All stories by Michael Billington on BroadwayStars

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Ice Cream Boys review – an ambitious slice of South African history by Michael Billington

Jermyn Street theatre, LondonThis vigorously performed play confronts the country’s past issues with a battle between the disgraced ex-president, Jacob Zuma, and one of his fiercest critic…

Linked From The Guardian at 02:37AM
Thursday, October 10, 2019

Groan Ups review – school swots and bullies for life by Michael Billington

Vaudeville, London From age six to 30, Mischief Theatre’s engaging band of classmates bicker and play but rarely test the assumption that character is formed in childhood Mischief Theatre,…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:12PM
Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Man in the White Suit review – Stephen Mangan reinvents Ealing boffin by Michael Billington

Wyndham’s theatre, London With fart jokes and skiffle songs, this Sean Foley adaptation ditches the innocence of the 1950s capitalist comedy, but has plenty of drive This is Sean Foley’s…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:03AM
Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Shukshin’s Stories review – moving tales of Siberian village folk by Michael Billington

Barbican, LondonA gifted cast from Moscow’s Theatre of Nations brings Soviet-era stories of folly and obsession to enchanting life I confess to knowing little of Vasily Shukshin (1929-74) …

Linked From The Guardian at 03:24PM

State of the arts: 'Theatre is usually in tune with our volatile times' by Michael Billington

The Guardian’s theatre critic reflects on why the stage remains such a vital means of distilling society We live, to put it mildly, in volatile times. No one knows for sure where this coun…

Linked From The Guardian at 06:24AM
Friday, October 4, 2019

The Niceties review – race and revolution explode into campus feud by Michael Billington

Finborough theatre, LondonA patriotic history professor clashes with her activist student in a smart play sustained by an early surge of ideas First produced in Boston in 2018, Eleanor Burge…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:12AM
Thursday, October 3, 2019

A Day in the Death of Joe Egg review – Peter Nichols' classic has rare truth by Michael Billington

Trafalgar Studios, LondonThere are excellent performances from a cast including Toby Stephens and Claire Skinner, in a fine revival of Nichols’ humane play It is 52 years since Peter Nicho…

Linked From The Guardian at 10:24AM
Wednesday, October 2, 2019

'Master Harold' … and the Boys review – a waltz for worldly harmony by Michael Billington

Lyttelton, London Athol Fugard explores South Africa in 1950 through a white teenager and two black men who practise ballroom routines The plays Athol Fugard co-created with John Kani and Wi…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:24AM
Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Sanditon and The Watsons: TV and theatre finish what Austen started by Michael Billington

Unfinished Jane Austen novels have been adapted for television and the stage. Theatre’s room for experiment delivers the most satisfying imaginative leap By a strange chance it is currentl…

Linked From The Guardian at 09:18AM
Sunday, September 29, 2019

Macbeth review – John Simm excels despite much toil and trouble by Michael Billington

Chichester Festival theatreThe murderous thane faces witches, relentless video and a musical assault in this lengthy production but emerges as a figure of rare complexity Read interview with…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:12AM
Friday, September 27, 2019

My Beautiful Laundrette review – an iconic movie cleverly reimagined by Michael Billington

Curve, LeicesterAdapted from Hanif Kureishi’s 1985 film, this production retains its 80s ethos while speaking to today’s world with the racial and gender politics heightened Making plays…

Linked From The Guardian at 11:06AM
Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Two Ladies review – presidents’ wives turn to violence by Michael Billington

Bridge theatre, LondonZoë Wanamaker and Zrinka Cvitešić attempt to seize power at a summit meeting in Nancy Harris’s provocative play The finest song in Hamilton hymns the urge to be in…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:24PM

Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp. review - finding fascination in bloodshot fables by Michael Billington

Royal Court, LondonCaryl Churchill’s four pieces entertainingly combine mythical, mundane and gory Every Caryl Churchill play is an experiment with form. Her latest work comprises four pie…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:24PM
Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Youth Without God review – anti-Nazi drama calls out liberal bystanders by Michael Billington

Coronet theatre, LondonChristopher Hampton’s disturbing adaptation of Ödön von Horváth’s 1937 novel is a promising text, albeit let down by an imperfect production Christopher Hampton…

Linked From The Guardian at 06:33PM
Friday, September 20, 2019

The Permanent Way review – if only Hare's study of railway chaos had dated by Michael Billington

The Vaults, LondonDavid Hare’s searing play about the chaos and tragedy that followed rail privatisation rings as true today as ever ‘We have ended up with a very dysfunctional and flawe…

Linked From The Guardian at 11:42AM
Thursday, September 19, 2019

Reasons to Stay Alive review – striking staging of Matt Haig depression memoir by Michael Billington

Crucible, SheffieldThis dramatisation of the mental health bestseller takes a step towards removing the stigma from depression – though it’s no substitute for the book Depression is “i…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:18AM
Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Faith, Hope and Charity review – urgent account of the austerity age by Michael Billington

Dorfman, LondonAlexander Zeldin’s latest production shines a light on the resilience and humour of those struggling to survive Alexander Zeldin’s plays are like no one else’s: they hum…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:54AM
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Jez Butterworth: quicksilver sage behind the 21st century's best play by Michael Billington

In Jerusalem, the playwright laid bare a country’s phoney myths and confronted who we are as individuals and nations The best plays of the 21st century Jez Butterworth is one of only two w…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:18PM

The 50 best theatre shows of the 21st century by Michael Billington, Alexis Soloski, Catherine Love, Mark Fisher and Chris Wiegand

A hip-hop history lesson, a dizzy Dahl musical and a continent-hopping barbershop … we pick the finest new works of theatre since 2000 Jez Butterworth: the sage behind our No1 Continue rea…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:18PM
Monday, September 16, 2019

Anna Bella Eema review – trailer-park golem with a touch of Thoreau by Michael Billington

Arcola, LondonGothic sound design and a trio of sharp central performances lend this version of Lisa D’Amour’s rather mystifying play some definition Lisa D’Amour’s play is as weird …

Linked From The Guardian at 08:54PM

What to see this week in the UK by Andrew Pulver, Michael Cragg, John Fordham, Jonathan Jones, Andrew Clements, Michael Billington and Lyndsey Winship

From Downton Abbey to Khalid, here’s our pick of the best films, concerts, exhibitions, theatre and dance over the next seven days Continue reading...

Linked From The Guardian at 03:48AM
Friday, September 13, 2019

The King of Hell’s Palace review – eye-opening look at horrifying corruption in China by Michael Billington

Hampstead theatre, LondonCeleste Den portrays a real-life hero who exposed how local officials were spreading HIV ‘You are an enemy of the people,” a character remarks in Frances Ya-Chu …

Linked From The Guardian at 08:03AM
Thursday, September 12, 2019

A Doll's House review – Ibsen's classic shrewdly reimagined in colonial India by Michael Billington

Lyric Hammersmith, LondonWith a career-defining performance from Anjana Vasan, Tanika Gupta’s production is moving, multilayered and intelligent Tanika Gupta has transposed Ibsen’s semin…

Linked From The Guardian at 05:48AM
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present review – masterful Ayckbourn unwraps a family feud by Michael Billington

Stephen Joseph theatre, ScarboroughNaomi Petersen’s turn is the icing on the cake of this time-bending drama from a writer who has lost none of his ingenuity Dramatists, from George S Kauf…

Linked From The Guardian at 06:48AM
Monday, September 9, 2019

Peter Nichols probed his private life to reveal the state of the nation by Michael Billington

The playwright behind A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, who has died aged 92, wrote deeply autobiographical plays that offered an image of modern Britain Peter Nichols, who has died aged 92, on…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:36AM

Chiaroscuro review – Jackie Kay's play is more gig than theatre by Michael Billington

Bush theatre, LondonLynette Linton’s debut as artistic director is a musical revival of an undramatic piece about the dilemmas of four women The Bush, which has recently revived Winsome P…

Linked From The Guardian at 08:36AM
Sunday, September 8, 2019

Torch Song review – pioneering gay drama still packs a punch by Michael Billington

Turbine, LondonMatthew Needham stars with tremulous assurance as the witty, sharp-tongued drag queen of Harvey Fierstein’s 70s drama Theatre seems one of our crazy nation’s few growth in…

Linked From The Guardian at 11:33AM
Friday, September 6, 2019

A Very Expensive Poison review – Lucy Prebble's Litvinenko drama fascinates by Michael Billington

Old Vic, London The twisted tale of the Russian dissident’s death by radioactive poisoning employs songs, puppets and even Putin as an unreliable narrator Watching Lucy Prebble’s fascina…

Linked From The Guardian at 02:24PM
Thursday, September 5, 2019

Two Trains Running review – August Wilson's study of a crisis-ridden city by Michael Billington

Royal and Derngate, NorthamptonThe richness of Wilson’s characters make them a joy to watch and a great cast lifts this tale set in Pittsburgh in 1969 By today’s standards, the plays of …

Linked From The Guardian at 09:54AM
Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The 10 best plays about politics by Michael Billington

As Hansard opens at the National Theatre and drama heats up in Westminster, our critic picks his favourite political theatre Whose side is Shakespeare on? As always, it is difficult to tell.…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:54PM

Hansard review – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? for the Cotswold set by Michael Billington

Lyttelton theatre, LondonAlex Jennings and Lindsay Duncan treat us to 90 minutes of sustained verbal warfare between an entitled Tory minister and his disaffected liberal wife When a charact…

Linked From The Guardian at 07:36AM

All that Chat

Oct 06: Slave Play
Feb 01: The Minutes
TBA: Blue