All stories by Arifa Akbar on BroadwayStars

Friday, April 19, 2024

Love’s Labour’s Lost review – tech bros get swiped left in pitch perfect japes by Arifa Akbar

Royal Shakespeare theatre, Stratford-upon-AvonEmily Burns’ modern-day romcom, set on a Pacific island retreat, ramps up the silliness and makes accessible the text’s cloud-parting power …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:02AM
Thursday, April 18, 2024

London Tide review – Dickens and PJ Harvey team up for a melodrama as murky as the Thames by Arifa Akbar

National Theatre, LondonWith its heavy mood and gnomic song lyrics, this updated reimaging of Our Mutual Friend is like a 19th-century noir Period drama is given some sharp edges in this ada…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:06AM
Monday, April 15, 2024

2024’s Olivier awards remain too white, too male – and too safe by Arifa Akbar

A string of seven awards for Sunset Boulevard was hardly radical, and many more daring theatrical successes went unrewarded The triumph of Jamie Lloyd’s reinvented Sunset Boulevard at this…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:12AM
Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Comeuppance review – eloquence, tension and wit in a dysfunctional reunion drama by Arifa Akbar

Almeida, LondonFive American friends gather to catch up in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ new play. It’s a portrait of midlife malaise, but also a subtle meditation on post-Covid life A group …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:06PM
Thursday, April 11, 2024

Player Kings review – Ian McKellen richly complex Falstaff is magnetic by Arifa Akbar

Noel Coward theatre, LondonMutating from head criminal in a gothic thriller to slippery music hall entertainer, showman McKellen has centripetal force in Robert Icke’s slick, modern dress …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:24PM
Wednesday, April 10, 2024

The Promise review – a devastating story of dementia and death by Arifa Akbar

Birmingham RepExpressive performances and arresting effects heighten this mother-son tragedy, primarily told through British Sign Language This drama opens with a lilting evocation of summer…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:42AM
Sunday, April 7, 2024

Gunter review – strange tale of murder, witchcraft and football fizzes with fairground energy by Arifa Akbar

Royal Court Upstairs, LondonLydia Higman, Julia Grogan and Rachel Lemon’s play set around a 1604 witch trial is a vital and exciting piece of gig theatre full of improvisational spirit and…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 12:12PM
Friday, April 5, 2024

Underdog: The Other Other Brontë review – modern mashup pits deceitful sister as a ruthless rival by Arifa Akbar

National Theatre, LondonA dislikable version of Charlotte, jockeying for prominence and yearning to be as immoral as Byron, is the surprising focus of this quick-witted drama As a drama abou…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:54AM
Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Long Day’s Journey Into Night review – Brian Cox upstaged by morphine fiend Patricia Clarkson by Arifa Akbar

Wyndham’s theatre, LondonCox is thrilling as an overbearing patriarch but it’s Clarkson who steals the show in Eugene O’Neill’s agonising family drama The overbearing patriarch in Eu…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:42AM
Sunday, March 31, 2024

Power of Sail review – campus cancel culture drama ripe for a Netflix series by Arifa Akbar

Menier Chocolate Factory, LondonPaul Grellong’s gripping dialogue makes a brisk plot and unlikable characters immensely watchable as a Harvard professor invites a white supremacist for a d…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:42AM
Friday, March 29, 2024

The Divine Mrs S review – larky and good-natured historical comedy by Arifa Akbar

Hampstead theatre, LondonThere are shades of Blackadder in April De Angelis’s play about the great tragedian of 18th-century British theatre There is a certain chutzpah to writing a comedy…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:12AM
Thursday, March 28, 2024

The Lover/The Collection review – Pinter plays psychological games by Arifa Akbar

Ustinov Studio, Theatre Royal, BathBourgeois boredom is pervaded by fantasy and betrayal in these one-act plays with an astute cast including David Morrissey and Mathew Horne Truth, lies and…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 12:10PM
Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Opening Night review – Sheridan Smith’s boozy meltdown shakes up musical theatre by Arifa Akbar

Gielgud Theatre, LondonSmith plays a Broadway star in the midst of a mental crisis in Ivo van Hove and Rufus Wainwright’s glittering and extravagantly original musical adaptation of the Ca…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:18PM
Friday, March 22, 2024

The Long Shadow of Alois Brunner review – tense mystery of a missing writer and a Nazi fugitive by Arifa Akbar

Aviva Studios, ManchesterThis story involving an SS officer who fled to Syria after the war is simply staged but slippery, intriguing and full of nuance The flight of Nazis including Adolf E…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 12:18PM
Friday, March 8, 2024

Starter for Ten review – sparky musical loses points for focus by Arifa Akbar

Bristol Old VicAdaptation of David Nicholls’ novel about a student’s class-inflected coming of age scores for its songs but its energy becomes unhinged Long before the post-university ro…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:12AM
Thursday, March 7, 2024

The Lonely Londoners review – supreme staging of Sam Selvon’s Windrush story by Arifa Akbar

Jermyn Street theatre, LondonA tremendous cast capture the hope and despair of life in the ‘mother country’ in this powerful adaptation of the 1956 novel Lyrical and loosely structured, …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:24PM
Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Nye review – Michael Sheen looks back at the difficult birth of the NHS by Arifa Akbar

Olivier theatre, LondonSheen stars as Aneurin Bevan in Tim Price’s drama, unfolding in flashbacks from a hospital bed This life story begins at the end, with Aneurin “Nye” Bevan in a h…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:02PM
Monday, March 4, 2024

Sunak’s sabre-rattling is pure cynicism – Black Out nights are a small, vital corrective to theatre’s lack of diversity | Arifa Akbar by Arifa Akbar

No one is banned from these shows – and for Slave Play’s run on the West End, they take up only two nights out of almost 100 Downing Street made a surprise announcement last week. No, no…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:12AM
Friday, March 1, 2024

Ben and Imo review – Britten and Holst’s collaboration slides into cruelty by Arifa Akbar

Swan theatre, Stratford-upon-AvonMark Ravenhill’s reimagining of the duo’s work on Gloriana exposes imbalances in the partnership but ultimately is a tragedy of thwarted ambition In 1952…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 04:54PM
Thursday, February 29, 2024

Bhangra Nation review – Punjabi dance powers a joyful high school musical by Arifa Akbar

Birmingham RepSoaring ballads and spirited movement abound in a charming show about teenage self-discovery A team of bhangra dancers bound onto the stage in traditional sequined dress and fa…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:12AM
Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Human Body review – Keeley Hawes and the NHS in a silver-screen romance by Arifa Akbar

Donmar Warehouse, LondonHawes and Jack Davenport radiate as postwar lovers in Lucy Kirkwood’s cinephile postwar romantic drama set against the birth of the NHS As debate on the future of t…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:42AM
Sunday, February 25, 2024

Shifters review – drama of first love lost has giddy kisses and real heart by Arifa Akbar

Bush theatre, LondonBenedict Lombe questions ideas around abuse, grief and the Black body in this meet-again-cute starring Tosin Cole and Heather Agyepong Would you want to revisit your firs…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 04:02PM
Friday, February 23, 2024

The Big Life review – big-hearted Windrush musical returns with irrepressible verve by Arifa Akbar

Theatre Royal Stratford East, LondonThis feted battle of the sexes comedy follows defiantly upbeat Caribbean characters making a life in postwar Britain This irrepressible ska musical, trans…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 08:42AM
Thursday, February 22, 2024

We go to the theatre to feel something – and people do. Trigger warnings don’t stop that | Arifa Akbar by Arifa Akbar

Good plays have the power to shake us out of our complacency. This recurring debate is a pointless skirmish in a culture war CONTENT WARNING: This column may include opinions with which you …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 02:36PM
Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Hadestown review – thrilling songs from an American underworld by Arifa Akbar

Lyric theatre, LondonAnaïs Mitchell’s musical melds two classical myths, folk and jazz with tremendous soul and offbeat spirit This odyssey through the underworld, told with deep-voiced …

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:24PM
Tuesday, February 20, 2024

An Enemy of the People review – Matt Smith’s groovy firebrand swings from rebel to conspiracist by Arifa Akbar

Duke of York’s theatre, LondonRock’n’roll reimagining of Ibsen’s timeless corruption drama brings the audience into direct Question Time-style dialogue with Smith’s idealist revolu…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:12PM

Double Feature review – Hitchcock and Hedren meet the Witchfinder General by Arifa Akbar

Hampstead theatre, LondonJohn Logan’s play combines the stories behind two films made in the 1960s but each needs more space to truly hit home Two pairs of directors and actors zigzag on s…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:24AM
Friday, February 16, 2024

King Lear review – Yaël Farber’s modern-dress take is shockingly vicious and supremely moving by Arifa Akbar

Almeida Theatre, LondonThe set is a marvel, the performances are electric and the ending – with Lear raging and trembling in a hospital gown on the heath – is profoundly tragic Yaël Far…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 10:54AM
Thursday, February 15, 2024

The Picture of Dorian Gray review – Sarah Snook plays 26 characters in dazzling, dangerous solo show by Arifa Akbar

Theatre Royal Haymarket, LondonAided by elaborate tech, multiple screens and an angelic wig, the Succession star gives a performance that is mischievous, swaggering and operatic Does Sarah S…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 06:42PM
Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Just For One Day review – Live Aid musical has soaring voices and pancake-flat characters by Arifa Akbar

Old Vic, LondonJukebox show celebrating sweary Bob Geldof’s 1985 mega-fundraiser piles homily on cliche in a production in thrall to white saviour stereotypes The breathless tagline invite…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 07:48PM
Sunday, February 11, 2024

The Boy at the Back of the Class review – a refugee’s lessons in humanity by Arifa Akbar

Rose theatre, Kingston-upon-Thames Onjali Raùf’s morality tale for children, adapted by Nick Ahad, fluidly harnesses schoolkid energy, though important details are often reported rather t…

SOURCE: The Guardian at 09:54AM

All that Chat

May 30, 2023: Grey House - Lyceum Theatre
Jun 26, 2023: Just For Us - Hudson Theatre
Jul 24, 2023: The Cottage - Hayes Theater
Nov 16, 2023: Spamalot - St. James Theatre
Dec 18, 2023: Appropriate - Hayes Theater
Mar 07, 2024: Doubt - Todd Haimes Theatre
Apr 14, 2024: Lempicka - Longacre Theatre
Apr 17, 2024: The Wiz - Marquis Theatre
Apr 18, 2024: Suffs - Music Box Theatre
Apr 25, 2024: Mother Play - Hayes Theater
Jun 10, 2024: The Drama Desk Awards