Bush theatre

What a muddle: The House of Bernarda Alba, at the Lyttelton Theatre, reviewed

Green, green, green. Everything on stage is the same shade of eau de Nil in the NT’s version of Federico García Lorca’s classic, The House of Bernarda Alba. All the furniture and props are green. The mirrors, the walls, the crucifixes, the clocks and even the bucket and the knife-rack bear the same queasy pigment. The idea, perhaps, is to suggest a lunatic asylum or an NHS waiting room. Lorca’s steamy tale is set in a remote Spanish village in the 1930s where life is dominated by the repressive and superstitious Catholic church. The story opens with a nasty matriarch, Bernarda Alba, celebrating her husband’s death by ordering her five

A masterpiece: Rose, at Park Theatre, reviewed

Look at this line. ‘I’m 80 years old. I find that unforgivable.’ Could an actor get a laugh on ‘unforgivable’? Maureen Lipman does just that in Rose, by Martin Sherman, a monologue spoken by a Ukrainian Jew who lived through the horrors of the 20th century. In the opening sections, Lipman plays it like a professional comic and she fills the theatre with warm, loving laughter. Rose’s dad is a hypochondriac who spends all day in bed. ‘He never stopped dying but as far as we could tell there was nothing wrong with him.’ Eventually he loses his life when a wardrobe stuffed with pills topples on to him. ‘He

It’s years since I saw anything as nasty as this: Cock at the Ambassadors Theatre reviewed

Cock was written by Mike Bartlett in 2009 while he was in Mexico at a drama conference. The title suggests a cockpit where three characters compete for sexual dominance. W, meaning Woman, is a childminder attracted to a gay man, John, who is thick but handsome and deeply involved with M, or Man. W adores John even though he can’t stand women. ‘They’re like water when you really want beer,’ he says, charmlessly. When they have sex she politely asks him not to treat her genitals ‘like a Travelodge’. After a brief fling, W decides she wants to marry John and raise a family with him in domestic bliss. But

What a comic treat: The Game of Love and Chance at the Arcola reviewed

Lady Sylvia is a gorgeous aristocrat whose hand is sought by the charming Dorante whom she has never met. To avoid the stiff formalities of courtship, Lady Sylvia swaps places with her maid and observes Dorante from the safety of pretended servitude. But instead of falling for Dorante, she becomes enamoured of his manservant. However, there’s another wrinkle coming in Marivaux’s classic comedy. Deronte’s manservant, unbeknown to Lady Sylvia, is actually Dorante himself, who has pulled an identical switcheroo with his valet. The story is so hopelessly contrived that its sheer artificiality becomes part of the joke. This production of The Game of Love and Chance, directed by Jack Gamble,

Xenophobic twaddle: Bush Theatre’s 2036 reviewed

The Bush Theatre’s new strand, 2036, opens with a monologue, Pawn, which takes its name from the most downtrodden piece on the chessboard. The speaker, Jordan, is an amiable dimwit of mixed Trinidadian and South African heritage whose mother explains his background to him like a condescending anthropologist: ‘Trinidad and South Africa are countries with cultures too rich for most people to understand.’ Jordan describes his life in London which consists exclusively of battling oppression. He buys fried chicken from Yusef, a Turkish food-seller, and he learns a greeting in Turkish that Yusef recognises. So Yusef starts to slip him extra portions as a perk. A white teenager hears of

Like a project the BBC might have considered 30 years ago and turned down: The Understudy reviewed

Hats off to the Lawrence Batley Theatre for producing a brand-new full-length show on-line. Stephen Fry, with avuncular fruitiness, narrates a dramatisation of David Nicholls’s novel The Understudy, published in 2005. It’s a back-stage comedy about a newly written sex romp inspired by the life of Lord Byron. The show, predictably enough, is entitled, Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know. Here’s an excerpt. Byron is lying athwart his naked Italian mistress when the Muse summons him to draft a sonnet. ‘I must write here,’ he declares, ‘between a pair of pert peaches nestled.’ This doesn’t quite catch the tone of period drama in its present form. A modern playwright tackling