News: My White Best Friend goes online via the Royal Court

Writer Rachel De-Lahay and director Milli Bhatia have commissioned ten writers to pen letters that say the unsaid, for a new, online version of their festival My White Best Friend (and Other Letters Left Unsaid).

Produced by Tobi Kyeremateng with support by the Royal Court Theatre, the online festival will run over a week with a pre-recorded letter by Rachel De-Lahay read each night alongside two letters by some of the most exciting voices in the UK read live. Continue reading “News: My White Best Friend goes online via the Royal Court”

News: Lockdown Theatre Festival brings four cancelled shows to radio

Plays by writers including Mike Bartlett and EV Crowe that were forced to close early because of the pandemic will be revived on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4 as part of a festival created by actor Bertie Carvel.

Lockdown Theatre Festival will feature actors including Katherine Parkinson, Rachael Stirling and Nicholas Burns, who will record their lines in isolation, to reimagine their performances for specially created radio versions of the plays.

The plays, which will be broadcast on June 13 and 14, are: The Mikvah Project by Josh Azouz, which had been running at the Orange Tree Theatre, the Lyric Hammermith Theatre’s Love Love Love by Bartlett, Winsome Pinnock’s Rockets and Blue Lights, from the Royal Exchange in Manchester, and Crowe’s Shoe Lady, which was being staged by the Royal Court in London. Continue reading “News: Lockdown Theatre Festival brings four cancelled shows to radio”

Not-a-review: Rare Earth Mettle, Royal Court

The opportunity to see Arthur Darvill and Genevieve O’Reilly onstage again would surely have made Rare Earth Mettle a must-see at the Royal Court

You only have an attachment to ideas. But I am attached to this place. I know the history. This land is a part of who I am”

There’s not a lot of info around about Al Smith’s play Rare Earth Mettle which should have opened at the Royal Court this week. But an attractive looking cast had me intrigued and given the uniqueness of Hamish Pirie’s last two productions for the Royal Court (Instructions for Correct Assembly; Goats), I’m sure it would have been a good’un. Let’s hope it comes back.

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Review: all of it, Royal Court

Kate O’Flynn excels in a virtuosic performance of Alistair McDowall’s monologue all of it at the Royal Court

“Everyone dies”

Ahead of their collaboration on The Glow this summer and following on from 2016’s X, writer Alistair McDowall and director Vicky Featherstone’s fruitful relationship continues with all of it, a 45 minute monologue tucked away into a 9.30pm slot and a run of just 8 performances at the Royal Court (along with an advisory note that you can’t take drinks in – whether to stop the drunkenness or noise of glasses being knocked over, it’s a welcome decision!).

Also welcome is the casting of the rather marvellous Kate O’Flynn, an actress for whom the question is always ‘when are we going’ rather than ‘what is she in’. She doesn’t disappoint here in this short play, deceptively unassuming as it follows a woman through the journey of her entire life but with the fast forward button pressed. And the cassette player analogy (ask your dad) is particularly apt given the almost-gibberish with which the show opens. 

Continue reading “Review: all of it, Royal Court”

Review: Poet in da Corner, Royal Court

I correct the error of missing the vibrant energy of Debris Stevenson’s Poet in da Corner at the Royal Court

“You writing lyrics about me?”

Debris Stevenson is a multi-hyphenate of a different order – grime poet, academic, dancer and now playwright as her 2018 hit show Poet in da Corner returns to the Royal Court ahead of a UK tour. I didn’t catch it then, not having ever listened to Dizzee Rascal’s album Boy in da Corner meaning that it didn’t have instant appeal but on this evidence, I was clearly wrong to have given it a miss, its vibrant energy thrilling to behold in this richly theatrical space.

Sitting in the realm of semi-autobiography, Stevenson’s story focuses on her East London upbringing in a Mormon household where schooltime meant working through being bullied, her dyslexia and the need to test her sexuality. At a moment of particular despair, she’s given a copy that Dizzee Rascal album and it is like a light is switched on, grime offering her a way to build her confidence and explore all of those feelings, discover who she really is. Continue reading “Review: Poet in da Corner, Royal Court”

10 of my top moments of the decade

Ever behind the curve, I present 10 of my top moments in a theatre over the last ten years (plus a few bonus extra ones because whittling down this list was hard, and it will probably be different tomorrow anyway!)

© James Bellorini

Extraordinary Public Acts for a National Theatre

The establishment of the Public Acts programme at the National Theatre offered up something sensational in Pericles, an initiative designed to connect grassroot community organisations with major theatres, resulting in a production that swept over 200 non-professional performers onto the stage of the Olivier to create something that moved me more than 99% of professional productions.  A truly joyous and momentous occasion. 

Honourable mention: this year’s musical take on As You Like It proved just as heart-swellingly beautiful over at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch. Continue reading “10 of my top moments of the decade”

Review: A Kind of People, Royal Court

Not much festive cheer around at the Royal Court, but plenty of grimly insightful writing in Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s A Kind of People

“This will bleed and bleed”

Opening with the kind of house party you’d be quite happy to end up at after a few drinks down the pub, you can kinda see where the Royal Court is coming from in programming Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s A Kind of People over Christmas. But as in the tradition of all good parties – and most good plays – something goes wrong, conflict must arise, and any sense of festive cheer is soon Scrooged away.

Bhatti’s play is set in the bosom of a tight-knit multicultural, working class community, with mixed-race couple Gary and Nicky at its heart. With friends and family forever knocking on their door, their home doesn’t lack for conviviality but it is lacking space – they’re bursting out of the seams of their council flat. But Gary’s up for a promotion at work, with a serious pay rise, so things could be looking up. Continue reading “Review: A Kind of People, Royal Court”

Winners of the 2019 London Evening Standard Theatre Awards

The winners of the 2019 London Evening Standard Theatre Awards have been announced, with Dame Maggie Smith, Sir Ian McKellen, Robert Icke and Andrew Scott among the recipients.

BEST ACTOR in partnership with Ambassador Theatre Group
K. Todd Freeman Downstate, National Theatre (Dorfman)
Francis Guinan Downstate, National Theatre (Dorfman)
Tom Hiddleston Betrayal, Harold Pinter Theatre
Wendell Pierce Death of a Salesman, Young Vic & Piccadilly
WINNER – Andrew Scott Present Laughter, Old Vic

NATASHA RICHARDSON AWARD FOR BEST ACTRESS in partnership with Christian Louboutin
Hayley Atwell Rosmersholm, Duke of York’s
Cecilia Noble Downstate, National Theatre (Dorfman) & Faith, Hope and Charity, National Theatre (Dorfman)
WINNER – Dame Maggie Smith A German Life, Bridge
Juliet Stevenson The Doctor, Almeida
Anjana Vasan A Doll’s House, Lyric Hammersmith Continue reading “Winners of the 2019 London Evening Standard Theatre Awards”

The 2019 London Evening Standard Theatre Awards – Shortlist announced

Proper award season is starting to kick into gear now with the reveal of the shortlist for the 2019 London Evening Standard Theatre Awards and an uncharacteristically strong set of nominations that will surprise a fair few. I had little love for Sweet Charity so I’d’ve bumped its nod for something else but generally speaking, I’m loving the love for Dorfman shows and the Royal Court and I hate the reminder that there’s a couple of things I mistakenly decided not to see (Out of Water, …kylie jenner)

BEST ACTOR in partnership with Ambassador Theatre Group
K. Todd Freeman Downstate, National Theatre (Dorfman)
Francis Guinan Downstate, National Theatre (Dorfman)
Tom Hiddleston Betrayal, Harold Pinter Theatre
Wendell Pierce Death of a Salesman, Young Vic & Piccadilly
Andrew Scott Present Laughter, Old Vic

NATASHA RICHARDSON AWARD FOR BEST ACTRESS in partnership with Christian Louboutin
Hayley Atwell Rosmersholm, Duke of York’s
Cecilia Noble Downstate, National Theatre (Dorfman) & Faith, Hope and Charity, National Theatre (Dorfman)
Dame Maggie Smith A German Life, Bridge
Juliet Stevenson The Doctor, Almeida
Anjana Vasan A Doll’s House, Lyric Hammersmith Continue reading “The 2019 London Evening Standard Theatre Awards – Shortlist announced”