All stories by Arifa Akbar on BroadwayStars

Friday, March 31, 2023

The Lost Spells review – enchanting musical has an abundance of magic by Arifa Akbar

Watford Palace theatreA cockney fox and a preening jackdaw open our eyes to the wonders of nature in this charming show based on Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris’s book In this new musi…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 05:02PM
Thursday, March 30, 2023

Berlusconi: A New Musical review – bunga bunga banality by Arifa Akbar

Southwark Playhouse Elephant, LondonIt’s a nice idea but this disconnected show about the former Italian PM makes some bizarre choices and lacks satirical bite This satire about Italy’s …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:36AM
Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead review – a magnificent Complicité creation by Arifa Akbar

Barbican, LondonSimon McBurney directs a toweringly innovative adaptation of the eco-thriller by Nobel-winner Olga Tokarczuk The opening night of this Complicité production was aborted at t…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:42AM
Monday, March 27, 2023

Winnie the Pooh review – Disney juggernaut is a musical snooze by Arifa Akbar

Riverside Studios, LondonThe puppets are lovely but this hour-long show has anodyne songs and a hodgepodge of tales On paper, this Disney musical about AA Milne’s honey-loving bear and hi…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 11:54AM
Friday, March 24, 2023

Slow Violence review – surreal comedy of apocalyptic office politics by Arifa Akbar

Pleasance, LondonThe climate crisis is explored via the senseless bureaucracy of a travel agency in a show that lacks subtlety Office politics can be a keen mirror of group behaviour and so…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:42AM
Thursday, March 23, 2023

Killing the Cat review – musical about science v God is purr-gatory by Arifa Akbar

Riverside Studios, LondonA talented cast can’t save this bizarre production about a holiday romance dogged by a conflict in ideology This musical begins like a cheesy Mills & Boon roma…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:54AM
Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Black Superhero review – original queer drama with plenty of kapow by Arifa Akbar

Royal Court theatre, LondonPart satire, part serious drama, Danny Lee Wynter’s story of gay love and acting slowly reveals its emotional powers Actor Danny Lee Wynter’s debut as a playwr…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:26AM
Sunday, March 19, 2023

The Way Old Friends Do review – super troupers shine in a fun, frothy comedy by Arifa Akbar

Park theatre, LondonTwo friends put together an Abba tribute band and explore ideas of male friendship, homophobia and family in Ian Hallard’s witty play Abba superfans might recognise thi…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:06AM
Friday, March 17, 2023

Baldwin v Buckley: how the ‘debate play’ made a riveting resurgence by Arifa Akbar

Verbal clashes from history are being thrillingly restaged for modern audiences. Do these grand battles prove we’ve lost the art of disagreement? And could watching them anew change the po…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 12:00PM

Further Than the Furthest Thing review – slow-burn study of seclusion and secrecy by Arifa Akbar

Young Vic, LondonSet on a volcanic island, this play goes through dormant spells but its themes of colonial conquest are enriched by dazzling design and atmosphere Here is a keen study of is…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:24AM
Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Farm Hall review – riveting wartime thriller shows secret mission to bug German nuclear scientists by Arifa Akbar

Jermyn Street theatre, LondonAs the race to produce the first atomic bomb nears its terrible conclusion in 1945, six members of Germany’s nuclear weapons programme are detained at a statel…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:27AM
Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Guys and Dolls review – Nicholas Hytner’s gamble pays off by Arifa Akbar

Bridge theatre, LondonThis immersive production of the New York musical has a bold design, superb singing and chemistry between its stars Frank Loesser’s 1950 musical comedy about sin and …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:01PM

Snobbery about audience behaviour stifles theatre – it’s a collective experience | Arifa Akbar by Arifa Akbar

Distracting behaviour, from eating noisily to using mobile phones, is a vexed issue. But the chorus of disapproval often suggests elitism and overlooks theatre’s history The recent debate …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:00AM
Friday, March 10, 2023

Good Day review – love, death and robots in sleek sci-fi romcom by Arifa Akbar

Vault festival, Network theatre, LondonA depressed 500-year-old wants to remove her immortality implant in this entertaining and kooky dark comedy which lands just short of saying something …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:52AM
Thursday, March 9, 2023

After the Act review – Thatcher’s section 28 stirs a fiery protest musical by Arifa Akbar

New Diorama, LondonEllice Stevens and Billy Barrett’s fizzing production traces the story of the Tories’ anti-gay legislation If section 28 holds no meaning for you, you were probably no…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:12AM

Kites review – story of girls’ friendship doesn’t quite fly by Arifa Akbar

The Vaults, LondonLovely portrayals of childhood friends in postwar Ireland can’t really make up for a muddled production This coming-of-age story begins in postwar Ireland and follows a f…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 01:00AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Remythed review – a joyful evocation of queer mythology by Arifa Akbar

The Vaults, LondonRoann Hassani McCloskey and Joel Samuels’ show at the Vault festival reimagines and reclaims mythical characters Remythed dramatises several mythic tales but not as we kn…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:01AM
Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Under the Black Rock review – nail-biting Belfast thriller by Arifa Akbar

Arcola theatre, LondonTim Edge’s harrowing and darkly funny play starring Evanna Lynch has razor-sharp dialogue and swerving plot twists Northern Ireland’s Troubles are channelled throug…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:07AM
Monday, March 6, 2023

‘It’s very hard to make any kind of reasonable living’: the risky business of theatre by Arifa Akbar

As their Edinburgh fringe hit Sap heads on a UK tour, playwright Rafaella Marcus and producer Ellie Keel discuss the future of new writing, the rise of ‘safe’ programming and the need fo…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 11:00AM
Sunday, March 5, 2023

Five Years With the White Man review – a journey into the ‘heart of whiteness’ by Arifa Akbar

Vault festival, LondonEloka Obi and Saul Boyer re-examine the forgotten story of 19th-century Sierra Leonean barrister August Boyle Chamberlayne Merriman-Labor, who wrote a delicious spoof o…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:36AM

Pauline review – sweet solo show about three generations of women by Arifa Akbar

Vault festival, The Cage, LondonSophie Bentinck tells the stories of herself, her mother and her grandmother, tracing the latter’s descent into depression, dependency and suicide Sophie Be…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:59AM
Friday, March 3, 2023

How to Break Out of a Detention Centre review – daring staging of migrants’ stories by Arifa Akbar

Riverside Studios, LondonThe desperate extremity of women’s experiences trapped in the UK immigration system gets an intense multimedia treatment This production startles not only with its…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:26AM
Thursday, March 2, 2023

The Merchant of Venice 1936 review – Shylock takes on Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts by Arifa Akbar

Watford Palace theatreA striking, slick adaptation of Shakespeare’s problematic play sees Tracy-Ann Oberman play a Jewish matriarch up against the fascists of 1930s London In Tracy-Ann Ob…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 05:00PM
Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Shirley Valentine review – Sheridan Smith disarms and dazzles with heart and soul by Arifa Akbar

Duke of York’s theatre, LondonWilly Russell’s 1986 monologue about a neglected woman’s midlife liberation is given new life in this perceptive production Willy Russell’s 1986 monolog…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:01PM
Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Flies review – the effects of the male gaze on adolescent girls by Arifa Akbar

Shoreditch Town Hall, LondonThe new work by Charlie Josephine gives us teenagers’ thoughts about objectification, shame, body image and sex Last year Charlie Josephine presented Joan of Ar…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:39AM
Thursday, February 23, 2023

Women, Beware the Devil review – bizarre comedy horror is like Bridgerton on acid by Arifa Akbar

Almeida, LondonLulu Raczka’s new play, directed by Rupert Goold, is beautifully designed but the plot – and the point – is puzzling. Maybe the joke’s on us? This confounding play is …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:04AM
Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Romeo and Julie review – a sweet spin on Shakespeare by Arifa Akbar

Dorfman theatre, LondonGary Owen’s tale of star-crossed, working-class lovers in modern Cardiff offers existential questions and awkward encounters Writer-director team Gary Owen and Rache…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:00AM
Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Trouble in Butetown review – humanity and heroism in wartime Cardiff by Arifa Akbar

Donmar Warehouse, LondonWhile Diana Nneka Atuona’s deft script could do with a final polish, its heart, humour and spirit sing in the hands of a luminous cast The Donmar’s last productio…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:57AM
Sunday, February 19, 2023

Unexpected Twist review – Oliver gets a phone in beatboxing version of Dickens’s classic by Arifa Akbar

Royal and Derngate theatre, NorthamptonMichael Rosen’s update of Oliver Twist gets the musical treatment in this high-energy show about a schoolgirl ensnared by a street gang Charles Dicke…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:21AM
Friday, February 17, 2023

Medea review – Sophie Okonedo is magnificent as ancient Greece’s preeminent rebel woman by Arifa Akbar

@sohoplace, LondonMedea is as much victim as villain in Dominic Cooke’s psychologically subtle and subversive production, and Ben Daniels is superb playing all the puffed up men in her li…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:01PM
Thursday, February 16, 2023

Graceland review – anatomy of a toxic relationship by Arifa Akbar

Royal Court theatre, LondonAva Wong Davies’s monologue takes us through the small, slow steps that lead her central character into peril This slow but searing monologue begins as a girl-me…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:17AM

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