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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 

 

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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