What's been on...
Spinning into Butter by Rebecca Gilman (Royal
Court) Big, bold play about racism on an American college campus,
which debates the timely issues of middle-class guilt and political correctness
with immense integrity, if not exactly passion.
A Wedding Story by Bryony Lavery (Soho)
Witty, sharp and very funny comedy about love and duty, which shows the
devastating effects of Altzheimer's disease as well as the healing power
of love. Songs, jokes and Casablanca too.
Far Away by Caryl Churchill (Albery) Wonderfully
written vision of a future in which genocide and civil war spill over
into the animal kingdom: a well-deserved transfer for Stephen
Daldry's sterling production.
Feelgood by Alistair Beaton (Hampstead) Hot satire on New Labour
features spin-doctors, speech writers and dodgy journalists in a mind-boggling
plot about secret GM crop trials and mutant beer. Great cast.
Mouth to Mouth by Kevin Elyot (Royal Court) Sex, lies and eye patches
in a bittersweet play that mixes a comedy of modern manners with an emotionally
fraught tale of passionate desire. Dark, desperate and devastating.
The Bogus Woman by Kay Adshead (Bush)
Powerful one-woman show which tells the story of an asylum seeker, and
her disgusting treatment by the British authorities. A desperately moving
account of injustice.
Port Authority by Conor McPherson (New Ambassadors)
Men behaving sadly. Three interlocking monologues reveal the emotional
truths of the lives of Kevin, Dermot and Joe - who discover that real
love has passed them by.
Art and Guff by Catherine Tregenna (Soho) Subtle, sad play about
two gullible Welsh lads seeking their fortune in London. The comedy turns
into bleak tragedy as neither can cope with the truth about themselves
or each other.
Flamingos by Jonathan Hall (Bush) Likeable tale of a group of ordinary
kinda gays in a Blackpool guesthouse, as each finds out that there's more
to sex than just sex.
Crazy Gary's Mobile Disco by Gary Owen (Lyric,
Hammersmith) Set in smalltown Wales, this series of three monologues
is an exhilarating and excruciating look at the ups and downs of three
young men, high on testosterone, low on common sense.
Out in the Open by Jonathan Harvey (Hampstead)
Tony's a gay man whose partner has recently died, so his mates are shocked
when he brings a young man home for the night. A punchy comedy from the
author of Beautiful Thing - like Alan Ayckbourn on poppers.
The Kings of the Kilburn High Road by Jimmy Murphy (Tricycle) A
group of friends come from Ireland to seek their fortunes in London in
the mid-1970s. They're still here, and only one of them has made it. A
sharp look at migration, masculinity and middle-aged
Blasted by Sarah Kane (Royal Court) Sarah
Kane's legendary debut, which first startled audiences in 1995.
Now revived on the Royal Court's main stage,
it has lost none of its power to disturb and to make you think. Beg, borrow
or mug for a ticket.
The Coming World by Christopher Shinn (Soho)
Take two twins, Ed and Ty, and add Ed's ex girlfriend Dora. Mix in a dodgy
drug deal with some petty crims and see what happens. A brilliantly written
study of the gap between what is said and what is meant.
Presence by David Harrower (Royal Court)
Slight but intriguing 80-minute piece about a Liverpudlian rock 'n' roll
band playing the clubs of Hamburg in 1960. Any resemblance to an early
episode in the history of The Beatles is clearly intentional.
Among Unbroken Hearts by Henry Adam (Bush) Two junkies return to
their hometown in the far north of Scotland in Henry Adam's subtle, quiet
but emotionally powerful account of childhood's loss and personal responsibility.
Rum and Vodka/The Good Thief by Conor McPherson
(Soho) Excellent revival of a pair of riveting stories from the Master
of the Monologue: one shows a young man on a bender and the other a thug
who bites off more than he can chew. Are they about masculinity
in crisis? You can bet your life they are.
Kiss Me Like You Mean It by Chris Chibnall (Soho) Warmhearted story
about two couples, one young, one old, which shows how love can tear you
apart. Funny, clever and just a teeny-weeny bit sentimental.
Herons by Simon Stephens (Royal Court)
Ferocious play about a young teenager, Billy, whose father informed on
some local thugs and is now threatened by their relatives. A fine mix
of terror, lyricism and emotional truth. Storming.
The Shape of Things by Neil LaBute (Almeida) A highschool artist
runs rings around a shy student in LaBute's savage satire on sex, lies
and authenticity. Patrick Marber meets Tracy Emin
under the sign of the Smashing Pumpkins. Wow.
Blackbird by Adam Rapp (Bush) Two New York junkies try and express
their love for each other, but find that time is running out. A beautifully
written and heartfelt account of dependency and isolation. Ace.
Blue/Orange by Joe Penhall (Duchess) Award-winning
three-hander about a black 'borderline' mental patient and the two white
doctors who use him to fight out their rivalries. Subtle, moving and acute
portrait of schizophrenia and a nuanced criticism of our inability to
Howard Katz by Patrick Marber (National)
Howard is a successful agent, who loses his job, his wife and his parents
in Marber's fastmoving and epic vision of one man's descent into catastrophic
loss. Great rants and very engaging. Very Mamet.
Clubland by Roy Williams (Royal Court)
Young black men out clubbing - they're on the pull, but why are they only
picking up white girls? A sharply written, streetsmart account of sexual
politics seen through the prism of racial tension. Superb.
School Play by Suzy Almond (Soho) Emotionally truthful account
of a music teacher's attempt to inspire an aggressive 15-year-old teenager,
who is more interested in bikes than Beethoven. Great writing; moving
The One by David Hale (Finborough) Hard-hitting play about the emotional
and sexual confusions of Ian, whose search for 'the one' involves him
in some psychological tangles. Imperfect, but good news for the London
New Play fest.
The Shagaround by Maggie Nevill (Soho) A New Year's Eve rampage as
five women lock a faithless boyfriend - the 'shagaround' of the title
- in the loo, and then put the cliches of girl power to the test. Funny,
if a bit deja vu.
Humble Boy by Charlotte Jones (National)
To bee or not to bee (sorry), that is one of the questions in this fascinating
and moving account of a suicidal astrophysicist and his relationship with
his mother after his bee-keeping father dies.
Office by Shan Khan (Soho) Funky and streetsmart tale of two drug
dealers and a couple of slappers, with hints of bigger isssues about masculinity,
loyalty and rip-offs. Fast-moving, dirty and in-yer-face.
Mother Clap's Molly House by Mark Ravenhill (National)
Rollocking comedy, with in-yer-face songs, which celebrates the hidden
history of the 18th-century molly houses (gay clubs) and criticises identity
politics. Poor first half, stomping second act.
Holyland by Daragh Carville (Lyric, Hammersmith) A panoramic view
of the Holyland area of Belfast on New Year's Eve. Youthful hopes and
fears rub up against the bigger themes of identity and belonging. Good
Sliding with Suzanne by Judy Upton (Royal Court)
Suzanne - a 35-year-old foster mother on the skids - heads back to her
Brighton home, hotly pursued by her foster son, Luka. Rasping dialogue,
churning emotions, smelly socks and a crushed hedgehog. Fiercesome.
See How Beautiful I Am by Paul Minx (Bush) It's 1960s revival time.
A wry and wisecracking 70-minute one-woman show tells the story of Jacqueline
Susann, author of the trash classic Valley of the Dolls. Great
Tender by Abi Morgan (Hampstead) In a
city of alienated souls, seven characters search for love and affection.
Freewheeling account of trust, need and betrayal which balances cerebral
interest with emotional truth.
Redundant by Leo Butler (Royal Court) A
passionate state-of-the-nation critique of poverty and illusion, with
Britain's underclass not so much redundant as surplus DNA. Scorching drama
that is raw, raucous and disturbing, with a final stage picture of almost
As the Beast Sleeps by Gary Mitchell (Tricycle)
Excoriating drama about loyalist hardmen in the wake of the Northern Ireland
peace process, written with Mitchell's characteristic mix of sexual politics
and community conflict. Glorious music, raw emotions.
The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler (Arts) A funny and gobsmacking
account of 'down there', which both celebrates the power of feminine sexuality
and reveals some of women's deepest fears. Witty, memorable and occasionally
Nightingale and Chase by Zinnie Harris (Royal
Court) Two interlocking monologues about a middle-aged bloke and his
young wife, who has just been released from prison for thieving. Precisely
written, emotionally unsettling but grim, grim, grim.
Gagarin Way by Gregory Burke (National)
A workplace kidnap goes badly wrong in this tense and mindblowingly well-written
political comedy. Existentialism, futility and gruesomeness - really great.
Behsharam (Shameless) by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti
(Soho) Asian family drama about two sisters and their conflicts -
a mix of comedy and tragedy, with a strong emotional centre which is sometimes
obscured by indifferent writing.
The Danny Crowe Show by David Farr (Bush)
Ferociously funny satire on our obsession with celebrity and media manipulation,
with a cracking cast and an echoing room full of one-liners. Satisfyingly
savage and emotionally bleak.
Brixton Stories by Biyi Bandele (Tricycle) Set in sarf London (where
else?), a freewheeeling account of the elusive nature of hope and the
surreal logic of dreams in this warmhearted story of a man and his daughter.
Midden by Morna Regan (Hampstead) The family as refuse heap - a
finely written all-female play which looks at mothers and daughters in
an emotionally true way, without giving any easy answers.
Tiny Dynamite by Abi Morgan (BAC) Dazzling,
evocative and moving love story of two men and a woman performed with
immense conviction by Frantic Assembly - a perfect
meeting between new writing and physical theatre.
Boy Gets Girl by Rebecca Gilman (Royal Court)
Compelling issue play about a stalker and his journalist victim that explores
the devastation that sexual harassment can cause. A seemless production
of a clear and insightful play.
Fucking Games by Grae Cleugh (Royal Court) Is monogamy only for
'breeders'? Fur flies and emotions are scorched as four gay men grapple
with ideas about fidelity, love and trust in this hilarious and disturbing
Sakina's Restaurant by Aasif Mandvi (Bush) An endearing if banal
one-man show which explores the themes of identity and homesickness by
looking at Azgi's journey from Indian to Manhattan where he works as a
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