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SHOLOM ALEICHEM IN THE OLD COUNTRY

The Lion & Unicorn Theatre, Kentish Town, 30 Oct – 25 Nov

*****

‘Reichlin gifts are shown to brilliant effect in this show, with his sonorous voice and exquisite mime’

This solo show by Saul Reichlin, is devoted to Sholom Aleichem.  Aleichem is the writer whose stories became ‘Fiddler on the Roof’.  The stories are put together to form a narrative taking the audience on a journey of discovery about the writer and his stories based ... Read More

 

GILDED BUTTERFLIES

Devised by Tormented Casserole Productions

The Hope Theatre, Islington, N1 1RL, 6 - 24 November 2018

****

“Truly shocking – the play is brilliant”

If you have not heard of the Hope Theatre in Islington you might still have spent time in the actual venue – the Hope & Anchor pub is a North London institution for discovering live bands and I am glad theatre has now been added to my list of memories of this location. Read More

 

SEXY LAUNDRY by Michele Rimi

The Tabard Theatre, 31 October - 25 November 2018

****

‘… a laugh out loud sitcom type play, with some food for thought – this is a must-see production’  

Michele Rimi’s Sexy Laundry is a profound and stunning example of a 25-year marriage on the rocks. The writer cleverly captures the unfortunate consequences of complacency in relationships, leaving the audience to question: What is true love? Read More

 

BURY THE DEAD by Irwin Shaw

Finborough Theatre 30th October - 24th November 2018

*****

“If I was allowed to give this production six stars I would’

For my sins I knew little about Irwin Shaw. I remember in my youth coming across his novel ‘Rich Man, Poor Man’, which was made into a very successful television series in the ‘70s. I had an impression of a writer who was extremely capable but little more than that.  Yet without a doubt his early expressionist play ‘Bury the dead’ puts him amongst the pantheon of great American writers ...  Read More

 

EXODUS by Rachael Boulton

Finborough Theatre, until 20th November 2018

****

‘brimming with indomitable Welsh spirit’

The industrial heartlands of Wales have slowly had the heart torn out of them, first with the destruction of the mining industry and then with the death by a thousand cuts of a decade of austerity. As the last factory in town is set to be demolished, four unlikely friends gather ... Read More 

 

THE FIRE RAISERS by Max Frisch

Hen and Chickens Theatre, Islington, 7 to 19 November 2018

****

‘… the energy, pace and blackest of black comedy of the piece thoroughly earn its four stars.

There’s an old cartoon. Six sheep in a field gaze at a poster asking them to vote for Mr Wolf, who’s promising to eat them if elected. “Say what you like about him,” says one of them, “he tells it like it is”.  Max Frisch’s 1948 absurdist comedy pulls the same trick. Read More

 

BREXIT by Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky

Kings’ Head Theatre, Islington until 17th November 2018

****

‘A sharply written, sharply observed satire on the whole Brexit farce’  

While the actual Brexit squabbles continue apace, the negotiations in Khan and Salinsky’s Edinburgh hit have reached wading through custard in wellingtons speed. It’s 2020 and following the departure of ‘Matron’ the ... Read More

 

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A Musical Parody

King’s Head Theatre 31st October – 17th November 2018

*****

“Be(a)st of new British musicals”

Fat Rascal Theatre’s production of Beauty and the Beast: A Musical Parody at the King’s Head is a great example of the new wave of British musicals currently emerging onto the fringe theatre stage. The description of the show as a parody is a truly accurate representation of this volte-face of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, as boy does it alter ... Read More

 

SWEET LIKE CHOCOLATE BOY

Written and directed by Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu

Playing at Brockley Jack Theatre until November 17th  

****

‘An entertaining and important piece of theatre, Sweet Like Chocolate Boy most assuredly represents the emergence of a new voice in theatre’  

Premiering at the tail end of Black History Month, Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu’s Sweet Like Chocolate Boy is a roving but spirited engaging play stuffed with ideas and ambition. Touching upon issues to do with blackness ... Read More

 

BABY

Drayton Arms Theatre, 23 October to 9 November 2018

***

‘Duff show, charming and energetic performances worth the ticket.’

Is it possible to write a musical about anything? Sure, it is. Demon barbers. Dictatorial Argentinians. Roller-discoing Greek muses. Spelling bees. Which doesn’t mean that everything is going to work as a gripping story, and Baby, which, literally enough, is about having a baby ... Read More

 

JERICHO’S ROSE by Lilac Yosiphon

Hope Theatre, 16 October – 3 November 2018

**

“An over-ambitious exploration of memory and loss that could do without the bells and whistles”

If life is a journey, perhaps memory is the road. A passage that connects us to our past and our future, and one which we travel, returning to the events that made us who we are, and reaching forward to new experiences. If we spend our lives travelling in this way, where should we say is home? The place we come from or the place we are going to? ... Read More

 

TESTAMENT by Sam Edmunds

The Bread & Roses Theatre

Transfers to The Hope Theatre 21-29 October 2018

*****

I don’t believe we ever die. We are all just energy. ‘conservation of energy’

Max is a young man in hospital following an attempt to take his own life, after losing his girlfriend, Tess, in a car crash. When Max wakes up with his brother Chris is by his side, he is confused and disoriented. Due to a brain injury ... Read More

 

DRACULA by Bram Stoker

Brockley Jack Theatre 9 -27 October 2018

*****

“...my testicles are tingling”

For reasons, probably best lost in the mists of time, I spent one very happy summer in the ‘90s with Peter Ustinov. I don’t think it at all fanciful to mention Ross McGregor, the adapter and director of this masterful production of Dracula, in the same breath as the latter. Both have ... Read More

 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecological Oncology Unit by Halley Feiffer

Finborough Theatre until 27th October 2018

****

‘Thoroughly enjoyable sideways look at a serious subject.’  

What do you do when your post-op mother is semi-comatose in a hospital bed? Do you chat away cheerfully as normal or do you mope at the bedside waiting ... Read More

 

Giuseppe Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA

King’s Head Theatre until 27 October 2018

*****

‘Soprano Emma Walsh gives a world class performance in this expert new English version’

The real star of the show is Verdi’s music.  The singers, along with the pianist, have lost none of the beauty and catchiness of the original score.  Most notably, soprano Emma Walsh as Violetta gives a world class performance ... Read More

 

BULLET HOLE by Gloria Williams

Playing at Park Theatre until 27 October 2018

‘So I finally got my gift. Gifts are meant to be opened, right?’

Aged 7, Cleo (Gloria Williams) had FGM done to her. Perceived by the traditions of her culture as a ‘gift’, it leaves the adult Cleo with physical and emotional scars that have caused long-lasting psychological damage. Having come of age... Read More

 

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

Katzspace Theatre, SE1 1TY, 10th-24th October 2018

****

‘the best use of party poppers I have seen at the theatre’

Abridging a Shakespeare play is no mean feat: with many of his plays running into 3+ hours when staged in their entirety, Exploding Whale have done well to trim Much Ado About Nothing into a slick 90 minutes. The choice of text ... Read More

 

THE LESSON by Eugene Ionesco

The Hope Theatre until 13 October 2018

****

‘ … interspersed with moments of sheer brilliance’  

Director Matthew Parker makes brave choices in bringing challenging plays to the stage.    Ionesco’s THE LESSON with its satirical and absurdist content, is finely balanced.  Parker takes us into a curious and ridiculous world, at once comic and disturbing. Read More

 

LIFEBOAT by Nicola McCartney

Presented by the Jack Studio Theatre until 6 October 2018

‘Bravura performances and exciting staging’  

*****

On one very unlucky Friday the 13th, The City of Benares set sail from Liverpool for Canada. It was September 1940 and the ship had 90 child evacuees on board escaping the Blitz. Four days later, it was torpedoed by the Germans and sunk in the Atlantic. Only eleven evacuees survived. Read More 

 

THE SWORD OF ALEX by Rib Davis

White Bear Theatre until  6th October 2018

***

‘Potentially hard-hitting play that sometimes gets lost in its own convolutions. ’  

Films and television programmes are often preceded by content warnings so viewers can make up their minds about whether they watch or not or to simply prepare themselves emotionally and mentally. Read More

 

SQUARE ROUNDS by Tony Harrison

Finborough Theatre  4 - 29 September 2018

***1/2

‘… a powerful evening of theatre’  

Not since 1992 have we seen a London production of Tony Harrison’s anti-war play SQUARE ROUNDS, and with a tight verse structure along with a plethora of chemists from across the globe, it is certainly quirky enough ... Read More

 

A Winning Hazard: three comediettas by J. P. Wooler

Finborough Theatre until 25 September 2018

*****

“Victoriana at its most vivacious”  

As a wizened old hack with over 30 years of reviewing theatre, I rarely see anything new. Tonight’s performance of A Winning Hazard, plus two other comediettas by J. P. Wooler – Allow Me

to ... Read More

 

HAMILTON (LEWIS)

King’s Head Theatre until 22nd September 2018

**1/2

‘ … undeniably brimming with energy and vigour … But what exactly is being parodied?’

Are you in the mood for a musical parody based on Lewis Hamilton tweets, Nicole Scherzinger and the smash hit musical Hamilton? Running at the King’s Head Theatre, by Executive Director Fiona English with Music and Lyrics by David Eaton, that’s what you’ll get. Read More

 

THE DOG / THE CAT by Brendan Cowell and Lally Katz

The Hope Theatre 4 - 22 September 2018

****

‘a cat’s pyjamas of a double-bill’

Following from her huge success with Tristan Bernays’ OLD FOOLS at Southwark Playhouse director Sharon Burrell shows she has a magic comic touch with this double bill of animal-themed comedies.  Read More

 

ANTIGONE written by Sophocles,

translated and directed by Rachael Bellis

Bread and Roses Theatre 4 to 22 September

****

‘In this bold reimagining of the piece, directed by Rachael Bellis, the action is set in Durham during the 1984/5 Miners’ Strike.’

Wanting to bury the body of your dead sibling may seem a basic wish, but what if the ruler of the land forbade it? And what would be the consequences if you pursued this course of action regardless? Read More

 

CATERPILLAR by Alison Carr

Theatre 503, SW, 29 August - 22nd September 2018

***1/2

‘A bright play that never really delves beneath the surface’

The shabby seaside town with its echoes of a golden age genteelly going to seed makes for a rich setting for a play. CATERPILLAR is set in one such Miss Haversham of a town in a boarding house turned Air BnB.  Read More

 

THAT GIRL by Hatty Jones

Produced by Broken Silence Theatre

Old Red Lion Theatre 03 September 2018- 15 September 2018

*****

`Mesmerising performances from all three cast members

THAT GIRL, written by Hatty Jones, is inspired by her childhood memories and experiences as the child star of well-known family classic movie, Madeline. Read More

 

HOBSON’S CHOICE by Harold Brighouse

Brockley Jack Theatre 4th to 15th September 2018

****1/2

“Bah gum”  

The Brockley Jack Studio theatre is rightly becoming a beacon for all that is good in theatre. Run by the seriously impressive Karl Swinyard and Kate Bannister their mixture of classics and innovative new work often takes your breath away. Read More

 

THE TOAD IN THE HOLE by Simon James

Barons Court Theatre (Hammersmith) 4 – 9 September 2018

****1/2

‘Incredibly funny at times, whilst the traumatic events of the play are gestating throughout with a vice like grip’  

In Simon James’ THE TOAD IN THE HOLE we are met with something we have all been through, primary school education. However, this is a much darker, more disturbing ... Read More

 

MEDICINE by Meghan Tyler

The Hope Theatre, Islington 14 Aug – 1 Sept 2018

*****

‘exquisitely written and performed’

One dark night Margaret Byrne finds her daughter, Moira, at the end of a pier, drunk and about to throw herself in the sea in a suicide bid. So begins a heart-breaking, funny ... Read More

 

THE FULL MONTY

Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham until 1 September 2018

****

‘ … a fun filled, full evening of entertainment that left us all with a smile on our faces’

If you’ve seen the film but never seen the musical, you are in for a few surprises.  It’s no longer a story about unemployed Sheffield steelworkers because the action has been moved across the Atlantic to Buffalo, NY.  Yet, it has kept the quality of underdog does good ... Read More

 

NEWSREVUE  

Underbelly, Edinburgh 3 - 26 August 2018

*****

‘Popular songs everyone knows adapted with razor sharp lyrics that cut through the political bollocks of 2018’

Newsrevue have been entertaining audiences at Edinburgh Fringe since 1979. This year’s  sketches range from Big Ben not bonging, Dora the Explorer having border issues & ... Read More

 

A LITTLE HERO by Valeriy Pecheykin

White Bear Theatre 7 - 25 August 2018

****

'An absurdist horror of gay life in Putin's Russia'

In the fight against oppression, satire can be a powerful tool. Throughout history, despotic rulers and brutal regimes have sought to crush ... Read More 

 

FOR REASONS THAT REMAIN UNCLEAR…

Written by Mart Crowley and directed by Jessica Lazar

King’s Head Theatre 25 July – 25 August 2018

*****

‘…what is certain is that the King’s Head Theatre’s revival, which is also the play’s European premiere, is the right production at the right time.’  

It is not always apparent why a particular play that is unsuccessful on debut later goes on to have a triumphant revival. Read More 

 

LAMPLIGHTERS

Old Red Lion Theatre, Islington 24 July – 18 August 2018

****

‘For audiences who want to play, not watch’  

Rogue Production’s tag line, ‘Modern audiences want to play, not watch’ is exactly where this show wins against other immersive pub theatre shows. Read More

 

YOUR MOLOTOV KISSES by Gustavo Ott

Etcetera Theatre 8 – 16 August 2018

****

‘Sharp political satire on prejudice and paranoia wrapped up in an enjoyable domestic comedy’  

This production is the UK debut of YOUR MOLOTOV KISSES by multi-award winning, master playwright Gustavo Ott.  The play, which premiered in Washington DC in 2008, broaches the question of ... Read More

 

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

Presented by Open Bar Theatre

The Pilot, North Greenwich, and on tour (Fuller’s Pubs)  

1st August – 15th September

***

‘A unique evening of theatre’

Open Bar Theatre are taking advantage of this uncharacteristically hotter than hell fire British summer, and are touring Shakespeare’s great comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, around Fuller’s pub gardens in London. Read More

 

GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROADWAY

Upstairs at The Gatehouse 17th July to 5th August 2018

***

“Non-stop New York show tunes from 1902-1942”

Give my regards to Broadway presents a perfect evening of entertainment for anyone who enjoys American show tunes. Packed with melodies by George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and Harold Arlen ... Read More

 

THE WHITE ROSE written and directed by Ross McGregor

Jack Studio Theatre until  4th August

*****

‘A production that grips from start to finish. National tour, please’  

War makes ordinary people do extraordinary things and in THE WHITE ROSE Ross McGregor brings us the story of a group of students in 1943 Munich who, fed up with the war, engage in an act of civil disobedience that attacked the heart of nazi morale.  Read More

 

BUT IT STILL GOES ON written by Robert Graves

Finborough Theatre10 July - 4 August 2018

****

‘An engaging drama, providing glimpses into things that would not be fully explored on stage for another forty years’

The Finborough specialises in reviving long neglected works or plays unseen in England before. But It Still Goes On, written in 1929 but previously unperformed, is pretty much peak Finborough. Read More

 

Shakespeare’s MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

The Castle, Harrow and touring Fuller’s pubs until 4 August

*****

‘A rollicking romcom for summer nights’

This experienced theatre company, Open Bar, are bringing their productions of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING and A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT’S DREAM to Fuller’s gardens. The four cast members of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING play nineteen roles between them.  Read More

 

THE UNNATURAL TRAGEDY by Margaret Cavendish

The White Bear Theatre 3 - 21 July 2018

*****

‘This cleverly written, and bitingly satirical play is superbly directed by Graham Watts’

Margaret Cavendish is a woman for our times.  This play written 360 years ago (c 1658) has never been performed before and is at last getting its well-deserved premiere, honouring her memory.  Every woman should ... Read Here  

 

FAT JEWELS by Joseph Skelton

Hope Theatre, Islington 3 to 21 July 2018

***1/2

‘realistic depiction of hope-free working-class life that neither reviles nor romanticises it’

Two men in a flat. They’ve had a couple of beers, a fish supper. Banter, male chat, up on the surface, friendly, but not friends, not really, just companions passing the time.

Read More

 

Café of the Damned by Jim Mannering

Etcetera Theatre 10 – 14 July 2018

***1/2

‘ …. a rollicking dark-comedy thriller sure to entertain’  

In a mundane coastal tea room, the decrepit, under-employed and ‘recreational’ users spend their time complaining about each other and themselves. Sounds like your average banal café somewhere in one of those sea side towns we all wish we’d forgotten but ... Read More

 

BACK TO WHERE by Colin James

Brockley Jack Studio 10 - 14 July 2018

****

‘A hilarious and affecting story of love complicated by circumstance.’

In times of trouble, the desire to return can be hard to resist. When faced with difficulty, whether it's a bad relationship, an unfulfilling job, or a more general dissatisfaction with life and one's place in it, we often ... Read More

 

IMMACULATE CORRECTION by Catherine Expósito

King’s Head Theatre 9-13 July 2018

Part of Playmill Festival

****

‘This show would be ideal for touring around schools and starting conversations about body image, bullying and adolescent sexuality.’  

One of the joys of pub theatre is the sheer breadth of stories being told and concerns being highlighted.  In Catherine Expósito new play she shows us what life was like growing up in a Catholic school ... Read More

 

TIMMY by Roxy Dunn

King’s Head Theatre 11 and 12 July

Part of PLAYMILL Festival

*****

‘ … ballsy originality, catch it when you can’  

Who needs an expensive set when you have two ‘talking heads’ speaking directly to the audience bringing the whole house into convulsions of laughter.  Read More

 

STEPPING OUT by Richard Harris

Jack Studio Theatre, Brockley 19 June - 7 July 2018

***1/2

‘Fizzy, frothy and entertaining.’  

Once a week Mavis Turner and her hapless class of amateur dancers meet in a dingy village hall to tap away their troubles. When this disparate group are invited to perform a routine at a local charity night ... Read More

 

SARDINES by Jenna Kamal

Drayton Arms Theatre 26 June - 7 July 2018 7:30pm

***1/2

‘Tube drama should get Londoners talking’

One of the beauties of fringe theatre is the range of issues performances raise. In this case the playwright, Jenna kamal, is exploring the subject of loneliness and using the London underground as a metaphor for those feelings. According to figures published by the Office for National Statistics ... Read More

 

COCKAMAMY by Louise Coulthard

The Hope Theatre 12 - 30 June 2018

*****

“…makes the mundane sparkle in an absolute tragic joy…”

We often talk of theatre in terms of tragedy and comedy, but perhaps the most powerful moments are found in the stark contrast between the two. To bring an audience to a place of laughter whilst ... Read More

 

STEPPING OUT by Richard Harris

Jack Studio Theatre, Brockley 19 June - 7 July 2018

***½

‘Fizzy, frothy and entertaining.’

Once a week Mavis Turner and her hapless class of amateur dancers meet in a dingy village hall to tap away their troubles. When this disparate group are invited to perform a routine at a local charity night, they must discover their ... Read More

 

FINISHING THE PICTURE by Arthur Miller  

Finborough Theatre 12 June – 7 July 2018

***

‘This often inspired and well-acted production cannot resolve all the shortcomings of Miller’s script and Finishing the Picture is in essence a curio – the final work of an American Great.’  

... Read More 

 

THE UNBUILT CITY by Keith Bunin

King’s Head, Islington 6 to 30 June 2018

***

‘Quality performances and tender moments’  

Alone in her cold and food-free uptown apartment, Claudia, one-time actress, art collector and society belle, awaits the arrival of Jonah, an art student who can value the collection she may finally need to sell. Since Jonah, well advised by an old adversary of Claudia’s, has come supplied with a bottle of bourbon, the older lady and the younger man settle down to while away the afternoon ... Read More 

 

PERFECT PITCH by John Godber

The Tabard Theatre, Chiswick, 12 - 23 June 2018

***

“some special moments”  

Spoiler alert: Name dropping ahead.

Years ago I was chatting to Alan Ayckbourn, when, apropos of nothing at all, he said, ‘I have been caravanning Rich. Quite enjoyed it. Until we pitched up beside a White Witch.’ Now I really wasn’t sure if the latter was a caravan brand or a person with a pointy hat. So, to fill the conversational void I said, “do you know Alan, I’ve never really understood the difference between White Witches and Black Witches”. He looked at me rather askance.  Read More 

 

RETURN TO THE FORBIDDEN PLANET  

Upstairs at the Gatehouse 12th May – 17th June

*****

“Sci-fi Shakespeare with heart and soul and rock ‘n’ roll”  

As Director John Plews says in the programme of his production of Return to the Forbidden Planet “this is Shakespeare, but not as we know it”. Currently showing Upstairs at the Gatehouse in the very pretty Highgate Village (London, but not as we know it!), this production by Ovation is a revival of the original ... Read More

 

THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE Drayton Arms Theatre 29 May - 16 June 2018

*****

‘Sharp, funny, slick and humane, if only all days in class could be this life-enhancing.’  

Watching high school kids spelling words out loud may sound like watching paint dry but THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE proves there’s joy in the most unlikely of settings. A Broadway hit in the 2000s, it’s a musical about 10 geeky kids competing for the prize in the title, with three pretty equally geeky adults supervising.  Read More 

 

THE NIGHT ALIVE  

Jack Studio Theatre until 9th June 2018

****

‘filled with pathos and humour’

First Knight Theatre have brought to life a blistering version of Conor McPherson’s intense and touching play. Read More 

 

ADAM & EVE by Tim Cook

The Hope Theatre 22 May – 9 June 2018

*****

‘knowing who to trust is not always straight forward in this searing indictment of social media … ’  

With #metoo debates rocking the foundations of society through connectivity on social media, this play pins down one of the most disturbing consequences of hysteria.  Whilst these debates need to ... Read More

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          REVIEWS  2018

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