All stories by Friends on BroadwayStars

Sunday, June 26, 2022

PARADISE LOST caught at Thorington, touring by Libby Purves and Friends

OF MAN’S FIRST DISOBEDIENCE….  Thorington is a new outdoor theatre, a beautiful bomb-crater amid tall sighing pine trees and beneath a great oak in Suffolk.  It runs only one-night,  …

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Saturday, June 18, 2022

THE SOUTHBURY CHILD           Chichester Festival Theatre then Bridge by Libby Purves and Friends

VIA MEDIA ANGLICANA IN A NEW JERUSALEM       We’re in  a vicarage kitchen in a small West Country town,  its incumbent dealing with parishioners, a resentful, weary wife and two daugh…

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Sunday, May 15, 2022

ORLANDO Jermyn St theatre WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

WOOLFING ROUND THE GENDER BEND A bit of a conversion experience for me, this. Disliked Woolf for years, Lighthouse and Waves and all, and therefore never read Orlando. Thought of it as a bit…

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OKLAHOMA Young Vic, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

A DARKER HAZE ON AMERICA’S  MEADOW Traditionally, audiences don’t go to Oklahoma to be unsettled . On the other hand you don’t go to the Young Vic to have your expectations cosily met…

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Friday, May 13, 2022

THE BREACH Hampstead Theatre NW3 by Libby Purves and Friends

TEENS FALLING, UNPROTECTED     An empty basement in a working class Kentucky neighbourhood in the mid 70s.  An offstage adult world is preoccupied with unemployment,  the mained young c…

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Thursday, May 12, 2022

CHINESE BOXING Touring by Libby Purves and Friends

A SCRUTABLE TAKE ON CHINA     This is a beguiling  70-minute solo show from the actor, writer, wandering maverick entrepreneur  and China pundit Mark Kitto.  He plays three parts in seq…

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Monday, May 9, 2022

THE CORN IS GREEN Lyttelton, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

VOICES FROM THE VALLEYS       It is a curious feeling to be half charmed and half irritated by a production: one moment absorbed in a confrontation and engaged with a character, the next…

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Friday, May 6, 2022

MARYS SEACOLE. Donmar, WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

NURSING ACROSS CONTINENTS      Kayla Meikle, stalwart in Victorian dignity and Caribbean matriarchy, addresses us firmly at the start of Jackie Sibblies Drury’s manic, sometimes  chao…

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Wednesday, May 4, 2022

MIDDLE Dorfman, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

IN THE MIDDLE OF LIFE’S JOURNEY..THROW A PLATE OR TWO      Ah, middle age! Waists spreading outwards, options  contracting, marriage all too familiar, parents getting older fast and ch…

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Thursday, April 28, 2022

PRIMA FACIE Harold Pinter Theatre, WC1 by Libby Purves and Friends

SEXUAL ASSAULT , HARD LAW, AND AN ASTONING WEST END DEBUT    Forget the cold sadistic clotheshorse Vilanelle from Killing Eve.  Actually, forget all Jodie Comer’s screen awards.  This …

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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

BARRY HUMPHRIES ; THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK Touring towards London by Libby Purves and Friends

HALF A CENTURY OF HAPPY MISCHIEF Full disclosure: I have been following this man around for the best part of 50 years. Went with my brother Mike to his first show, Housewife Superstar, at th…

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Friday, April 22, 2022

HENRY VI REBELLION: and THE WARS OF THE ROSES Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford by Libby Purves and Friends

NOW THE TWO PLAYS TOGETHER HENRY VI: REBELLION.        ENGLAND IN FERMENT, AND SOME DANGEROUS WOMEN       We are in the 1450s, in a dangerous doldrum: Henry V of Agincourt is long dea…

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Wednesday, April 20, 2022

HENRY VI: REBELLION.        Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford u-Avon by Libby Purves and Friends

ENGLAND IN FERMENT, AND SOME DANGEROUS WOMEN       We are in the 1450s, in a dangerous doldrum: Henry V of Agincourt is long dead,  his stripling son married to  pretty French Margaret …

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Tuesday, April 19, 2022


DO WE STILL LOVE ROOSTER?    So it’s back, another St George’s day before a west country village fair.   Twelve years on from Jez Butterworth’s glorious shock-troop assault on me…

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Sunday, April 17, 2022

THE 47th Old Vic SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

THE ORANGE MONSTER RIDES AGAIN   The first thing to say is what everyone has said:  that Bertie Carvel as Donald Trump is magnificent. Eerily so,  capturing not only the ex-President’s …

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Sunday, April 10, 2022

DIARY OF A SOMEBODY Seven Dials Playhouse W1 by Libby Purves and Friends

THE LOST BOYS OF THEATRE…    The  tiny Actors’ Centre is reborn under its new name, and since this play is set in what was a  traditionally febrile, theatrical, subversively arty qua…

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Thursday, April 7, 2022

“DADDY” by Libby Purves and Friends

 QUEER AS FOLK BY THE INFINITY POOL Jeremy O Harris is a much feted American playwright (a Tony for Slave Play) adept at drilling in to the moment:  BLM, fashionable white guilt, showy t…

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Wednesday, April 6, 2022

THE FEVER SYNDROME Hampstead Theatre NW3 by Libby Purves and Friends

SCIENCE, SIBLINGS, SOUND AND FURY     This is a satisfying play.  To take a painting analogy, it satisfies not in the way that a perfect still-life vase might, but more like a Kandinsky …

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Monday, April 4, 2022

PINAFORE Wilton’s Music Hall, E1 by Libby Purves and Friends

CAMPING ON THE PLANKING At the Coliseum last autumn Gilbert and Sullivan’s seagoing Savoy Opera was immense, with a huge revolving ship, Les Dennis as the first sea lord, a massive chorus …

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Friday, April 1, 2022

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Gielgud, W1 by Libby Purves and Friends

THE SHADOW OF A BEGINNING, ALABAMA 1936       Forget, for the moment, both the fame and the the arguments over Harper Lee’s classic novel:  Aaron Sorkin’s stage adaptation is a free…

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Thursday, March 24, 2022

CLYBOURNE PARK Park Theatre, N4 by Libby Purves and Friends

WELCOME BACK, BITING SHARP AS EVER    In 2010 Bruce Norris’ play wowed the Royal Court: this is a  ten-year anniversary (well, plus two years lost to Covid) so forgive me for quoting wh…

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STRAIGHT LINE CRAZY. Bridge, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

THE ROUGH TOUGH BIRTH OF A CITY    It is not often I resort to drawing in the notebook, but there it is: half an hour into the first part of David Hare’s play about the city planner Robe…

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Wednesday, March 23, 2022

THE MARRIAGE OF ALICE B.TOKLAS   Jermyn St Theatre, WC1 by Libby Purves and Friends

A PLAY IS A PLAY IS A PLAY IS A WEDDING    With typical wit,  the doughty little Jermyn has captured an intellectual-farcical oddity from New York  complete with author-director and star…

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Saturday, March 19, 2022


BRACING, BELTING, BENIGN       At the end of the evening the great diva, director and muse informs us that we too must sing. In a packed house,  on the far side of a pandemic which made …

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Thursday, March 17, 2022

THE ANIMAL KINGDOM Hampstead theatre, NW3 by Libby Purves and Friends

 LEARNING TO LIVE        Sometimes judging others harshly is a relishable guilty pleasure.  In Ruby Thomas’ wonderful 80-minute sequence of snapshots of  family therapy,  the write…

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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

THE WOODS Southwark Playhouse, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

NOT A FINE ROMANCE     Mamet plays are Marmite plays. You can applaud Speed the Plow, adore Wag the Dog on screen, and have a pleasurable argument with the opposite sex after a particularl…

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Tuesday, March 15, 2022

COCK Ambassadors Theatre, WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

LOVE AS AN UNCOURTLY CONTEST      In 2009 – and again in Chichester 2018 – I missed Mike Bartlett’s mischievous, half-earnest play about a gay man wrestling with his identity (and h…

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Friday, February 25, 2022

THE COLLABORATION Young Vic SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

A VIGOROUS, HEARTSHAKING BRUSH OF OPPOSITES      Two artists in a studio:   the older one pale and floppily blond,  languidly self-protective, drawling,  preaching a cool  gospel of u…

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Tuesday, February 15, 2022

THE FOREST Hampstead Theatre NW3 by Libby Purves and Friends

AN ORDINARY TRIANGLE TWISTS INTO NIGHTMARE        The French novelist-turned-playwright Florian Zeller hit the British theatre scene a few years ago with two comedies: The Lie  and The …

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Friday, February 11, 2022

SPIKE Watermill Theatre, Nr Newbury by Libby Purves and Friends

HOMAGE TO A HEALING CHAOS       If  – like Prince Charles – you grew up with the Goons in the background (“Ying Tong! Bluebottle! He’s fallen in da water!” etc) this will ring …

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Friday, January 14, 2022

FORCE MAJEURE Donmar, WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

MIDDLECLASS MOUNTAIN MISERIES       Inspired programming here.   You’d find a decent overlap in any January Venn diagram of regular Donmar audiences and people who wish they were ski-i…

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