All stories by Friends on BroadwayStars

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA Oxford Playhouse by Libby Purves and Friends

YOUNG GENTLEMEN (AND LADIES) TO CELEBRATE      This is very good fun indeed. Who does not want an onstage dog called Crab, benignly upstaging a rarely seen Shakespeare clown? And  a…

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PARTY GAMES Theatre Royal Windsor & touring by Libby Purves and Friends

TWO YEARS AFTER THE NEXT ELECTION..       Here, a mere meringue’s throw from Eton itself, is an imaginary Prime Minister of that ilk.  Tidier in person and with a touch more integrity …

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Tuesday, May 14, 2024

BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY Hampstead Theatre NW3 by Libby Purves and Friends

NYPD FAMILY BLUES          I fell for the solid, paternal, irascible Walter “Pops” Washington immediately over his whiskey breakfast, as he listens half-patiently to the unreliably …

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Saturday, May 11, 2024

MIDSUMMER Mercury, Colchester and Barn Cirencester by Libby Purves and Friends

A LOST WEEKEND WORTH FINDING        It helps if you fall in love with the set;  even more if the set helps tell the story. For this tale of a louche, tender, disreputably memorable week…

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Friday, May 10, 2024

PUNCH Nottingham Playhouse by Libby Purves and Friends

GANG LIFE,  GRIEF AND GREATNESS      There is a very tense moment  late on in the second half when Jacob Dunne, only just holding himself together, finally sits down in person opposite …

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Thursday, May 9, 2024

THE GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR Marylebone Theatre, NW1 by Libby Purves and Friends

A RIOTOUS RUSSIAN SATIRE, FOR ALL TIMES           The local governor and councillors are posing for a photograph, more than satisfied with themselves and their genteelly corrupt side-h…

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Friday, May 3, 2024

THE CHERRY ORCHARD        Donmar. WC1  by Libby Purves and Friends

MODERN ECHOES OF A DYING FALL          Years ago I came out of a dullish production in Yorkshire of Chekhov’s last play, set very traditionally with samovar, parasols and big hats. A …

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Wednesday, May 1, 2024

LAUGHING BOY Jermyn St Theatre by Libby Purves and Friends

A BOY BETRAYED Connor was 18 when he drowned in the bath with an epileptic seizure.  It needn’t have happened. He was under slipshod care, away from the family who loved him, in an NHS �…

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Tuesday, April 30, 2024

MINORITY REPORT       Lyric, Hammersmith.  by Libby Purves and Friends

A FEARFUL FUTURE    I am wary of futurist dystopias, but this is a real treat: intelligent sci-fi with serious thrills.   As it opens, we are the 2050  audience at the celebration of ten…

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Sunday, April 28, 2024

THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL Chichester Festival Theatre by Libby Purves and Friends

THE COURT AND THE BEDCHAMBER       Theatre will never tire of the Tudors, nor should it.  From every new angle they offer a dramatic gift which never stops giving.  Here’s 1534,  and…

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Friday, April 19, 2024

LOVE’S LABOURS LOST Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Stratford u-Avon by Libby Purves and Friends

MEN BEHAVING RIDICULOUSLY The lord of Navarre and three nobles have resolved to retreat and study for three years, eschewing  female company: so even the princess  suing for land has to be…

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Thursday, April 18, 2024

LONDON TIDE Lyttelton, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

MUD, MARSH, MONEY      Now here’s a bracing new way to do Dickens:  avoid sets full of Victoriana by keeping the stage pretty much empty beneath a set of uneasily moving lighting-bars …

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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

PLAYER KINGS Noel Coward Theatre & Touring by Libby Purves and Friends

REFLECTIONS ON A FAT KNIGHT Due to train disruption – speak not of overhead wires and wind – I had to bail out at the interval,  from  Robert Icke’s epic three and a half hour modern…

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Monday, April 15, 2024

REFLECTIONS ON INK 2024 by Libby Purves and Friends

WHY HALESWORTH MATTERS TO THE NATIONAL DRAMATIC ECOSYSTEM    The other day I did an overview-preview from some dress rehearsals at the INK short play festival in Suffolk (scroll below),  …

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Sunday, April 14, 2024

RICHARD, MY RICHARD Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds by Libby Purves and Friends

      CROOKBACK DICK REIMAGINED          Saving Richard III from Shakespeare’s calumny seems to have a particular appeal to women: probably because around his accession in the 1480…

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Saturday, April 13, 2024

INK FESTIVAL Halesworth, Suffolk by Libby Purves and Friends

DIVING ABOUT IN A UNIQUE SHORT-PLAY FESTIVAL          Join me on a parked Hoppa minibus where Henry VIII is chatting up a new Jane.  She is not impressed by the Tudor-Tinder qualificat…

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Friday, April 12, 2024

MOBY DICK Royal & Derngate, and TOURING by Libby Purves and Friends

HOLINESS IN THE WHALE         It pretty much had me harpooned at the words  “Call me Ishmael”.   As Mark Arends’ earnestly naive schoolteacher speaks the opening lines and begins…

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Thursday, April 4, 2024

UNDERDOG: THE OTHER OTHER BRONTE Dorfman, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

WUTHERING SIBLINGS      Grace Smart the designer sets the scene as we settle in with a sweet miniature moor, all harebells and heather and cloddy bits of earth.  But it rises in the air …

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SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE VALLEY OF FEAR Southwark Playhouse SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

THE GAME’S AFOOT. EVENTUALLY. Nick Lane’s adaptation of Conan Doyle’s late, broodingly complicated novel has met many huzzahs from Sherlock Holmes fans, previously here, on tour and  …

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Wednesday, April 3, 2024

THE DREAM OF A RIDICULOUS MAN         Marylebone Theatre. NW1 by Libby Purves and Friends

DOSTOYEVSKY IN DALTON       “These days” says the man on the empty stage,  “people are precious to me, even when they insult me.  I have woken up”.  His stark features do no…

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Saturday, March 30, 2024

POWER OF SAIL Menier, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

CAMPUS RITES AND WRONGS Sometimes, I do like a stage set you could cosily move right into.  Paul Farnsworth’s is a nice  evocation of a Harvard professor’s study: shelves and panelling…

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Friday, March 29, 2024

THE DIVINE MRS S Hampstead Theatre, N1 by Libby Purves and Friends

HOMAGE TO THE FIRST CELEBRITY DIVA        Last time theatre’s pre-Victorian glory days  – silk breeches, rowdy audiences and Garrickian hamming  – were celebrated on this stage w…

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Wednesday, March 27, 2024

OPENING NIGHT Gielgud, WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

HOW TO WASTE A STELLAR CAST       Sheridan Smith is not only a box-office draw  but a rare and genuine talent:  two decades a star  on screen and stage, musicals and drama:  phenomena…

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Sunday, March 24, 2024

MIND MANGLER Apollo, WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

MAGIC . ALWAYS BETTER WHEN DISASTROUS.          God bless Mischief Theatre.  Eleven years ago this coming May I saw THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG in the tiny downstairs space at Trafalgar S…

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Friday, March 22, 2024

RED PITCH Sohoplace W1 by Libby Purves and Friends

KIDS WITH A KICK IN THEM        There’s been an interlockof themes in theatre lately: DEAR ENGLAND at the NT displaying Gareth Southgate’s work in fostering the openness and emotiona…

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Thursday, March 21, 2024

FAITH HEALER Lyric, Hammersmith by Libby Purves and Friends

HOPE, HEART, HARDSHIP    Brian Friel’s 1979 remarkable play stands on its own, offering a kind of depressive beauty: beneath the story of one ramshackle troubled couple it is a meditatio…

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THE BARBER OF SEVILLE Wiltons, E1 by Libby Purves and Friends

RO$$INI BONANZA!  Guest reviewer Dean Thompson finds much in a small space… Opera lovers or new to opera will love this!  So, get on your horse and gallop over to see Charles Court Opera…

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Monday, March 18, 2024

STONES IN HIS POCKETS      Eastern Angles touring by Libby Purves and Friends

A CELLULOID INVASION   This  was at first a startling choice:  Eastern Angles’ tradition is generally, as it heroically tours night-by-night across the eastern counties,   to programme…

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Wednesday, March 13, 2024

LONDON ZOO Southwark Playhouse SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

BOARDROOM BEASTS     This may break all records for the smartest costumes ever at the Southwark’s smallest space: six irreproachable business suits, including two sets of tweed-chic fema…

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Tuesday, March 12, 2024

GUYS AND DOLLS …reprise & birthday! by Libby Purves and Friends

A FRESH CAST, ONE YEAR ON  Can it really be a whole year since, with theatre still gallantly recovering from Covid, Nicholas Hytner rolled the dice and opted to offer us some razzle dazzle?…

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Friday, March 8, 2024

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS New Wolsey, Ipswich & touring by Libby Purves and Friends

PLANT FOOD PEOPLE FROM THE PAST        I missed this first time round, due to the babysitting years, so it was grand to catch up. It’s a 1980’s  revival,  a spoof on  1960’s sci…

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