✮✮✮✮ 1/2 Ibsen's The Wild Duck in a version by Simon Stone & Chris Ryan Barbican Theatre | London directed by Simon Stone At the heart of Ibsen’s Wild Duck is the killer concept of the ‘life-lie’ – the big fib that we all rely on, consciously or not, in order to get by. It’s cognitive dissonance at its most benevolent. The question is what happens when a well-meaning Samaritan comes along to kick the psychological crutches away. It’s testament to both the self-sufficiency and
✮✮✮✮ Joe Penhall's Blue/Orange Ensemble Theatre | Sydney directed by Anna Crawford Health services are a crucial part of all civilisations, where access to medical professionals is a basic human right, regardless of class and creed. The subject of mental health is a growing area of concern in the West, with awareness and understanding of relevant issues fast improving through our communities. Joe Penhall’s script centres around Christopher, a mental health patient with the UK
✮✮✮ b.21 Balanchine | Hans van Manen | Martin Schläpfer Deutsche Oper am Rhein | Düsseldorf Dutch ballet legend Hans van Manen's long and fertile career – during which he's created more than 120 ballets, and held resident choreographer roles at Nederlands Dans Theater and Dutch National Ballet – has rendered him a staple to the European dance scene. Among his many fans is Martin Schläpfer, artistic director of Düsseldorf's Ballett am Rhein, who has long made it a priority to
✮✮✮✮✮ Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon Harold Pinter Theatre | London book Joe Penhall directed by Edward Hall Even if musicals aren’t your cup of tea (and there are plenty of us out there), you should book seats for Sunny Afternoon while you still can: word is quickly spreading that this West End transfer of the Hampstead Theatre’s wonderful Kinks musical is the hottest ticket in town. People are already travelling from far and wide to see it, including the people next to me who’
✮✮✮ Sue Smith's Kryptonite Sydney Theatre Company | Sydney directed by Geordie Brookman Through an international love story, Sue Smith’s Kryptonite examines the relationship between the personal realm and our wider circumstances. When Lian first met Dylan at an Australian University in pre-Tiananmen 1989, she was a new immigrant from China and Dylan had looked every bit the quintessential middle class Australian preoccupied with surfing and student protests. Over the years, L
✮ 1/2 Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya St.James Theatre | London directed by Russell Bolam It’s a bafflement. Not the updating of a hundred-year-old play to the contemporary scene, nor its production in the irregular swank of the St. James Theatre. No, the befuddling thing is the pair of Crocs onstage. It’s hard enough to fathom the Chekhovian superfluous man at the best of times – add the mystery of why he would choose to wear no-one’s favourite amphibious footwear and things get
✮✮ 1/2 Sophocles' Electra in a version by Frank McGuinness The Old Vic | London directed by Ian Rickson It’s the old luvvie’s refrain: treat new plays like classics and classics like new plays. In Electra’s case Sophocles may well have found himself sitting down to some hair-tearing sessions with his dramaturg. Classic it may be, but there are a fair few sticky moments of plotting. It’s difficult to relish a speech gushing over a chariot race’s horses, or to invest in the new
✮✮✮✮ Theresa Rebeck's Seminar Hampstead Theatre | London directed by Terry Johnson Shortly before last week's announcement of 2014's Nobel literature prize winner, Swedish Academy member Horace Engdahl lamented to journalists how the "professionalisation" of creative writing is wrecking Western literature.
Fierce debate raged as a result, unsurprisingly, especially in Europe and America where taught writing courses are such a huge industry these days.
This brouhaha couldn
✮✮✮ 1/2 Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie Belvoir St Theatre | Sydney directed by Eamon Flack Tennessee Williams refers to The Glass Menagerie as a memory play. The work is semi-autobiographical, inspired by events, people and recollections from his own life. The making of art often involves the search for an understanding of the artists’ self and their immediate environment, through the expression of subjects that are familiar and intimate. Williams’ story examines the
✮✮✮✮ Enda Walsh's Ballyturk National Theatre | London directed by Enda Walsh Ballyturk is an Irish town of Father Ted surrealness, so insular that simply wearing a yellow jumper marks a man out as irrecovably other – “it’s not normal in any sense.” In Enda Walsh’s similarly abnormal but utterly fascinating new play, the town’s stories are an outlet for two young men trapped in a room that’s treacherous with hidden cubby holes – a hamster cage for two hyperactive humans. In st