All stories by Michael Billington on BroadwayStars

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Midsummer Night's Dream review – a nightmare of rage and chaos by Michael Billington

Young Vic, London Simmering hatred, lust and violence are never far away in a disturbing production that delves deep into the collective unconsciousRomantic Victorian versions of Shakespeare…

Linked From The Guardian at 10:36AM
Thursday, February 23, 2017

Twelfth Night review – Tamsin Greig is brilliant in a show full of fun by Michael Billington

Olivier, LondonSimon Godwin’s inventive gender-fluid production of Shakespeare’s most perfect comedy has a vital elan and some great performancesThe casting of Tamsin Greig as Malvolia i…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:03AM

The Cherry Orchard review – Chekhov revival sows seeds of revolution by Michael Billington

Arcola, London Trevor Griffiths’ version of the masterpiece is staged in London for the first time in a modern-dress production implying we too are on the brink of changeThis enterprising …

Linked From The Guardian at 02:36AM
Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Girls review – Gary Barlow gives Calendar Girls a classy musical makeover by Michael Billington

Phoenix theatre, London The Take That star and Tim Firth have collaborated seamlessly on a show that is far superior to its predecessors on stage and screenIt might be fair to assume that th…

Linked From The Guardian at 06:03PM

The Wild Party review – big, blowsy revival you won't want an invite to by Michael Billington

The Other Palace, LondonThis musical adaptation, based on Joseph Moncure March’s racy 1928 poem, is so frenzied it leaves you exhausted Andrew Lloyd Webber acquired what used to be the St …

Linked From The Guardian at 09:12AM
Sunday, February 19, 2017

New Nigerians review – robust satire proves there's power in political outrage by Michael Billington

Arcola, LondonOladipo Agboluaje hits close to home as he shows the darkly comic side of the fight for revolutionary changeDriving home after the play, I caught an item on Radio 4’s The Wor…

Linked From The Guardian at 06:54AM
Friday, February 17, 2017

Why has Thomas Ostermeier stripped his Richard III of politics? | Michael Billington by Michael Billington

Shedding his clothes and seducing the audience, Lars Eidinger’s Gloucester is the classic charming narcissist – but why soften the play’s political bite at such a crucial time?I have a…

Linked From The Guardian at 01:18PM
Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Everybody's Talking About Jamie review – drag musical from the Feeling's frontman by Michael Billington

Crucible, SheffieldDan Gillespie Sells has a lot to offer musical theatre, but this Billy Elliot-style story about a northern teen drag queen lacks dramaA northern working-class lad strikes …

Linked From The Guardian at 07:06AM
Monday, February 13, 2017

Dubailand review – Carmen Nasr’s drama nails hard truths about Dubai's dark side by Michael Billington

Finborough, LondonThis new play heightens our awareness of the city as a sterile Shangri-La, but the arguments would carry greater weight if it was more balancedAlongside all the promotional…

Linked From The Guardian at 11:24AM
Sunday, February 12, 2017

Blues for an Alabama Sky review – riveting picture of 1930s Harlem by Michael Billington

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, LondonThis superbly performed production of Pearl Cleage’s drama gives a fierce sense of the conflict between belonging and the desire to escape Given the bi…

Linked From The Guardian at 11:12AM
Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Voysey Inheritance, National, London by Michael Billington

National, LondonEvery 20 years or so we rediscover Harley Granville Barker's astonishing play. Following revivals at the Royal Court in 1965 and the National itself in 1989, we now have Pete…

Linked From The Guardian at 02:31AM
Friday, February 10, 2017

Fences – review by Michael Billington

Duchess, LondonLenny Henry has won his spurs as a Shakespearean actor in Othello and The Comedy of Errors. Now he takes on the titanic role of Troy Maxson in August Wilson's Fences which won…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:03PM

Beware of Pity review – Simon McBurney astonishes with vision of a world on edge by Michael Billington

Barbican, London With dazzling virtuosity, this Complicite/Schaubühne staging of Stefan Zweig’s novel brilliantly evokes a doomed romance and the imminent horror of warBalzac, about whom …

Linked From The Guardian at 09:48AM
Thursday, February 9, 2017

Escaped Alone review – Caryl Churchill's wry chit-chat cradles catastrophe by Michael Billington

Royal Court, LondonLinda Bassett, Kika Markham, June Watson and Deborah Findlay deliver pitch-perfect performances in Churchill’s apocalyptic conversation piece Related: Here We Go review …

Linked From The Guardian at 06:32PM
Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin review – witty, vivacious musical by Michael Billington

Theatre Royal Stratford East, LondonA black dancer meets police prejudice and industry stereotyping as she bids to make it on Broadway in a lively, inventive storyIt has taken 17 years for t…

Linked From The Guardian at 06:24PM
Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Alec McCowen obituary by Michael Billington

Stage and screen actor known for his role as the assiduous sleuth in the Hitchcock film FrenzyAlec McCowen, who has died aged 91, was an actor of dazzling technical brilliance whose career e…

Linked From The Guardian at 01:36PM

School Play review – harassed head's testing day ticks all the boxes by Michael Billington

Southwark Playhouse, LondonAlex MacKeith’s debut play deals with the nuts and bolts of a test-driven education system and acts as a metaphor for other hard-pressed professionsPlays about s…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:18AM

Run the Beast Down review – a weird, wild tale of inner-city alienation by Michael Billington

Finborough, LondonTitas Halder’s strange one-man play, starring Ben Aldridge, looks to the urban fox to illustrate a life in free-fallA fascination with foxes runs through our literature, …

Linked From The Guardian at 08:12AM
Friday, February 3, 2017

Sex With Strangers review – snowbound tale of books and bonking by Michael Billington

Hampstead theatre, LondonEmilia Fox and Theo James star in Laura Eason’s two-hander about an implausible relationship between writers in a Michigan B&BThe title is certainly titillatin…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:18AM
Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Duchess of Malfi - review by Michael Billington

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, LondonGemma Arterton brings beauty, determination and moral goodness to one of the great female rolesA new theatre is often a challenge. Until weathered and worn by …

Linked From The Guardian at 01:24PM

The White Devil review – passion, revenge and murder at the double by Michael Billington

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, LondonAnnie Ryan’s production does full justice to the sinewy, aphoristic language in Webster’s sinister portrait of corruptionWebster’s dark Jacobean tragedie…

Linked From The Guardian at 11:12AM
Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Years of Sunlight review – shattered dreams in a 60s new town by Michael Billington

Theatre 503, LondonMichael McLean gets under the skin of his characters’ lives in Skelmersdale but his play skimps on the bigger pictureWhat happened to the social utopias of the 1960s, bu…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:36AM
Monday, January 30, 2017

The National Theatre's new season is a staggering dereliction of duty by Michael Billington

The NT usually manages a balance between revivals and new work. Now, classic plays are disappearing from its stages – and from regional reps tooDavid Hare has made the headlines with a dam…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:12AM
Sunday, January 29, 2017

John Hurt: an absolute master at portraying misfits by Michael Billington by Michael Billington

Hurt, who has died aged 77, was a superb, if too infrequent, stage actor. In plays by Beckett, Pinter and Stoppard, he had an intuitive understanding of outsidersI last saw John Hurt six mon…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:18AM
Thursday, January 26, 2017

Dirty Great Love Story review – the ideal show for apprehensive first dates by Michael Billington

Arts theatre, LondonRichard Marsh and Katie Bonna’s verse romcom is a wry, sweet-natured account of a totally believable relationshipHaving started out as a 10-minute pub poetry duet in 20…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:18AM
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Dublin Oldschool review – DJ's wild weekend is a drug-fuelled odyssey by Michael Billington

Dorfman, London Emmet Kirwan stars in his play about rave-addicted Dublin youths, which displays a lust for language but offers little more than a sensory impressionWords, words, words. That…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:12AM

A Doll's House – review by Michael Billington

Young Vic, LondonCarrie Cracknell's production certainly puts a new spin on Ibsen's 1879 classic. As if to remind us that this is a play about domestic revolution, Ian MacNeil's design revol…

Linked From The Guardian at 12:24AM
Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Death Takes a Holiday review – smothered by prince's deadly charms by Michael Billington

Charing Cross theatre, LondonThom Southerland gracefully directs this strange musical, but the delightful songs and touching performances merely decorate a story that lacks biteLove is as st…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:18AM
Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Convert review – coming to grips with family and faith in a British colony by Michael Billington

Gate theatre, LondonChristopher Haydon ends his Gate reign on a high note with gripping story of a young African woman’s conversion to CatholicismChristopher Haydon’s final production at…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:06AM
Saturday, January 21, 2017

If You Don't Let Us Dream, We Won't Let You Sleep – review by Michael Billington

Royal Court, LondonAs someone who bemoans the dearth of political drama, I welcome the arrival of Anders Lustgarten's polemical bombshell. But while the play has bags of vigour and offers a …

Linked From The Guardian at 02:48PM
Thursday, January 19, 2017

Winter Solstice review – liberalism is no match for a history of extremism by Michael Billington

Orange Tree, LondonA middle-class family accept a stranger for Christmas, but is he what he seems? This radical, transfixing play is about Germany but has universal relevanceThe timing is pe…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:24AM

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