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.
Ed Hall, boss of the Hampstead theatre, places before our consideration a new play by Athol Fugard.
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.
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.
It’s noisy here in the bar at the Old Vic; the air is teeming with thespy gossip and laughter and clinking glasses.
Asking a resting actor to review the biography of a top producer is like asking a sheep to eat a shepherd.
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.
Thank God for the critics.
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.
‘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.
Who’s my favourite stage actress? Since you ask, Olivia Williams in Shakespeare and Nancy Carroll in anything.
Let’s talk about Tucker. The Beeb’s mockumentary The Thick of It has been hailed as a brilliantly incisive glimpse into…
Royal Court, until 2 October Tiny Kushner
Tricycle, until 25 September
The somewhat straightlaced theatre-going audiences of 1880s America, eager for performances by European artistes like Jenny Lind and solid, home-grown, classical actors such as Otis Skinner, were hardly prepared for the on-stage vulgarity that the (usually) Russian and Polish immigrant impressarios, with their particular nous for show-biz, were to unleash into the saloons and fleapits across the young nation.
Romeo and Juliet
Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, in rep until 27 August
County Hall, until 22 May The Real Thing
Old Vic, until 5 June
To review some new books about Shakespeare is not to note a revival of interest, but simply to let down a bucket into an undammed river.
Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter, by Antonia Fraser
Just as Alec Guinness resented being seen as Obi-Wan Kenobi for the rest of his life, Ian Richardson might have resented Francis Urquhart, the Machiavelli of Michael Dobbs’ House of Cards trilogy, whose catchphrase gives this book its title.
Not every writer would begin a history of the 1950s with a vignette in which the young Keith Waterhouse treads on Princess Margaret by mistake.
A few years ago I was given the Rough Guide to Shakespeare by Andrew Dickson. If you, like me, need…
Shaw Death and the King’s Horseman
Film There’s been a rush of good movies recently — Rachel Getting Married (with Anne Hathaway) and Vicky Cristina Barcelona,…
No Man’s Land
Duke of York’s Mine
Girl with a Pearl Earring
Theatre Royal Haymarket Waste