The Phenomenon of Matthew Bourne, Choreographer

Matthew Bourne is definitely a phenomenon. He and his company New Adventures have achieved a huge popularity among ballet and dance audiences. Take the Alhambra Bradford, a venue regularly used by touring groups. For most of their performances it has,…

The Actors Touring Company Production of Winter Solstice

Roland Schimmelpfenning’s play Winter Solstice, in the Actors Touring Company production seen at Scarborough, is an outstanding new play. Let me start with the content. A bickering couple, he a sociologist, she a filmmaker, are visited by her mother and…

The Kneehigh production of The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk

Theatre at its creative best is a marvellous thing. Emma Rice’s production of Daniel Jamieson’s The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk now on a Kneehigh tour is just that. The biodrama of Marc Chagall and his wife Bella is by itself…

Franz Wittenbrink’s Secretaries in Cottbus

Franz Wittenbrink’s Sekretärinnen (Secretaries) has had an enormous success in German-speaking theatres since it was first performed in 1995. Best described as a musical revue, it contains no spoken text but a series of songs about women, their desires and…

Tribes by Nina Raine at the Dublin Theatre Festival

Nina Raine’s play Tribes is superb. Centring on the problems of relationships within a family, particularly between a profoundly deaf individual, his siblings and his parents, it is, on one level, a piece about the nature and problems of communication….

Joyce’s Ulysses at the Dublin Theatre Festival

I have always been sceptical of adaptations of novels for the stage and, in my experience, the greater the novel the less likely its success in this format. Having said that, one of the most impressive of my early theatre…

Eugene O’Neill’s Desire under the Elms at the Sheffield Crucible

Eugene O’Neill’s Desire under the Elms is a towering, craggy masterpiece of 20th century theatre.  The play draws on themes from Greek drama, power (patriarchal and sexual), retribution and dynastic ties, but nevertheless remains quintessentially American.  This is because the…

The Father by Florian Zeller at Oldham’s Coliseum

You have come to see a play which follows the progress of a dementia sufferer as his condition deteriorates. It is likely to be a moving, poignant experience, particularly if you know, or have known, someone with this condition and…

The Pulverised by Alexandra Badea at York’s Theatre Royal

The presentation of continental European drama on the British stage has become too rare for comfort in recent times, so the appearance at York’s Theatre Royal of The Pulverised by the Romanian-French writer Alexandra Badea is to be warmly welcomed….

The Goat by Edward Albee at London’s Haymarket Theatre

If you have had the experience of being irritated in a theatre when members of the audience laugh inappropriately at serious aspects of a drama – I have had it many times – then I recommend that you go to…

Aeschylus at Manchester’s Royal Exchange

I have always had a penchant for ritualistic theatre and there is no better medium for experiencing it than Greek drama. The Suppliant Women by Aeschylus, presented by the Actors Touring Company at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, provides an excellent…

Death of a Salesman at Harrogate

At a time when we are trying to make sense of what is going on the other side of the Atlantic, what better than to experience Arthur Miller’s tragedy about the American Dream, Death of a Salesman? Particularly when the…

Harold Pinter and No Man’s Land

Why do theatre-goers flock to see plays by Harold Pinter? The question is prompted by a visit this week to Sheffield’s Lyceum for No Man’s Land. It was a sell-out and I was lucky to get a seat in the…

Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me by Frank McGuinness

Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, the play by Frank McGuinness on three hostages in Lebanon, is powerful and poignant. It also has an impressive structure, raising and lowering tension, mingling despair with hope, fantasy with grim reality, religiosity with agnosticism,…

The Plight of Regional Theatre

Regional theatre is having a tough time coping with the effects of cuts in public subsidy and this has led to a paucity of serious drama. Let me give the example of Yorkshire and its principal playhouses – I ignore…

Blackbird by David Harrower at the East Riding Theatre

David Harrower’s play Blackbird  won the Laurence Olivier award for the best new play of 2005. I could make a cheap pun on the appropriateness of the playwright’s name because the two-hander piece about sexual abuse is powerful and at…

The Ballets of Hans Van Manen

I am not often moved to write about dance, but the recent programme given by the Dutch National Ballet was so extraordinarily satisfying that my feelings about it have to be communicated. It has to be said at once that…

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams at the West Yorkshire Playhouse

Prior to the current production at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the only previous time I had seen Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie was in 1966, when I was twenty-one. Notwithstanding an outstanding cast which included Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies, Ian McShane…

A Theatre Festival in Newfoundland

Theatre is a wonderful thing. During a three-week holiday in Canada you are in Newfoundland at a remote outport (local term for an isolated coastal settlement where people grow up with strong cultural traditions), and you come across there a…

Arthur Miller’s Playing for Time in Sheffield

Of all subjects to write a play about, life in Auschwitz must be the most difficult. Arthur Miller’s Playing for Time, originally written for television in 1980, has been bravely revived at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre. Sian Phillips as Fania Fenelon,…