All stories by Libby Purves on BroadwayStars

Thursday, December 27, 2018

THEATRECAT TAKES A BREAK by Libby Purves and Friends

NOT YET DEAD CAT BUT…  Since I stopped being The Times Chief Theatre Critic  it has been five years:  on this site there have been  930 posts,  over half a million words, all stil…

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Friday, December 21, 2018

THE TRAGEDY OF KING RICHARD THE SECOND Almeida, N1 by Libby Purves and Friends

A HOLLOW CROWN IN MUD AND BLOOD   The clue is in the paper hat, worn by a dour-faced Simon Russell Beale on the programme cover.    This is not stately, sacred, shockingly regicidal S…

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NINE NIGHT Trafalgar Studios, SW1 by Libby Purves and Friends

JAMAICA BREEZES UP WEST, WITH GRIEF AND GUSTO          Jamaican mourning tradition, longer than the Irish wake and noisier than the Jewish shiva, involves –  we learn  ̵…

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Friday, December 14, 2018

THE CANE                Royal Court, SW1 by Libby Purves and Friends

PSYCHOPATHIC LIBERAL MEETS DINOSAUR PARENTS       Can we, I wonder, ever  learn to deplore past attitudes without being vengeful about it?  Hot on the heels of Mike Bartlett’s heartfe…

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Arts theatre WC 1 by Libby Purves and Friends

  ONE MORE TIME, WITH FEELING   .   After two other full cast renderings in a fortnight -David Edgar’s socially angry take at the RSC and Jack Thorne’s warm spectacular at the…

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

      THE TELL TALE HEART. Dorfman, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

A GOTHIC EYEFUL   In this troublous nation,  2018 seems to be the Christmas of Aaargh! and Eughhh! and hahahahaaa! , as a gross-out  gigglefest sweeps London theatre.  There’s the …

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A CHRISTMAS CAROL Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford upon Avon by Libby Purves and Friends

ENERGY, ANGER, HOPE           It is 1842:  young Charles Dickens, thirty years old and with five novels under his belt, is ranting.    The Industrial Revolution is revving up nicely,…

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Monday, December 10, 2018

SNOWFLAKE Old Fire Station, Oxford by Libby Purves and Friends

  CHRISTMAS,  BREXIT,   GRIEF, HOPE      A few hours after Theresa May postponed the parliamentary vote and spun us down into another layer of Brexi-hell ,  the little OFS    –…

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DICK WHITTINGTON AND HIS CAT Oxford Playhouse by Libby Purves and Friends

 I WENT TO THE PANTO.  O YES I DID.       The great thing about the proud tradition of Oxford Playhouse panto is that while cannily aware of the  audience’s likely cultural uplift, …

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Sunday, December 9, 2018

ALICE IN WONDERLAND Avenue Theatre, Ipswich by Libby Purves and Friends

A WONDERLAND WINNER           “Posh panto”,  for wincing parents fleeing the rackety showbiz ’n smut of the season, can be a bit chilly –  neither one thing nor the other…

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Friday, December 7, 2018

UNCLE VANYA Hampstead Theatre NW3 by Libby Purves and Friends

,  GEESE CACKLE, LIFE GOES ON        I have a friend of Russian heritage who boycotts any Chekhov production which lacks scabby birch-trees, a samovar and some parasols.   She’ll do …

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Thursday, December 6, 2018

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF Menier, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

L’CHAIM – TO LIFE!    A SPECIAL NIGHT           We are there, over a century ago, beyond the Caucasus.   Designer  Robert Jones  has wrapped us around in rustic planks and …

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TRUE WEST Vaudeville, WC1 by Libby Purves and Friends

GUEST CRITIC MICHAEL ADAIR EMPATHISES WITH DEADLINE FEVER.. Here is a tale of two brothers. First, Kit Harrington’s serious, intelligent and moustachioed Austin, Ivy League educated and wi…

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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

THE BOX OF DELIGHTS Wilton’s Music Hall E1 by Libby Purves and Friends

DARK MAGIC,  REAL THEATRE     Long, long before Harry Potter there was a gallant orphan, a boy dreamer sucked into a world of murderous magic, facing grief and responsibility alike.   Tw…

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A CHRISTMAS CAROL Old Vic SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

DICKENS UNCHAINED: A SCROOGE FOR OUR TIMES          It is , if possible, even finer and more heartfelt and gripping, tuneable and serious and moving than last year.   My  former r…

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Friday, November 30, 2018

BURKE AND HARE               Jermyn St Theatre SW1 by Libby Purves and Friends

DARK DOINGS AND DISSECTION     Oyez, Oyez.   Let it be known that this suspenseful yet dreary political season has become officially the Year Of Dark Panto.  Down at The Bridge we had Ma…

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Friday, November 23, 2018

AN HONOURABLE MAN                   White Bear, Kennington SE11 by Libby Purves and Friends

BREAKING THE MOULD….    Our politics is  partisan, quarrelsome, dated in its pattern of two-parties-plus-minnows.   A nest of weary careerists,  pointless betrayals and illogical loya…

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Monday, November 19, 2018

SWITZERLAND Ambassadors, WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

DEATH AND THE DIFFICULT WOMAN   Those who call Theresa May a ‘bloody difficult woman’ should pop in to the Ambassadors and realise that in the ranks of  of BDWs she is the merest d…

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

MACBETH Wanamaker, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

THE EMPTY DARKNESS OF THE HEART     Third time  lucky:  after two glumly disappointing 2018 productions steeped in directorial gimmicks   – RSC and NT –  the candlelit cram…

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

DON QUIXOTE Vaudeville, WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

THE KNIGHT WINS HIS SPURS AGAIN:  A NOBLE DELUSION      Need a Christmas outing? Quailing at panto, feel you and the kids need some Euro-culture to counteract Brexidepression? Trust the …

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HADESTOWN Olivier, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

A SWING AND SWIRL THROUGH HELL     It’s certainly not family-panto time along the glittering Thames riverbank:  what with Martin McDonagh’ grossout-silly Dark Matter downstream at the…

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

THE SIMON AND GARFUNKEL STORY Vaudeville, WC2 & touring by Libby Purves and Friends

LIKE A BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED DECADES….    If you’re my age, it’s a time machine. Songs like The Sound Of Silence and  Bridge Over Troubled Water (bestselling album 1970,71 and 72…

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

BILLY BISHOP GOES TO WAR Jermyn, SW1 by Libby Purves and Friends

THE SAVAGE BEAUTY OF THE FIRST AIR WAR    Britain did not stand alone  in WW1.    As our hero sings in John MacLachlan Gray’s  1982 play: “South Africa and Canada and Australia to …

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Sunday, November 4, 2018

ear for eye ROYAL COURT, SW1 by Libby Purves and Friends

GUEST CRITIC MICHAEL  ADAIR LISTENS, AS WE SHOULD   A glass box filled with smoke encapsulates the Royal Court stage. Shadowy figures patrol its perimeter, sometimes staring out at th…

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

HONOUR Park Theatre, N4 by Libby Purves and Friends

LOVE’S PRECEDENCE AND CRUELTY         George is a journalist-intellectual, award-winner, amiably vain and sixtyish..  He  twinkles for England,  with much black-rimmed-specs…

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A VERY VERY VERY DARK MATTER Bridge, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

NOT SO VERY     A wooden box swings, pendulum-regular, in a peerlessly spooky attic of Halloween horror,  designed with glee by Anna Fleischle .   It is inhabited. Difficult, says its c…

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THE WILD DUCK Almeida, N1 by Libby Purves and Friends

LOVE,  LIES AND THE PAIN OF TRUTH      Is it better to live in a lie,  a happy story,  or to admit the messy sinful truth?  Should you  assume that every person you meet is the w…

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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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