Jack and the Beanstalk

Although lively from the start, Theatre Royal Stratford East’s characteristically modern spin on this festive favourite only really kicks into gear in the second half, unfolding with a lot of audience participation but a lack of magic. All the ingredients are there in writer Paul Sirett and director Dawn Reid’s … Continue Reading Jack and the Beanstalk

The Arabian Nights

This re-imagining of One Thousand and One Nights is a fun and often lyrical testimony to the cultural richness and diversity of the Middle East, at a time when the western media focuses only on anger and extremism. But as vibrant and as hopeful about the redemptive power of the imagination as … Continue Reading The Arabian Nights

The Bodyguard

This musical based on the hit 1992 film starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner has got the stuff that you want, it’s got the thing that you need. It might even bring you to your knees (if you’re so inclined). Everything about it is targeted at breathless poster quotes. It’s … Continue Reading The Bodyguard

Ex Libris Macabre

A welcome break from the pre-packaged twinkle of the festive season, Little Jade Productions’s collection of spooky stories, poems and songs from across the world nevertheless sits awkwardly between recital and performance. There’s no doubting the quality of the pieces, which range from a Grimm Tale to a performance of … Continue Reading Ex Libris Macabre

A Christmas Carol

Returning to the Arts Theatre for a second year, Simon Callow’s one-man performance of A Christmas Carol – inspired by Charles Dickens’ popular public readings of the story – already feels like a festive ritual. It’s a well-crafted piece of seasonal cheer that warms the heart even if it doesn’t … Continue Reading A Christmas Carol

Boy Meets Boy

It’s the oldest story in the book: boy meets boy in 1930s England, the guy he’s jilted at the altar meddles in their relationship, confusion ensues, he ends up stripping in a Parisian nightclub before being reunited with his love for a show-stopping wedding. Gene David Kirk’s production of Bill … Continue Reading Boy Meets Boy

In Extremis

Theatre, particularly historical drama, loves traces – things mentioned in passing, buried in letters or contemporary accounts. From these meagre roots stories branch out and real lives bleed into fiction as the past becomes a stage-bound phantasmagoria of ‘what-ifs’. Neil Bartlett confronts this head-on in his recreation of Oscar Wilde’s … Continue Reading In Extremis


The supposed site of Christ’s crucifixion, ‘Golgotha’ translates from the Bible as ‘place of the skull’. In Nirjay Mahindru’s searingly intense new play, the river Thames is also a place of skulls, haunted by the ghosts of a buried past. Young Loretta is an unwilling immigrant in nineteenth-century London, brought … Continue Reading Golgotha

A Winter’s Tale

Cult composer and lyricist Howard Goodall’s new musical based on Shakespeare’s great ‘problem’ play ‘The Winter’s Tale’ comes up against the same difficulty facing a straightforward staging. How do you reconcile the pitch darkness and bucolic light of two acts set 16 years apart, in two different countries? Thematic threads … Continue Reading A Winter’s Tale

Steel Pier

This production marks the European premiere of David Thompson, John Kander and Fred Ebb’s Great Depression-set musical about a dance marathon on Atlantic City’s famous Steel Pier, inspired by Horace McCoy’s 1935 novel ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?’ Ostensibly about the romance between mysterious stunt pilot Billy Kelly (Jay Rincon) … Continue Reading Steel Pier

The Heiress

Dan Stevens, famously of Downton Abbey, swaps one period drama for another as he makes his Broadway debut in this superb revival of Ruth and Augustus Goetz’s bleakly brilliant play – based on Henry James’s novel Washington Square – about the damage wrought by living without love. The year is 1850. … Continue Reading The Heiress

Cyrano de Bergerac

The poster outside American Airlines Theatre for Roundabout Theatre’s delightful new Broadway production of French dramatist Edmond Rostand’sCyrano de Bergerac teases us by keeping its most infamous feature out of sight. Douglas Hodge’s Cyrano looks out at us, a twinkle in his left eye. Much of his face is hidden in … Continue Reading Cyrano de Bergerac

The Judas Kiss

Drawing parallels between Christ’s betrayal by Judas and Oscar Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas convincing him to stay in London to be arrested on charges of sodomy and gross indecency is audacious. But David Hare’s 1998 play never labours the analogy – here, a string of brilliant bon mots … Continue Reading The Judas Kiss

Love Is Not Enough

New company Beg Borrow Steel makes a promising debut with this story of a west London Jamaican family forced to confront their dark past by an estranged daughter who returns for her late father’s memorial service and the Notting Hill Carnival. Playwright Justin Marosa developed and staged a version of … Continue Reading Love Is Not Enough

Soul Sister

Bookended by Emi Wokoma’s Tina Turner reflecting on her rocky road to success, this musical about the megastar’s marriage to Ike and rise to stardom comes across as a simplified rerun of Turner biopic ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It’. It boasts a stunning central performance but lacks substance. … Continue Reading Soul Sister


The Finborough once again demonstrates its keen eye for a timely revival with this gem by JB Priestley. Unseen in London for 70 years, its story of a small import office facing bankruptcy seems painfully prescient. The first half begins as an unhurried, witty sketch of the amusing oddities of … Continue Reading Cornelius