All stories by Arifa Akbar on BroadwayStars

Friday, June 2, 2023

Surfing the Holyland review – balanced view of Israel from a surfboard by Arifa Akbar

Caravanserai, BrightonAn Ohioan moves to Israel in this charming solo performance which offers a fresh perspective on the Middle East – plus ukulele songs It is refreshing to hear a story…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:48AM
Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Shape of Things review – seductive sociopaths show cruel intent by Arifa Akbar

Park theatre, LondonThe tension is raised in Neil LaBute’s dark comedy as entitled Evelyn sets about remoulding unworldly Adam from geek to good-looking boyfriend To those uninitiated with…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:06AM
Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Under the Kundè Tree review – a fractured tale of family strife and colonial uprising by Arifa Akbar

Southwark Playhouse, LondonBoldly directed, lyrically enacted play melds a personal story of rebellion in French Cameroon with the story of independence – but leaves both unfinished The st…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:06AM
Monday, May 29, 2023

Encore! Surefire shows returning for the Edinburgh festival in 2023 by Chris Wiegand, Anya Ryan, Brian Logan, Mark Fisher, Kate Wyver, Arifa Akbar and David Jays

In the run-up to the festival, our writers will choose new productions that have caught their eye – but here’s a selection of those we’ve already reviewed Richard Marsh has clearly see…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:24AM
Sunday, May 28, 2023

Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations review – Eddie Izzard seduces in charismatic one-woman show by Arifa Akbar

Garrick theatre, LondonIzzard uses humour instinctively, helped by Dickens’s love of the exaggerated or comic grotesque Eddie Izzard performing Great Expectations – but why? That questio…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:18AM
Friday, May 26, 2023

Aspects of Love review – a preposterous blast from the past by Arifa Akbar

Lyric theatre, LondonMichael Ball returns to sing Love Changes Everything, this time as the uncle, in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical of romantic entanglements If Aspects of Love is a blast …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:24AM
Thursday, May 25, 2023

A Passionate Woman review – Kay Mellor’s wry rummage through middle-aged angst by Arifa Akbar

Leeds PlayhouseA year after Mellor’s death, Tess Seddon directs her 1993 play marked by dry northern wit, knowing ridiculousness and deep, understated sadness Kay Mellor’s play features …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:36AM
Monday, May 22, 2023

The Second Woman review – Ruth Wilson’s spellbinding theatrical marathon by Arifa Akbar

Young Vic, LondonOver 24 hours, the star offers variations on the same scene with 100 different partners, including some famous faces – and the result is astonishing Even before Ruth Wilso…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 04:12AM
Friday, May 19, 2023

Brokeback Mountain review – perfectly pitched staging of the heartbreaking love story by Arifa Akbar

@sohoplace, LondonThe desolately poignant tale is brought into stark relief in Jonathan Butterell’s production through Eddi Reader’s beautiful vocals and a compelling cast Where Ang Lee …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:32AM
Saturday, May 6, 2023

The Great White Bard by Farah Karim-Cooper review – reclaiming Shakespeare by Arifa Akbar

An inspiring analysis of Shakespeare and race restores his reputation as a playwright for all There is a vivid moment in Farah Karim-Cooper’s new book where she reflects on the image of th…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 06:32AM
Wednesday, May 3, 2023

The Motive and the Cue review – Gielgud and Burton battle it out by Arifa Akbar

Lyttelton theatre, LondonMark Gatiss and Johnny Flynn star in Jack Thorne’s play about the prickly pair’s 1960s Broadway production of Hamlet In 1964, John Gielgud directed a stripped-ba…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 05:18AM
Sunday, April 30, 2023

Wuthering Heights review – a deliciously dark Brontë with jagged edges restored by Arifa Akbar

Royal and Derngate theatre, NorthamptonCoal-black humour propels Brontë’s tale of murderous desire, animal torture and family abuse Emily Brontë’s gothic romance is so often cleansed o…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:24AM
Friday, April 28, 2023

A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction review – Lydia West takes command by Arifa Akbar

Barbican, LondonThe star narrates an innovative, pedal-powered production that muses on the climate crisis but the wide range of topics limits the storytelling As a concept, Katie Mitchell�…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:36AM
Thursday, April 27, 2023

Retrograde review – toxicity meets integrity in exceptional Sidney Poitier drama by Arifa Akbar

Kiln theatre, LondonRyan Calais Cameron’s terrific three-hander dramatises a meeting in 1955 Hollywood, mapping the dilemmas that actors of colour still face Two white men are having a fra…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:24AM
Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Dixon and Daughters review – comic domestic noir reveals grim shadows by Arifa Akbar

Dorfman theatre, LondonWhen Mary returns home from prison, there is both humour and horror in store, as Deborah Bruce’s play explores a cycle of abuse The set reveals a house sliced apart …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:36AM
Thursday, April 20, 2023

Ain’t Too Proud review – a Temptations jukebox musical by numbers by Arifa Akbar

Prince Edward theatre, LondonThis plodding account of the Motown band’s highs and lows is more than a little soulless A musical about the Temptations was always going to have a phenomenal …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:36PM

The Secret Life of Bees review – blazing songs light up civil rights drama by Arifa Akbar

Almeida theatre, LondonA young white woman and her Black housekeeper flee across the American south amid the historic struggle, buoyed by astonishingly powerful music First seen off-Broadway…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:54AM
Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Dancing at Lughnasa review – an exquisite staging of Brian Friel’s evocative drama by Arifa Akbar

Olivier theatre, LondonThere are superb performances from a cast including Siobhán McSweeney and Ardal O’Hanlon in Josie Rourke’s production Brian Friel’s semi-autobiographical play, …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:06AM
Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Strike! review – Dublin shop-workers stage an anti-apartheid protest by Arifa Akbar

Southwark Playhouse, LondonDepicting a brave group who took a stand against selling South African goods in 1984, this spirited show raises the question of why the Dunnes Stores strike isn’…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:02AM
Monday, April 17, 2023

The Silence and the Noise review – star-crossed romance along county lines by Arifa Akbar

Available onlineThe daughter of an addict and a young man trapped in the drugs trade meet in an unsentimental tale that blends tenderness and tragedy Two teenagers meet on a bombed-out sofa …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 06:42AM
Sunday, April 16, 2023

If You Fall review – an emotive journey through the pitfalls of end-of-life care by Arifa Akbar

Old Vic, BristolPlayful yet plaintive, this six-person show condemns the indignities suffered by two vulnerable elderly people navigating our inadequate system It seems like a particularly a…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:06AM
Friday, April 14, 2023

Life Is a Dream review – profound play messes merrily with reality by Arifa Akbar

Barbican, LondonCheek By Jowl’s Spanish-language version of the surreal 1635 classic fuses dreamlike garishness with bizarre slapstick Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s 1635 verse play inter…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:32AM
Thursday, April 13, 2023

Hamnet review – slick adaptation captures Shakespeare’s horrified unravelling by Arifa Akbar

Swan theatre, Stratford-upon-AvonLolita Chakrabarti’s staging of Maggie O’Farrell’s moving novel about the death of the playwright’s son – and his resurrection in Hamlet – is pow…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:12AM
Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Richard III review – Adjoa Andoh’s maverick reimagining drags by Arifa Akbar

Liverpool PlayhouseThe actor and director pitches the antihero as a racial outsider. She is compelling, but he is an inconsistent character in a production leached of intrigue This productio…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:02AM
Friday, April 7, 2023

The Woman Who Turned Into a Tree review – horror fable of a divided self by Arifa Akbar

Omnibus theatre, LondonUsing brilliantly expressive movement, a modern Daphne is torn between a glossy public face and an inner world of howling self-hate A woman in blond wig and sparkly sk…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:42AM
Wednesday, April 5, 2023

A Little Life review – James Norton’s sexually abused lawyer is spared no misery by Arifa Akbar

Harold Pinter theatre, LondonSome called it torture porn, others a masterpiece. Ivo van Hove brings Hanya Yanagihara’s novel to the West End, complete with spurting blood, relentless sadis…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:32PM

Sea Creatures review – a strange shapeless study of family grief and love by Arifa Akbar

Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, LondonCordelia Lynn seeks to rewrite the rules of playwriting in this rough jewel of a play about a family of women What we know is that this is a house by the …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 11:02AM
Sunday, April 2, 2023

Sugar Coat review – a rocking coming-of-age story of trauma and healing by Arifa Akbar

Southwark Playhouse, LondonHeadbanging frontwoman Dani Heron moves from schoolgirl sex, parties and music-making to teen pregnancy, miscarriage, rape and depression The set is a cross betwee…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:02AM
Friday, March 31, 2023

The Lost Spells review – enchanting musical has an abundance of magic by Arifa Akbar

Watford Palace theatreA cockney fox and a preening jackdaw open our eyes to the wonders of nature in this charming show based on Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris’s book In this new musi…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 05:02PM
Thursday, March 30, 2023

Berlusconi: A New Musical review – bunga bunga banality by Arifa Akbar

Southwark Playhouse Elephant, LondonIt’s a nice idea but this disconnected show about the former Italian PM makes some bizarre choices and lacks satirical bite This satire about Italy’s …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:36AM
Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead review – a magnificent Complicité creation by Arifa Akbar

Barbican, LondonSimon McBurney directs a toweringly innovative adaptation of the eco-thriller by Nobel-winner Olga Tokarczuk The opening night of this Complicité production was aborted at t…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:42AM

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