DOUBLE FEATURE.     Hampstead Theatre 
theatreCat
by Libby Purves and friends
1w ago
WANNA BE IN MOVIES? REALLY? BRRRR! We open in a chilly Suffolk cottage in the rain (I  am tonight probably the only person here to have come direct from a chilly Suffolk cottage, in rain. Call it Method Criticking).       But in this case there is a sinister banging on the door, which opens to reveal – aaaagh! Jonathan Hyde as a gloriously  convincing Vincent Price, veteran horrror movie star in  a bad mood. He is suffering from “irreconciliable differences” personal and artistic, with the 24 year old director Michael Reeves (Rowan Polonski), and citing claus ..read more
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DEAR OCTOPUS.      Lyttelton, SE1 
theatreCat
by Libby Purves and friends
1w ago
TENTACLES  STRETCHING INTO PAST AND FUTURE     Electricity is coming to the village but the elderly Randolphs wont bother, preferring the paraffin lamplight of their forebears.  Their house ,  comfortably middle-class, has seen generations play in its nursery.  It’s their heart,  and the family gathering fourteen-strong with children  for Dora and Philip’s golden wedding have it embedded in their memories.  Not always benignly,  for Dodi Smith’s1938 hit play focuses sharply both on  the perennial pains and joys of kinship – including losse ..read more
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JUST FOR ONE DAY.  Old vic. SE1
theatreCat
by Libby Purves and friends
1w ago
WHEN THE BOOMERS WERE ROCKIN’ ALL OVER THE WORLD...     “We were there!” cry the cast of John O’Farrell’s jukebox tribute to the 1985 Live Aid concert. Memories undimmed nearly forty years on, heres a  Coldstream Guards bandsman proud to be opener for the greatest rock bands ever; here’s Suzanne (Jackie Clune) who was an A level kid in a record shop in Weston Super Mare;  here’s the sound guy and the admin assistant who surfed the chaos of Geldof’s determination to get the vast transatlantic gig up in 38 days.  A burst of We Are The Champions rises – the famous numbers ..read more
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THE HILLS OF CALIFORNIA Harold Pinter Theatre, SW1
theatreCat
by Libby Purves and friends
2w ago
 AMERICAN DREAMS IN FADING BLACKPOOL     Suddenly within a fortnight come two very classy new plays,  funny and thoughtful and moving beyond the ordinary. Moreover, in a tiny revolution goth are built around women.   Beth Steel’s TILL THE STARS COME DOWN is at the National Theatre (scroll down), and now up West Jez Butterworth follows the mystic-deadbeat caravan England of JERUSALEM and the troubled Ireland of THE FERRYMAN with another mournfully entertaining, dramatically intense tale of female lives.                It is set in ..read more
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BRONCO BILLY Charing Cross Theatre
theatreCat
by Libby Purves and friends
3w ago
THAT OL’TIME WESTERN DREAM OF 1979 I have a weakness for this  little theatre under the arches and its Players’ Bar.  Honouring a music-hall history, and with some of the cheapest stalls seats in London,  it often hosts smallscale but determined new musicals.  Which  is , of course,  a  medium with a high potential to be dead ropy. Yet  there are happy memories and discoveries to be made.  Here  TITANIC – later touringly successful – was a delight,  REBECCA was a decent night out, and George Takei\s ALLEGIANCE a good true personal story to ..read more
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TILL THE STARS COME DOWN Dorfman, SE1
theatreCat
by Libby Purves and friends
3w ago
SMALL PEOPLE,  BIG PLAY          A hot summer wedding-day.  The bride Sylvia is a bag of nerves, big sister Hazel competently combing and marshalling her  teenage and smaller daughters while dismissive of the marriage – he’s not a Nottinghamshire lad,  just one of those Poles, whose language that “looks like a wifi password”.   The third sister Maggie has been away, the one defector from the tight but struggling clan in a blighted former pit village.   Enter Auntie Carol with her rollers still in, dating her prime years nicely with “any time I ..read more
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THE FROGS. Royal and Derngate, Northampton
theatreCat
by Libby Purves and friends
1M ago
UNFROGGETTABLE MOMENTS IN THE UNDERWORLD    Aitor Basauri does not need to be framed in a 20ft-high giant puppet frog in order to be funny,  but blissful overkill is part of the pleasure of Spymonkey.  Making the said frog  try to swallow Toby Park while he plays “All of me” on the bass clarinet is likewise a mere grace-note, part of the finale of this curious piece.  Like the sudden appearance, earlier on,   of the Royal and Derngate community chorus tap-dancing , ribbit-ribbit-frog style, in violently greenish-yellow rain cagoules. Which causes  a “psy ..read more
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NORTHANGER ABBEY Orange Tree, Richmond
theatreCat
by Libby Purves and friends
1M ago
A DANCE AROUND AUSTEN’S LEGACY The book is known and loved enough: Jane Austen’s first full novel,  written with satirical youthful wit but long laid aside unpublished. It gleefully shows how a girl’s  daft  gothic romanticism comes up humiliatingly against the real-world evils of class , money and sophistication.  Love triumphs, with a hero unromantic enough to know that muslin frays in the wash. A classic familiar enough to be played with,  billed as as ‘inspired by” and subverted a bit for modern attitudes by Zoe Cooper .  So under director Tessa Walker here is ..read more
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THE MOST PRECIOUS OF GOODS Marylebone Theatre
theatreCat
by Libby Purves and friends
1M ago
LEST ANYONE FORGET..    Storytime!  Before a tangled treescape  Samantha Spiro sits with a book on her lap.   Across the simple stage a few notes from Gemma Rosefield’s ‘cello settle us to listen.   Like all stories for the youngest it begins with a poor woodcutter’s wife in the forest, gathering twigs.  But it’s 1943,  somewhere in Central Europe,  and her husband works under orders from an occupying power.   She  has a romantic dream about the trains with slatted sides which run daily along the new iron roadway: thundering creatures, god ..read more
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KIN Lyttelton, SE1
theatreCat
by Libby Purves and friends
1M ago
BORDERS AND BRUTALITIES, Maybe I shouldnt review what is essentially physical-theatre. I have no dance-cred, and I was pleased to be warned years ago by the great Benedict Nightingale, when I took over as Times chief theatre critic. “There’s a marvellous chap called Donald Hutera” he said, “which means you can always get out of doing MIME1 !” And indeed, I like words and complicated ideas alongside emotional and compassionate truths.              But this piece is from the British-Israeli creator of GECKO Amit Lahav, and its topic couldn’t be hotter:  ex ..read more
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