All stories by Libby Purves on BroadwayStars

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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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR Royal Shakespeare Theatre Stratford upon Avon by Libby Purves and Friends

WHAT LARKS…     There is a swimming-pool ladder, a rubber-ring shaped like a swan, a robotic golf cart, some decorative flamingos (one used as a weapon) , and a statue of Queen E…

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Friday, August 10, 2018

GREEK Arcola, E8 by Libby Purves and Friends

GUEST REVIEWER CHARLOTTE VALORI MARVELS AT GREEK PERFECTION AT GRIMEBORN Like the roar of an older, bolder London, Mark-Anthony Turnage’s GREEK bounces snarling onto the Grimeborn stage, c…

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HYMN TO LOVE Jermyn St Theatre WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

LA PETITE PIAF, REVENANTE..     I grew up with Piaf, a temporary French schoolchild in 1960, skated around the patinoire with my friends snarling along with the endless plays of  “Je ne…

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LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR Arcola, E8 by Libby Purves and Friends

GUEST REVIEWER CHARLOTTE VALORI FINDS THE BOYS GET ALL THE DRAMA AT GRIMEBORN Lucia di Lammermoor is an opera of shocking brutality, with savage emotional aggression rivalling physical viole…

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ARISTOCRATS Donmar, WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

DREAMS AND LEGENDS OF DECAY   Brian Friel’s gift is humane ambiguity, refusing to allow  tidy judgements on his characters .  Or even – though his theme is Ireland’s history…

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

BRING IT ON Southwark Playhouse SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

HIP HOP HURRAH ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE TRACKS   Here’s a hot one, in every sense.  Clapped till my hands stuck together at this youthful, truthful, touching and funny tale of acroba…

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

THE PROMETHEUS REVOLUTION Arcola, E8 by Libby Purves and Friends

GUEST REVIEWER CHARLOTTE VALORI FINDS REVOLUTION NOT GOING FAR IN A WORLD PREMIERE AT GRIMEBORN Prometheus stole fire from the gods in order to ensure human progress, and met with a grisly e…

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Friday, August 3, 2018

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST Vaudeville, WC1 by Libby Purves and Friends

A HANDBAG?     You’re not often given a  surprise by Lane the butler in in his short appearance,  as he delivers those immortally celebrated cucumber sandwiches to the piano-strumm…

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Thursday, August 2, 2018

LITTLE MERMAID. Underbelly Festival, S Bank SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

DANCE AND DEFIANCE BELOW THE WAVES          Metta theatre’s hit JUNGLE BOOK was fashionably hip-hop before Hamilton hit  (and was certainly the only time I ever heard grime and c…

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OTHELLO. Shakespeare’s Globe Se1 by Libby Purves and Friends

GUEST CRITIC  and sharp-eyed millennial BEN BLACKMORE DOES THE STATE (well, theatrecat) SOME SERVICE…. Rating three    box office  to 13 Oct I have never seen…

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

HOME, I’M DARLING Dorfman, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

RETROMANIA AS A ROAD TO RUIN   In a lovely dolls-house set,  Judy bustles about happily in a gay flouncy full skirt and pinny.  She  runs hubby’s morning bath, makes his packed lun…

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

THE BOATSWAIN’S MATE Arcola, E8 by Libby Purves and Friends

GUEST REVIEWER CHARLOTTE VALORI VOTES FOR ETHEL SMYTH AT GRIMEBORN The celebrations of the centenary of Women’s Suffrage in Britain have reached Dalston’s cultural heartland as Spectra E…

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Friday, July 27, 2018

KING LEAR Duke of York’s , WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

MADNESS, MENACE, MAJESTY              You need not be aged – or even a man – to be a memorable Lear.  But there is an intense and concentrated emotion to it when a great …

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

BARRY HUMPHRIES’ WEIMAR CABARET Barbican by Libby Purves and Friends

A FERTILE DESPAIR   This is two hours of  treasure. Barry Humphries of course always was one, in all his characters, and this time he puts on “the most subtle and intricate disguise…

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

THE KING AND I Palladium, W1 by Libby Purves and Friends

A CLASSIC OF POWER, PUZZLEMENT AND A DIFFICULT WOMAN          Sometimes less is more and understatement gives a show its sharpest edge. Which is not to  suggest, perish the thought…

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Monday, July 23, 2018

END OF THE PIER Park, N4 by Libby Purves and Friends

BEYOND THE JOKES, A WHIFF OF SULPHUR…          Danny Robins’ funny, credible, sharp-tongued play pivots round four figures of central cultural importance  to modern Britain: th…

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Friday, July 20, 2018

GENESIS INC. Hampstead Theatre by Libby Purves and Friends

RATHER LATE BUT WORTH IT….A FERTILE ARGUMENT    Forty years ago as a Today reporter I helped cover the first IVF baby , Louise Brown. A Scottish cardinal told me that it was sinf…

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

ALLELUJAH! Bridge, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

DRIPS ‘N DRUGS ‘N ROCK ‘N ROLL…      Alan Bennett may fear he is a national teddy bear these days, but the crafty old bugger still has a gnarled finger on the nation’s t…

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A MONSTER CALLS Old Vic SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

A TREE, A TEENAGER, A FAMILY TRAGEDY      This is billed  for ten years old or more, and its protagonist is a boy of thirteen. But  warned: this  Old Vic young adult summer spe…

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

POLSTEAD Eastern Angles, touring by Libby Purves and Friends

MARIA MARTEN STRIDES AGAIN:  A WOMAN’S STORY         Founding this touring company 36 years ago,  Ivan Cutting swore a great oath that one local story they wouldn’t do was …

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Friday, July 13, 2018

THE LEHMAN TRILOGY Lyttelton, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

FLUENT, FASCINATING,  FUN. FIVE!     This show has no right to be so much fun.    Over three hours,  two intervals,  three middle-aged blokes in black suits in a revolving glass E…

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

MISS LITTLEWOOD Swan, Stratford by Libby Purves and Friends

STRIDING OUT OF THE FRAME : A KICK-ASS HEROINE OF THEATRE   Theatre owes a lot to Joan Littlewood: daughter of East End larkiness , music-hall jangle and tough 1930’s socialism; ideal…

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

ME AND MY GIRL Chichester Festival Theatre by Libby Purves and Friends

OH WHAT A TREAT… OI!             The sun has got his hat on,  England’s in the semi-final under a chap with a proper waistcoat, and Noel Gay’s 1937 musical is a great big,…

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Sunday, July 8, 2018

IDOMENEO Buxton Opera House by Libby Purves and Friends

CHARLOTTE VALORI FINDS SAND, SEA AND SERIOUSNESS AT BUXTON On his way home from victory at Troy, Cretan king Idomeneo’s ship is caught in a dreadful storm. In desperation, he vows to Neptu…

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Saturday, July 7, 2018

ALZIRA Buxton Opera House by Libby Purves and Friends

CHARLOTTE VALORI UNCOVERS FORGOTTEN INCA GOLD WITH VERDI IN BUXTON Verdi’s little-known opera about Peruvian Incas and Spanish conquistadors, Alzira, has finally received its UK premiere a…

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JERUSALEM Watermill, Nr Newbury by Libby Purves and Friends

A REVIVAL CRASHING WITH NEW LIFE AND ANCIENT DARKNESS   A heatwave in  festival season, everyone’s muzzy yearning for  greenwood misrule:  it’s perfect timing for the dangerous, …

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

THE LIEUTENANT OF INISHMORE. Noel Coward WC2 by Libby Purves and Friends

CRITIC AND HELLRAISER LUKE JONES WINCES AND LAUGHS …   This is as violent as anything I’ve seen on the stage. And I’m including in this survey that Titus Andronicus at the Glo…

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

MONOGAMY Park Theatre N4 by Libby Purves and Friends

A RISOTTO OF RESENTMENTS      In some plays, you reach the interval not exactly dissatisfied but wondering “where is this going next? How will it knit  up the ends.?  So many …

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

MACHINAL Almeida, N1 by Libby Purves and Friends

MICHAEL ADAIR SHUDDERS AT THE HARD OLD PATRIARCHY…   ‘These modern neurotic women, doctor. What are we going to do with them?’ says one exasperated male character to another.…

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

JULIE Lyttelton, SE1 by Libby Purves and Friends

STRINDBERG MEETS STENHAM, BIRD MEETS BLENDER   We’re in a Hampstead mansion. The daughter of the house is whooping it up at her birthday party, a deafening, purple-lit rave where tigh…

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