The volume of ‘Barbarians’ rarely drops below a shout. But Barrie Keeffe’s searing late-’70s depiction of a Britain that chews up its young and spits them out into a brutalising wasteland of broken promises and joblessness works best at high volume. Three linked plays about three lads explore with bruising … Continue Reading Barbarians

The Overcoat

Bank clerk Akaky McAkay has lived a low-key life. Since his birth during Elizabeth II’s coronation, his greatest joy has been to re-type loan applications and read Russian literature in bed. But the world is changing, even for the quiet man in the corner. When new management threatens his livelihood, … Continue Reading The Overcoat

Big and Small

Cate Blanchett is superb in Sydney Theatre Company’s new interpretation of German playwright Botho Strauss’s Brechtian exploration of alienation. Unlike some of the big names to tread the boards in London recently, she knows how to capture an audience. But she does so in a production that feels disjointed and … Continue Reading Big and Small

Neighbourhood Watch

Alan Ayckbourn’s brand of Little Britain social comedy has wrapped itself around many subjects over the years. Here, directing as well as writing, he tackles a Big Society-ish world with disarming wit. When a garden gnome is lobbed through a window, the Daily Mail-inflamed residents of Bluebell Hill Development take … Continue Reading Neighbourhood Watch

Bette and Joan

The career-long feud between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis is the stuff of cinematic legend, blending seamlessly with the schlocky pleasures of their only film together, 1962′s Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Its tale of deranged sibling rivalry between two faded child stars and the stories dogging its production have made it … Continue Reading Bette and Joan

Mary Rose

Matthew Parker’s version of this ghost story by JM Barrie is often mournfully beautiful, capturing the play’s dark swell of loss and need. It’s 1919 and Harry has returned to his family home after years abroad and time in the army. But the Sussex house, although locked up, is not … Continue Reading Mary Rose