All stories by Michael Billington on BroadwayStars

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Strange Fruit review – Caryl Phillips’ immigrant family feel the heat by Michael Billington

Bush theatre, LondonNancy Medina directs a slow-burning story of a family caught between two cultures in 80s Britain As part of its policy of reviving neglected plays by writers of colour, t…

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Monday, June 17, 2019

While the Sun Shines review – fresh-as-paint Rattigan revival by Michael Billington

Orange Tree, RichmondSuperb performances power the ingeniously plotted story of a young earl’s marriage to the daughter of an impoverished duke The whirligig of time, as Shakespeare observ…

Linked From The Guardian at 02:12AM
Friday, June 14, 2019

Plenty review – David Hare's epic of despair has a Brexit echo by Michael Billington

Chichester Festival theatreRachael Stirling is excellent in Kate Hewitt’s invigorating production of a play about individual and national unease There seems a cunning plan to Chichester’…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:06AM
Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Pope review – Anton Lesser and Nicholas Woodeson's papal powerplay by Michael Billington

Royal and Derngate, NorthamptonRivalry and shared guilt combine as Pope Benedict XVI meets his successor, Pope Francis, in Anthony McCarten’s drama Having written films about Winston Chur…

Linked From The Guardian at 11:42AM
Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike review – Chekhovian comic curio by Michael Billington

Ustinov, BathStrong performances buoy up a lightweight story about characters fated to fulfil the destinies of their fictional namesakes I find it mildly astonishing that this piece won the …

Linked From The Guardian at 06:54PM
Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A Midsummer Night's Dream review – join the fiesta with Gwendoline Christie by Michael Billington

Bridge theatre, London Festive fun, ear-nibbling and high-wire antics infuse Nicholas Hytner’s startling role-reversal production A promenade Julius Caesar was one of the Bridge’s bigges…

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Friday, June 7, 2019

Garry review – murder and sexual torment trigger stellar pub theatre by Michael Billington

White Bear, LondonSophie Treadwell’s long-lost tale of Freudian fear gets its first outing with a cast who foster high tension in an intimate venue Sophie Treadwell is best known for her e…

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Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Knight of the Burning Pestle review – dimwit swordsman skewers theatre snobs by Michael Billington

Barbican, LondonA pair of Lion King fans blunder into a highbrow drama in Declan Donnellan’s gallant update of the class-collision comedy In Francis Beaumont’s 1607 burlesque, a grocer a…

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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Wife review – rousing look at 60 years of sexual identity by Michael Billington

Kiln, LondonSamuel Adamson’s stimulating family saga revolves around A Doll’s House and is inventively staged by Indhu Rubasingham The slam of the door at the end of A Doll’s House was…

Linked From The Guardian at 11:33AM
Friday, May 31, 2019

Venice Preserved review – thrills, S&M sex and Restoration politics by Michael Billington

The Swan, Stratford-upon-AvonPrasanna Puwanarajah’s edge-of-the-seat revival of Thomas Otway’s 1682 tragedy looks like Blade Runner but deals in age-old themes of hypocrisy, corruption a…

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Flinch review – Gen Z couple's fears, fights and restless ecstasy by Michael Billington

Old Red Lion, LondonEmma Hemingford’s promising debut gets under the skin of a troubled relationship and refuses to take sides Emma Hemingford has written and co-stars in this promising de…

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Starry Messenger review – Broderick and McGovern face up to cosmic failures by Michael Billington

Wyndhams, LondonKenneth Lonergan’s tale of astronomy and midlife misery makes fine use of an A-list cast but never truly explodes into life With Matthew Broderick and Elizabeth McGovern he…

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Rutherford and Son review – Roger Allam is magnificent in Edwardian classic by Michael Billington

Lyttelton, LondonAllam shines as the tyrannical capitalist patriarch at the heart of Githa Sowerby’s powerful story of a society in transition It has been exactly 25 years since a National…

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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Coral Browne: This F***ing Lady! review – wit and glamour of a stylish star by Michael Billington

King’s Head theatre, LondonKnown for her sharp tongue and love affairs, the eccentric Australian actor is celebrated in this entertaining one-woman show If the title is outrageous, so was …

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Friday, May 24, 2019

King Hedley II review – Lenny Henry and Aaron Pierre make a dynamic duo by Michael Billington

Theatre Royal Stratford East, LondonAugust Wilson’s overheated story of an ex-con attempting to rebuild his life is buoyed by an energetic cast with meaty roles The parts are sometimes big…

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Our Town review – Ellen McDougall's Wilder revival hits home with force by Michael Billington

Regent’s Park Open Air theatre, LondonThe classic snapshot of a community is given fresh life by a youthful production that stresses the story’s harsher moments Thornton Wilder’s 1938 …

Linked From The Guardian at 11:03AM
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Anna review – lies and surveillance in communist East Berlin by Michael Billington

Dorfman theatre, LondonElla Hickson’s inventive thriller turns the audience into spies behind a glass wall, with fascinating but flawed results Created by Ella Hickson and sound designers …

Linked From The Guardian at 09:54AM
Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil review – buoyant revival of a Scottish classic by Michael Billington

Eden Court, InvernessJohn McGrath’s 1973 play uses ceilidhs and hoedowns to tell the shocking tale of the exploitation of Scotland’s natural resources John McGrath’s 1973 play is a leg…

Linked From The Guardian at 12:03PM
Friday, May 17, 2019

White Pearl review – a racist ad, and a bracingly funny corporate satire by Michael Billington

Royal Court, LondonAnchuli Felicia King’s Singapore-set drama brilliantly unpicks hypocrisy and the base values of the beauty business White Pearl is a little gem. It is the work of Anchul…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:12AM
Thursday, May 16, 2019

Orpheus Descending review – Tennessee Williams’ melodrama back from the dead by Michael Billington

Menier Chocolate Factory, LondonHattie Morahan and Seth Numrich help breathe new life into Williams’ strange and clumsy southern gothic How best to describe Tennessee Williams’ strange p…

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson review – satire fails to skewer by Michael Billington

Park theatre, LondonChurchill, Blair and Thatcher drop in on Jonathan Maitland’s vacillating hero, but the jokes fall flat in this topical comedy The problem with creating a play about Bor…

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Monday, May 13, 2019

The Provoked Wife review – when wedlock turns to deadlock by Michael Billington

The Swan, Stratford-upon-AvonSome of the humour in John Vanbrugh’s 1697 sharp comedy about a tortured marriage doesn’t endure, but there’s much to admire in this important play Phillip…

Linked From The Guardian at 02:06AM
Friday, May 10, 2019

Death of a Salesman review – Miller's masterwork is given urgent new life by Michael Billington

Young Vic, LondonRacial tensions simmer alongside those of class and family as Wendell Pierce and Sharon D Clarke’s American dream unravels There are two distinct impulses behind this rema…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:36AM
Thursday, May 9, 2019

Ian McKellen review – heartfelt hilarity from a crusader of the stage by Michael Billington

Everyman, CheltenhamShakespeare, wizards and panto dames all play their part in an evening of autobiography that is a love letter to theatre Scratch a great actor and you often find a born c…

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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Memory of Water review – bickering sisters stir up family ghosts by Michael Billington

Nottingham PlayhouseShelagh Stephenson’s Olivier-winning play about siblings reuniting in Yorkshire for a funeral mixes comedy and tragedy With Alex Kingston scheduled to play Dr Stockmann…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:42AM
Sunday, May 5, 2019

Jude review – Hardy's hero becomes a Syrian refugee in Howard Brenton's reworking by Michael Billington

Hampstead theatre, LondonBrenton’s ambitious but muddled new drama follows a gifted young Syrian woman who attracts the attentions of an Oxford classicist, Euripides and MI5 Edward Hall en…

Linked From The Guardian at 11:24AM
Friday, May 3, 2019

Rosmersholm review – Atwell and Burke are breathtaking in Ibsen masterpiece by Michael Billington

Duke of York’s, LondonDuncan Macmillan’s deft but daring tweaks underline the majesty of this sexually charged study of faith and heartbreak This has been dubbed Ibsen’s darkest and mo…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:12AM
Thursday, May 2, 2019

Small Island review – Levy’s Windrush epic makes momentous theatre by Michael Billington

Olivier, LondonAndrea Levy’s story of first-generation Jamaican immigrants in postwar Britain has been skilfully adapted and staged with hurtling energy This feels like a landmark in the N…

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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Man of La Mancha review – Kelsey Grammer quixotically cast in starry misfire by Michael Billington

Coliseum, LondonEven Danielle de Niese’s fine voice can’t save ENO’s out-of-sync commercial collaboration – no matter how many times they play The Impossible Dream Previous collabora…

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Monday, April 29, 2019

Hell Yes I'm Tough Enough review – the far too thick of it by Michael Billington

Park theatre, LondonBen Alderton’s bilious satire about the 2015 British general election is spasmodically entertaining but unsubtle We desperately need political satire, yet now seems an …

Linked From The Guardian at 01:00AM
Sunday, April 28, 2019

Gang fights, Ophelia up close, and Mark Rylance. Happy birthday, Shakespeare by Michael Billington

Shakespeare’s Globe filled Westminster Abbey with a free-range assortment of famous – and dangerous – characters for this moving celebration A brawl broke out in the nave of Westminste…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:12AM