Archive for the ‘ Reviews for The Independent ’ Category

Great Expectations, Bristol Old Vic

5 stars

In Neil Bartlett’s staging of Great Expectations at Bristol Old Vic, you hear the story more than watch it. The chains of the convict, the hammering of the blacksmith, the unhinged humming of Miss Havisham are as much a part of the characters as the costume, expression and lines…

Read the rest of my five-star review of this production in The Independent here

The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Bristol Old Vic: review

4 stars

Think you know Aesop’s fables? Think again. Sally Cookson’s production of the famous tales presents a happy-camper tortoise opposite a onesie-sporting hare, a grumpy teenage boy who cries wolf and a rock ‘n’ roll crooner as the sun.

Bristol Old Vic’s outdoor summer show is a consummate piece of storytelling theatre which brings Aesop’s ancient fables – as told through the pen of Michael Morpurgo – to vivid life.

Read the rest of my review of this production in The Independent here

Relative Values, Theatre Royal, Bath: review

3 stars

‘Try to look as if nothing has happened, and when you analyse it, nothing much has.’ Those words spoken by Patricia Hodge’s character in Trevor Nunn’s production of Noël Coward’s Relative Values are factually accurate. After the manner of comedy, we end more or less where we began, the transitory chaos dispersed and order restored. But when ‘nothing’ is as much fun as this, who could object?…

Read the rest of my review of this production in The Independent here

Two Gentlemen of Verona, Tobacco Factory Theatre: review

4 stars

What if there were no magic potion in A Midsummer Night’s Dream? What if your best friend fell for your girl and no enchanted flower could lift the spell? That is the premise of Shakespeare’s rarely performed comedy Two Gentlemen of Verona. And this is the play that director Andrew Hilton and Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory have chosen to stage in rep with their recent Richard III…

Read the rest of my review of this production in The Independent here

Peter Pan, Bristol Old Vic: review

4 stars

‘I rather expected she’d be prettier’ says Wendy of Tinker Bell and I imagine much of the audience thought the same. In Sally Cookson’s production of JM Barrie’s Peter Pan, Tinkerbell is not exactly the daintiest of fairies. In fact, she’s a man.

Cookson, whose last adventure at Bristol Old Vic was to Treasure Island, has created a Peter Pan with grit. Neverland is an industrial building site, Captain Hook wears a kilt and Peter carries a knife…

Read the rest of my review of this production on The Independent’s website here

The Double, Ustinov Studio, Bath

4 stars

How would you react if someone stole your life? That’s the question posed in Laurence Boswell’s new adaptation of Dostoevsky’s 1846 novella The Double.

Mr Goliadkin is an everyman, working in an everyman government office with everyman ambitions. But one day another Mr Goliadkin turns up. He looks exactly the same as the first character but is bolder, sharper and more ruthless. It’s not long before the first Mr Goliadkin has been usurped from his position as a clerk, banished from society because of scandalous rumours and replaced in the affections of the woman he loves. But the brilliance of Dostoevsky’s story – a brilliance that shines through in Boswell’s adaptation – is that the audience is never sure how much of the story is in the protagonist’s mind…

Read the rest of my review ‘The Double’ on The Independent’s website here

King Lear, Tobacco Factory Theatre, Bristol: review

4 stars

An old man sits on the ground, his feet clapped in stocks. But he doesn’t much want rescuing – in fact, he could do with the sit down.

Welcome to the bleak, comic world of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Andrew Hilton’s new production at Bristol’s Tobacco Factory takes a while to warm up, but once in its stride, this is a Lear that appals, shocks and saddens – just as it should…

Read the rest of my review of this production on The Independent’s website here

The French Detective and the Blue Dog, The Egg, Bath: review

3 stars

In a small town “somewhere between Brussels and Bruges” a trapeze artist disguised as a laundry worker has been murdered. So opens Hattie Naylor’s new musical, The French Detective and the Blue Dog, at Theatre Royal Bath’s children’s theatre, the egg. But this is a production that could have done with a bit longer in the incubator…

Read the rest of my review of ‘The French Detective and the Blue Dog’ on The Independent’s website here

Iphigenia, Ustinov Studio, Bath: review

3 stars

The story of Iphigenia is one of slaughtered innocence and unbearable cruelty. Too unbearable, in fact, for the Greek dramatist Euripides, who decided to change it. According to legend, Iphigenia is sacrificed to the gods by her father, Agamemnon, before he leads the Greek forces into battle at Troy. In Euripides’s version, she is saved by the goddess Diana as the sacrificial knife is about to fall…

Read the rest of my review of ‘Iphigenia’ on The Independent’s website here

Coasting, Bristol Old Vic Studio: review

3 stars

Fruit machines in the amusement arcade flare and bleep, waves crash over the shingle and a dead body lies on the beach. This is the twilight world of Natalie McGrath’s Coasting, the first full-length play to come out of Bristol Old Vic’s new-work programme, Ferment.

Pearl and Ocean live on the edge of respectable society: they flirt with criminality, they loiter under the pier at night and hide from Falcon, the chief of police. But then they spot the body on the beach and Ocean gets involved with a gangster. In the hands of director Emily Watson-Howes, it has moments of real power. But those moments are scattered through an evening that feels self-consciously showy and ultimately frustrates…

Read my full review of ‘Coasting’ on The Independent’s website here