All stories by Michael Billington on BroadwayStars

Monday, December 11, 2017

Daisy Pulls It Off review – snobs, chums and scrummy tussles in schoolgirl tales spoof by Michael Billington

Park theatre, LondonPaulette Randall imaginatively revives Denise Deegan’s parody with a lively cast but this two-and-a-half-hour spoof is relentless in its gaietyDenise Deegan’s parody …

Linked From The Guardian at 12:24PM

The Box of Delights review – festive treat lifts the lid on a world of wonders by Michael Billington

Wilton’s Music Hall, London Matthew Kelly plays good and evil spirits in a magical, visually arresting adaptation of John Masefield’s classic children’s book Related: Long before Harry…

Linked From The Guardian at 11:18AM
Friday, December 8, 2017

Imperium review – Robert Harris's Cicero epic is a Roman triumph for the RSC by Michael Billington

The Swan, Stratford-upon-AvonMike Poulton’s two-part adaptation of Harris’s trilogy is an exhilarating and timely political drama about a democracy descending into tyrannyRome wasn’t b…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:33AM
Thursday, December 7, 2017

Cell Mates review – British spy's betrayal remains wrapped in Russian riddle by Michael Billington

Hampstead theatre, LondonThe uneasy relationship between convicted traitor George Blake and the anarchic Irishman who helped him escape Wormwood Scrubs is exposed yet still enigmatic in Simo…

Linked From The Guardian at 06:18PM

Pitcairn review – what happened after mutiny on the Bounty by Michael Billington

There are problems in paradise in Richard Bean's ingenious look at a failed attempt to create an island utopiaRichard Bean has hit upon a good subject: Fletcher Christian's attempt to create…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:24AM

A Christmas Carol review – Dickens's social ills touch the mind but not the heart by Michael Billington

Royal Shakespeare theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon David Edgar’s lively adaptation for the RSC foregrounds the tale’s reforming message and features Phil Davis as a grotesquely good ScroogeT…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:24AM
Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Musty or momentous? Three forgotten hits are back on stage in London by Michael Billington

Rare revivals of plays by Israel Zangwill, Jerome K Jerome and JM Barrie give lie to the idea that only a precious few classics deserve revisitingOne of the hoariest critical cliches is that…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:18AM
Friday, December 1, 2017

Goats review – livestock and smoking barrels in a shaggy tale from Syrian war by Michael Billington

Royal Court, LondonLiwaa Yazji’s play is named after the animals that Syrian villagers were given as an inadequate, absurd compensation for the loss of family membersThe last time we saw a…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:42PM
Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Open House review – sarcasm rules suburbia in comic portrait of a bilious dad by Michael Billington

Ustinov Studio, BathGreg Hicks plays an ailing father who cruelly mocks his wife, children and brother in Will Eno’s acid examination of family lifeJust when you thought the American famil…

Linked From The Guardian at 03:12AM
Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Christmas Carol review – Rhys Ifans' shaggy skinflint serves up a festive feast by Michael Billington

Old Vic, London Jack Thorne’s superb retelling mines the ghosts of Scrooge’s past in a timely production brimming with love and affectionTwo months after Dickens’s story first appeared…

Linked From The Guardian at 06:33PM
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Barnum – review by Michael Billington

Theatre in the Park, ChichesterChichester has acquired a 25-metre-high big top to stand in for the temporarily closed Festival theatre. It would seem appropriate that it opens with a revival…

Linked From The Guardian at 04:18AM
Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Secret Theatre review – spymaster and sex-crazed queen collude by candlelight by Michael Billington

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, LondonAnders Lustgarten plays fast and loose with history in his tale of the espionage network surrounding Elizabeth I, but the result is vivid and pungentHistory pl…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:18AM

Bad Roads review – love, sex and terror in violent vignettes from Ukraine by Michael Billington

Royal Court, LondonThere are echoes of Sarah Kane in Natal’ya Vorozhbit’s powerful play exploring the collateral damage suffered by women during Ukraine’s conflictTheatre can sometimes…

Linked From The Guardian at 01:42AM
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

This May Hurt a Bit review – Unapologetic pro-NHS agitprop by Michael Billington

Octagon, BoltonStella Feehily's passionate, urgently topical play captures the mix of care and chaos in wards up and down the countrySince the NHS is never out of the headlines and directly …

Linked From The Guardian at 07:12PM
Thursday, November 16, 2017

Miss Julie review – passion and pain of Strindberg's midsummer lovers by Michael Billington

Jermyn Street theatre, LondonHoward Brenton’s new adaptation of the Swedish master’s tragedy is given a classy staging that strikes the right note of intimate realismWe endlessly revive …

Linked From The Guardian at 08:04AM
Monday, November 13, 2017

Network review – Bryan Cranston is mad as hell in blazing staging of Oscar winner by Michael Billington

National Theatre, LondonThe Breaking Bad star is magnetic as a raging anchorman in writer Lee Hall and director Ivo van Hove’s extraordinary version of the prophetic satireI am normally wa…

Linked From The Guardian at 06:36PM
Sunday, November 12, 2017

Quiz review – Exploration of the thin line between courtroom and showbusiness by Michael Billington

Minerva, ChichesterIn resurrecting the case of a trio convicted of trying to defraud Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, James Graham reminds us we live in a quiz-obsessed cultureTheatre has oft…

Linked From The Guardian at 10:06AM
Friday, November 10, 2017

Twelfth Night review – fun and fury from Ade Edmondson and Kara Tointon at the RSC by Michael Billington

Royal Shakespeare theatre, Stratford-upon-AvonThis take on the classic comedy plays too heavily on its Victorian setting but delivers rapturous speeches, splendid sets and some clever ideasC…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:54AM
Thursday, November 9, 2017

Glengarry Glen Ross review – Christian Slater is top dog among cut-throat conmen by Michael Billington

Playhouse, London A tip-top cast play David Mamet’s desperate salesmen turned robbers in his scorching condemnation of the dangers of male ego-driven capitalismHow well does David Mamet’…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:48PM
Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Big Fish review – Kelsey Grammer can't save this musical from sinking by Michael Billington

The Other Palace, LondonGrammer’s turn as a dad with a penchant for tall tales is the best part of this middling paean to narcissistic fantasy, based on Tim Burton’s movieAnyone drawn to…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:48PM

Picasso review – awe and horror in portrait of the artist as a minotaur by Michael Billington

The Playground, London Terry d’Alfonso’s study of the painter and his serial infidelities is staged on a circular sandpit at a smart new London theatreGiven the economic climate, it is e…

Linked From The Guardian at 06:24AM
Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Poison review – intense look at divorce, death and how we grieve by Michael Billington

Orange Tree, RichmondLot Vekemans’ play about a separated couple forced to relive a traumatic past makes for uncomfortable but compelling viewingWatching this prize-winning play by the Dut…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:12AM
Monday, November 6, 2017

Theatre review: Complicit / Old Vic, London by Michael Billington

Old Vic, LondonKevin Spacey has lately enjoyed an excellent run of form at the Old Vic. It comes to an abrupt halt, however, with this ham-fisted American political thriller by Joe Sutton.Si…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:48AM

Trestle review – passion, rage and whist in village-hall romance by Michael Billington

Southwark Playhouse, LondonEnergetic Denise and stuck-in-his-ways Harry bond during a series of brief encounters in a community centre, in Stewart Pringle’s prize-winning play Oldsters are…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:48AM
Sunday, November 5, 2017

Is David Hare's 1993 trilogy still relevant? by Michael Billington

David Hare's trilogy was an incisive portrait of British society in 1993, but is it still relevant, asks Michael BillingtonIn 1993 David Hare's trilogy about contemporary Britain at the Nat…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:36AM
Saturday, November 4, 2017

Ken Dodd at 90: the rib-tickling genius is still crazy after all these years by Michael Billington

With a gag for every occasion, the tattyfilarious comic clocks up 50,000 miles a year performing his epic standup shows. He talks about stage fright, playing Yorick for ‘Sir Kenneth All-Br…

Linked From The Guardian at 05:24AM
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Kevin Spacey at the Old Vic: glamour and an iron grip by Michael Billington

After 10 years, Spacey is stepping down from the London theatre he called home. There have been some resounding flops but he delivered the goods – and was a delight to watch on stageWhen i…

Linked From The Guardian at 03:36PM
Friday, October 27, 2017

Pinter would be chuffed that Tom Stoppard won the PEN prize by Michael Billington

Tom Stoppard's fierce, unrelenting opposition to the abuse of human rights makes him the ideal recipient of the Pinter/PEN prizeIn Antonia Fraser's book, Must You Go?, detailing her life wit…

Linked From The Guardian at 03:06PM
Thursday, October 26, 2017

Young Marx review – farce, family and finances but not quite the full Marx by Michael Billington

The Bridge, LondonLondon’s first commercial theatre for 80 years opens with a pugnacious comedy about the early days of the political visionary – and shameless sponger Given the abundanc…

Linked From The Guardian at 05:18PM
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ruined | Theatre review by Michael Billington

Almeida, LondonLynn Nottage's play arrives in London laden with American honours. And rightly so, since it offers a graphic portrait of women as perennial victims of war. More than that, it …

Linked From The Guardian at 01:48AM
Monday, October 23, 2017

Witness for the Prosecution review – Christie thriller makes judicious use of County Hall by Michael Billington

County Hall, LondonLucy Bailey’s production of Agatha Christie’s ingenious courtroom drama fits perfectly in this debating chamberWe seem to be going back in time. Oscar Wilde’s A Woma…

Linked From The Guardian at 06:12PM

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