Cult of fear

19 February 2011 12:00 am

Forty years ago kids assumed that when they grew up they’d fly to Mars. They didn’t expect to find a world that was too scared to turn on a lightbulb.

Educating Rachel

12 February 2011 12:00 am

The teeny-weeny Bush Theatre is grappling with the monster of the free schools debate.

Trouble at home

5 February 2011 12:00 am

The Almeida relishes its specialist status. The boss, Michael Attenborough, isn’t keen on celebrity casting because he wants ‘the theatre to be the star’. It’s a niche operation for purists and connoisseurs, for seekers and searchers, and for those who can spell Verfremdungseffekt without having to check (as I just had to) what the penultimate letter is. We’re privileged to have a theatre in London that wants to raise the bar rather than the bar prices.

Losing the plot

29 January 2011 12:00 am

An all-Hall haul this week. Sir Peter directs his daughter Rebecca in Twelfth Night at the National.

Non-stop larks

22 January 2011 12:00 am

Gently does it. The Fitzrovia Radio Hour takes us back to the droll and elegant world of light entertainment in the 1940s when the airwaves were full of racy detective shows and overheated melodramas about pushy Yorkshiremen and rogue Nazis.

Going for gold

15 January 2011 12:00 am

There’s gold out there. The search for lost masterpieces beguiles many a theatrical impresario but with it comes the danger that the thrill of the chase may convert a spirit of honest exploration into an obtuse reverence for the quarry.

Production values

8 January 2011 12:00 am

In the absence of any operas to attend, I’ve been reading the most recent defence of ‘director’s opera’, a book with the characteristic title Unsettling Opera, by the American academic David J. Levin.

Twin peaks

8 January 2011 12:00 am

It’s that time of year. The great reckoning is upon us. Insurance is being renewed. Tax returns are being ferreted out. Roofing jobs are being appraised and budgeted for. And spouses are being trundled into central London for the annual session of dialysis at the theatre.

Classy act

1 January 2011 12:00 am

Michael Grandage, boss of the Donmar, is a most unusual director.

All over the place

18 December 2010 12:00 am

Deceptively attractive. Romeo and Juliet tempts directors and leads them on while keeping all its false doors and secret pitfalls out of view.

Flawed curiosity

11 December 2010 12:00 am

His brain clouded with opium fumes, Jean Cocteau wrote Les Parents Terribles in just one week. It opens like a Greek tragedy crossed with a madcap sitcom.

Child abuse

4 December 2010 12:00 am

Christmas approaches. And kitchens and playrooms across the land resound with the joyous tinkle of little Josephs and Marys rehearsing their roles in the Nativity play.

No laughing matter

27 November 2010 12:00 am

The Nobel prize is nothing. The real badge of literary greatness is the addition of the ‘esque’ suffix to one’s name and, if you’re truly outstanding, the word ‘nightmare’, too. Franz Kafka manages this distinguished double, although some readers find the connotations of horror arise not so much from his totalitarian dystopias as from his prose. But it’s best to approach Kafka with an open mind.

Too much chat

20 November 2010 12:00 am

Ed Hall, boss of the Hampstead theatre, places before our consideration a new play by Athol Fugard.

Curing amnesia

13 November 2010 12:00 am

As Iraq fades from view so does our outrage at the crimes it provoked. Three monologues by Judith Thompson may cure our amnesia. Forgetting atrocities is an essential preliminary to repeating them.

Act of vision

6 November 2010 12:00 am

A wretched, stinking, mouldy, crumbling slice of old Glasgae toon has dropped on to the Lyttelton stage. Ena Lamont Stewart’s play, Men Should Weep, is an enthralling act of homage to her slum childhood and it follows the travails of the Morrison family, all nine of them, wedged into two filthy rooms in Glasgow’s east end.

Interview: Rachael Stirling – happy with her lot

6 November 2010 12:00 am

It’s noisy here in the bar at the Old Vic; the air is teeming with thespy gossip and laughter and clinking glasses.

Pulling it off

30 October 2010 12:00 am

Asking a resting actor to review the biography of a top producer is like asking a sheep to eat a shepherd.

Family at war

30 October 2010 12:00 am

I couldn’t wait for this one. Nina Raine’s debut play Rabbit was a blast. With exquisite scalpel-work she dissected the romantic entanglements of a quartet of posh young professionals. Her new effort, Tribes, opens on similar terrain. A family of bourgeois Londoners are seated around the dinner table punishing each other with rhetorical flick-knives. Dad and Mum are writers. Ruth is a jobless soprano. Dan is wasting his youth smoking skunk and writing an impenetrable thesis on linguistics.

Greek myth

23 October 2010 12:00 am

Thank God for the critics.

Bourgeois frippery

16 October 2010 12:00 am

Regime change at Hampstead Theatre. The era of special measures is over and Ed Hall, son of Sir Peter, has taken charge. Hall’s debut show is daring in its complete lack of audacity.

Family Circle

9 October 2010 12:00 am

‘We’re a beastly family, and I hate us!’ laments Sorel Bliss in Hay Fever. And at first it seems all four Blisses share that sentiment.

Short and sweet

9 October 2010 12:00 am

Who’s my favourite stage actress? Since you ask, Olivia Williams in Shakespeare and Nancy Carroll in anything.

Coalition wear and tear

2 October 2010 12:00 am

Let’s talk about Tucker. The Beeb’s mockumentary The Thick of It has been hailed as a brilliantly incisive glimpse into…

Vexed issues

11 September 2010 12:00 am

Clybourne Park
Royal Court, until 2 October Tiny Kushner
Tricycle, until 25 September