Cheesy skit: A Mirror, at the Almeida Theatre, reviewed

The playwright Sam Holcroft likes to toy with dramatic conventions and to tease her audiences by withholding key information about the characters. This tinkering seems to scare the critics into praising her scripts even though they feel like clumsily written thrillers or botched sci-fi yarns where the rules keep changing. Her technique appeals to high-minded theatres such as the Almeida because it enables A-level drama students to fill their notebooks with impenetrable guff about ‘metatextuality’ and ‘poly-ironic approaches to narrative’. It could be Noises Off by an author who wants to be Brecht or Pirandello Holcroft’s new satire, A Mirror, opens with a bogus wedding that gets disrupted when a

Ugly and humdrum: Brokeback Mountain, at @sohoplace, reviewed

Brokeback Mountain, a play with music, opens in a scruffy bedroom where a snowy-haired tramp finds a lumberjack’s shirt and places it over his nose. Then he inhales. Who is this elderly vagrant? And why is he absorbing the scent of an abandoned garment? Two hours later, at the play’s close, we finally learn that the old man, Ennis, is sniffing a shirt that once belonged to Jack Twist who became his lover while they worked as shepherds in Wyoming. Yes, shepherds. The ‘gay cowboy’ label is a misnomer because the lads are ranching sheep, and their affair belongs to the half-forgotten days of homosexual persecution. The precise year, 1963,

Kids will enjoy this new show at the West End’s newest theatre more than adults: Marvellous, @sohoplace, reviewed

London has a brand-new theatre – yet again. Last summer, a cabaret venue opened in the Haymarket for the first time. More recently, the Marylebone Theatre near Regent’s Park held its debut show. And now Nica Burns of Nimax Theatres has announced a new venture, @sohoplace, which she says is the first West End venue to open for 50 years. The playing area is a hoop-shaped enclosure with rising tiers of seats overlooking a deep oblong pit. Cage fighting and mud-wrestling could be staged here to great advantage. The poster for the debut show, MARVELLOUS, features the title in bright pastel letters with a yellow balloon, a pair of clown’s