Curtain Call in COVID-19

The last time I saw live theatre was back in late 2019, when I was sat watching Paul O’Grady in drag performing in the pantomime version of Goldilocks. Despite my preconceptions of watching a pantomime as an adult, it was surprisingly rude and worthy of genuine laughs out loud. I left the theatre entertained and desperate to tell any unlucky acquaintance about the past two hours of sex and bum jokes I had just witnessed. Over a year later, it looks like theatres will finally be able to reopen to half capacity on 17 May 2021, and full capacity on that fated day in June 2021. But with the cinema industry hit hard enough to bankrupt Cineworld, things don’t bode well for the theatre industry. Continue reading Curtain Call in COVID-19

Review: Royal Shakespeare Company: Othello

Iqbal Khan’s Othello is a haunting rendition of psychological unravelling. With a stage bathed in blue light, a set reminiscent of a gothic church, and songs performed like elegies, Shakespeare’s controversial tragedy undergoes a thematic dismantling. Khan’s Othello recontextualises the play’s depictions of brutality and injustice. Costumes wander in a realm between modern and timeless, and additional dialogue involves the multi-racial community exchanging racist insults using current language. Most notably, the dynamic between Othello and the manipulative Iago shifts, with the compelling casting choice of a black actor as Iago. Continue reading Review: Royal Shakespeare Company: Othello

Review: NT Live: Amadeus

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is, to most, synonymous with classical music. The composer is widely adored, and his music is often played by students to help them concentrate when pulling an all-nighter or cramming some revision. The play Amadeus, perhaps contrary to what the title may suggest,does not focus entirely on this complicated individual, but rather on Antonio Salieri, the composer creating at the same time as Mozart. This heavily dramatised account acts as part confession and part swan song of the dying artist in his last few hours on earth. The plot is full of activity, though rather simple to follow, as Salieri invites the audience to listen to his tale, the character imagining us as ghosts of the future judging his supposed actions. What we witness is a hard-working and deeply religious man making a name for himself on the Viennese court and whose outputs are minimised when compared with the works of Mozart. Continue reading Review: NT Live: Amadeus

Review: National Theatre at Home: Frankenstein

A collection of 3,500 light bulbs hang above the audience, flashing all at once, as electronic static buzzes persistently. A spherical, beige screen – veiny, alien, womb-like – stands alone on the stage, until suddenly a hand bursts through it. Even for a virtual viewer, there is a sensory overload of light and sound as the Creature falls hard on the floor. It convulses and squirms, wet and barely conscious, twitching like a fish out of water. In silence, we watch it attempt to move, adjusting to its limbs as if paralysed. Continue reading Review: National Theatre at Home: Frankenstein

Review: National Theatre at Home: Twelfth Night

From director Simon Godwin comes a colourful, chaotic frenzy of a Twelfth Night that is choc-a-bloc with laughs, love, music and anguish. As part of the National Theatre at Home’s free YouTube streaming of shows, this week we are treated to Godwin’s vision of the foolish antics of Shakespeare’s tortured misfits and loveable rogues.

If you aren’t familiar with Twelfth Night, it is a classic Shakespeare comedy about mistaken identity. Sebastian and Viola are shipwrecked on the island of Illyria, and Viola assumes her brother’s identity, thinking he is dead. However, things don’t go smoothly for her when she gets caught in a love triangle with the Duke Orsino and Olivia, doting on him while Olivia dotes as much on her. Continue reading Review: National Theatre at Home: Twelfth Night

Review: National Theatre at Home: Jane Eyre

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sally Cookson’s adaptation of Jane Eyre seeks to enhance the progressive, feminist quality of Charlotte Bronte’s writing. Through physical theatre, evocative music and a fiery protagonist, this play strives to shift this classic love story into a bildungsroman. While slightly encumbered by its three-hour length and a depth of source material to untangle, this adaptation undeniably succeeds in bringing something new to well-trodden territory. Continue reading Review: National Theatre at Home: Jane Eyre

Review: National Theatre at Home:One Man, Two Guvnors

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One of the many restrictions that fell into place as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown was the closure of theatres. The National Theatre, however, became one of the first of a growing number of theatres attempting to allow the show to go on, by publishing recordings of their most popular shows online for free. As part of weekly digital showings, last Thursday 2 April, Richard Bean’s acclaimed One Man, Two Guvnors kicked off proceedings to the delight of theatre fanatics worldwide. Continue reading Review: National Theatre at Home:One Man, Two Guvnors

Review: A Taste of Honey @ Trafalgar Studios

A Taste of Honey, Shelagh Delaney’s debut play (written when she was just 19 years old), proves that being a product of its time does not stop art from being important to contemporary audiences. Bijan Sheibani’s current touring production, for the National Theatre and showing at Trafalgar Studios in London this holiday season, only serves to reiterate this point. When the play premiered at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1958, it was considered part of the post-war ‘kitchen sink’ genre because of how it revolutionised British theatre by questioning class, race, gender and sexuality in mid-20th century Britain. Continue reading Review: A Taste of Honey @ Trafalgar Studios

Review: NT Live ‘Present Laughter’

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Present Laughter follows a few days in the life of Garry Essendine, an esteemed stage actor, just before he embarks on a tour of Africa. As the play progresses, it delves into Garry’s ego, penchant for one-night stands with bright young things, and precarious relationships with his nearest and dearest – an ex-wife, a beleaguered secretary, and friends and business partners Morris and Henry – all explored with equally humorous and heart-breaking results. The play debuted in 1942 and was one of Noel Coward’s best-known plays, earning great praise from critics and the public alike. Many have said that the character of Garry Essendine is a self-portrait – Coward was known as ‘the original pop star’ and had to navigate the highs and lows of celebrity life himself.  The 2019 revival’s director, Andy Warchus, chose to stay true to Coward’s script, apart from two key gender swaps: ‘Henry’ becomes ‘Helen’, and his wife becomes a husband. This is key in the way that the relationships between characters play out, and, arguably, more accurately reflects Coward’s character and original intention for the script, as he himself was closeted during his lifetime.   Continue reading Review: NT Live ‘Present Laughter’

Review: People, Places & Things

People, Places & Things is an intense 2 ½ hour tumble through a world of addiction, depression and atonement, chasing broken actor Emma (or is it Sarah? Or Nina?) as she tries to navigate today’s instability and chaos. Following a sold-out season at the National Theatre and extended season on London’s West End, People, Places & Things continues with a UK and New York transfer … Continue reading Review: People, Places & Things