Latest theatre reviews

Find out what our theatre team made of London's new openings

The Four Temperaments/Hofesh Shechter/Song of the Earth

Expectations have been running fever-high for Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter’s first work for the Royal Ballet. Just what would the bad boy of modern dance produce for the hallowed Royal Opera House stage?

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Royal Opera House Wednesday April 8 2015 - Tuesday April 14 2015

Spend, Spend, Spend

From rags, to riches, to rags again – over the decades, the British press has gleefully splashed tales of lottery-winners’ woes across its pages. There’s usually faux sympathy, quick moral judgement and – often – an unpleasant strain of class-based scorn.

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Union Theatre Until Saturday April 18 2015

Princess Ida

What a bizarre piece this is! Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera ‘Princess Ida’ opened in 1847 and was based on a Tennyson poem, ‘The Princess: A Medley’. It’s a satire on feminism and Darwinism to boot, and hasn’t been performed in over 20 years. Director Phil Willmott has evened out the tricky libretto and restructured the work but it still feels like an old-fashioned, flat-footed work.

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Finborough Theatre Until Saturday April 18 2015

The Three Lions

A posh boy, a politician and a plonker, or rather, Prince William, David Cameron and David Beckham, are the titular lions in this satirical farce about what went on behind closed doors during the UK’s 2010 bid for the world cup. William Gaminara’s comedy imagines their conversations as they worked out tactics on how to lobby Fifa delegates in a hotel room in Zurich over 48 hours.

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St James Theatre Until Saturday May 2 2015

The Chair

Critics' choice

It may be set on the docks of Tiger Bay in Cardiff, but  Lewis Gibson’s fantastical, spooky play for ages seven and up takes you to many more unexpected places. Bald-headed barber Owain Sawyers, cutthroat razor in hand, transports us to India, America, Egypt and back again as he blends an intoxicating mix of old-world yarns.

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Unicorn Theatre Until Sunday April 12 2015

Die Entführung

Pop-Up Opera has built its reputation on a roster of slick and inventive small-scale productions. This one, however, is unlikely to be added to that list. Mozart’s romantic comedy ‘The Escape from the Seraglio’ is mostly nonsense in the first place, but this update from Turkish harem to a ‘beauty boot camp’ run along the lines of ‘Big Brother’ is simply unfathomable.

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Dalston Department Store Sunday April 12 2015 - Friday April 17 2015

Rules for Living

Plays cannot live by rules alone, but Sam Holcroft makes a good go of trying in her suburban comedy of manners. It’s about a mildly dysfunctional, moderately posh family who attempt to contain their Christmas day conflicts by adhering to a strict set of rules. Disorienting as it may be scheduling a Christmas comedy at Easter, the matriarch of the family Deborah Findlay has a long list of rules including a ban on talk of ‘sex, death and global warming’.

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National Theatre Until Wednesday July 8 2015

Harvey

It’s tricky revisiting something you loved. The 1950 film adaptation of ‘Harvey’ – starring film legend Jimmy Stewart – is a hardy perennial. But watching Lindsay Posner’s handsomely mounted revival of Mary Chase’s original 1944 play often requires as much suspension of disbelief in the whole script as it does in the idea of a giant invisible rabbit.

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Haymarket Theatre Royal Until Saturday May 2 2015

These Trees Are Made of Blood

Evita is dead. Gone are Argentina’s glory days and the schmaltz of Lloyd Webber’s historical whitewash. Between 1974 and 1983 the country was under a reign of terror, oppressed by a right-wing junta that made tens of thousands of people disappear. Theatre Bench’s show compresses Argentina’s Dirty War into a seedy cabaret bar – the Coup Coup Club.

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Southwark Playhouse Until Saturday April 11 2015

A Breakfast of Eels

Critics' choice

Like the storm which bridges its final acts, Robert Holman’s play swells, pregnant with meaning and guarded, overcast silences, before breaking into beautiful, painful torrents. A family drama that begins with two orphans on the morning of their father’s funeral, it’s built quietly from a series of counterpoints and contradictions, as two very different men play out what it means to outlive their childhoods, and what inheritances they are inevitably burdened with.

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Print Room Until Saturday April 11 2015

A Breakfast of Eels

Critics' choice

Like the storm which bridges its final acts, Robert Holman’s play swells, pregnant with meaning and guarded, overcast silences, before breaking into beautiful, painful torrents. A family drama that begins with two orphans on the morning of their father’s funeral, it’s built quietly from a series of counterpoints and contradictions, as two very different men play out what it means to outlive their childhoods, and what inheritances they are inevitably burdened with.

Read more
Print Room Until Saturday April 11 2015

The Chair

Critics' choice

It may be set on the docks of Tiger Bay in Cardiff, but  Lewis Gibson’s fantastical, spooky play for ages seven and up takes you to many more unexpected places. Bald-headed barber Owain Sawyers, cutthroat razor in hand, transports us to India, America, Egypt and back again as he blends an intoxicating mix of old-world yarns.

Read more
Unicorn Theatre Until Sunday April 12 2015

Harvey

It’s tricky revisiting something you loved. The 1950 film adaptation of ‘Harvey’ – starring film legend Jimmy Stewart – is a hardy perennial. But watching Lindsay Posner’s handsomely mounted revival of Mary Chase’s original 1944 play often requires as much suspension of disbelief in the whole script as it does in the idea of a giant invisible rabbit.

Read more
Haymarket Theatre Royal Until Saturday May 2 2015

Princess Ida

What a bizarre piece this is! Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera ‘Princess Ida’ opened in 1847 and was based on a Tennyson poem, ‘The Princess: A Medley’. It’s a satire on feminism and Darwinism to boot, and hasn’t been performed in over 20 years. Director Phil Willmott has evened out the tricky libretto and restructured the work but it still feels like an old-fashioned, flat-footed work.

Read more
Finborough Theatre Until Saturday April 18 2015

Rules for Living

Plays cannot live by rules alone, but Sam Holcroft makes a good go of trying in her suburban comedy of manners. It’s about a mildly dysfunctional, moderately posh family who attempt to contain their Christmas day conflicts by adhering to a strict set of rules. The matriarch of the family, Deborah Findlay, has a long list of rules including a ban on talk of ‘sex, death and global warming’. She concludes that ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’.

Read more
National Theatre Until Wednesday July 8 2015

These Trees Are Made of Blood

Evita is dead. Gone are Argentina’s glory days and the schmaltz of Lloyd Webber’s historical whitewash. Between 1974 and 1983 the country was under a reign of terror, oppressed by a right-wing junta that made tens of thousands of people disappear. Theatre Bench’s show compresses Argentina’s Dirty War into a seedy cabaret bar – the Coup Coup Club.

Read more
Southwark Playhouse Until Saturday April 11 2015

The Three Lions

A posh boy, a politician and a plonker, or rather, Prince William, David Cameron and David Beckham, are the titular lions in this satirical farce about what went on behind closed doors during the UK’s 2010 bid for the world cup. William Gaminara’s comedy imagines their conversations as they worked out tactics on how to lobby Fifa delegates in a hotel room in Zurich over 48 hours. This trio is less dream team, though, and more damp squib.

Read more
St James Theatre Until Saturday May 2 2015

A Breakfast of Eels

Critics' choice

Like the storm which bridges its final acts, Robert Holman’s play swells, pregnant with meaning and guarded, overcast silences, before breaking into beautiful, painful torrents. A family drama that begins with two orphans on the morning of their father’s funeral, it’s built quietly from a series of counterpoints and contradictions, as two very different men play out what it means to outlive their childhoods, and what inheritances they are inevitably burdened with.

Read more
Print Room Until Saturday April 11 2015

The Broken Heart

Critics' choice

Once more the exquisite surroundings of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse provide a backdrop for the most craven of emotions in this witty, assured revival of John Ford’s turbulent classic. 'The Broken Heart' opens with a happy and carefree Orgilus carrying his betrothed love Penthea onto the stage and embracing her. Moments later black hooded men violently separate the couple.

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Sam Wanamaker Playhouse Until Saturday April 18 2015

The Chair

Critics' choice

It may be set on the docks of Tiger Bay in Cardiff, but  Lewis Gibson’s fantastical, spooky play for ages seven and up takes you to many more unexpected places. Bald-headed barber Owain Sawyers, cutthroat razor in hand, transports us to India, America, Egypt and back again as he blends an intoxicating mix of old-world yarns.

Read more
Unicorn Theatre Until Sunday April 12 2015

My Night with Reg

Critics' choice

Given that theatre is not exactly an art form synonymous with staunch heterosexuality, it’s surprising how few shows about LGBT lives make it into the West End. But Kevin Elyot’s poignant comedy ‘My Night with Reg’ is deservedly doing so for the second time. Robert Hastie’s pitch-perfect 20-year-anniversary revival for the Donmar has bagged itself a transfer, as did the original Royal Court production.

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Apollo Shaftesbury Until Saturday April 11 2015

Bad Jews

Critics' choice

'Bad Jews' transfers with the original cast to the Arts Theatre in the West End from Mar 18. This review is of the show's run at St James Theatre. Family tensions are bound to run high when a loved one dies. But in this hilarious new comedy from Joshua Harmon, you frequently wonder whether a tragic death might actually provoke a bloody murder. Three cousins are lumped together in a one-room apartment in New York because ‘the most important person’ in their family, their Holocaust survivor grandfather, has died.

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Arts Theatre Until Saturday May 30 2015

Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny

Kurt Weill’s librettist was none other than revolutionary director and playwright Bertolt Brecht, who purported to believe that his scathing satire on rampant capitalism, subversively presented in the bourgeois form of opera, would cause a riot. He was right, it did. But that was back in 1930, when Nazi sympathisers disrupted performances and the Wall Street Crash was fresh in the memory.

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Royal Opera House Until Saturday April 4 2015
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