THEATRE REVIEW: Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, Duke of York’s Theatre

running until 2 September

After several years when it looked like this stage adaptation of Alan Warner’s novel The Sopranos might be stuck in development hell, writer Lee Hall and director Vicky Featherstone finally mounted the premiere of Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour in Edinburgh in 2015. Since then, it has toured Scotland and the north of England before Londoners hailed its arrival at the National Theatre last year – a run which won Best New Comedy at this year’s Olivier Awards. Now Our Ladies are making their West End debut as the show transfers to the Duke of York’s, injecting a fierce dose of teenage rebellion into the walls of this Victorian playhouse.

The cast of Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (c) Manuel Harlan

What’s thrilling about this show is that it allows these six young actresses to be very, very funny – in a way that isn’t offered all too often in the West End. Read More »

THEATRE REVIEW: The Last Five Years, St James Theatre

running until 3 December

Jason Robert Brown’s two-hander musical is known for its unique structural twist: it’s the story of a relationship seen from both the man and woman’s perspective, but each travels a different way through their timeline, only meeting briefly in the middle for one duet (‘The Next Ten Minutes’). As Jamie travels forwards, from the first dates to the end of their marriage, Cathy travels backwards – from last goodbye to first kiss.

Samantha Barks as Cathy. Photo: Scott Rylander
Samantha Barks as Cathy. Photo: Scott Rylander

Directed by Brown himself, the production brings together experienced (yet still only 26!) musical theatre star Samantha Barks, of I’d Do Anything and Les Misérables fame, and actor Jonathan Bailey, best known for his work in straight dramas at the National Theatre and on the small screen. Read More »

THEATRE REVIEW: People, Places and Things, Wyndham’s Theatre

running until 18 June

People, Places and Things is one of those shows that I missed on its original run, only to kick myself when the rave reviews started flooding in. So I headed to the West End to catch the acclaimed show’s by the National Theatre and Headlong just in time before it closes this week. And it was well worth it to see the mind-blowing performance of Olivier Award winner Denise Gough, who anchors this brave, bold and haunting – yet at times belly laugh-inducing – piece, which is well on its way to already being a contemporary classic.

People Places and Things - Wyndham's Theatre, Denise Gough
Denise Gough as Emma

Gough plays Emma (or Nina? Or Sarah?), a woman checking herself into rehab. Her life has spiralled downwards since the death of her brother two years ago. That’s a lie, her brother is fit and well. Oh obviously, she never had a brother. No, really, he’s dead and it’s tearing her apart.Read More »

THEATRE REVIEW: The Maids, Trafalgar Studios

running until 21 May

Jamie Lloyd continues his knack of drawing a young, buzzy crowd to Trafalgar Studios with his winning formula: shows that feel contemporary regardless of their heritage; bold, stylised design; and star-power casts who still have some hefty acting chops and refuse to be dumbed down.

The Maids - Trafalgar Studios
Uzo Aduba in The Maids

Jean Genet’s The Maids has now been given the Lloyd treatment, with a cast featuring three of TV’s rising and recent stars, each of whom gives their own impressive performance: Laura Carmichael (best known as Downton Abbey‘s unlucky-in-love Edith Crawley), Orange Is The New Black‘s Uzo Aduba and Zawe Ashton of Fresh Meat fame. Aduba and Ashton give excellent, intense portrayals of the two maids and sisters (and lovers?). When the show begins, Ashton’s character Claire is acting out the part of her mistress – an exaggerated, grotesque version with a blonde wig and make-up reminiscent of a drag queen. As she stomps around the stage, gesticulating wildly and pushing the ‘game’ further and further, our first impression of Ashton is electric. The scene makes for a bold start, and it begins to mark out the relationship between the two sisters, which staggers from deep love (that at times verges on something more than sisterly), hysteria and fury.Read More »

THEATRE REVIEW: The Father, Duke of York’s Theatre

played until 26 March

All of a sudden, Florian Zeller has become the man of the moment in London theatre. An acclaimed playwright in his homeland of France and across Europe, his works had never been performed in English until autumn 2014. A new translation of The Father by Christopher Hampton enjoyed a run at the Theatre Royal Bath, before playing at the Tricycle Theatre to great acclaim – a West End transfer followed quickly at the Wyndham’s Theatre, and finally at the Duke of York’s. With partner play The Mother also winning praise, and The Truth opening this month, Zeller is certainly making his name known.Read More »