Military take on Othello

Othello from a military perspective? It sounds like yet another director’s far-fetched take on Shakespeare’s endlessly adaptable plays. In fact, it’s not. The dress may be modern, the bunkers concrete and the guns automatics, but Nicholas Hytner’s brilliant version of Othello at the National Theatre slots right into place with the text. This is a…

An untrustworthy version of history

There is no small measure of comedy in watching one National Treasure taking a shot at another. Playwright Alan Bennett (of History Boys fame) could well be considered one of Britain’s National Treasures, with his uncanny ability to capture the essence of the English. And one of their favourite pastimes is to visit National Trust…

Lithgow shines in Magistrate

The lights come up. Tumultuous applause. A full house audience undecided only whether to give a standing ovation or not. It’s a moment when most actors can breathe a sigh of relief. Not John Lithgow, playing the title role in the National Theatre production of The Magistrate, however. No, he has to take a deep…

TIMON OF ATHENS by Shakespeare

Timon of Athens – inspired staging

There’s a reason you have never seen a production of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens. It’s not his best play. It’s not even his, or rather, his alone, but probably a collaboration with Thomas Middleton. An awkward work that falls between tragedy and fable, it’s not surprising that it is seldom seen: huge cast, lots of…

Dysfunctional and histrionic

Leo Tolstoy famously said, in the opening lines of his novel Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” That may not be quite true, seeing people laugh with a sense of recognition at the play The Last of the Haussmans. No-one’s family can be quite like…

Suberb adaptation of complex novel

Curious, isn’t it, that we can understand how a blue sky can make one happy, but find it more difficult to see why five red cars could give one a super good day? For Christopher Boone though, while red cars are good, a yellow car heralds all the gloom of a dark storm cloud. Describing…

Sophiatown fable at the Young Vic

  Can Themba’s achingly sad South African fable, The Suit, is performed at the Young Vic until mid-June in a production directed by the legendary Peter Brook. It forms part of a unique collaboration of eight top London venues and international producers to showcase the different cultural communities in London.  Themba’s short story, adapted for…