All stories by Libby Purves on BroadwayStars

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

EDITH IN THE BEGINNING Sutton Hoo by Libby Purves and Friends

A STRANGE RESURRECTION, BETWEEN WARS       A red sun was setting beyond the trees as we gathered around a square, isolated house in the golden-hour splendour.    Here the land rises abo…

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Sunday, August 25, 2019

AURORA Arcola, E8 by Libby Purves and Friends

GUEST REVIEWER CHARLOTTE VALORI FINDS DIMNESS RATHER THAN DAWN AT GRIMEBORN If Aylin Bozok is directing anything at Grimeborn, I always try to go. I’ve been absolutely blown away by her pa…

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Saturday, August 24, 2019

ORIGAMI SOUNDSCAPES /THE CRANE Arcola, E8 by Libby Purves and Friends

GUEST REVIEWER CHARLOTTE VALORI FINDS NOT MUCH UNFOLDING AT GRIMEBORN I have to admit – I’m a sucker for a bit of rarefied Japanese elegance on stage in almost any context: the very ment…

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

THE WEATHERMAN Park Theatre by Libby Purves and Friends

GUEST REVIEWER  BEN DOWELL SEES A GOOD SUBJECT NOT QUITE GETTING THERE…   The trafficking of human beings – 7,000 identified in the UK in 2018 – is a disgusting blight on our country…

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

8 HOTELS Minerva, Chichester by Libby Purves and Friends

A GRIPPING PIECE OF HISTORY              In 1944  the adventurous British director Peggy Webster cast the first black Othello in the USA,  where for a white woman even to walk with …

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REVIEW: The Doctor, Almeida Theatre ✭✭✭✭ by Libby Purves

By Libby Purves Libby Purves reviews The Doctor very freely adapted from Arthur Schnitzler's Professor Bernhardi by Robert Icke now playing at thew Almeida Theatre, London. This post REVIEW:…

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‘An updating perfect for our times’: THE DOCTOR – Almeida Theatre ★★★★ by Libby Purves

Arthur Schnitzler was, like Chekhov, a doctor; he was an Austrian Jew at a time when mistrust was rising. The Doctor belongs passionately to that time: but director Robert Icke’s very free…

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Thursday, August 15, 2019

COUNT ORY Arcola, E8 by Libby Purves and Friends

GUEST REVIEWER CHARLOTTE VALORI GETS INTO THE BLITZ SPIRIT WITH OPERA ALEGRIA AT GRIMEBORN Rossini’s Le Comte Ory is a flirtatious farce in which a naughty young Count drives everyone de…

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Friday, August 9, 2019

GO BANG YOUR TAMBOURINE Finborough, SE10 by Libby Purves and Friends

A YOUTHFUL HALLELUJAH          ANother fascinating London premiere for Two’s Company and the Finborough,  buried for nearly half a century after one brief 1970 tour .    As Philip …

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Thursday, August 8, 2019

DIE FLEDERMAUS Arcola, E8 by Libby Purves and Friends

GUEST REVIEWER CHARLOTTE VALORI GOES BATS FOR BASELESS FABRIC’S SOCIAL MEDIA TAKE ON STRAUSS “I’m not saying I’m Batman. I’m just saying nobody has ever seen me and Batman in a roo…

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Saturday, August 3, 2019

DAS RHEINGOLD Arcola, E8 by Libby Purves and Friends

GUEST REVIEWER CHARLOTTE VALORI CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF GRIMEBORN’S GLITTERING TREASURE The Ring Cycle is opera’s biggest box set: a sixteen-hour binge of dwarves, nymphs, dragons, gods, h…

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ROMEO AND JULIET           Jimmy’s Farm, Wherstead Suffolk by Libby Purves and Friends

   ROCK ’N ROLL N’ ROMEO        Deep under the trees, beyond Jimmy’s meerkat and camel enclosures lies a 1960’s beach: shelter, deckchairs and lounging teens,  Mods and Rocker…

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Friday, August 2, 2019


GUEST REVIEWER CHARLOTTE VALORI GOES MAD FOR AMERICAN MONODRAMA A pairing of two American music dramas promised plenty of angsty feminist fun for a Friday night at Grimeborn; and I admit, in…

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Thursday, August 1, 2019

‘Feels remarkably outdated’: VIOLETTA – Arcola Theatre by Libby Purves

Violetta is a reduction of Verdi’s La traviata, using only three characters: the doomed courtesan Violetta, her idealistic yet immature lover Alfredo, and – surprise! Alfredo’s mother.

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SHACKLETON’S CARPENTER Jermyn St, SW1 by Libby Purves and Friends

HEROIC ENDURANCE            In the background a lecture in the old Home Service style, decorous and passionless,  finishes relating the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s expedition: …

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

OKLAHOMA                   Chichester Festival Theatre by Libby Purves and Friends

COWBOYS WITHOUT INDIANS         I suppose it’s perverse to start at the end, but of all the aspects of Jeremy Sams’ handsome production of the Rodgers & Hammerstein crowd-pleaser…

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA       Noel Coward, WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

FALLEN ANGELS ENDURING THE STORM         You can feel the heat in Rae Smith’s design,  Mexican sun on the rock overhead, and the corrugated iron roofs of the rundown hotel. Somewher…

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Friday, July 12, 2019

   JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOUR DREAMCOAT                London Palladium W1 by Libby Purves and Friends

  IT’S BACK,  YOUNGER THAN EVER…     We love a starry debut, especially on opening night in a huge theatre:   a 21-year-old not yet through drama school making a stonking, belting …

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

‘Bonkers in a wonderful way’: PETER GYNT – National Theatre ★★★★ by Libby Purves

David Hare has made as much sense of Ibsen’s sprawling masterpiece Peer Gynt as seems possible.

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Friday, July 5, 2019

MEASURE FOR MEASURE Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford upon Avon by Libby Purves and Friends

DEVOTION , DISGUISE,  DECADENCE     What a strange and stirring play this is!    Set in convent, court and condemned-cell,  it is spiked with moral ambiguities and fuelled equally by s…

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Thursday, July 4, 2019

THE END OF HISTORY Royal Court SW1 by Libby Purves and Friends

BLAIR TO BREXIT – A FAMILY TALE         Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany,  are the Harry Potter team.  They know how not to bore.   But they’ve been here before too in a  R…

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

NOISES OFF Lyric, Hammersmith by Libby Purves and Friends

FARCE AS LIFE, LIFE AS FARCE, FRAYN AGAIN TRIUMPHANS        It felt like a pilgrimage,  homage to pay.   37 years ago Michael Frayn’s greatest of comedies, a wicked love-song to the …

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‘Good fun, irresistible really’: The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ The Musical – West End ★★★★ by Libby Purves

The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ The Musical is the result of Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary badgering the late Sue Townsend to be allowed to do it, and with poppy tunes and a high-s…

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

PRESENT LAUGHTER Old Vic SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

COMEDY SHADING TO MELANCHOLY: WHAT’S TO COME IS STILL UNSURE…     First of all  let’s say that  Andrew Scott is a marvel, a 21st century Ur-Coward hero,  who manages to do it with…

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Saturday, June 29, 2019

‘If only the text had such dramatic grammar as the juicy lighting’: EUROPE – Donmar Warehouse by Libby Purves

This 25th anniversary revival of David Greig’s play Europe is, for the most part, a long chin scratch about home, belonging and division.

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AFTER DARK – A DRAMA OF LONDON LIFE Finborough, SW10 by Libby Purves and Friends

A SHILLING SHOCKER IS A JOY FOREVER     To come clean:  one reason I dashed to catch this fresh back from holiday is  not only that the Finborough is always interesting,   but that  fa…

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Thursday, June 27, 2019

THE HUNT Almeida, N1 by Libby Purves and Friends

GUEST CRITIC BEN DOWELL SHIVERS – ADMIRINGLY – AT A TROUBLED TALE   In this hypersensitive age of MeToo accusations, anxieties about online pornography and even deeper-seated disquiet a…

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY    Jermyn St Theatre WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

RANCID LILIES, GORGEOUS WORDS       All the little Jermyn needs to complete this reimagination of Wildean epigrammatic decadence is to scent the auditorium overwhelmingly with lilies and …

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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM Bridge, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

FLYING,   FUNNY,  FABULOUS     This is a dream of a Dream.  One expected fun from the  combination of Nicholas Hytner,  a roiling mass of promenaders in the pit  and a Bunny Christie…

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Sunday, June 2, 2019

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON – a note Southwark, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

A NOTE ON A TREAT,  MOUSELESS BUT MELLOW    The film based on Scott Fitzgerald’s story of a life lived backwards, born old and ending in babyhood,  was pretty awful.  So I did not le…

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

‘It’s hard not to love Broderick’s performance’: THE STARRY MESSENGER – West End ★★★ by Libby Purves

When I left I thought I was disappointed in The Starry Messenger, but this morning I can’t help thinking about Matthew Broderick’s character Mark, and his wife, and the sadness of all ou…

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Oct 06: Slave Play
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