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          TOP REVIEWS  2018






ANOMALY by Liv Warden,

Old Red Lion Theatre until 2 February


'There is a raw engagement with the material from the cast and its creative team that pours into the production, making it a moving and poignant evening'

***1/2 (Reviewed by Emma Zadow)

It’s 6am. News has just reached the three daughters of Phillip Preston, media mogul and film-industry powerhouse, that he has been arrested for assaulting his wife, and their mother.

Read More



Written and directed by Ross Dinwiddy

The White Bear Theatre 8 – 26 January 2019


‘…a stark reminder that power crazed lunatics really do exist in historical and modern times’

**** (Reviewed by Jo Griffiths)

An adaptation of a short story, ‘In The Penal Colony’ by Kafka is brought to life at the White Bear Theatre, under the new, more daunting, title of ‘Apparatus’.  Written in 1914 and first published in 1919, Blue Devil productions are celebrating the 100th Anniversary year of this incredible man.  Read More



NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT by George and Ira Gershwin

Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate, 12 Dec 2018 - 27 Jan 2019


‘Nice ticket if you can get one’

***** (Reviewed by David Weir)

The word jukebox came into common American usage about the same year George Gershwin died but the concept of a jukebox musical might well have captured the old showman’s imagination.  NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT is just such a beast, a compilation of some of the two Gershwin brothers’ most charming ... Read More





Tabard Theatre, Chiswick, 6 December 2018 – 6 January 2019  


‘The production has the right balance of everyday humour, magic and mystery. A lovely version of a children’s classic, highly recommended for families to see.’    

***** (Reviewed by Andy Curtis)

There are occasions when the stars align to make a perfect piece of pub theatre. STIG OF THE DUMP at the Tabard Theatre is one of them. Children’s theatre can be notoriously hard to do well, yet this revival makes it seem effortless. Directed by Russell Labey and ... Read More




Presented by The Jack Studio Theatre, Until 5 January 2019


‘True to Brothers Grimm, this romantic tale is laced with dark undertones, a delight for all the family’  

**** (Reviewed by Heather Jeffery)

The Jack Studio Theatre often sells out its entire run at Christmas and it is easy to see why.  This engaging adaptation of the Brothers Grimm version of Cinderella, has gruesome moments to pepper the romance.  No slushy sentiments here.   It really is a story for today, with a feisty and ... Read More



Buttons: A Cinderella Story

King’s Head Theatre, 23 Nov 2018 – 5 Jan 2019


“magical mash-up of pantos galore”

**** (Reviewer: Debs Jeffries)

I’m a HUGE fan of Charles Court Opera and always fight for the review tickets for their shows. This, coupled with my obsession for panto, sent me into spasms of delight when I heard that this year’s panto at the King’s Head was CCO’s Buttons: A Cinderella Story – and it didn’t disappoint. Read More 




Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Various dates until 3rd January


"Panto party central"

**** (Reviewer: Debs Jeffries)

Out of every show I've reviewed for London Pub Theatres, this was by far the one that most felt like I was in a pub rather than a theatre. No ordinary pub, however. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern is not only London’s longest-established LGBT venue, it’s also a Grade II listed building with pillars to die for. Read More



TINDERELLA by Matthew Floyd Jones

Canal Café Theatre 7 to 29 December 2018


‘short, sharp, funny, exuberant enthusiastic panto’

*** (Reviewed by David Weir)

The thing about panto is, it’s essentially naughty but nice. What with all the cross-dressing and innuendo, there’s song and dance and bad jokes and pratfalls and all that for the kids, and a nod and a wink for the mums and dads who’ve seen it all before. Excessive subtlety ... Read More



PLAID TIDINGS by Stuart Ross

Bridge House Theatre, Penge, 26 November to 23 December 2018


‘An audience pleaser from open to close’

**** (Reviewer: David Weir)

If there’s a show that packs in more Christmas songs this festive season than Plaid Tidings, it’ll need a running time of about two weeks.  Whether you love this or not very much depends on how you feel about two hours in the company of men in loud tartan suits singing ... Read More




JEANNIE by Aimée Stuart

Finborough Theatre, until 22nd December 2018


‘like a classic Sunday afternoon black and white film with a mug of hot cocoa- just the thing for chilly winter evening.’

***** (Reviewed by Sian Rowland)

The Finborough continues to champion long-forgotten gems with this revival of Jeannie, first performed in 1940. Playwright Aimee Stuart was a prolific playwright and screenwriter and the programme notes remind us that she was quite a girl who lived a film-worthy life herself so it’s exciting to see her work brought back to the stage again. Read More




HEADROT HOLIDAY by Sarah Daniels

Directed by Will Maynard

The Hope Theatre 27th November- 22nd December 2018


“……a tad disappointing”  *** (Reviewer: Richard Braine)

The late great Michael Bentine told me an interesting story about appearing in the last days of Variety. The Goons -Michael, Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe- were doing a turn in a music hall in the North. Their act wasn’t going down well with the audience and Spike left the stage half way through.  The others finished the act and then rushed to Spike’s dressing room. It was ... Read More



THE CRUMPLE ZONE by Buddy Thomas

King’s Head, Islington, 24 November to 9 December 2018


‘Funny, sad, real, and a life-affirming glimpse of people like most of us’ ***** (Reviewer: David Weir)

New York, New York, but this is Staten Island, the borough so dull they named it once and then forgot about it, where aspiring actor/dancer Terry has failed thousands of auditions and spends his days serving coffee and fries in a Manhattan diner.  If you can’t make out there, you can’t make out anywhere ... Read More



AN HONOURABLE MAN by Michael McManus

The White Bear Theatre until 8 December 2018


‘… a skillful dissection of modern British society and the stark exposure of a political system that is broken at both ends’

**** (Reviewer: Mike Swain)  

Are British politics broken, and how can we fix them?

In a not-too-distant future, where Brexit is a done deal and Trump has given way to the administration of Mike Pence, playwright Michael McManus weaves a tale of political ... Read More



MIDNIGHT IN MANHATTEN: Three plays by Tennessee Williams

Every Twenty Minutes (1938) The Pink Bedroom (1943) The Fat Man’s Wife (1938)

Pentameters Theatre, Hampstead until 2 December 2018

**** (Reviewer: Emma Zadow)

‘An entertaining, intelligent, and sensitively put together bill’

In the Pentameters Theatre’s seventh annual Tennessee Williams’ programme, we are taken to Manhattan, not the Deep South, for three one act plays with the thread of marital infidelity the theme of the night.  Read More


RADIANT VERMIN by Philip Ridley

Brockley Jack Studio, SE4, 20 November to 1 December 2018

**** (Reviewer: David Weir)

‘The transition from dream home to nightmare culminates in the party almost literally from hell’

Philip Ridley’s fast and furious immorality play Radiant Vermin hits a hot topic of past and coming years by asking how far a young couple will go to get their feet on the housing ladder. A Faustian contract with a government department offering free, no-strings-attached dream homes ... Read More



Old Red Lion Theatre 6 November - 1 December 2018


‘With a dazzlingly clever script, this is a delightful romcom with a bold cock a snook at recruiting techniques’  

Who would have thought this Restoration comedy written in 1706 would resonate quite so strongly with recruitment techniques used by the forces today!  Fortunately, this fierce satire is all wrapped up in a double love story not too far from the romcoms penned by Shakespeare.  Ladies ... Read More



The Old Red Lion Theatre until 30th November 2018  


‘the female protagonist we’ve all been waiting for’

Indebted To Chance tells the story of Charlotte Charke, an actress in her own right in 1744 who, when rehearsing for a production of The Recruiting Officer has the misfortune of getting into problems with the law.  Read More



Rosemary Branch Theatre 13 – 29 November 2018


‘Superior Sci-fi improv brings a new adventure every night with the added bonus of live music and technical gismos’

This is improvisation with a galactic twist.  If it all starts off with the familiar it soon evolves into something out of this world.  The very experienced improvisation experts, Katy Schutte and Chris Mead are joined by Fred Deakin, of the multi-award-winning cult electronic band ... Read More



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



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  



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



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



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



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


“ 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



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  



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


‘… 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



King’s Head Theatre until 22nd September 2018


‘ … 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


‘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










































         REVIEWS  2018