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

Schlock teaser

30 June 2010 12:00 am

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.

Nightmare in Verona

1 May 2010 12:00 am

Romeo and Juliet
Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, in rep until 27 August

Send in the clowns

28 April 2010 12:00 am

County Hall, until 22 May The Real Thing
Old Vic, until 5 June

For all time

31 March 2010 12:00 am

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.

Celebration of old times

13 January 2010 12:00 am

Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter, by Antonia Fraser

Remembering a classicist

25 November 2009 12:00 am

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.

Voices of change

21 October 2009 12:00 am

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.

Liz Suggests

12 June 2009 12:26 pm

A few years ago I was given the Rough Guide to Shakespeare by Andrew Dickson. If you, like me, need…

Game’s up

15 April 2009 12:00 am

Maggie’s End
Shaw Death and the King’s Horseman

Liz suggests

20 February 2009 3:30 pm

Film There’s been a rush of good movies recently — Rachel Getting Married (with Anne Hathaway) and Vicky Cristina Barcelona,…

Verbal assault

15 October 2008 12:00 am

No Man’s Land
Duke of York’s Mine

Fun with Vermeer

8 October 2008 12:00 am

Girl with a Pearl Earring
Theatre Royal Haymarket Waste
Almeida Creditors