What's been on...
Patience by Jason Sherman (Finborough) End of the road for Reuben,
a businessman whose life suddenly hits the buffers. But when exactly did
it all go wrong? And can he make the necessary changes? New drama from
Bites by Kay Adshead (Bush) At an eatery
at the end of the world, fat-arsed Texans and starving Afghans partake
in a meal of seven very different courses. Imaginative post-apocalyptic
drama - politix plus fantasy. Great stuff.
Head/Case by Ron Hutchinson (Soho) Two young women, one Irish and
the other English, have suffered brain damage: how does this affect their
sense of self? And what does it say about the stereotypes of national
Tim Fountain: Sex Addict by Tim Fountain (Royal Court) Cruising
and cottaging in London - and, every evening, the audience get to vote
on who Tim Fountain has sex with. More of a lecture than a piece of drama:
interactive theatre? Or just a sad bid for notoriety?
Losing Louis by Simon Mendes da Costa (Hampstead) When their father
dies, two brothers clash over secrets from the past. What a surprise:
a middle-class Jewish family reunion play at the Hampstead. Efficient
Whose Life Is It Anyway? by Brian Clark (Comedy) After a car crash
leaves her paralysed from the neck down, Claire (Kim Cattrall) fights
for the right to take control over her life - by ending it. Modern fairy
tale about a heroic woman taking on the medical establishment, and winning.
Wild East by April De Angelis (Royal Court) Job interview from hell:
before he is employed as a market researcher in Russia, a nerd is confronted
by two female execs. Can he survive their questions, and their rivalries?
Sizzling political theatre.
The Small Things by Enda Walsh (Menier) Paines
Plough's thrillingly ambitious This Other England project gets
off to an eye-opening start with this amazing two-hander: a memory play
about two Lancashire oldies who recall childhood horrors. Dazzling.
Etta Jenks by Marlane Gomard Meyer (Finborough) A young woman hits
LA, looking for fame and fortune. Instead, she finds porn and danger.
Stars Daniela Nardini. Punchily directed by Che Walker.
A Life in the Theatre by David Mamet (Apollo) An older actor and
a younger rival fight it out in a revival of Mamet's 1977 sketchy, minor
work. Stars Patrick Stewart and Joshua Jackson.
Colder Than Here by Laura Wade (Soho) She
may be dying of cancer, but Myra still wants to organise her funeral.
Yet can she sort out her family? Another play about death - this time
from a hot new writer.
One Under by Winsome Pinnock (Tricycle) Cyrus is a train driver
whose life unravels when a young man throws himself under his wheels -
wonderfully daring and emotionally true story from one of our finest writers.
Take Me Away by Gerald Murphy (Bush) A father and his three grown-up
sons meet to discuss a family problem and discover lies and self-justification.
Is this about masculinity in crisis? You can
bet your balls it is. A stunningly good play.
Days of Wine and Roses by Owen McCafferty (Donmar) Belfast-born
Donal and Mona make a new start in London in the 1960s, but as well as
falling in love with each other, they also fall in love with drink. New
version of JP Miller's story stars Anne-Marie Duff.
Tynan by Richard Nelson (Arts) Inspired by Kenneth Tynan's twilight
diaries, long after he was a crusading critic, this monologue - a tour
de force by Corin Redgrave - reveals a sad man who still manages to embody
the spirit of the 1960s.
Losing Louis by Simon Mendes da Costa (Trafalgar) When their father
dies, two brothers clash over secrets from the past. West End transfer
for the Hampstead Theatre Jewish family reunion
play starring Alison Steadman. Efficient but so, so predictable.
Breathing Corpses by Laura Wade (Royal Court)
Hellish nightmare: imagine going to work and finding a dead body, and
then another, and another. A fierce, excruciating and troubling play from
one of our finest young playwrights. A must-see.
Mercury Fur by Philip Ridley (Menier)
Paines Plough's season of language-rich plays
continues with this in-yer-face shocker which
revisits Ridley's The Pitchfork Disney in the context of today's
post-Iraq apocalypse culture. Terrific: another must-see.
Midwinter by Zinnie Harris (Soho) After
a devastating war, the survivors pick up the pieces: one woman swaps a
horse for a starving child - with horrific consequences. A parable that's
a cross between Bond, Barker and Buchner. Grim but resonant.
Poor Beck by Joanna Laurens (Soho) After a devastating war, the
survivors pick up the pieces: living in an underground shelter, they long
for the outside world. One day a traveller from above arrives - can they
believe him? Grim but poetic.
The Fortune Club by Dolly Dhingra (Tricycle) Is it better to beg
or to steal - well, it's best not to get caught. A feelgood play about
one of the great scams of recent years. Pity about the banal writing.
The Girl with Red Hair by Sharman Macdonald (Hampstead) When a
teenage girl dies, her death affects four generations of Fife women. But
can summer and love heal the wounds? A bereavement play that's almost
too subtle for its own good.
Pyrenees by David Greig (Menier) A man
suffers from memory loss after being found in the mountains. Who is he,
and what is he running from? And how is his identity affected by the language
he uses? An ace metaphysical comedy.
Stoning Mary by Debbie Tucker Green (Royal Court)
Third World violence smashes into a English living room: poverty, war
and rough justice. A hot, angry, political and poetic play from one of
the most exciting new voices in British drama.
Mammals by Amelia Bullmore (Bush) It's wheelie-bin land and a married
couple finds that life with kids is pretty hellish. But when the husband
tells his wife he fancies a woman at work, all hell is let loose. Smartly
written, if a bit melodramatic.
A Night at the Dogs by Matt Charman (Soho) Five blokes buy a racing
greyhound, but their hopes and dreams are shattered when one of them turns
out to be a psycho. Winner of last year's Verity Bargate Award, this is
deja vu, weak and poorly written.
The Cosmonaut's Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former
Soviet Union by David Greig (Donmar) Super
revival of Greig's wonderfully free-floating epic about the desire to
connect and the difficulty of communicating - one of the most daring and
mind-expanding plays of the past decade.
Elmina's Kitchen by Kwame Kwei-Armah (Garrick)
As Deli struggles to make his cafe a going concern, a local gangsta sets
his sights on corrupting his son. Lively National
Theatre account of Black Britons living on Hackney's Murder Mile -
and the first black British play in the West End.
If Destroyed True by Douglas Maxwell (Menier) New Flood has been
awarded £500,00 for being the Worst Town in Scotland, but can it keep
its title for another year? Gloriously wild and wonderful satire and a
tremendous piece of new writing.
Private Fears in Public Places by Alan Ayckbourn (Orange Tree) Six
sad and lonely people find that their lives criss-cross in this Scarborough
production of the latest autumnal Ayckbourn. Despite the laughs, and the
clever plotting, this is rather too sad for its own good.
Osama the Hero by Dennis Kelly (Hampstead)
Someone has been blowing up garages on Gary's estate and everyone thinks
it's him. A gruelling account of the consequences of the climate of fear
created by the War on Terror. Political theatre, but not as we know it.
Incomplete and Random Acts of Kindness by David
Eldridge (Royal Court) Joey is in crisis: his mother's died, he's
broken up with his girlfriend, and his father has a new lover. But as
well as breakdown, there is a sense of recovery. Forget in-yer-face theatre,
here is delicate naturalism.
The Woman Before by Roland Schimmelpfennig (Royal Court) When Frank
opens the door one day, he gets a surprise. Standing there is Romy, his
lover from 20 years ago. And she's holding him to a promise he made then.
Brilliantly constructed satire on love and marriage.
Kingfisher Blue by Lin Coghlan (Bush) Dirty realism on a 'sarf'
London council estate: four men try to better themselves - with disastrous
results. Emotionally truthful, and very painful, but stylistically a bit
Some Girl(s) by Neil LaBute (Gielgud) A
man revisits four girlfriends from his past. He says he wants to right
some wrongs, but actually he's just making excuses for his inexcusable
behaviour. As is LaBute.
On the Shore of the Wide World by Simon Stephens
(National) Three generations of a Stockport family face the pain of
loss. A beautifully observed and very moving account by the quiet naturalist
of new writing. Superb production.
This Is How It Goes by Neil LaBute (Donmar)
A love triangle in a climate of racism: wonderfully tricksey and gobsmackingly
cruel account of how a smalltown American loser destroys the marriage
of a black man and a white woman. But all is not what it seems. Great
The Countess by Gregory Murphy (Criterion) Sex is the worm in the
bud of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood as John Ruskin and John Everett
Millais fall out over Effie, Ruskin's wife. Dull historical drama that
only fitfully comes to life.
The UN Inspector by David Farr (National)
A failed Balham estate agent gets mistaken for a top Western official
in an ex-Soviet republic - with hilarious, and tragic, results. Lurid
satirical extravaganza based on Gogol's The Government Inspector.
Three Women and a Piano Tuner by Helen Cooper (Hampstead) Three
estranged sisters meet up in order to make one of their dreams come true.
A Continental-style study of sibling rivalry and artistic creativity -
and a welcome smack in the face of naturalism.
Way to Heaven by Juan Mayorga (Royal Court) In 1942, a Red Cross
Representative visits a Nazi death camp, and fails to see evidence of
extermination. How come? An engrossing, and highly imaginative, account
of a grimly bizarre community play. A must-see.
The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman (Sound) The killing of a
21-year-old gay student in Laramie, Wyoming, leads to national heartsearching,
and an excellent verbatim theatre piece. A vivid picture of life in smalltown
America, and a powerful piece of redemptive drama.
Talking to Terrorists by Robin Soans (Royal Court) Verbatim theatre
piece about political gunmen, from Northern Ireland to the Middle East,
and from Central Asia to East Africa. A theatrical, and humanistic, experience
from Out of Joint, which does leave some political
President of an Empty Room by Steven Knight (National) Love and
voodoo in a Cuban cigar factory: as the boss goes AWOL, the workers take
over, but the past catches up with them all. Atmospheric, but not very
Shoreditch Madonna by Rebecca Lenkiewicz (Soho) Love and death
in the art world: a heartfelt look at two generations of artists in London's
East End. Well written, engaging, moving, if a touch too declaratory.
Silence by Moira Buffini (Arcola) Anglo-Saxon
England: cross-dressing, drug-taking and ultra-violence given a wrly humorous
and exquisitely felt twist. A joyous, warmhearted comedy which has grown
in relevance since its first production in 1999.
Fair by Joy Wilkinson (Finborough) In the wake of a race riot in
a Lancashire town, the racist Railton and the lefty Melanie clash as they
plan two very different kinds of fair. The joke is that they've already
met and spent the night together! Engrossing political play.
The Night Shift by Mark Murphy (BAC) Deliciously creepy play about
a young woman who acts out her dreams while still asleep - and these reveal
the trauma of her childhood. The premiss takes some swallowing but the
production is engrossing.
The Women of Lockerbie by Deborah Brevoort (Orange Tree) Political
theatre meets Greek tragedy in this moving account of the aftermath of
the Pan Am Lockerbie bombing in 1988. It's not always successful, but
at its best it packs a punch.
Harvest by Richard Bean (Royal Court)
Comic epic that spans 90 years of rural life in Yorkshire. Strong characterisation,
quaint eccentricity, class struggle and some good jokes, but scarcely
the most relevant piece in the world - until the final scene!
Fewer Emergencies by Martin Crimp (Royal Court)
Three scenarios that challenge the culture of complacency: three stories
that fall apart under the weight of their own emotions. Modernist satire
at its intellectual best.
After the End by Dennis Kelly (Bush) How
to survive a terror attack: Mark and Louise take refuge in an 1980s nuclear
shelter after a dirty bomb explodes in London. But can they survive each
other? An in-yer-face thriller.
Two Thousand Years by Mike Leigh (National) Millennia pass, but
Jewish family life remains the same. Danny and Rachel deal with the stresses
and strains of their children, parents and siblings in Mike Leigh's fine
emotional true new play.
Playing with Fire by David Edgar (National) As London tries to
make a northern Labour council more efficient, the news from the streets
is bad - there's a riot brewing. Latest from the king of the state-of-the-nation
What We Did to Weinstein by Ryan Craig (Menier)
In the West Bank, Josh - an idealistic British man who's joined the Israeli
army - is involved in an incident with a terror suspect. What happened?
And who's to blame? Brilliant plotting.
Guardians by Peter Morris (503) English Boy and American Girl live
in totally different worlds, but their monologues are united by the themes
of war images, guardianship and power. A cracking new play about the Iraq
Tour by Gregory Burke (Royal Court) As England
fans riot outside, three men plan the ultimate rip-off. Burke's usual
territory: blistering dialogue that mixes bookishness with rudeness while
three men circle each other. Thrill-ful.
Blue Eyes & Heels by Toby Whithouse (Soho) As the sharks circle
in the perilous waters of trash tv, an ambitious young producer (played
by Martin Freeman) clashes with his secretary and a retired wrestler.
Dumbing down has rarely been such a laugh.
Bottle Universe by Simon Burt (Bush) Dave and Lauren are both 14,
but there the similarities end: she's a swot and he's a truant. Yet, when
they are thrown together, an uneasy relationship develops. By turns, blazing
Comfort Me with Apples by Nell Leyshon (Hampstead) Dark secrets
beset a Somerset apple-growing family. A strange mix of naturalism and
poetic intensity: relentlessly gloomy and very sad. (You have been warned!)
The World's Biggest Diamond by Gregory Motton (Royal Court) Is Motton
our English Strindberg? This account of two lovers who meet for a weekend
after 30 years seethes with Scandinavian gloom. But whatever happened
to Motton's distinctively weird personal vision?
Cleansed by Sarah Kane (Arcola) Kane's
1998 play gets its first English revival in Sean Holmes's powerful, tender
and moving production. This is a work that really does repay closer scrutiny,
and this version really rocks.
A Brief History of Helen of Troy by Mark Schultz (Soho) New York
whizz kid Mark Schultz has recently won a clutch of awards, and it's easy
to see why. This is a smart account of teenage loss and longing for the
South Park/Clueless generation.
Paul by Howard Brenton (National)
The story of the man whose life changed on the Road to Damascus by
one of the stalwarts of 1970s and 1980s political
drama. A fine study of faith, belief and truth in 1st-century Judea.
Phaedra's Love by Sarah Kane (Barbican)
Kane's version of Sophocles's ancient Greek tragedy updates the action
to a British royal family: amid the detritus of daily life, uncontrollable
passions burn and violence breaks out. A mini Kane revival fest.
Alice Trilogy by Tom Murphy (Royal Court) Alice, an Irish housewife,
feels that her life has been wasted. In three completely different scenes,
we witness the progress of her decline over 25 years. A finely written
piece by Ireland's top man.
When You Cure Me by Jack Thorne (Bush)
When 17-year-old Rachel gets viciously attacked, her teen boyfriend Peter
finds it equally hard to cope. An intimate, occasionally excruciating
and very tender story of love and loss.
The Rubenstein Kiss by James Phillips (Hampstead Theatre) Very
long, and pedestrian, retelling of the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case
of the 1950s. An odd mix of docudrama, opera and Jewish family drama.
Ubu the King by Alfred Jarry (Barbican) David
Greig's gloriously silly version of a modernist classic. Set in an
old people's home, the play is full of shit, blood and strangled laugher.
Absurdism rules KO.
On Ego by Mick Gordon and Paul Broks (Soho) How do you define the
self? Do we have a core essence or are we made up of flesh, blood and
brain cells. Gordon's theatre essay is strong on ideas but weak on drama.
What's in the Cat by Linda Brogan (Royal Court) Merry Christmas?
Lauren, a mixed-race pregnant teen, arrives for Christmas Day 1974 to
her Manchester home - and her dysfunctional family. Difficult but powerful
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