2018 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

An interesting set of nominations have been announced for the 2018 Laurence Olivier Awards. Perhaps predictably, the headline grabbers are Hamilton with their record 13 nominations, and The Ferryman which received 8. I’m pleased to see Follies and Angels in America represent a strong showing for the National with 10 and 6 respectively, and also lovely to see Everybody’s Talking About Jamie close behind with 5. Beyond delighted for The Revlon Girl too, my play of the year.

Naturally, not everything can get nominated and for me, it was most disappointing to see Barber Shop Chronicles miss out on any recognition. And with Hamilton crowding out the musicals categories, there was sadly no room for The Grinning Man, Romantics Anonymous and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (although I’m unsure of the Menier’s eligibility with regards to SOLT). And I think Victoria Hamilton (Albion). Philip Quast (Follies) and Louis Maskell and Julian Bleach (The Grinning Man)  are entitled to be a bit miffed.

How do you feel about these nominations? And what do you think should have been nominated instead?

Continue reading “2018 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”

News: Old Vic bicentenary ambassadors announced

How do you mark a significant birthday? My parents are currently (jointly) turning 140 and are celebrating the occasion with a six month program of events, peaking with an all-day party happening very soon. But if you’re the Old Vic and you’re turning 200, you open your contacts and see who is free.

Turns out a fair few people are, and so their list currently includes Nikki Amuka-Bird, Sheila Atim, John Boyega, Cate Blanchett, Bertie Carvel, Kim Cattrall, Lily Cole, Alan Cumming, Judi Dench, Michelle Dockery, Rupert Everett, Martin Freeman, Tamsin Greig, David Harewood, Derek Jacobi, Toby Jones, Cush Jumbo, Ben Kingsley, Pearl Mackie, Helen McCrory, Ian McKellen, Bill Nighy, Anika Noni Rose, Maxine Peake, Mark Rylance, Andrew Scott, Tom Stoppard, Stanley Tucci and Julie Walters.

Continue reading “News: Old Vic bicentenary ambassadors announced”

Critics’ Circle Awards 2017: the winners in full

The Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer (a tie)
Sheila Atim for Girl from the North Country, Old Vic and Noël Coward Theatre
John McCrea for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Sheffield Crucible and Apollo Theatre

The Trewin Award for Best Shakespearean Performance
Andrew Scott in Hamlet, Almeida and Harold Pinter Theatre

Most Promising Playwright
Brandon Jacob-Jenkins for An Octoroon, Orange Tree Theatre and Gloria, Hampstead Theatre

The Peter Hepple Award for Best Musical
Hamilton, Victoria Palace Theatre

Best Designer
Vicki Mortimer for Follies, National Theatre

Best Director
Dominic Cooke for Follies, National Theatre

Best Actress
Victoria Hamilton for Albion, Almeida Theatre

Best Actor
Bryan Cranston for Network, National Theatre

Best New Play
The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth, Royal Court and Gielgud Theatre

Special Award
David Lan for services to theatre

2017 Best Actor in a Play + in a Musical

Best Actor in a Play

Ken Nwosu, An Octoroon
It is great news indeed that this Orange Tree production will be gaining further life in 2018 with a transfer to the National Theatre in the summer. I really hope that as much of the original cast comes with it, especially Nwosu who anchored the complex ideas of the show with confidence and clear-sighted integrity. 

Honourable mention: Andrew Scott, Hamlet

In the parlance de nos jours, Scott managed that most difficult of things to really make this most-well-known of roles his own, his collaboration with Rob Icke breathing a conversationally, contemporary life into the part that was utterly mesmerising.

Andrew Garfield, Angels in America
Gary Lilburn, Trestle
Ian McKellen, King Lear
Cyril Nri, Barber Shop Chronicles

Sam Troughton, Beginning

Bryan Cranston, Network; Conleth Hill, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf; James McArdle, Angels in America

Best Actor in a Musical

Giles Terera, Hamilton
In the midst of all the hype and expectation that was the first preview, and in a production that had no right to be that polished and on-point, there was no doubt in my mind about who the star of the evening was. Terera’s Burr feels very much his own creation and delivers a well-deserved push into the limelight for this most charismatic of performers – I suspect this won’t be his first award.

Honourable mention: Scott Hunter/Andy Coxon, Yank! A WWII Love Story
Hitting the right time and place, I first saw Yank! in the afternoon of London Pride and a happier, gayer Clowns I could not have been. And at its heart is the epic, tragic romance of Stu and Mitch, brought to beautiful life by Scott Hunter and Andy Coxon respectively.

John McCrea, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Philip Quast, Follies
Michael Rouse, Superhero

Jamael Westman, Hamilton
Alastair Brookshaw, A Little Night Music; Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris; Dominic Marsh, Romantics Anonymous

2018 What’s On Stage Award nominations


It’s that time of year again and getting in early with the announcement of their nominees is What’s on Stage. Voted for by the public, they’re often skewed a little towards the bigger ‘names’ but this year’s set of nominations are relatively controversy-free. There’s something a little odd about the way that regional theatre has its own separate category but its actors appear in the main ones – I feel like regional theatre productions should either be considered entirely in or out, rather than this halfway house.

Naturally, big shows rule the roost – 42nd Street and Bat out of Hell lead the lists with 8 nominations apiece – and they’ve even found a way to shoehorn in Hamilton by nominating it for the two new categories of Best Cast Recording (which somehow includes Les Mis??) and Best Show Poster, thus being able to get round it not actually being open yet and grabbing the requisite headlines once it does, inevitably, win.

Andrew Garfield, Angels in America
Andrew Scott, Hamlet
Bryan Cranston, Network
David Tennant, Don Juan in Soho
Martin Freeman, Labour of Love

Eve Best, Love in Idleness
Imelda Staunton, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Olivia Colman, Mosquitoes
Natalie Dormer, Venus in Fur
Tamsin Greig, Labour of Love Continue reading “2018 What’s On Stage Award nominations”

The 2017 London Evening Standard Theatre Awards

The nominations for the 2017 London Evening Standard Theatre Awards have been released and naturally I have thoughts. Initially, they are:


Bertie Carvel Ink (Almeida & Duke of York’s)
Andrew Garfield Angels in America (National Theatre)
Andrew Scott Hamlet (Almeida & Harold Pinter Theatre)


Laura Donnelly The Ferryman (Royal Court & Gielgud)
Victoria Hamilton Albion (Almeida)
Glenda Jackson King Lear (Old Vic)


Janie Dee Follies (National Theatre)
Robert Fairchild An American in Paris (Dominion)
Amber Riley Dreamgirls (Savoy)


The Children Lucy Kirkwood (Royal Court)
The Ferryman Jez Butterworth (Royal Court & Gielgud)
Ink James Graham (Almeida & Duke of York’s)
Oslo JT Rogers (National Theatre & Harold Pinter Theatre)


Dominic Cooke Follies (National Theatre)
Robert Icke Hamlet (Almeida & Harold Pinter)
Sam Mendes The Ferryman (Royal Court & Gielgud)


Jon Bausor Bat Out of Hell – The Musical (Coliseum)
Bunny Christie Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle (Wyndham’s)/The Red Barn (National Theatre)/Ink (Almeida &Duke of York’s)
Soutra Gilmour Twelfth Night (National Theatre)


Branden Jacobs-Jenkin An Octoroon (Orange Tree)
Al Smith Harrogate (High Tide Festival & Royal Court)
Katherine Soper Wish List (Royal Exchange Manchester & Royal Court)


Sheila Atim Girl from the North Country (Old Vic)
Tom Glynn-Carney The Ferryman (Royal Court & Gielgud)
Luke Thallon Albion (Almeida)


An American in Paris Dominion
Bat out of Hell – The Musical Coliseum
Dreamgirls Savoy
Follies National Theatre
School of Rock New London Theatre
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ The Musical Menier Chocolate Factory
She Loves Me Menier Chocolate Factory

Too-hot-to-re-review: Hamlet, Harold Pinter

“I shall not look upon his like again”

My lack of willpower when it comes to theatre is infamous, even more so on the rare occasions when I get invited to be someone’s plus one, with the responsibility of filing my own review lifted from the shoulders for once. Thus I found myself at the Harold Pinter for the transfer of the Almeida’s Hamlet, a production I enjoyed immensely on the two occasions I saw it in North London and whose charms I wasn’t entirely sure would translate to the larger theatre here. 
Those fears were largely unfounded – the scale of the intimate family drama that Robert Icke has fashioned from Shakespeare’s ever-present tragedy amplifies effectively, and Andrew Scott’s deeply conversational style still resonates strongly (in the stalls at least) through the familiar verse, finding new readings and meanings. If I’m brutally honest, I don’t think I gained too much from this repeat viewing but that’s just my rarified position – it is still a thrilling piece of theatre and it’s a thrill to see it in the West End.
Running time: 3 hours 35 minutes (with 2 intervals)
Booking until 2nd September, Juliet Stevenson leaves the company on 1st July when she is replaced by Derbhle Crotty

The Almeida’s Hamlet transfers to the Harold Pinter

“Most fair return of greetings and desires”

As follows many a sold out run with a high-profile cast, Almeida Associate Director Robert Icke’s new production of Hamlet transfers to the West End for a strictly limited season this summer (read my review here) from 9th June to 2nd September.

Starring BAFTA and Olivier Award winner Andrew Scott (Sherlock, Birdland, Cock, Pride) as the Danish Prince, Hamlet is brought to the stage by the critically acclaimed and multi-award winning creative team behind 1984 and Oresteia. And in further excellent news, the entire cast is making the trip to the West End (although Juliet Stevenson only until 1st July, no news yet on who might step into Gertrude’s shoes).

Robert Icke “one of the most important forces in today’s theatre” (The Observer) previously directed Mary Stuart, Uncle Vanya, Oresteia, Mr Burns and 1984 for the Almeida Theatre and this isn’t his first West End transfer (1984 and Oresteia have made the leap too) though I’m glad I got to see the show in the more intimate surroundings in N1. 

Tickets on general sale from Thurs 6 Apr, Almeida members from Sunday 2nd (at midnight!), SFP E-list members from Sunday 2nd at midday, Almeida E-list members from Monday 3rd.


Review: Hamlet, Almeida

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” 
The enduring image of Robert Icke’s Hamlet is family – the repeated motif of group of three cleaving together haunts the production as much as Hamlet’s father himself. From the instant and intense bond established between Polonius, Ophelia and Laertes, Icke makes striking emotional sense of the respective grief and ferocity of the latter two, powerfully played by Jessica Brown Findlay and Luke Thompson against Peter Wight’s twinkling charm as their father.
And Icke also gives the tragic visual of Andrew Scott’s Hamlet trying to rebuild his original family unit, joining hands with his mother and the ghost of his father in the midst of the closet scene, willing Juliet Stevenson’s Gertrude to see what he sees, to put things back the way they used to be. And in a stunning montage for the final scene, these trios reform, emphasising the innate happiness of one and the deep tragedy of the other. It is deeply, deeply felt.

Continue reading “Review: Hamlet, Almeida”

20 shows to look forward to in 2017

2017 is only just over a week away now and the reviewing diary is already filling up! All sorts of headline-grabbing West End shows have already been announced (The Glass Menagerie, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, Don Juan In Soho, The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia) and the National look to continue a sensational year with another (Twelfth Night, Consent, the heaven-sent Angels in America), so this list is looking a little further afield to the London fringe and some of the UK theatres I hope to get to throughout the year.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Bolton Octagon

After hearing Elizabeth Newman speak passionately on a panel discussion about women’s theatre, I kinda have a big (intellectual) crush on her, so I’m very keen to see her tackle a new adaptation by Deborah McAndrew of the classic Anne Bronte novel in a theatre that is very close to my heart.

Persuasion, Royal Exchange

Another literary adaptation in the North-West and another where the choice of director is instrumental in its inclusion here. Jeff James (La Musica) has worked closely with Ivo van Hove as an associate director and so the thought of what he might be cooking up for this world premiere of Jane Austen’s novel is most exciting indeed.

3 Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Crucible

Described as a coming-of-age story with a twist, Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae’s new musical is the last show in the final season of Daniel Evans’ artistic directorship in Sheffield and true to form, it looks to be a brave and important piece, once again giving voice to those who aren’t necessarily normally heard in this genre (cf: Flowers for Mrs Harris).

The Convert, Gate

Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed was my play of the year in 2015 and so it’s great to see her work returning to the Gate Theatre, exploring another piece of recent African history that will doubtless be once again uncompromisingly thought-provoking.

5 BU21, Trafalgar Studios,

I loved BU21 when it opened at Theatre503 last year so it is great to see Stuart Slade’s ingeniously inventive play getting a well-deserved transfer into the West End here. Set in the aftermath of a fictitious terrorist attack, it’s disturbing and absolutely essential.

Narvik, HOME Manchester and then UK tour

A new play with songs by Lizzie Nunnery, inspired by tales from naval veterans and stories of her grandfather’s time in the Navy, this show comes courtesy of Box of Tricks, a company whose utterly beautiful Plastic Figurines ranked highly in my 2015 list. I won’t be catching this until its final venue in the tour so look out for it in February and March.

He(art), Theatre N16

Andrew Maddock had a good year last year – his in/out (a feeling) and The We Plays both impressed at the Hope Theatre – and his latest looks like an interesting proposition too. It’s playing at the Theatre N16 which, of course, is in Balham (right by the station).

a profoundly affectionate, passionate devotion to someone (-noun), Royal Court

The talk may be about Jez Butterworth’s latest selling out but for my money, a new debbie tucker green play is where the excitement lies in what looks to be a fascinating year ahead at the Royal Court.

good dog, Watford Palace and then UK tour

Arinzé Kene’s return to writing with this tiata fahodzi production is sure to be one not to miss as he tackles the realities of growing up in a multi-cultural society.

10 I Capture the Castle, Watford Palace and Bolton Octagon

Dodie Smith’s novel is a rather lovely thing so the idea of its eccentric Englishness being captured in a musical is one that certainly appeals. Book and lyrics are by Teresa Howard, music is by Steven Edis and Brigid Larmour directs.

11 Obsession, Barbican

I know I said I’d try to keep off the beaten track with this list but Jude Law guesting with Toneelgroep Amsterdam? Er yes please!!!

12 Hamlet, Almeida

Similarly – Andrew Scott and Robert Icke! Plus Juliet Stevenson not budging from where she is just now.

13 Holding The Man, Brockley Jack

I saw this play not knowing a thing about it back in 2010 and no word of a lie, I wept in my seat until the Trafalgar Studios had pretty much emptied. So this production doesn’t have too much to live up to, honest, aside from being one of the best gay plays I’ve ever seen.

14 We Raise Our Hands in the Sanctuary, Albany

Keeping things queer, Inky Cloak’s new show looks like another vital piece of LGBT+ theatremaking, spotlighting the crucial importance of queer spaces and highlighting why club culture matters on a political, emotional and human rights level at the very time when it appears to be most under threat in an ever-gentrifying London.

15 An Octoroon, Orange Tree

I don’t know too much about this Branden Jacobs-Jenkins play aside from some people getting very excited about it and the fact that director Ned Bennett has the kind of exciting mind to make it unforgettable one way or the other.

16 The Wild Party, The Other Palace

In his infinite wisdom, The Lloyd-Webber has decided to rename St James Theatre as The Other Palace but the more interesting thing about his takeover of the venue is its focus on musical theatre. Its opening season begins with this Michael John LaChiusa piece which has been cast amazingly to the hilt, a must-see if only for Donna McKechnie.

17 Dirty Great Love Story, Arts Theatre,

This Fringe First Award winning production, written by Richard March and Katie Bonna, combines drama and poetry, rhythm and rhyme in a laugh-a-minute exploration of modern romance but has caught my eye due to its winning cast of Felix Scott and Ayesha Antoine who ought to make a most charming couple indeed.

18 Cyrano, New Vic and then touring nationally

Another mention for Deborah McAndrew here with this new adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s romantic comedy Cyrano de Bergerac, which is the first of three productions Northern Broadsides will be staging to celebrate its 25th anniversary year. Adapting the verse freely to ape the vigorous swashbuckling of the musketeers, this shows a good nose for good drama.

19 The New Nigerians, Arcola

Written by Hackney-born writer Oladipo Agboluaje and directed by Rosamunde Hutt, this world premiere of a gripping tale of conflict and compromise, setting the scene for a political revolution in 21st century Nigeria is an exciting piece of programming as part of the Arcola’s Revolution season.

20 Junkyard, Bristol Old Vic, Clwyd Theatre Cymru and Rose Kingston

A Headlong musical? Sure! Especially when it has been written by Jack Thorne.