All stories by Michael Billington on BroadwayStars

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Medea in mid-air: how Syracuse’s Greek theatre keeps the classics alive by Michael Billington

Playing in the vast ancient amphitheatre, imaginative new productions of Euripides and Aeschylus find fresh nuance even in this huge space How best to stage the great Greek classics? The fas…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:06AM
Sunday, May 7, 2023

The Coronation review – immaculately rehearsed, touching and Shakespearean by Michael Billington

A blend of pageantry, procession, music and mystery, with many private moments to savour A coronation is pure theatre. But how does one review it when there is so little to compare it with? …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:02PM
Monday, April 24, 2023

Somerset Maugham: a wily playwright of light dramas and weighty morals by Michael Billington

A new revival of The Circle is a reminder of a dramatist who smuggled vital messages into broad crowdpleasers Never trust what dramatists say about themselves. Noël Coward spent decades dis…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 04:06AM
Monday, April 17, 2023

Murray Melvin obituary by Michael Billington

Actor, archivist of the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, and director, with a long career in theatre, film and televisionThe actor and director Murray Melvin, who has died aged 90, had a rich …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 11:02AM
Thursday, April 6, 2023

A wordless death, a dazzling new talent and a 50-day squat: is Athens the hotbed of European theatre? by Michael Billington

Thirty directors from all over Europe converged on Greece for a showcase of its fizzing new talent that even included a play about the Nazis by Tony Kushner. What did they learn on this five…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 06:24AM
Thursday, March 23, 2023

Musicals are having an exceptional moment – but classic plays are vanishing from our stages | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

There are invigorating versions of Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma! and Cabaret in London – and some enticing new dramas coming – yet theatre risks being cut off from its past David Hare has ar…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:12PM
Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Noël Coward was not just an amiable jester but a scathing social satirist | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

He presented himself as a message-free entertainer but, 50 years after his death, it is time to reconsider the variety of the great playwright’s work Anniversaries offer a chance for reapp…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:17AM
Sunday, January 22, 2023

Ted Whitehead obituary by Michael Billington

Dramatist and screenwriter whose best-known stage play, Alpha Beta, is a scorching study of marriage and morality As a passionate lover of football, in particular of Liverpool FC, Ted Whiteh…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:06PM
Monday, January 9, 2023

Heavenly powers or something rotten? When Richard Burton played Hamlet by Michael Billington

It was a box-office hit directed by John Gielgud and created turmoil on stage and off. Now, the 1964 Broadway staging has inspired The Motive and the Cue, a new play by Jack Thorne In 1964 R…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 03:00PM
Tuesday, January 3, 2023

A desire for Streetcar: the enduring allure of Tennessee Williams’s tantalising classic by Michael Billington

Paul Mescal and Patsy Ferran battle it out in the Almeida’s new production of a poetic drama whose ambiguity is enthralling Tennessee Williams’s old bus keeps on running. The Almeida’s…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 01:48PM
Thursday, December 8, 2022

Depriving London’s theatres of funds is not ‘levelling up’ – it shortchanges us all | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

Pitting the capital against the regions is a cynical political ploy and the Arts Council’s cuts are a catastrophe for new writing – as well as the entertainment industry The resignation …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 06:54AM
Monday, October 17, 2022

Re:Imagining Musicals at the V&A celebrates the fantastical, famous and forgotten by Michael Billington

Costumes, props, posters and archive footage all feature in an exhibition that leaves you itching to see some shows again Weave your way round the new exhibition Re:Imagining Musicals at the…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:03AM
Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Daniel Evans and Tamara Harvey are an inspired duo to lead the RSC by Michael Billington

An immense task awaits the Royal Shakespeare Company’s new artistic directors who must attract top talent, prioritise verse-speaking and combine classic repertory and contemporary drama It…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:55PM
Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The real mystery in See How They Run is its mishandling of The Mousetrap by Michael Billington

The whodunnit starring Saoirse Ronan is a fun spoof but tinkers with history and never captures the unique way Agatha Christie’s play fascinated audiences in the 50s The smell of greasepai…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 04:49PM
Monday, September 12, 2022

From King Charles III to King Lear: what theatre tells us about taking the throne by Michael Billington

Mike Bartlett’s 2014 play anticipated a constitutional crisis, while playwrights including Shakespeare and Chekhov have shown how traumatic a transfer of power can be What does the future …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:03AM
Friday, September 9, 2022

On stage and when we met at the theatre, the Queen was a figure of quiet wisdom and humour by Michael Billington

The monarch was sympathetically depicted by dramatists and at a 1999 production of Oklahoma! her eyes lit up when she recalled her own theatrical outings “I’ve never been fond of the the…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:49AM
Thursday, September 8, 2022

Noises Off: the farce masterclass that is truly revealing by Michael Billington

Michael Frayn’s comedy is not just extremely funny but also acknowledges the fragile artifice of order – in theatre and the world beyond All plays, wrote critic John Lahr, are dated. He …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 03:33AM
Monday, August 8, 2022

Batting for Godot: the play about Beckett and Pinter teaming up for a game of cricket by Michael Billington

The two titans of modern drama were both cricket obsessives. What if they had faced the fast bowlers together? Playwright Shomit Dutta explains why he made it happen – with darkly comic dr…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 03:54AM
Monday, July 25, 2022

David Warner was gentle, inquisitive – and stunning on stage by Michael Billington

An actor of innate tenderness and grace, Warner had a theatre career of two halves, each with superb performances at the RSC I have never forgotten my first sighting of David Warner, who has…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:18PM
Monday, July 4, 2022

Peter Brook was a theatrical pathfinder and a man of boundless curiosity by Michael Billington

In our many meetings, the director’s conversation was as invigorating as the way he led audiences through the night in his staging of The Mahabharata In 1979, Peter Brook made a film of Gu…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 12:03PM
Monday, June 13, 2022

Two shows dominated the Tony awards and proved Broadway’s debt to British taxpayers by Michael Billington

Sam Mendes’s The Lehman Trilogy and Marianne Elliott’s Company took 10 prizes between them and demonstrated the power of UK subsidised theatre “Brits Triumph on Broadway” is one of t…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:00AM
Tuesday, June 7, 2022

How do you make a lavish spectacle sustainable? Theatre’s radical green agenda by Michael Billington

A meeting of minds at the National Theatre showed ways to stage drama along environmentally sound lines. But is everyone on board? ‘Theatre will be measured by its response to the climate …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 12:42PM
Friday, May 27, 2022

Hamlet Within: why are we so obsessed with Shakespeare’s dithering prince? by Michael Billington

A provocative new film at Cannes featuring Ian McKellen attempts to de-romanticise the Dane but lags behind what theatre productions have been telling us for decades TS Eliot called Hamlet �…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:37AM
Monday, May 23, 2022

In capturing the changing face of Britain, playwrights explain us to ourselves | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

Beth Steel’s The House of Shades unites national politics and private lives through the fortunes of a working-class family from 1965 to 2019 Old myths die hard. One of the greatest in thea…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 05:03PM
Monday, April 25, 2022

It’s time for the Royal Shakespeare Company to be led by an actor | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

Gregory Doran has achieved much at the RSC and directed some fine productions. Let’s have an actor in charge next: how about Adjoa Andoh or Simon Russell Beale? When the boss of a big thea…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 06:18AM
Thursday, April 14, 2022

Sad! Is Donald Trump just too boring for a grand Shakespearean makeover? by Michael Billington

Bertie Carvel is brilliant in The 47th, Mike Bartlett’s ingenious play about the former US president, but the real parallel is not with the Bard’s kings but his hollow braggarts If you w…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:12AM
Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The Homecoming: Pinter’s male fantasists return in the age of #MeToo by Michael Billington

Criticised for moral ambiguity on its premiere, the 1965 drama – about a woman in a masculine world of aggression and pretence – is back to provoke and disturb Call a play a “modern cl…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 03:54PM
Monday, March 14, 2022

‘Experience Shakespeare by seeing it – even better, be in it’: inside the RSC’s new epic by Michael Billington

Owen Horsley’s new production of Henry VI, Parts 2 and 3, uses a cast of 120, including professionals and community participants, with some of them filming the action on stage I discovered…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 04:18AM
Friday, March 11, 2022

I Don’t Think We’ve Met celebrates a golden age of cricketing chivalry | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

Ian Smith’s moving tribute to the late Colin Cowdrey is a gentle reminder of the abiding link between the stumps and the stage Cricket and theatre have long been intimate bedfellows. Strol…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 12:12PM
Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Macbeth movies have been foul and fair – Joel Coen’s is a stunner by Michael Billington

The Tragedy of Macbeth follows in the footsteps of Orson Welles’s 1948 film, which showed how imagination can turn Shakespeare’s text into more than a costume epic With Joel Coen’s The…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 01:12AM
Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Britain’s indifference to Molière’s 400th is no surprise but it’s still shameful | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

Despite some clever reimaginings of Tartuffe, UK stages remain depressingly inattentive to one of the greatest playwrights In France the 400th anniversary of Molière’s birth is being cele…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 03:54AM

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