - riveting critique of the music biz

aleks Sierz

Playwright Joe Penhall and the music biz? Well, they have history. When he was writing the book for Sunny Afternoon, his 2014 hit musical about the Kinks, he had a few run-ins with Ray Davies, the band’s lead singer.

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Chess, London Coliseum review - powerfully sung but still problematic

Matt Wolf

Its origins as a concept album cling stubbornly to Chess, the Tim Rice collaboration with the male members of ABBA first seen on the West End in 1986 and extensively retooled since then in an ongoing quest to hit the elusive jackpot.

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Nine Night, National Theatre review - Jamaican family drama full of spirit

aleks Sierz

The good news about so-called black drama on British stages is that it has broken out of its gangland violence ghetto and now talks about a whole variety of other subjects. Like loss. Like death. Like mourning.

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The Writer, Almeida Theatre review - deconstruction run rampant

Matt Wolf

Forget write what you know: writing what you feel would seem to be the impetus driving Ella Hickson's often-startling The Writer, a broadside from the trenches that takes no prisoners, least of all the audience.

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Absolute Hell, National Theatre review - high gloss show saves over-rated classic

aleks Sierz

Rodney Ackland must be the most well-known forgotten man in postwar British theatre. His legend goes like this: Absolute Hell was originally titled The Pink Room, and first staged in 1952 at the Lyric Hammersmith, where it got a critical mauling. The Sunday Times’s Harold Hobson said that the audience “had the impression of being present, if not at the death of talent, at least at its very serious illness”.

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The Prudes, Royal Court review - hilarious but frustrating sex show

aleks Sierz

Playwright Anthony Neilson has always been fascinated by sex. I mean, who isn’t? But he has made it a central part of his career. In his bad-boy in-yer-face phase, from the early 1990s to about the mid-2000s, he pioneered a type of theatre that talked explicitly about sex and sexuality.

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Strictly Ballroom: The Musical, Piccadilly Theatre review - largely naff

Matt Wolf

A much tinkered-with show needs to go back to the drawing board, if this latest iteration of Strictly Ballroom: The Musical is any gauge.

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Kathleen Turner: Finding My Voice, The Other Palace review - a familiar name in freshly exciting form

Matt Wolf

A one-time Martha and Maggie the Cat in the theatre, and a screen siren of the sort they don't make any more, might not be the first person you expect to see swaggering on to a London stage in a dark pantsuit ready to offer up two hours of song and chat.

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Rasheeda Speaking, Trafalgar Studios review - unsettling comedy, thorny racism

Tom Birchenough

Conflict and comedy can be unpredictable bedfellows, and Chicago playwright Joel Drake Johnson’s 2014 play occasionally risks overstretching itself in its attempts to reconcile the two – although its immediate context, the world of office politics, has a rich history of showing humanity at its worst, and...

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Bat Out of Hell, Dominion Theatre review - the Meat Loaf musical returns, batty as ever

Marianka Swain

Back by feverishly popular demand, Jim Steinman’s mega-musical is no longer in danger of alarming unsuspecting opera-goers.

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