All stories by Libby Purves 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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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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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 23, 2019

‘It could have been a piece of theatre magic & wasn’t’: DIDO – Unicorn Theatre by Libby Purves

Musically Dido is okay, especially Eyra Norman’s Belinda and the spirited chorales. But it could have been a piece of theatre magic, and wasn’t.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

‘A sort of McBurney-meets-le Carré mini-thriller’: ANNA – National Theatre ★★★★ by Libby Purves

After the querulous, inward-looking tedium of her feminist polemic The Writer, Ella Hickson returns to interesting form with this curiosity, Anna.

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Saturday, May 18, 2019

‘Mischievous satirical blast’: WHITE PEARL – Royal Court Theatre ★★★★★ by Libby Purves

Five mice for White Pearl at the Royal Court Theatre because it’s different and clever and useful, and horribly good fun.

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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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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

‘Sometimes it works’: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF BORIS JOHNSON – Park Theatre ★★★ by Libby Purves

Hopes for The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson couldn’t be higher: it is again built around truth – a 2016 dinner party where Boris and Marina Johnson entertained the Goves and Yevgeny L…

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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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Saturday, April 27, 2019

‘The physicality of Bailey’s direction serves the play well’: GHOSTS – Northampton ★★★★ by Libby Purves

A CLEANSING FURY FROM THE 1880s         Wipes you out every time,  Ibsen’s furious, shocking,  violent assault on the cruel decayed conventions  of his century’s end.   Its indec…

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