Review: Network, National Theatre

Published in The Independent on November 15, 2017

“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore”: the rallying cry from Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 film about Howard Beale, a news anchor who loses it on-air, has become a much-quoted meme, as the film seems only more prophetic with each passing year. Continue reading “Review: Network, National Theatre”

Imelda Staunton on the National’s new blockbuster musical Follies

Published in The Telegraph on July 14, 2017

It may not open till next month, but the first release of tickets for Stephen Sondheim’s Follies at the National Theatre are already entirely sold out. However thousands more are on sale today from 8.30am, at the same time as a first-look photograph of the cast is unveiled.

The level of love for the musical has surprised its star, Imelda Staunton – but then, it hasn’t had a full staging in London since 1987. The story of the Weismann Follies’ vaudeville showgirls, who return to the theatre they performed in 30 years previously, features standards such as ‘Losing My Mind and ‘I’m Still Here’, and garners serious devotion among Sondheim fans.

Continue reading “Imelda Staunton on the National’s new blockbuster musical Follies”

Jack Thorne on staging disability and transporting Harry Potter to the West End

Published in The Independent on Sunday on February 21, 2016

His face may not be familiar, but there’s a good chance you’ve seen one of Jack Thorne’s TV programmes – Skins, Glue, This is England ’86, (and ’88 and ’90 come to that), The Fades – or maybe his hit stage version of vampire movie Let the Right One In, or council budget-cuts drama Hope, which played at the Royal Court. Continue reading “Jack Thorne on staging disability and transporting Harry Potter to the West End”

Why Christmas shows are going down a psychedelic rabbit hole

Published in The Independent on Sunday on December 4, 2015

At no other time of the year are family-friendly shows more welcome than at Christmas. Yet it’s also often a time of boringly traditional, bankable fare. Panto reigns and theatre can tend towards the literary, twee and old-fashioned: Dickensian orphans in the faux snow, endless visits to Narnia and Neverland. This year, however, there’s a sleigh-full of alternative shows hurtling down a distinctly psychedelic rabbit hole. Continue reading “Why Christmas shows are going down a psychedelic rabbit hole”

On revivals, and the urge to ‘bring back to life’ past triumphs

The words ‘10th Anniversary Revival’ are given as much prominence as the author’s name – Tim Crouch – on the National Theatre’s promotional material for An Oak Tree; a new ‘10th anniversary edition’ of the playtext accompanies. Such subtitling flags up its rare status: a genuinely experimental, fringe show that has achieved international acclaim, academic recognition, and much love from audiences – and performers (a key point, of which more later). Continue reading “On revivals, and the urge to ‘bring back to life’ past triumphs”

Review: Beyond Caring, National Theatre

Published in The Independent on May 4, 2015

Three casual workers arrive for the night shift at a meat factory. There’s hard-faced Becky (Victoria Moseley), timid, dowdy Susan (Kristin Hutchinson) and Grace (Janet Etuk), forced into employment despite her rheumatoid arthritis. They join Phil (Sean O’Callaghan), the only full-time member of staff and a gentle giant type – though like all of them, he seems bruised by life. Continue reading “Review: Beyond Caring, National Theatre”