Critics - Clive Davis

Clive Davis – The Times London Theatre Critic

Selected reviews by Clive Davis, chief theatre critic of The Times.

Clive was appointed chief theatre critic of The Times in 2020, taking over from Ann Treneman. He works alongside Dominic Maxwell, deputy theatre critic and theatre commissioning editor of The Times.

He has more than thirty years of journalism experience, having been a regular freelance writer for The Times, The Sunday Times, The Independent, Daily Express, New Statesman and Weekly Standard, covering music, radio, theatre and comedy. He started his career as a reporter and editor at West Indian World newspaper in Haringey, before joining the BBC as a news trainee.

Clive Davis is a media fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

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All of Us (2022)

★★

"A well-intentioned drama becomes a rant"

"Martinez’s anger is palpable throughout, but the piece is so stacked against the evil Conservative frauds and liars that you begin to feel you are being recruited for a demo along the South Bank. Equally unconvincing (and ethically dubious) is Jess’s romantic relationship with an alcoholic patient (Bryan Dick) who, we discover, is the ultimate victim of hard-faced, free-market ideology."

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Great British Bake Off - The Musical (2022)

★★★

"The Musical review — a sugar-and-spice recipe with no soggy bottoms"

"This celebration of a TV institution may be no classic, but in its cheerfully unassuming way Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary’s show serves up a hearty, sugar-and-spice recipe."

"The jaunty songs toss in plenty of in-jokes, and it helps that they’re delivered by a cast including such experienced hands as Rosemary Ashe, John Owen-Jones and Sondheim specialist Damian Humbley. The actors inject so much joie de vivre into Rachel Kavanaugh’s production that you’re ready to overlook its throwaway structure. The result is a more decorous, home counties version of a hen party night out."

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Identical (2022)

★★★

"Parent Trap musical has promise, but no spark"

"... all its charm, it still looks like a show in need of a rewrite or two."

"What’s the main problem? The songs by composer George Stiles and lyricist Anthony Drewe (writers of The Ugly Duckling musical, Honk!) are decent enough, even if they’re overshadowed by Robert Jones’s exceptionally stylish sets."

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The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe (2022)

★★★

"A fantastical, and functional, trip to Narnia"

"That awful moment when Aslan the lion is put to death is still chilling, yet some of the magic has seeped out of a production, originally devised by Sally Cookson, that started life at Leeds Playhouse five years ago"

"There doesn’t seem to be much of a tingle factor in Tom Paris’s set design. (His costumes, however, are eye-catching.) This vision of Narnia’s landscape lacks grandeur and mystery; even the frost seems less beguiling."

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Sister Act (2022)

★★★

"Beverley Knight doesn’t quite hit the heavenly heights"

"Knight works tremendously hard as the audience cheers her on, but her acting tends to hit the same note in every scene."

"Jennifer Saunders’s presence as the exasperated, heart-of-gold Mother Superior isn’t enough to fill the gap. ...there simply isn’t enough for her to do."

"Clive Rowe comes to the rescue as Eddie Souther.. Rowe is one of our most assured musical theatre performers"

"Knight’s voice soars again before the end of the evening. Her fan club won’t be complaining, but there’s not quite enough for everyone else."

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101 Dalmatians (2022)

★★★★

"Wild woofs of approval"

"Kate Fleetwood makes a full-throated villain, and in Timothy Sheader’s jaunty production the political subtext (there’s even a glimpse of a partying Boris Johnson) gives way to an old-fashioned romp. Composer-lyricist Douglas Hodge and book writer Johnny McKnight serve up a sugar-and-spice confection — based on a stage adaptation by Zinnie Harris — which ought to appeal to adults and children alike."

"Katrina Lindsay’s costumes add flair, while Colin Richmond’s set turns the giant letters spelling out the show’s title into a shabby-genteel domestic interior. Liam Steel’s choreography supplies lots of doggy energy too. Bow, wow."

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Jack Absolute Flies Again (2022)

★★★★

"The National has a comic hit on its hands"

"Kerry Howard is superb as her sharp-tongued maid, Lucy, who indulges in some cynical asides with the audience. (The fourth wall comes crashing down from the start.) Jordan Metcalfe is excellent as the sexually repressed Roy Faulkland."

"The two aerial combat interludes induce an abrupt change in emotional tone that could easily have stalled the play. Quentin and the rest of the first-rate cast keep it aloft. Tally ho."

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Much Ado About Nothing (2022)

★★★★

"Bruised lovers charm amid simmering Italian chic"

"In John Heffernan and Katherine Parkinson, we get a charming pair of slightly bruised lovers."

"Anna Fleischle’s handsome recreation of a Sicilian pleasure palace called The Hotel Messina, a grand terracotta and gold revolving edifice, complete with powder room and beach huts, comes close to upstaging everyone."

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Crazy For You (2022)

★★★★

"Be dazzled by this infectious Gershwin musical"

"With Susan Stroman, who created the original choreography, at the helm as director, this production confirms that Charlie Stemp’s Bobby Child belongs in the top rank. He was all charm in the amiable Mary Poppins, but here he rises to the challenge of a score that distils the spirit of vintage Broadway. In the opening scenes his goofiness reminds you of the comedian Lee Evans; by the end he is channelling the ghosts of the suavest leading men of yesteryear."

"Not surprisingly, it’s in the big set pieces where Stroman’s choreography shines brightest. Having seen the new Broadway production of The Music Man, another tale of an outsider mixing it with honest, plain folk, I’d say Chichester’s ensemble work is no less tight. Go along and be dazzled."

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Peaky Blinders: The Rise reviews (2022)

★★★

"Throw yourself into a turf war with Tommy Shelby"

"As far as period details go, it’s the effing sardine’s whiskers. True, the fake banknotes aren’t going to fool anyone, but everything else about the decor at this immersive version of the hit BBC series has an authentic 1920s air."

"What isn’t quite so thrilling is the storyline."

"It lacks all-important narrative drive."

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Anything Goes (2022)

★★★★★

"No question about it: this remains the best show in town."

"If there’s one production I’d prescribe to a person who is allergic to musicals, this would be it."

"Kerry Ellis is every bit as seductive as Reno Sweeney"

"Carly Mercedes Dyer still steals scenes as Moonface’s fast-talking moll, and Haydn Oakley twinkles as a toff addicted to the latest in American slang"

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Patriots (2022)

★★

"Tom Hollander does turn in a commanding performance"

"A play that is an unwieldy combination of docudrama and thriller with a sliver of Gogolesque comedy tossed in."

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The Tempest (2022)

★★★★

"A touch of opera gives Deborah Warner’s Shakespeare real magic"

"Nicholas Woodeson’s Prospero .. doesn’t hit a false note"

"In a flawless cast, Stephen Kennedy’s Trinculo and Gary Sefton’s Stephano supply the hearty comic interludes. All in all, it’s a pleasure to hear verse delivered with such clarity."

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The Seagull (2022)

★★

"Emilia Clarke can’t rescue this airless Chekhov"

"Emilia Clarke ...turns in a perfectly fine performance. Indira Varma is even more impressive"

"this oddly static production, much of it delivered sotto voce, is closer to a radio play or a rehearsal."

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Richard III reviews - RSC Stratford (2022)

★★★

"The RSC’s first disabled king breaks another barrier"

"There are some powerful supporting performances as well, especially from Minnie Gale as a wailing, grief-stricken Queen Margaret, who stalks the stage, silver hair streaming, like one of Macbeth’s witches."

"But does this Richard really seem the epitome of treacherous, conspiratorial evil? Not really, and that leaves a moral void at the centre of the play. "

"Here, at the very centre of power, he doesn’t cast a long enough shadow."

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Mad House (2022)

★★★

"Bill Pullman and David Harbour excel in a twisty family drama"

"The first hour or so delivers an absorbing blend of dark and light, anguish and humour. Sadly, that delicate balance goes awry later. It’s still a thought-provoking piece, but you’re left wondering what might have been."

"What’s striking, though, is how much dark laughter Rebeck and director Moritz von Stuelpnagel smuggle into this bleak scenario."

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That Is Not Who I Am (2022)

"A thriller that utterly fails to generate any tension"

"The blurb describes the piece as a “slippery thriller”, yet Kirkwood and the director Lucy Morrison utterly fail to generate any sort of tension."

"What’s frustrating is that there really is a play waiting to be written about surveillance capitalism. This isn’t it. Nor is there an interval, so the one hour and fifty minutes feels much longer. "

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The Southbury Child (2022)

★★★★

"Our thespian prayers answered"

"There are some plays that keep you talking well into the night. Stephen Beresford’s study of a wayward vicar at odds with his flock is one of them. "

"Admittedly, the writing is cluttered — so many themes jostle for attention that you occasionally get the impression you are watching a soap opera at warp speed — but it’s still a rare and heartfelt portrait of post-Christian Britain, anchored by a majestic performance by Alex Jennings."

"Hytner gets sterling performances out of the entire cast, and just when the storyline seems in danger of overheating, Beresford lobs in some astute comic notes."

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A Dolls House, Part 2 (2022)

★★★

"Sympathies shift in this dark thought experiment"

"Nora herself doesn’t emerge as an entirely likeable figure. Having built a new life for herself, she returns to the family hearth as a successful writer of books championing female independence. We admire her grit, but Noma Dumezweni — whose voice is a little lacking in light and shade — gives us a woman who is too pleased with herself. When she engages in a discussion with her old nanny, Anne Marie — who had been left with the task of raising Nora’s three young children — there is no mistaking the hint of condescension."

"It is one of the merits of the script that our sympathies shift back and forth in a series of conversations between Nora and those she left behind."

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Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) (2022)

★★★★

"Harry Hill’s manic humour demolishes the former PM"

"To call Harry Hill and Steve Brown’s portrait of the former prime minister a hatchet job would be an understatement. It’s a dodgy dossier of a show which depicts New Labour’s leader as the emptiest of empty suits."

"It is, however, very witty and tuneful too. Hill, who wrote the book, has never been to everyone’s taste — the little boy inside him is always desperate to make burping noises — but if you’re a fan of his brand of comedy you’ll warm to this venture."

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Britannicus (2022)

★★★

"Power politics in ancient Rome around the water cooler"

"This modern-dress interpretation — dominated by the majestic figure of Agrippina, searingly played by Sirine Saba — doesn’t find an answer to the perennial question of how to find a replacement for the stately music of French classical verse. Wertenbaker’s text is more jagged and demotic, making those long scenes of exposition much, much harder to absorb."

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The Unfriend (2022)

★★

"Creaky sitcom jokes make Steven Moffat’s play a trial"

"The Unfriend starts promisingly enough as a study in middle-class embarrassment."

"To be fair, most of the Chichester audience seemed more than willing to laugh at jokes that wouldn’t have made the cut in the cheesiest of Seventies sitcoms. Michael Simkins steals a scene or two as a relentlessly boring neighbour. Gatiss directs at a frenetic pace interspersed with overlong scene changes. There’s a scattering of decent jokes and double-takes; the audience decided they were worth a standing ovation. Utterly mystifying."

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The Glass Menagerie (2022)

★★★

"Hollywood star pulls off a touching turnaround"

"All praise to Adams .. for taking on a role that has tested many an actress."

"Since Williams steered clear of naturalistic stage directions, Herrin and Vicki Mortimer, the set designer, allow themselves free rein. Laura’s cherished collection of glass animals stands in a sleek case that looks as if it belongs in the foyer of a boutique hotel. Ash J Woodward’s video projections add punctuation: whenever Amanda’s absent husband is mentioned, his image floats into view. Paule Constable’s muted lighting is complemented by the washes of music created by Nick Powell. The details are stylishly assembled but they fail to carry the evening."

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Legally Blonde The Musical (2022)

★★★★

"Go with an open mind and you’ll be blown away"

"Moss has repackaged the show in a way that brings it bang up to date without sacrificing its joie de vivre."

"Laura Hopkins’s set isn’t easy on the eye. What I take to be an attempt to evoke a backdrop of straw-like tresses ends up looking like a beach hut after a night of hard partying by the Downing Street posse."

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Passion (2022)

★★★

"a Sondheim revival for completists only"

"There’s nothing wrong with Michael Strassen’s gossamer production: Ruthie Henshall does herself justice in an unsympathetic role and the scaled-down arrangements for just five musicians are a fine match for such an intimate venue."

"The problem lies with the work itself. "

"As a psychological study, it’s wildly implausible, while the music is Sondheim at his most arid. "

"A thoughtful, intelligent revival in short, but this remains an oddity that only Sondheim completists will want to argue over."

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Oklahoma! (2022)

★★★★

"Stirring singing in a reworked classic"

"In the final moments, Arthur Darvill’s Curly, decked out in a white suit and wielding a guitar, could be channelling the ghost of Hank Williams. The singing by the rest of the cast is never less than stirring. Marisha Wallace takes the honours as the gospel-tinged, sexually voracious Ado Annie."

"Some of the tweaks work better than others. The dream ballet, choreographed by John Heginbotham, becomes a clichéd modern dance feature for Marie-Astrid Mence, Hendrix-style guitar swamping the pedal steel. Elsewhere, the harsh, institutional lighting, only occasionally dimmed to shades of red, makes it hard to focus on the characters, especially with the audience sitting either side of the cast."

"James Davis, as the dim-witted Will, makes the most of his comic moments alongside Stavros Demetraki’s Persian pedlar, Ali Hakim. Liza Sadovy is memorably stern as Aunt Eller, and the earthy laughter of Rebekah Hinds’s sassy Gertie is still ringing in my ears."

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Old Friends (2022)

★★★★★

"A star-spangled, unforgettable tribute to Stephen Sondheim"

"Excuse me if I gush, but this was one of those nights where it was difficult to focus on highlights simply because there were so many. Cameron Mackintosh’s memorial concert for Stephen Sondheim, who died in November, began on a high note when the veteran Julia McKenzie, who did so much to champion the composer’s work on this side of the Pond, walked onto the stage to sing Side by Side by Side. Proof, if needed, that British artists don’t need to feel like intruders on this territory. They’ve made the music their own."

"Who else but Judi Dench could be entrusted with Send in the Clowns? If Dench’s delivery barely rose above a whisper, Haydn Gwynne powered through a version of The Ladies Who Lunch that was as potent and savage and tipsy as anything the late Elaine Stritch gave us. As ever, the elegant Janie Dee glowed in the dark, sizzling through the bossa nova parody The Boy from . . ."

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Macbeth (2022)

★★★★

"Daniel Craig swaps Bond for the Bard"

"The director Sam Gold gives us an irrepressibly imaginative modern-dress production that is constantly pushing the envelope, occasionally as if still testing out lines in a rehearsal. If the ensemble verse-speaking is relaxed and unbuttoned, Craig’s king is slightly stiff, a tad self-conscious in his speech and very English. He’s dressed casual-smart, at one point donning an expensive-looking collarless coat. His soliloquies are blunt expressions of manhood and ambition. This Macbeth impresses with sheer physical power rather than poetry."

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Funny Girl (2022)

★★

"it looks and sounds merely average"

"Watching Feldstein trying to get to grips with the larger-than-life personality of the vaudeville legend Fanny Brice is a distinctly uncomfortable experience. You badly want her to carry it off, and there’s certainly no doubting her enthusiasm, but with every passing moment the casting seems more and more mystifying."

"Michael Mayer’s underpowered production has the air of a low-budget touring venture, with a slimmed-down orchestral sound to match. David Zinn’s set design — dominated by a curved brick structure which could easily be mistaken for a giant medieval outhouse — is distinctly lacking in atmosphere, and apart from a breezy mass tap dance number in the second half, when Fanny is busy raising morale during the First World War, Ellenore Scott’s choreography proves anodyne."

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The Corn is Green (2022)

★★★★

"Escaping the valleys in a tale of its time that can still seduce"

"Nicola Walker impresses as Miss Moffat, a single-minded idealist who arrives in the village of Glansarno and promptly decides to start her own school. Could Walker endow her with a tad more Bloomsbury hauteur? Maybe. But the rapport she creates with her star pupil Morgan Evans (Iwan Davies) is touching, even if Williams could have given the diffident prodigy more depth. Rufus Wright’s squire gets plenty of laughs, as does Alice Orr-Ewing as the timid but snobbish teacher Miss Ronberry. Richard Lynch is the god-fearing John Goronwy Jones, a bearded grumbler who, physically anyway, bears more than a passing resemblance to Charles Pooter. At first, Cooke is content to use a bare stage, only gradually bringing in conventional trappings designed by Ultz."

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The Burnt City (2022)

★★

"The fall of Troy has never been so neon — or bewildering"

"In their new London home — factory buildings in the old Woolwich Arsenal — the directors Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle have created an experimental piece that represents the fall of Troy. That, at least, is what the publicity material says: the truth is that the narrative is so flimsy and opaque that you could just as easily convince yourself that you’ve wandered into an avant-garde version of Cabaret or a particularly louche version of Footballers’ Wives."

"After two hours, sensory deprivation began to set in, but I at least managed to find the bar where a rackety band was playing Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This). At the end of the third hour, back in the shadowy maze, I saw some of the actors gather for a brief dance to a techno beat. I’m sure their gyrations would have been endlessly fascinating if I had first taken some hallucinogenic drugs."

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Scandaltown (2022)

★★

"Anti-woke jokes fall flat in modern Restoration comedy"

"Panto season seems to have arrived earlier than usual. Mike Bartlett’s new play is billed as a modern take on Restoration comedy, but the writing is so slack it makes the average end-of-the-pier show look like a Tom Stoppard history of calculus."

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The 47th (2022)

★★★

"Echoes of Shakespeare as Trump makes comeback"

"It’s an entertaining but uneven pageant held together by a barnstorming performance by Bertie Carvel, who as well as sporting a gravity-defying Trumpian hairstyle has captured all his mannerisms and tics. As in real life, this anti-hero is too much of a comic figure to lift the play to the level of tragedy. It’s often closer to Spitting Image than The West Wing."

"Director Rupert Goold works hard to keep the piece aloft, but the second half starts to meander, even if the sight of The Donald in battle fatigues is worth a giggle. At the end the mood turns sinister as we realise Ivanka has her own ambitions. Bartlett has left room for a sequel but let’s hope, for America’s sake, he doesn’t need one."

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To Kill A Mockingbird (2022)

★★★★

"Rafe Spall is stunning in new take on classic"

"Hats off to Aaron Sorkin. While the official title may be Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, this captivating drama is very much Sorkin’s take on a story that has become embedded in the consciousness of generations of readers. "

"If Peck is stolidly heroic in the film, Spall gives us a more restless, folksier figure: think of a cross between a young James Stewart and the buttoned-up Kevin Costner in JFK. "

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Straight Line Crazy (2022)

★★★

"Uneven tale of all-powerful planner fails to reach heights"

"Much like Hare’s 1980s press satire, Pravda, Straight Line Crazy is an uneven, often didactic play that is held together by a compelling, larger-than-life central performance. Ralph Fiennes gives us an imperious empire-builder who created some beautiful edifices, but also believed that more expressways were the solution to just about every urban problem."

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The Human Voice (2022)

★★

"Modest monodrama is crying out for a splash of colour"

"Ruth Wilson is on stage for all of 70 minutes, chatting ever more frantically down a phone line. Fine actress though she is, she can’t salvage a piece that — written nearly a century ago — remains an exercise in stagecraft rather than a compelling dark night of the soul."

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Cock (2022)

★★

"Sexual identity study is about as plausible as Bridgerton"

"...the central conceit is about as plausible as the average episode of Bridgerton."

"Bartlett’s would-be risqué dialogue often sounds like a clumsy translation from a bad French comedy. In Marianne Elliott’s production, perched on Merle Hensel’s minimalist set, everything is overbright and overemphatic."

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Maria Friedman & Friends - Legacy (2022)

★★★★

"Musical theatre’s most insightful star pays homage to the greats"

"Now that Barbara Cook is no longer with us it’s hard to think of anyone — apart from, perhaps, the great Amanda McBroom — who brings as much intelligence and insight to musical theatre songs as Maria Friedman."

"What you also get in her shows is a daring, occasionally discombobulating sense of spontaneity."

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The Collaboration (2022)

★★★★

"Day-glo portrait of two pop art titans packs a real punch"

"If there are comic moments, the play — soon to become a film, with the same leads — delivers a bleak portrait of a world where the mighty dollar is all that matters. The fleeting reference to a painting about police brutality hints at parallels with Black Lives Matter. As McCarten reminds us, Basquiat wasn’t really from the streets: his background was thoroughly bourgeois. Warhol, nevertheless, prefers to drool over the young man’s “exotic” roots. Noble savage syndrome strikes again."

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Moulin Rouge! The Musical (2022)

★★★

"Crackerjack hits coated in several tons of rhinestones"

"As a spectacle, Moulin Rouge! has a lot going for it. Derek McLane’s design is the star of the show: the interior of the Piccadilly is draped in fifty shades of red, with a giant windmill and an equally imposing elephant standing guard on either side of the stage."

"Moulin Rouge! has sumptuous costumes by Catherine Zuber, sword-swallowing damsels and choreography by Sonya Tayeh that comes alive in the big ensemble number"

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Cabaret (2021)

★★★★

"Sinister Redmayne and sumptuous set are a seductive combination"

"Eddie Redmayne may be the star — and he’s mesmerisingly good too — but he really shares top billing with the venue itself. In Rebecca Frecknall’s revival of the classic Kander & Ebb musical, the Playhouse’s interior has been transformed into a sumptuous, in-the-round space with tables for those closest to the compact, bare stage."

"Jessie Buckley’s Sally Bowles is going to divide opinion. She’s true to John Kander’s description of the anti-heroine as “a fairly untalented middle-class girl”. (In Christopher Isherwood’s original story, we glimpse her murdering the song Exactly Like You in an arty bar called The Lady Windermere). Whereas Cumming’s foil, Jane Horrocks, gave Sally a grating, jolly hockey sticks speaking voice, Buckley — who makes her first appearance singing Don’t Tell Mama, looking like Shirley Temple in Doc Martens — is more of a troubled soul, splashing acid in all directions.

"Her singing really is unalluring, though. Maybe This Time falls flat, and the closing rendition of the title number overeggs the tortured expressionist mannerisms: Buckley’s feverish gestures reminded me of those 1920s photos of a manic Hitler practising gestures in front of a mirror."

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Best of Enemies (2021)

★★★★★

"James Graham’s captivating drama is raw and timely"

"Here come the gladiators. We’re used to seeing partisan talking heads tear lumps out of each other on television or Twitter, but James Graham’s captivating new play harks back to an era when the gloves first came off. Sad to say, I’m not sure Gore Vidal and William F Buckley Jr’s names mean much to British audiences under the age of, say, 50. Still, this Headlong co-commission has turned them into the central figures of a parable about how the media sold its soul in the pursuit of ratings."

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The Book of Dust (2021)

★★★

"Cosmic epichas strings attached"

"Neutrals will be scratching their heads over the plot twists but can at least enjoy Samuel Creasey’s exuberant, James Corden-ish performance as Malcolm, a cheeky pot boy in a Thames-side pub who has to display all the quick wits of a superhero to stay one step ahead of the forces of darkness."

"Be warned: this is not a show for young children. The dissolute Gerard Bonneville (stylishly played by Pip Carter) is unabashed about his desire to seduce young Alice. Pullman and Lavery bring us face to face with a banal kind of evil."

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Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) (2021)

★★★

"An irreverent but overlong look at Jane Austen"

"McArthur’s script, mixing bawdy anachronisms with a sprinkling of karaoke-ish pop songs, certainly has its charms, but it’s also excessively padded out."

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Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical (2021)

★★★

"A little off the beat"

"... the flaws in this celebration of Jamaica’s greatest musical export may not prove fatal. "

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Back to the Future (2021)

★★

"Classic stalls like an old DeLorean"

"In the end, though, it’s like sitting in a musty, 40-year-old DeLorean and discovering that the engine keeps stalling. I suspect that if you’re a hardcore fan who knows every line of the film script you’re going to buy a ticket anyway. Others should beware."

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Frozen The Musical (2021)

★★★★

"A visual feast to warm even the coldest of hearts"

"The first thing to say about Michael Grandage’s elegant production, in fact, is that it has a tad more emotional depth than the film, which was a bland, Barbie Doll-like confection with little of the verve of the Toy Story franchise. "

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Cinderella (2021)

★★★★

"Fairytale ending for show that must go on"

"With a book by Emerald Fennell, who won an Oscar for the screenplay of Promising Young Woman, this reboot of the story, starring Carrie Hope Fletcher, delivers a 21st-century take on romance. And it’s simply joyous."

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Jersey Boys (2021)

★★★

"the storyline wanders but Ben Joyce is a revelation as Frankie Valli"

"Better shows have come and gone. This one marches on. "

"the book writers, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, have clearly struck a nerve with an audience that likes a hint of The Sopranos mixed in with all those falsetto-driven Top 40 hits. The Four Seasons were too commercial to appeal to the rock and pop cognoscenti, but they rode out changes in fashion to build a following across the generations."

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Mary Poppins (2021)

★★★★

"It’s been a while, but this nanny goes down a storm"

"There are plenty of reasons to go for a family outing to see this version, directed by Sir Richard Eyre and first seen in the West End more than 15 years ago. Lord Fellowes of West Stafford, of Downton Abbey fame, supplies the book. Bob Crowley’s set designs have oodles of polish. Seeing the show again, it strikes me that Crowley’s backdrops are the star of the show, conjuring up a vision of Edwardian London that combines doll’s house-like domestic interiors with sweeping vistas of the city."

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Anything Goes (2021)

★★★★★

"Bubbly wit and stylish fun: it’s just the ticket"

"It’s the musical equivalent of sipping one glass of champagne after another. The songs and the dialogue are so stylish that, by the time the evening comes to an end, you simply want it to start all over again."

"Kathleen Marshall’s revival of Cole Porter’s vintage show comes at just the right time. A musical that delighted audiences during the Great Depression returns to cheer us up as we emerge from the rigours of lockdown."

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Les Miserables (2020)

★★★

"Overlong and clunky, but there was much to admire in the performances"

"The old revolving stage has been jettisoned. Instead, using images based on Victor Hugo’s paintings, the designer Matt Kinley has created a backdrop, augmented by Paule Constable’s artful beams of light, that proves even more atmospheric. As pure theatre, it is enchanting, like watching a Romantic panorama of grimy, pre-Haussmann Paris come to life."

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Cirque Du Soleil - Luzia (2020)

★★★

"Luzia is a typical example of the Canadian franchise that has assumed multiplex movie proportions"

"Production values remain grandiose, colourful and occasionally breathtaking, but there are soft-focus longueurs too.”

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& Juliet (2019)

★★

"Shakespeare on steroids is not for the sober"

"This musical inspired by Shakespeare’s tale of star-cross’d lovers is, you see, anything but subtle. It’s loud, irreverent and camp"

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DEAR EVAN HANSEN (2019)

★★★★

"Witty songs light up tale of teenage trauma"

"if the prospect of spending an evening contemplating the perils of peer pressure, family breakdown and rampant social media seems less than inviting, be reassured that Dear Evan Hansen is worth it."

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