All stories by Michael Billington on BroadwayStars

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
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

& Juliet review – pop mogul Max Martin's bizarre jukebox bonanza by Michael Billington

Shaftesbury theatre, LondonSongs of the prolific Swedish tunesmith are shoehorned into a silly Shakespeare-derived story for this misguided West End musical Romeo and Juliet, the starting po…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:03PM
Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Dear Evan Hansen review – high-school musical captures agonies of youth by Michael Billington

Noël Coward theatre, LondonSam Tutty shines as the lonely student who fabricates a friendship with a dead boy, but this award-winning musical has plot holes This musical arrives from the US…

Linked From The Guardian at 10:12PM
Friday, November 15, 2019

Touching the Void proves anything is possible in the theatre by Michael Billington

David Greig’s survival-story adaptation has clawed its way to the West End – and it is a triumph of resolve and innovation When this adaptation of Joe Simpson’s mountaineering memoir, …

Linked From The Guardian at 07:33AM
Thursday, November 14, 2019

Unknown Rivers review – Odimba is a writer to watch by Michael Billington

Hampstead theatre, LondonChinonyerem Odimba’s subtle play is a celebration of female friendship, given an intimate production by Daniel Bailey There is much to admire in this play by Chin…

Linked From The Guardian at 04:03PM
Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Mary Poppins review – stageful of sugar is a rapturous delight by Michael Billington

Prince Edward theatre, LondonZizi Strallen is excellent as the buoyant nanny in Eyre’s chippy and enduring show, which also calls on Julian Fellowes, Matthew Bourne and Petula Clark I was …

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

Spiderfly review – a tantalising tale of tangled relationships by Michael Billington

Theatre 503, LondonWriter John Webber shows edgy promise with this story of a woman’s contrasting encounters with two men Like many emerging dramatists, John Webber is an actor. He doesn…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:36AM
Friday, November 8, 2019

What does the Piccadilly ceiling collapse mean for London theatre? by Michael Billington

After two incidents in six years, visitors may need reassurance before they return to the West End “Don’t clap too hard: it’s a very old building,” says Archie Rice in John Osborne…

Linked From The Guardian at 01:54PM
Thursday, November 7, 2019

Reputation review – one woman's words against a Hollywood bully by Michael Billington

The Other Palace, London This new musical by Alick Glass carries its fight against 30s movie plagiarism with pleasant songs, but lacks the showbiz sparkle to land a killer punch This theatre…

Linked From The Guardian at 05:36PM
Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Sydney and the Old Girl review – Miriam Margolyes excels as a mother at war by Michael Billington

Park theatre, LondonDark comedy peeks through the relationship between a malevolent mum and her paranoid middle-aged son in Eugene O’Hare’s Pinteresque play This is the second play by Eu…

Linked From The Guardian at 10:06AM
Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Murder in the Cathedral review – Eliot staged in a sacred space by Michael Billington

Southwark Cathedral, LondonJasper Britton is outstanding as Thomas Becket in Scena Mundi’s revival, but the church acoustics make the rest of the cast hard to hear How do you stage TS Elio…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:18PM
Monday, November 4, 2019

High Fidelity review – Nick Hornby's vinyl nerd back in the groove by Michael Billington

Turbine theatre, LondonA delightfully tuneful adaptation of the Broadway musical returns the unlucky-in-love record-shop owner to his London roots Nick Hornby’s bestselling 1995 novel abou…

Linked From The Guardian at 12:48PM
Friday, November 1, 2019

Mustapha Matura obituary by Michael Billington

Pioneering black British-based playwright who examined the effects of colonialism on his native TrinidadMustapha Matura, who has died aged 79 after a heart attack, was a pioneering black pla…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:36PM

Chemistry review – a warm story of love in the face of mental illness by Michael Billington

Finborough theatre, LondonDepression provides the tough backdrop for an intense affair in Jacob Marx Rice’s smart, flawed and compellingly acted play Depression is a subject the theatre is…

Linked From The Guardian at 10:48AM
Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Antipodes review – Annie Baker searches for the sting in the tale by Michael Billington

Dorfman, National Theatre, LondonBaker probes the relevance of stories in her new play, seemingly set at a strategy meeting, but the concept runs out of steam I was enthralled by Annie Bake…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:33AM
Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Light Falls review – Simon Stephens' guilt-ridden love letter to the north by Michael Billington

Royal Exchange, ManchesterSarah Frankcom says her farewell as the Exchange’s artistic director with this moving testament to the power of family life This has the air of an event. It is th…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:24AM
Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Hard talk: Broadway gets tough on America in crisis by Michael Billington

In an era of uncertainty and anxiety, New York theatre is shunning its obsession with private lives to throw a powerful spotlight on politics It used to be argued that British drama is drive…

Linked From The Guardian at 06:24AM
Monday, October 28, 2019

Joan Plowright at 90: the star who spoke truth to British theatre by Michael Billington

On the actor’s birthday, our critic picks three key performances that illuminate her gift for earthy honesty Joan Plowright, who celebrates her 90th birthday today, is the senior figure in…

Linked From The Guardian at 03:06AM
Monday, October 21, 2019

Vassa review – revolutionary attack on moribund politics by Michael Billington

Almeida, LondonSiobhan Redmond is impressive as a tyrannical mother trying to rescue her debt-ridden family in Tinuke Craig’s strangely rootless production This production of Maxim Gorky…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:48PM
Friday, October 18, 2019

[Blank] review – Alice Birch's build-your-own-play experiment by Michael Billington

Donmar Warehouse, LondonThe playwright throws down the gauntlet to directors, and the result is a show full of ideas but lacking unity Alice Birch’s new play, whose title comes with built-…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:18AM
Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A History of Water in the Middle East review – cheeky political lesson makes waves by Michael Billington

Royal Court, LondonPoet Sabrina Mahfouz uses songs, music and humour to deliver an impassioned assault on British imperialism Passion counts for a lot in the theatre. That is proved by this …

Linked From The Guardian at 08:33AM
Monday, October 14, 2019

The Ice Cream Boys review – an ambitious slice of South African history by Michael Billington

Jermyn Street theatre, LondonThis vigorously performed play confronts the country’s past issues with a battle between the disgraced ex-president, Jacob Zuma, and one of his fiercest critic…

Linked From The Guardian at 02:37AM
Thursday, October 10, 2019

Groan Ups review – school swots and bullies for life by Michael Billington

Vaudeville, London From age six to 30, Mischief Theatre’s engaging band of classmates bicker and play but rarely test the assumption that character is formed in childhood Mischief Theatre,…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:12PM
Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Man in the White Suit review – Stephen Mangan reinvents Ealing boffin by Michael Billington

Wyndham’s theatre, London With fart jokes and skiffle songs, this Sean Foley adaptation ditches the innocence of the 1950s capitalist comedy, but has plenty of drive This is Sean Foley’s…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:03AM
Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Shukshin’s Stories review – moving tales of Siberian village folk by Michael Billington

Barbican, LondonA gifted cast from Moscow’s Theatre of Nations brings Soviet-era stories of folly and obsession to enchanting life I confess to knowing little of Vasily Shukshin (1929-74) …

Linked From The Guardian at 03:24PM

State of the arts: 'Theatre is usually in tune with our volatile times' by Michael Billington

The Guardian’s theatre critic reflects on why the stage remains such a vital means of distilling society We live, to put it mildly, in volatile times. No one knows for sure where this coun…

Linked From The Guardian at 06:24AM
Friday, October 4, 2019

The Niceties review – race and revolution explode into campus feud by Michael Billington

Finborough theatre, LondonA patriotic history professor clashes with her activist student in a smart play sustained by an early surge of ideas First produced in Boston in 2018, Eleanor Burge…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:12AM
Thursday, October 3, 2019

A Day in the Death of Joe Egg review – Peter Nichols' classic has rare truth by Michael Billington

Trafalgar Studios, LondonThere are excellent performances from a cast including Toby Stephens and Claire Skinner, in a fine revival of Nichols’ humane play It is 52 years since Peter Nicho…

Linked From The Guardian at 10:24AM
Wednesday, October 2, 2019

'Master Harold' … and the Boys review – a waltz for worldly harmony by Michael Billington

Lyttelton, London Athol Fugard explores South Africa in 1950 through a white teenager and two black men who practise ballroom routines The plays Athol Fugard co-created with John Kani and Wi…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:24AM
Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Sanditon and The Watsons: TV and theatre finish what Austen started by Michael Billington

Unfinished Jane Austen novels have been adapted for television and the stage. Theatre’s room for experiment delivers the most satisfying imaginative leap By a strange chance it is currentl…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:18AM
Sunday, September 29, 2019

Macbeth review – John Simm excels despite much toil and trouble by Michael Billington

Chichester Festival theatreThe murderous thane faces witches, relentless video and a musical assault in this lengthy production but emerges as a figure of rare complexity Read interview with…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:12AM

All that Chat

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