All stories by Michael Billington on BroadwayStars

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Velvet wonderlands: the plush pleasure palaces of Frank 'Matchless' Matcham by Michael Billington

He was our ‘greatest theatrical architect’, the creator of 150 magnificent buildings that delighted crowds from Glasgow to Blackpool to London. On the centenary of his death, we celebrat…

Linked From The Guardian at 02:36AM
Friday, April 17, 2020

Judi Dench lets us in on the secret while remaining a true enigma by Michael Billington

A lengthy 2017 interview, to be streamed online, shows the acting great opening up about her craft and sharing priceless memories One of the many tantalising shows lost to the lockdown was …

Linked From The Guardian at 10:06AM
Friday, April 3, 2020

Six of the best plays about confinement | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

Dramatists have long focused on the agonies and irritations of self-imposed or enforced isolation ‘I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space,” says Hamle…

Linked From The Guardian at 01:42AM
Thursday, March 19, 2020

It's curtains for theatre – but not, let us hope, for too long | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

This is the art form that makes us feel most acutely human. We are going to need it more than ever How will society cope with the total shutdown of theatres for the foreseeable future? It wi…

Linked From The Guardian at 10:18AM
Monday, March 16, 2020

Roy Hudd: a charming star immediately embraced by audiences | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

A versatile master of stage, radio and TV, Hudd survived changes in popular taste through his good-hearted skill I last saw Roy Hudd, who has died at the age of 83, at a lunch organised by t…

Linked From The Guardian at 02:48PM
Thursday, March 5, 2020

Hail, Coriolanus! The greatness of Shakespeare's shape-shifting epic by Michael Billington

From Olivier’s strangled fury to Ralph Fiennes’ Oedipal embraces, this complex political play is extraordinarily flexible ‘The tragedy of Coriolanus is one of the most amusing of our a…

Linked From The Guardian at 01:33AM
Monday, March 2, 2020

Triumph from tragedy: how Greece's theatre roared out of a national crisis by Michael Billington

To kick off our critical tour of Europe’s cultural hotspots, Michael Billington reports on thrilling theatre in a post-slump Greece – from a minimalist Doll’s House to Beckett like he…

Linked From The Guardian at 11:03AM
Thursday, February 27, 2020

Love and Leopoldstadt: don't be surprised if Tom Stoppard gets emotional by Michael Billington

The playwright’s new work has been seen as a departure from his intellectual stock-in-trade. But look deeper, and passion has always been present What kind of writer is Tom Stoppard? In co…

Linked From The Guardian at 05:54AM
Tuesday, February 18, 2020

From rep to reps: can a 'Shakespeare gym' solve the crisis in verse-speaking? by Michael Billington

The Royal Shakespeare Company has vowed to drill the Bard’s rhythms into its actors – but our alienation from his language runs deeper ‘Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced i…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:03AM
Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Terry Hands left our theatre infinitely richer than he found it by Michael Billington

The former RSC director had a stellar career, seeing the depth in derided plays and restoring the Histories to their rightful stage I was saddened to hear of the death of Terry Hands at the …

Linked From The Guardian at 10:36AM
Monday, January 20, 2020

Look back in Vanya: my encounters with Chekhov's classic over 60 years by Michael Billington

From Rome to Paris to London, Uncle Vanya delivers fresh meanings wherever and whenever it’s performed Which is Chekhov’s greatest play? It tends to be the one you’ve seen most recentl…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:42AM
Thursday, December 19, 2019

Pippi Longstocking review – Lindgren's rule-breaker is a festive delight by Michael Billington

Royal and Derngate, NorthamptonAstrid Lindgren’s nine-year-old rebel is suitably anarchic and altruistic in a festive musical show that leaves you chuckling I’ve come late in life to Ast…

Linked From The Guardian at 11:42AM
Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Top 10 theatre shows of 2019 by Michael Billington

Katori Hall gave us a miracle, Caryl Churchill delivered a dark quartet and Tom Hiddleston astounded in Betrayal. But the year’s highlight was a breathtaking Ibsen with Hayley Atwell More …

Linked From The Guardian at 05:33AM
Sunday, December 15, 2019

Swive [Elizabeth] review – a not so modern queen fights for absolute power by Michael Billington

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, LondonElla Hickson’s Elizabeth I story vividly portrays her battles with men and a patriarchal system but doesn’t make a strong case for contemporary parallels E…

Linked From The Guardian at 06:54AM
Friday, December 13, 2019

Teenage Dick review – Daniel Monks is a dazzling high-school Richard III by Michael Billington

Donmar Warehouse, LondonMike Lew’s American update of Shakespeare, directed by Michael Longhurst, captures the king’s complexity Mike Lew’s relocation of Richard III to a US high schoo…

Linked From The Guardian at 10:48AM
Thursday, December 12, 2019

A Kind of People review – uncompromising look at modern Britain by Michael Billington

Royal Court, London Race and relationships are the focus of Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s deeply moving drama that presents an honest picture of multi-cultural Britain There’s a great story by …

Linked From The Guardian at 02:18PM
Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Three Sisters review – Inua Ellams transfers Chekhov to Nigeria by Michael Billington

Lyttelton, LondonBuoyed by first-rate performances, this production transforms the Russian classic into an eye-opening account of the Biafran war Inua Ellams describes his new play, his firs…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:03AM

Song and dance of death: the musical – archive, 11 December 1972 by Michael Billington

11 December 1972: on the evidence of recent shows, the musical is in dead trouble: the more one watches dancers catapulting across the stage as if fired from a cannon and leading ladies bari…

Linked From The Guardian at 01:48AM
Monday, December 9, 2019

Sorry Jake Gyllenhaal, but the British musical is alive and kicking by Michael Billington

With shows such as Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Six and The Boy in the Dress, the musical is in rude health in this country – whether Broadway knows it or not Has the British musical…

Linked From The Guardian at 12:18PM
Sunday, December 8, 2019

Cyrano de Bergerac review – James McAvoy is fierce in radical reboot of romantic classic by Michael Billington

Playhouse, LondonVisual flummery and the famous nose are dispensed with in Martin Crimp’s modern take on Rostand’s proxy-wooing play This version of Edmond Rostand’s play, as adapted b…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:12PM
Friday, December 6, 2019

Ravens: Spassky vs Fischer review – game of chess is a cold war thriller by Michael Billington

Hampstead theatre, LondonBoris Spassky and Bobby Fischer’s 1972 match is a proxy war in this intriguing but overcomplicated chess drama There has already been a musical, Chess, inspired by…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:12AM
Thursday, December 5, 2019

Fairview review – a daring challenge to the white gaze by Michael Billington

Young Vic, London Directed by Nadia Latif, this Pulitzer prize-winning play by Jackie Sibblies Drury is definitely one to see – and argue over This play by Jackie Sibblies Drury is tricky …

Linked From The Guardian at 07:06PM
Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Boy Friend review – an exuberant jaunt to the Riviera by Michael Billington

Menier Chocolate Factory, LondonThis pitch-perfect revival of Sandy Wilson’s 1953 musical is a positive invitation to dance Time has been good to Sandy Wilson’s 1953 musical. Although se…

Linked From The Guardian at 01:54PM

What I've learned from 10,000 nights at the theatre | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

As Michael Billington, the Guardian’s chief theatre critic, prepares to step down, he discusses what has changed – and what hasn’t – in his 48 years as a nightly aisle-squatter Ten o…

Linked From The Guardian at 01:54PM
Friday, November 29, 2019

The Wind of Heaven review – a bewitching tale of faith and guilt by Michael Billington

Finborough, LondonA Welsh teenager is hailed as the second coming in this fascinating revival of Emlyn Williams’ long-forgotten play This enterprising theatre struck gold in 2011 with its …

Linked From The Guardian at 09:48AM
Thursday, November 28, 2019

I saw Jonathan Miller in Beyond the Fringe – and I'm still dazzled by Michael Billington

The Guardian’s theatre critic was at the sketch group’s first show in 1960. It was the beginning of a friendship … and a satire boom that changed the world My first sighting of Jonatha…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:48PM

The Boy in the Dress review – Robbie Williams has a ball with David Walliams by Michael Billington

Royal Shakespeare theatre, Stratford-upon-AvonA resplendent cast sing the praises of self-expression in Mark Ravenhill’s adaptation of the feelgood football novel The boy who defies tribal…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:48PM
Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Candida review – Shaw's comedy of fizzing words and extreme passion by Michael Billington

Orange Tree, Richmond upon ThamesThis production of George Bernard Shaw’s remarkable play about a poet and a priest in love with the same woman induces giddy delight Paul Miller is almost …

Linked From The Guardian at 08:18AM
Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Arrival review – fraternal reunion pits nature against nurture by Michael Billington

Bush theatre, LondonBijan Sheibani’s writing debut about two half-Iranian brothers relies on a puzzling backstory, yet vivid staging and beautiful performances fill it with vitality You ca…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:36PM
Monday, November 25, 2019

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe review – magical escape from the perils of war by Michael Billington

Bridge theatre, LondonAslan is more substitute Churchill than surrogate Christ in Sally Cookson’s brilliantly inventive production of CS Lewis’s wartime fable The popularity of CS Lewis…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:12PM
Thursday, November 21, 2019

Land Without Dreams review – the future gets stuck in the mud by Michael Billington

Gate theatre, LondonDespite Temi Wilkey’s best efforts, including rolling in slime, Tue Biering’s play can’t decide whether it is a critique of utopianism or a message of reassurance …

Linked From The Guardian at 07:12AM

All that Chat

Oct 06: Slave Play
Feb 01: The Minutes
TBA: Blue