All stories by Friends on BroadwayStars

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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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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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

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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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

RUTHERFORD AND SON Lyttelton, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

BULLYING, BOMBAST,   BETRAYAL      The rediscovery of Githa Sowerby in the 1990s is very satisfying.     At its premiere in 1913 critics saw the quality of this one but were dismayed …

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

ORPHEUS DESCENDING Menier, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

SULTRY, SINFUL, SHOCKING, SHINING           Savagely observed  absurdity, blinding flashes of insight,  profound yearning, sudden poetry singing clear notes from the cruel  swamp of …

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    SMALL ISLAND. Olivier, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

AN INTIMATE EPIC IN A FADING  EMPIRE    Hard to overstate what an absolute treat this is , and on how many levels. It is a terrific yarn,  both romantic and tough, about history and Empi…

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Friday, May 10, 2019

THE PROVOKED WIFE             Swan, Stratford upon Avon by Libby Purves and Friends

            There’s something special about fin-de-siecle anger in any century: this is from 1697,  years later than Wycherley and the mellower Sheridan,  and  best described as a…

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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

FEAST FROM THE EAST              Tristan Bates Theatre WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

SMALL IS  BEAUTIFUL, SHORT CAN BE SHARP        There is something stimulating about ultra-short plays:  five to twenty minutes  but directed and performed with all the care and concen…

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Monday, May 6, 2019

SHADOWLANDS               Chichester Festival Theatre by Libby Purves and Friends

LOVE  AND LOSS AND ‘THAT’S THE DEAL’        Jack is a middle-aged Oxford English don of the ’50’s , a bachelor and apologist for Christianity.  Graceful, witty books and lect…

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Friday, May 3, 2019

JUDE Hampstead, NW1 by Libby Purves and Friends

ECHOES OF ANTIQUITY ,  FRESHNESS OF YOUTH          It’s a storming performance. Young  Isabella Nefar  as Judith erupts upon us:   adolescent, exuberant,  afire with defiance and…

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Thursday, May 2, 2019

ROSMERSHOLM                     Duke of York’s, WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

GUILT, GRIEF,   POLITICAL ANGUISH            Handy timing ,  to open on what is  local Election Day for us ruralists and at a time when everything has a Brexity echo too.     Ibse…

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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

CREDITORS              Jermyn Street Theatre by Libby Purves and Friends

DEADLY DEBTS       The artistic  love affair between  August Strindberg’s ghost,  playwright Howard Brenton and  director Tom Littler continues to bear strange fruit,  surprisingl…

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THIS IS MY FAMILY Minerva, Chichester by Libby Purves and Friends

ANOTHER KIND OF LOVE SONG              This is gorgeous.  Funny,  truthful, wise,  and bravely original in form.   Anyone with a a family – past, present, remembered, or merely …

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY              Southwark Playhouse, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

THE WORLD DONALD GREW UP IN…           It’s a long transverse stage:  at one end  at a scruffy crowded steel desk sits Jorgy, Michael Brandon exuding down-home amiability as the l…

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

ALL MY SONS                   Old Vic, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

GUILT, GRIEF  AND PITY     It is almost uncanny how an Arthur Miller play, treated respectfully, can in the most wrenchingly extreme story still catch the common rhythms and tides of fami…

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Monday, April 22, 2019

SWEET CHARITY Donmar WC1 by Libby Purves and Friends

(Published in Daily Mail on Friday, one must moonlight to support this website’s unfunded free existence –   but here it is  for theatrecat regulars..)          The minute you wal…

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

THREE SISTERS Almeida, N1 by Libby Purves and Friends

DOWNBEAT, DOWNCAST         Some years ago, leaving a particularly slow and uninspiring Chekhov performance in Yorkshire (never mind which play, spare the blushes)   I heard a weary man …

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

INK FESTIVAL – Halesworth Cut – envoi 2019 by Libby Purves and Friends

REFLECTIONS ON A RICH SEA OF INK…        I saw 22 plays in two days,  but it was hardly half a bite of what was on offer.   In three days there were  40 , each performed several ……

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

HOTEL PARADISO          On tour pre Edinburgh Fringe by Libby Purves and Friends

ANOTHER KIND OF HOUR      Staggering back from holiday, I sentimentally booked this at the New Wolsey in Ipswich because 2019 is the 50th anniversary of my unremarkable student performanc…

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WHERE IS PETER RABBIT?         Theatre Royal, Haymarket SW1 by Libby Purves and Friends

BEATRIX BEATS BREXIT WITH TOP BEAK-WORK      The Haymarket these spring mornings is dense with toddlers and their attendants (I’d say  by the look of it  20% parents, 50%  grandparen…

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

IN THE WILLOWS            Oxford Playhouse & touring by Libby Purves and Friends

A FRESH WIND BLOWING THROUGH AN OLD TALE         Down on the Riverbank Club,  teen DJ Rattie is bangin’ it behind the deck,  telling the shy diffident Mole   “There is nothing–…

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Friday, April 5, 2019

Kunene and the King. Swan, Stratford upon Avon by Libby Purves and Friends

THE OLDEST HAVE BORNE MOST…   Jack is an ageing, terminally ill, scruffy, alcoholic remnant of an actor, with a grubby cardigan and Falstaff gut. He is muttering lines from King Lear in h…

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