Harold Pinter: short plays – 5 stars

The People's Theatre, Newcastle. I went with some trepidation to the People's Studio space on opening night. Pinter's work can, in the wrong hands, go disastrously wrong, and even in skilled hands can be tough to sit through. I needn't have worried. Director Mary MacDonald and the cast have put together a programme of one-act … Continue reading Harold Pinter: short plays – 5 stars

My Big Gay Italian Wedding – 5 stars

Above The Stag Theatre, London. It's testament to the exuberant fun and sheer spectacle - not to mention the first class performances - of this production, that I didn't look down at my little pad once to make a note during the 90-minute running time. Fresh from a hugely successful run at this year's Edinburgh … Continue reading My Big Gay Italian Wedding – 5 stars

Ivanov – 0 stars

Theatre Collection, London. Victor Sobchak's dire production fails on pretty much every level. He shuffles his actors around the stage like a novice chess player blindly pushes the pieces around the board, but beyond that he appears to have bestowed nothing whatsoever of a director's eye on this piece. Settings are unclear and scene changes … Continue reading Ivanov – 0 stars

Hamlet Smith – 4 stars

Arch 61, London. Four seemingly disconnected and dysfunctional people, through a series of short intermittent monologues, take us on their roller-coaster ride of increasing frustrations over the course of a day, in this short piece by Spanish playwright Miguel Morillo and translated by Daniel Curshen. The play drips with misanthropic cynicism. The theme is very … Continue reading Hamlet Smith – 4 stars

I Have A Dream… – 3 stars

Producing theatre for children is a tricky thing to get right. Playing for easy, obvious laughs is a sure-fire way to get and keep your audience on board, but that's not always easy to achieve or the right choice creatively - particularly when you have as serious a subject matter as this. It is to … Continue reading I Have A Dream… – 3 stars

Double Act – 5 stars

Wimbledon Studio Theatre, London. It is 1972, and comedy double act Douglas and Adams are at the end of their successful summer season tour. They are riding high, with another TV series in the pipeline. But one of them has some news that will tear things apart. Martyn Grahame's script cracks along, full of witty … Continue reading Double Act – 5 stars

Kid Arthur and the Knights of the Revolution – 3 stars

This feels very much like a play of two halves. Set in a bleak not-too-distant future where "dreams have been outlawed and imagination has all but vanished", there is, during the first 20 minutes or so, a lot of information to get across, a bit too much exposition, and a cacophony of ideas. It all … Continue reading Kid Arthur and the Knights of the Revolution – 3 stars

Casual Violence: Choose Death Edinburgh Preview – 4 stars

New Red Lion Theatre, London. The New Red Lion in Islington is 'London's newest comedy venue', and on Saturday night played host to James Hamilton and his "tragi-comedy sketch bastards" Casual Violence, for the only London preview of their Edinburgh show. Having seen this group perform in the past, I was looking forward to this … Continue reading Casual Violence: Choose Death Edinburgh Preview – 4 stars

Phantasmagoria – 4 stars

'Phantasmagoria', we are told on the front of the program, is a noun meaning 'a fantastic sequence of haphazardly associative imagery…' and Gravel Theatre Company have certainly succeeded in producing that with their latest collection of three 20-minute plays. The first one is '80 Miles East Of Nowhere', written by Ciaran Dowd and directed by … Continue reading Phantasmagoria – 4 stars

Who Ate All The Pies? – 4 stars

Tristan Bates Theatre, The Actor's Centre, London. The cynical amongst us might think that "a modern musical football fable" going on this month is timed to coincide with the biggest football competition in the world. I rather suspect it is, to be honest, but don't let that put you off or make you think that … Continue reading Who Ate All The Pies? – 4 stars