Review: Noonday Demons, King’s Head Theatre

Published in Exeunt on July 16, 2015

Is there a new interest in long-neglected Sixties playwright Peter Barnes? Two revivals do not a come-back make, but this production of his 1969 play, following Jamie Lloyd’s James McAvoy-starring  The Ruling Class, is at least putting his name back on people’s lips. And reminding us what a bold playwright Barnes was: his work smashes together big ideas about religion, class, madness and human nature with zinging dialogue, song-and-dance routines, physical madcappery and fleshy rudeness. Continue reading “Review: Noonday Demons, King’s Head Theatre”

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: Communicating Doors, Menier Chocolate Factory

Published in The Independent on May 14, 2015

What’s really behind those communicating doors in hotel rooms? Alan Ayckbourn’s answer in this ‘comic thriller’ is: a timewarp. A literally revolving, magical doorway leads three women from three different decades, all involved with a businessman and his sinister, murderous partner, to move through each other’s lives and hotel rooms, altering the course of their personal histories. The play has a pleasing sci-fi structure, but the writing creaks like a rusty hinge. Continue reading “Review: Communicating Doors, Menier Chocolate Factory”