All stories by Arifa Akbar on BroadwayStars

Friday, March 1, 2024

Ben and Imo review – Britten and Holst’s collaboration slides into cruelty by Arifa Akbar

Swan theatre, Stratford-upon-AvonMark Ravenhill’s reimagining of the duo’s work on Gloriana exposes imbalances in the partnership but ultimately is a tragedy of thwarted ambition In 1952…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 04:54PM
Thursday, February 29, 2024

Bhangra Nation review – Punjabi dance powers a joyful high school musical by Arifa Akbar

Birmingham RepSoaring ballads and spirited movement abound in a charming show about teenage self-discovery A team of bhangra dancers bound onto the stage in traditional sequined dress and fa…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:12AM
Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Human Body review – Keeley Hawes and the NHS in a silver-screen romance by Arifa Akbar

Donmar Warehouse, LondonHawes and Jack Davenport radiate as postwar lovers in Lucy Kirkwood’s cinephile postwar romantic drama set against the birth of the NHS As debate on the future of t…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:42AM
Sunday, February 25, 2024

Shifters review – drama of first love lost has giddy kisses and real heart by Arifa Akbar

Bush theatre, LondonBenedict Lombe questions ideas around abuse, grief and the Black body in this meet-again-cute starring Tosin Cole and Heather Agyepong Would you want to revisit your firs…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 04:02PM
Friday, February 23, 2024

The Big Life review – big-hearted Windrush musical returns with irrepressible verve by Arifa Akbar

Theatre Royal Stratford East, LondonThis feted battle of the sexes comedy follows defiantly upbeat Caribbean characters making a life in postwar Britain This irrepressible ska musical, trans…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:42AM
Thursday, February 22, 2024

We go to the theatre to feel something – and people do. Trigger warnings don’t stop that | Arifa Akbar by Arifa Akbar

Good plays have the power to shake us out of our complacency. This recurring debate is a pointless skirmish in a culture war CONTENT WARNING: This column may include opinions with which you …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:36PM
Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Hadestown review – thrilling songs from an American underworld by Arifa Akbar

Lyric theatre, LondonAnaïs Mitchell’s musical melds two classical myths, folk and jazz with tremendous soul and offbeat spirit This odyssey through the underworld, told with deep-voiced …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:24PM
Tuesday, February 20, 2024

An Enemy of the People review – Matt Smith’s groovy firebrand swings from rebel to conspiracist by Arifa Akbar

Duke of York’s theatre, LondonRock’n’roll reimagining of Ibsen’s timeless corruption drama brings the audience into direct Question Time-style dialogue with Smith’s idealist revolu…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:12PM

Double Feature review – Hitchcock and Hedren meet the Witchfinder General by Arifa Akbar

Hampstead theatre, LondonJohn Logan’s play combines the stories behind two films made in the 1960s but each needs more space to truly hit home Two pairs of directors and actors zigzag on s…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:24AM
Friday, February 16, 2024

King Lear review – Yaël Farber’s modern-dress take is shockingly vicious and supremely moving by Arifa Akbar

Almeida Theatre, LondonThe set is a marvel, the performances are electric and the ending – with Lear raging and trembling in a hospital gown on the heath – is profoundly tragic Yaël Far…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:54AM
Thursday, February 15, 2024

The Picture of Dorian Gray review – Sarah Snook plays 26 characters in dazzling, dangerous solo show by Arifa Akbar

Theatre Royal Haymarket, LondonAided by elaborate tech, multiple screens and an angelic wig, the Succession star gives a performance that is mischievous, swaggering and operatic Does Sarah S…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 06:42PM
Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Just For One Day review – Live Aid musical has soaring voices and pancake-flat characters by Arifa Akbar

Old Vic, LondonJukebox show celebrating sweary Bob Geldof’s 1985 mega-fundraiser piles homily on cliche in a production in thrall to white saviour stereotypes The breathless tagline invite…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:48PM
Sunday, February 11, 2024

The Boy at the Back of the Class review – a refugee’s lessons in humanity by Arifa Akbar

Rose theatre, Kingston-upon-Thames Onjali Raùf’s morality tale for children, adapted by Nick Ahad, fluidly harnesses schoolkid energy, though important details are often reported rather t…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:54AM
Friday, February 9, 2024

Blue Beard review – Emma Rice’s fairytale hits home with horror and pizzazz by Arifa Akbar

Theatre Royal BathThis eccentric retelling of the bloody story flamboyantly combines songs and pop culture gags but still shocks Emma Rice’s retelling of this bloody folktale could be desc…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:54AM
Thursday, February 8, 2024

Theatre needs risk-takers like Kwame Kwei-Armah whose Young Vic has been dynamite | Arifa Akbar by Arifa Akbar

The first African Caribbean figure to lead a major British theatre has announced his departure but his bold approach must remain Kwame Kwei-Armah’s decision to step down from the helm of t…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:36AM
Wednesday, February 7, 2024

The Hills of California review – Jez Butterworth’s fractious family of singing sisters by Arifa Akbar

Harold Pinter theatre, LondonThe Jerusalem playwright’s new drama, directed by Sam Mendes, follows four siblings coached as children to become stars and now reunited at their mother’s be…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:42PM
Tuesday, February 6, 2024

This Might Not Be It review – NHS office politics through the looking-glass by Arifa Akbar

Bush theatre, LondonPersonalities and generations clash in Sophia Chetin-Leuner’s claustrophobic play about a mental health unit under strain It is clear from the office, strewn with piles…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:48AM
Friday, February 2, 2024

Rewind review – ingenious portrait of oppression and dissent in Latin America by Arifa Akbar

New Diorama theatre, LondonEphemeral Ensemble use music, movement and puppetry to astonishing effect in a devastating show about the right to protest There are few words in this startling ho…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:12AM
Thursday, February 1, 2024

Till the Stars Come Down review – your invitation to the wedding of the year by Arifa Akbar

Dorfman theatre, LondonBeth Steel’s new drama is dazzlingly performed and full of pain, joy and laughter in a deft production by Bijan Sheibani A wedding day is fertile ground for a family…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:18AM
Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Othello review – Shakespeare’s tragedy interrogated in New Scotland Yard by Arifa Akbar

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, LondonOla Ince’s production is set within a hostile modern police force and has DCI Othello’s unconscious portrayed by a second actor Shakespeare’s military ge…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:36AM
Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Sherlock Holmes and the Whitechapel Fiend review – the spoof’s afoot! by Arifa Akbar

Barn theatre, CirencesterThe detective hunts for Jack the Ripper in a funny, tangled comedy on how crime is sensationalised for entertainment This comedy adventure enlists Sherlock Holmes to…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:42AM
Monday, January 29, 2024

Prime movers: the German circus exploring Amazon through acrobatics by Arifa Akbar

Rimini Protokoll’s new show is part of a series of performances inspired by James Joyce’s Ulysses and draws a connection between its Aeolus episode and hypercapitalism On the eastern out…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 04:24AM
Sunday, January 28, 2024

Plaza Suite review – Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick are spectacles at the celebrity circus by Arifa Akbar

Savoy theatre, LondonDespite a thrilling premise – New York’s power couple staging unhappy marriages – this dated production coasts on its stars’ fame rather than testing their seaso…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:32PM
Thursday, January 25, 2024

The Frogs review – Spymonkey’s search for ancient comedy and catharsis by Arifa Akbar

Royal & Derngate, NorthamptonThe Aristophanes play is interwoven with the theatre company’s personal quest in a ramshackle show that loses its way This Aristophanes comedy is theatre�…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 11:02AM
Sunday, January 21, 2024

Blood on Your Hands review – abattoir drama never gets to the meat of the issue by Arifa Akbar

Southwark Playhouse, LondonGrace Joy Howarth’s play about the lives of two slaughterhouse workers addresses many things – the ethics of eating animals, the situation in Ukraine, zero-hou…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:42AM
Friday, January 19, 2024

Indestructible review – a YBA makes her comeback in art world satire by Arifa Akbar

Omnibus theatre, LondonA feminist artist and teacher is at the centre of Mary Swan’s overstuffed play exploring abuse, sexism and politics We meet a once famous artist just as she is being…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:54AM

A Shakespeare play slashed to 80 minutes? Bring it on – theatre can be far too stressfull | Arifa Akbar by Arifa Akbar

The play’s the thing. But what’s so wrong with the RSC’s plan to also let people have dinner, or catch the last train home? “How poor are they that have not patience!”. So implores…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:36AM
Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Hessian hyena and a pack of playful concepts reveal bright future for stage design by Arifa Akbar

The Linbury prize exhibition at the National Theatre is full of smart ideas including a truckers’ royal court and a jester-like Dr Faustus Alice in Wonderland reimagined in Partition-era I…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 11:48AM

Kin review – Gecko’s migrant drama speaks to the moment yet rarely connects by Arifa Akbar

Dorfman theatre, LondonWhile the aesthetics are arresting, Amit Lahav’s play lacks the specificity to create any emotional depth A drama about the epic horrors that migrants have faced cou…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:48AM
Monday, January 15, 2024

‘Things were being thrown at us!’ Is booing at the theatre actually a good thing? by Arifa Akbar

It is one of the most electrifying and unsettling sounds in theatre. Should we be encouraging crowds to do it more? Experts tell us about booing’s origins – and actors remember being on …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:06AM
Sunday, January 14, 2024

Kim’s Convenience review – popcorn retail therapy spun from sitcom by Arifa Akbar

Park theatre, London Ins Choi’s comedy set in a Korean Canadian shop has an irresistible charm, despite at times feeling like a best-sketch montage from its TV forerunner Before Kim’s Co…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 11:02AM

All that Chat

May 30, 2023: Grey House - Lyceum Theatre
Jun 26, 2023: Just For Us - Hudson Theatre
Jul 24, 2023: The Cottage - Hayes Theater
Nov 16, 2023: Spamalot - St. James Theatre
Dec 18, 2023: Appropriate - Hayes Theater
Mar 07, 2024: Doubt - Todd Haimes Theatre
Apr 14, 2024: Lempicka - Longacre Theatre
Apr 17, 2024: The Wiz - Marquis Theatre
Apr 18, 2024: Suffs - Music Box Theatre
Apr 25, 2024: Mother Play - Hayes Theater
Jun 10, 2024: The Drama Desk Awards