All stories by Friends on BroadwayStars

Sunday, October 21, 2018

THE MARINER Touring by Libby Purves and Friends

ALONE ON A WIDE, WIDE SEA           The Rime of the Ancient Mariner may be studded with overfamiliar quotations,  but taken in its entirely,  has power to disturb .  It is about gui…

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Friday, October 19, 2018

TROILUS AND CRESSIDA Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford by Libby Purves and Friends

LECHERY AND TREACHERY,  MACHISMO AND METAL…     ‘I had forgotten” said a companion as we staggered out, deafened by the final outbreak of crazed metallic drumming,  “how syph…

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

WISE CHILDREN                  Old Vic SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

ROMPING FABLE OF A GREASEPAINT CENTURY              Twins, three sets of them,  in a dynasty of performers from the 1880s onward: a theatrical boarding-house with a heart-of-gold har…

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

COMPANY. Gielgud, WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

FOR BETTER FOR WORSE?  FOR FIVE MICE ANYWAY        If you’re going to mess about with a classic but slightly dated Sondheim musical,  be sure to do it brilliantly. Do it like Mar…

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STORIES Dorfman SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

CONCEPTION AND THE CREATIVES      It’s a sign of the sparky credibility of Nina Raine’s play about a woman desperate for a sperm donor  – having broken with her younger, un…

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Monday, October 15, 2018

TOUCHING THE VOID Royal, Northampton & Scotland later by Libby Purves and Friends

THE HEIGHTS OF LIFE            Theatre sometimes gives films – and books – a remarkable translation, making stories deeper ,stranger ,  more tense.   Maybe  it i…

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

THE WIDER EARTH Natural History Museum by Libby Purves and Friends

THE YOUNG DARWIN RISES AGAIN          The Jerwood Gallery is for the first time a theatre: in the small excitement of a new space dark shapes loom ahead of us,  angular, wooden.  …

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Friday, October 12, 2018

MEASURE FOR MEASURE Donmar WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

LUKE JONES TAKES THE MEASURE..   This is a made for measure Measure-For-Measure. Its greatest achievement is hacking the flabby old Jacobian down to the right side of 90 minutes. It rol…

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

THE HEIGHT OF THE STORM Wyndham’s, WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

A MASTERPIECE OF LOVE AND LOSS       I saw this on tour in Cambridge, and heroically held of telling you until the West End embargo lifted.  It’s wonderful: puzzling, moving, cleve…

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

I’M NOT RUNNING Lyttelton, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

A DOSE HARD TO SWALLOW   David Hare has chronicled Labour politics – and the state of the nation  -for nearly half a century,  brilliantly catching  truths and tensions. This t…

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Friday, October 5, 2018

PEARLS FROM THE GRIT                     Bethel, Lowestoft, tour by Libby Purves and Friends

THE EXTINCTION OF ENGLAND’S EASTERNMOST VILLAGE               There is no Grit fishing-village now on the Lowestoft shore,  but in 1900 there were homes, shops,  bakeries, laundr…

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

SIX Arts Theatre WC1 by Libby Purves and Friends

DIVORCED BEHEADED DIED – REVIVED!     Took me a shameful while to catch up on this clever little riot of a feminist musical, down from an Edinburgh triumph and packing the Ar…

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

SKETCHING Wilton’s Music Hall E1 by Libby Purves and Friends

TALES OF A CITY        “I see a beautiful city” says a spotlit actor, and the rest take it up in styles from Radio 4 to rap,  then group and regroup, changing with the shrug of a ja…

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

PACK OF LIES Menier, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

WARM HEARTS,    COLD WAR    After the Salisbury-Novichok affair there is a sour laugh when Stewart, the MI5 official, reassures the nervous Jackson family that the coming arrest of t…

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Friday, September 28, 2018

PINTER AT THE PINTER: TWO Harold Pinter Theatre by Libby Purves and Friends

GUEST CRITIC BEN BLACKMORE MUSES ON CHEESE-KNIVES AND TELETUBBY HOUSES   PINTER 2 announces itself in bold, Sex And The City-type projections, in the Sex And The City font as though it …

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PINTER AT THE PINTER –    ONE Harold Pinter Theatre, WC1 by Libby Purves and Friends

STEEL CELLS AND SADISM        Settling in, you’d think you were at the Cenotaph or the Tattoo.   A military soundtrack booms out Imperial Echoes and Jupiter (I Vow To Thee My Coun…

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA Olivier, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

A GLORIOUS SERPENT OF OLD NILE      This can be a beast of a play:  epic, three and a half hours,  scenes spread across the Mediterranean from Rome to Cairo by land and sea.  It is als…

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

TARTUFFE                 Swan, Stratford upon Avon by Libby Purves and Friends

MOLIERE IN THE MODERN MIDLANDS           It says something good about our arts establishment  that this sharp caper comes from the Royal Shakespeare Company, not some daring pub-r…

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Saturday, September 22, 2018

HOLY SH!T Kiln, NW4 by Libby Purves and Friends

PARENTHOOD, PRAYER , PROSECCO   The renamed Tricycle (no, I am not taking sides)   Is open:  its leader Indhu Rubasingham launches her sprauncy new theatre with Alexis Zegerman’s da…

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION                   County Hall SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

DOING JUSTICE TO AGATHA   (She’d have loved it!)            The courtroom is the marbled council chamber of the old County Hall:the story by Agatha Christie even hoarier.  I missed…

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Monday, September 17, 2018

SONGLINES Hightide Festival, now Walthamstow by Libby Purves and Friends

LOOKING OUT TO SEA,  AT PAST AND FUTURE       With the feral teenage violence of HEATHERS (scroll to it below)  all snarling and murdering in the West End, and the manic cheerleader ene…

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Saturday, September 15, 2018

FLOWERS FOR MRS HARRIS Chichester Festival Theatre by Libby Purves and Friends

OUT OF AUSTERITY, A DREAM OF BEAUTY              A gulf yawns between this musical’s two halves:  a gulf of wealth,  sophistication, hope and colour.   Ida Harris, careworn heroi…

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

HEATHERS Theatre Royal, Haymarket by Libby Purves and Friends

DARK LARKS AND HIGH SCHOOL HOMICIDE   You thought there were enough school-themed musicals?  What with  Bring it On,  School of Rock and our own dear cross-dressing Jamie…?  Make …

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ONCE New Wolsey, Ipswich by Libby Purves and Friends

A RARE OLD TIME IN DUBLIN , IN IPSWICH     The miniature of Libby Watson’s gorgeous Dublin pub set in the foyer raises your spirits straight away.  Sometimes only an Irish pub w…

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Sunday, September 9, 2018

THE LOVELY BONES Royal, Northampton by Libby Purves and Friends

HUMANITY RISING FROM HORROR        It is one of the oldest notions in the world: the unquiet grave.   From Sophocles to modern campaigns we are haunted by the idea that the violentl…

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Friday, September 7, 2018

THE HUMANS Hampstead Theatre by Libby Purves and Friends

 GUEST CRITIC MICHAEL ADAIR IS TRANSPORTED TO NEW YORK, AND FAMILY TRUTH     The joy of a play like The Humans is that it can take a subject that feels as if it might have been do…

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

THE HABIT OF ART Theatre Royal, York & touring by Libby Purves and Friends

ONE OF BENNETT’S FINEST , ON THE ROAD AGAIN       Onstage is a shabby rehearsal room,  an Oxford study scruffily indicated with doorframes and signs; at the side a litter of coffee-cu…

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

DANCE NATION Almeida, N1 by Libby Purves and Friends

GRAND PLIE, FIRST POSITION,  TURN…TWERK…        My friend and comrade-in-the stalls Mr Letts of the Mail has suggested ( by means of Twitter ,review on Friday, always worth …

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Monday, September 3, 2018

LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN LIVE AGAIN…touring by Libby Purves and Friends


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Monday, August 27, 2018



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Thursday, August 16, 2018

EMILIA Shakespeare’s Globe, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

DARK LADY DEMANDING LIMELIGHT        The Globe has had some tremendous new-writing about history, for which it is nicely suited.  Remember Howard Brenton’s Anne Boleyn and  Dr Sc…

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