All stories by Michael Billington on BroadwayStars

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Michael Billington: Hamlet's sitting Tennant breaks the myth of the understudy by Michael Billington

"Sawyer, you're going out a youngster but you've got to come back a star." So Ruby Keeler was famously told by Warner Baxter in the movie of 42nd Street. And that classic line about understu…

Linked From The Guardian at 10:36AM

Gloria review – superb hatchet job on modern American journalism by Michael Billington

Hampstead theatre, LondonThere are shades of Neil LaBute’s In the Company of Men in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ merciless modern satire, set in the offices of a Manhattan magazineNothing can…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:48AM
Saturday, June 17, 2017

Theatre review: Julius Caesar / Courtyard, Stratford-upon-Avon by Michael Billington

Courtyard, Stratford-upon-AvonAs a director Lucy Bailey is clearly at home in ancient Rome: she gave us a blackly sardonic Titus Andronicus at Shakespeare's Globe; now she comes up with a vi…

Linked From The Guardian at 05:24AM
Friday, June 16, 2017

Summer 2017's essential theatre: from the rise of Murdoch's Sun to Dylan's dustbowl blues by Michael Billington

The Kids Company inquiry becomes a musical, Olivia Colman and Olivia Williams star as sisters, Sienna Miller and Jack O’Connell hit the roof and rhinoceroses rampage through Edinburgh• S…

Linked From The Guardian at 01:06AM
Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Country Girls review – Edna O'Brien returns to a vanished Ireland by Michael Billington

Minerva, ChichesterO’Brien has revised her 2011 stage adaptation of her evocative novel about two friends who move from rural Ireland to DublinRitually burned in the grounds of her local p…

Linked From The Guardian at 12:33PM
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

This House – review by Michael Billington

Cottesloe, LondonHaving written plays about the Suez crisis and Thatcher's childhood, James Graham now turns his attention to the Labour government's precarious ability to survive a hung par…

Linked From The Guardian at 02:33PM

The Last Ones review – Gorky's family portrait mirrors Russian revolt by Michael Billington

Jermyn Street theatre, LondonAnthony Biggs directs the British premiere of Maxim Gorky’s chaotic and overloaded 1907 play with a bullying Russian patriarch at its centre Written in 1907 in…

Linked From The Guardian at 10:48AM
Monday, June 12, 2017

Forget Julius Caesar – Trump is more like Richard III, Shakespeare’s satanic joker by Michael Billington

Two US companies have pulled their sponsorship from a New York production of Julius Caesar because it depicts a Trump-like character – grisly ending and all. But the bard has other charact…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:33AM

Anatomy of a Suicide review – a startling study of mothers and daughters by Michael Billington

Royal Court, LondonAlice Birch’s radically experimental play, directed by Katie Mitchell, tests the theory that trauma can pass across three generations of womenWhat determines our charact…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:18AM
Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sweet Bird of Youth review – Marcia Gay Harden brings sharp wit to Williams’ sex-hungry heroine by Michael Billington

Chichester Festival theatreHarden is excellent in a sprawling yet skilful production of Tennessee Williams’s Gulf Coast melodramaThis is a strange play to find on the sprawling Chichester …

Linked From The Guardian at 12:24PM

Salome review – RSC's gender-fluid heroine swivels her hips between rage and desire by Michael Billington

The Swan, Stratford-upon-AvonOwen Horsley’s inventive production sheds little light on what it means to be gay today, but highlights Wilde’s passionate, transgressive textEveryone curren…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:33AM
Thursday, June 8, 2017

Barber Shop Chronicles review – close shaves and hairy tales from Harare to London by Michael Billington

Dorfman theatre, LondonInua Ellams’s invigorating and richly enjoyable drama, set in six hairdressers in two continents, offers sharp debate on family, politics, race and sportBijan Sheiba…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:36AM
Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Common review – William Blake meets The Wicker Man in wild lament for a lost England by Michael Billington

Olivier, LondonAnne-Marie Duff shines in a rich, strange and often baffling drama that shows the privatisation of land as a pivotal moment in our nation’s history‘We are not here for rea…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:54AM
Monday, June 5, 2017

Annie review – Miranda Hart's Miss Hannigan has too much heart by Michael Billington

Piccadilly theatre, LondonAn ingenious jigsaw-like design and strong performances lift this revival, but the main draw, Miranda Hart, is just too likable and the politics seem datedAt the cu…

Linked From The Guardian at 06:06PM
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Julius Caesar – review by Michael Billington

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-AvonThis, of all Shakespeare's plays, badly needs a shot in the arm – and it receives a powerful one in this production by Gregory Doran, the RSC'…

Linked From The Guardian at 10:54PM
Monday, May 29, 2017

Jam review – tense classroom drama gives lessons in Britain's division by Michael Billington

Finborough, LondonAn Iranian teacher is confronted by one of her former pupils in Matt Parvin’s claustrophobic two-hander about social and racial prejudiceMatt Parvin is a young, Dorset-bo…

Linked From The Guardian at 06:36AM
Friday, May 26, 2017

An Octoroon review – blackface meets whiteface in quicksilver drama by Michael Billington

Orange Tree, RichmondBranden Jacobs-Jenkins’s extraordinary play is both an adaptation of a 19th-century melodrama and a dazzling postmodernist critique of itIf I say that this bizarrely b…

Linked From The Guardian at 11:24AM
Thursday, May 25, 2017

Twelfth Night review – Emma Rice's Highland fling brings that sinking feeling by Michael Billington

Shakespeare’s Globe, London Sailor-suited dancers and a disco soundtrack add a party atmosphere to Shakespeare’s comedy but drown out its melancholyThe peremptory treatment of Emma Rice …

Linked From The Guardian at 11:33AM
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Woyzeck review: John Boyega shines but Thorne's version proves overbearing by Michael Billington

Old Vic, LondonWhereas Georg Büchner’s original masterpiece allows audience to fill in the blanks, Thorne’s adaptation piles the pressure on the title characterThis production has a lot…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:12PM
Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Gabriel Plays review – trilogy about family in election year suggests a contemporary Chekhov by Michael Billington

Attenborough Centre, BrightonRichard Nelson prophetically captures sense of unease as early as first play when character asks: “Do you feel like something really bad is about to happen?”…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:24AM
Friday, May 19, 2017

Vice Versa review – the RSC's racy Roman rip-off is a laugh riot by Michael Billington

The Swan, Stratford-upon-AvonPhil Porter’s take on Plautus’s bombastic farce is a crowdpleasing show that reminds us of the ancient playwright’s immense influence on modern comedyThe R…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:54AM
Thursday, May 18, 2017

Lettice and Lovage review – Lipman and Kendal join forces for farcical charades by Michael Billington

Menier Chocolate Factory, LondonMaureen Lipman’s brisk bureaucrat is a perfect complement to Felicity Kendal’s gutsy exhibitionist in a revival of Peter Shaffer’s heritage satireYou mi…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:12AM
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Life of Galileo review – Joe Wright's jaw-dropping show gets lost in space by Michael Billington

Young Vic, LondonThe Atonement director presents the story of the astronomer with a kaleidoscopic theatricality that increasingly detracts from Brecht’s textIt is a sign of Bertolt Brecht…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:18AM

A Life of Galileo – review by Michael Billington

Swan, Stratford-on-AvonA reactionary pope dies, only to be succeeded by a seeming liberal who soon reverts to institutional conservatism. You could hardly have a more topical play than this.…

Linked From The Guardian at 06:06AM
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Winter Hill review – Wertenbaker's women take a stand through the ages by Michael Billington

Octagon, Bolton Cathy Tyson stars in Timberlake Wertenbaker’s ambitious play which debates the choices politicised women face, from ancient Athens to modern BritainTimberlake Wertenbaker…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:42AM
Monday, May 15, 2017

Richard III review – Greg Hicks is a magnetic, darkly memorable king by Michael Billington

Arcola theatre, LondonHicks has the power to give individual words a wealth of meaning in his portrayal of a villain driven by infantile dreams and private demonsHot on the heels of an accla…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:48PM
Friday, May 12, 2017

Caroline, Or Change review – Tony Kushner blasts 60s America wide open by Michael Billington

Minerva, ChichesterA Jewish boy and his family’s black maid are at the heart of this witty, pulsing musical that takes in everything from klezmer to Tamla MotownSince this musical has book…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:06AM

Wicked: the Musical, Apollo, London by Michael Billington

Apollo, LondonFriends of Dorothy may be diverted by this musical prequel to The Wizard of Oz. But, although it has been a hit in New York, it seems all too typical of the modern Broadway mus…

Linked From The Guardian at 03:33AM
Thursday, May 11, 2017

Room review – Emma Donoghue's story of survival is ingeniously staged by Michael Billington

Theatre Royal Stratford East, London A moving adaptation of the award-winning novel, with added songs, explores the mental toll on an abducted woman and her childMy queasiness about the subj…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:24AM
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

King Charles III review – a 21st-century Shakespearean tragedy by Michael Billington

Wyndham’s, LondonTim Pigott-Smith gives the performance of his career in Mike Bartlett’s intelligent meditation on the pressures and purpose of monarchy today• King Charles III: a West…

Linked From The Guardian at 05:54PM

Salomé review – Yaël Farber's portentous take on the myth is a headache by Michael Billington

Olivier, LondonThe celebrated writer-director’s attempt to radically update and reclaim the story is hamstrung by a terrible text and an over-complex stagingIt’s not been a great month f…

Linked From The Guardian at 10:05AM