Daily Express

Daily Express – London Theatre Reviews

London theatre reviews from UK newspaper the Daily Express.

A round-up of reviews from the Daily Express, covering London and West End theatre.

Caroline Jowett is Arts Editor of the Daily Express, and its theatre critics include Stefan Kyriazis and Neil Norman.


Blackout Songs at the Hampstead Theatre (2022)

"An intoxicating journey into addiction"

"Joe White's scorching new play deals with alcohol addiction"

"It is also incredibly funny, until it isn't. What seems giddy and superficial gradually sneaks under your skin leaving indelible scars; she has a callous fling with another man, he is given months to live.With nothing more than a few chairs to move around, Humphries and Austin deliver performances of amazing physical dexterity, psychological nakedness and intoxicating conviction."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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From Here To Eternity at the Charing Cross Theatre (2022)

"A damn fine bit of kit"

"Tim Rice and Stuart Brayson's musical received a lukewarm reception on its London premiere in 2013. This new production which debuted in the US in 2016 is lean, mean and stripped to kill."

"Brayson’s music keeps faith with the period - blues, jazz, torch ballads - and is well integrated into the martial milieu. The atmosphere simmers with barely suppressed violence and not-at-all suppressed sex."

"A well-drilled Brit cast under US director Brett Smock convinces as US soldiers who can sing and do push-ups at the same time. Eve Polycarpou is all cynical swagger as the local brothel madame Mrs Kipfer, Desmonda Cathabel’s fatalistic prostitute Lorene and Jonny Amies as smartmouthed Maggio add weight and texture to the ensemble."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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Mary at the Hampstead Theatre (2022)

★★

"A 'lack of drama' and a 'swamp of tedium'"

"Scottish playwright Rona Munro won several awards for her trilogy of historical dramas, The James Plays, in 2014. Her latest play returns to Scotland's history in a chamber piece about Mary, Queen of Scots. But I doubt it will win any awards."

"Director Roxana Silbert can do little with the play’s inherent lack of drama in spite of spirited performances by the cast, although there is a flurry of activity towards the end that briefly awakens the senses."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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Tammy Faye – A New Musical at the Almeida Theatre (2022)

★★★

"Rupert Goold’s production delivers on many fronts"

"Music by Elton John, lyrics by Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears and book by James Graham - with a pedigree like this, what could possibly go wrong?"

"The problem is Graham tries to stuff a pantechnicon-load of material into an overnight bag – the role of Christian media, financial chicanery, religious rivalry, sexual incontinence, political affiliations (such as Falwell’s endorsement of Ronald Reagan) as well as the Bakkers’ own disintegrating marriage. Inevitably, Tammy herself gets sidelined when she should – like Evita – take centre stage throughout."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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A Single Man at the Park Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"Simon Reade’s adaptation is more humane and less alienating"

"Christopher Isherwood's autobiographical novel about a gay Englishman in Los Angeles is set in 1962 and, in the course of 24 hours, follows George as he navigates a lonely existence following the death of his partner."

"Despite a stark grey set with white-clad characters and lightly abstract staging, Simon Reade’s stage adaptation appears more humane and less alienating than Tom Ford’s glamorous film with Colin Firth."

"Philip Wilson directs the versatile cast with admirable discretion, and Reade retains much of Isherwood’s poetic language – particularly in George’s reflections – that keeps the play hovering between life and death, darkness and light, joy and despair."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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My Neighbour Totoro at the Barbican Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"The East meets the West in a remarkable staging of a classic"

"East meets West in this inventive staging of Japan's most successful animated film from the legendary Studio Ghibli - the company behind fantasy classics such as Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away."

"The story is slender and the songs unremarkable, but that’s hardly the point. The benign environmentalism and puppet master Basil Twist’s creations (via The Jim Henson Company) are the reason to book your seats. Cynical adults may not be transported by its singular whimsy. Everyone else will be spirited away."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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Good at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2022)

★★★

"Not quite good enough to pierce the heart"

"David Tennant represents the 'good' in CP Taylor's remarkable 1981 play."

"... Cooke's attempt to universalise the argument somehow neutralises the shock value. Tennant's weedy, needy Halder is clearly weak from the outset and his eight-year slide from decency to involvement in Kristallnacht and Auschwitz offers few surprises."

"All three perform beautifully and there are a couple of visual surprises that deliver a substantial impact. The sound design, staging and economical casting all suggest that this is unfolding inside Halder's mind as he replays his descent from humanity to horror in some kind of afterlife."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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Blues For An Alabama Sky at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★

"Slightly rambling and played by a winning ensemble"

"Set in Harlem in 1930, Pearl Cleage's play is a sprightly if conventional tragicomedy about a fistful of friends in pursuit of their dreams."

"Predictable and slightly rambling, it is directed by Lynette Linton with nimble assurance and attractively played by a winning ensemble."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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John Gabriel Borkman at the Bridge Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"Ibsen’s bleakly comic drama has it all"

"A banker is imprisoned for embezzlement after gambling with his clients' money to finance a project of his own. On his release, he spends his remaining years blaming everyone but himself."

"Director Nicholas Hytner delivers Lucinda Coxon’s lean new version with aplomb. Higgins, Williams and Russell Beale are all superb and well supported by De Souza and Ony Uhiara as Erhart’s almost-too-outrageous love interest."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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The Crucible at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★

"Lyndsey Turner’s low-key approach lacks dramatic momentum"

"Arthur Miller's play about the witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692 has always been regarded as an allegory of Senator McCarthy's House Un-American Activity ‘trials' but the subject resonates beyond the 1950s."

"For all its clarity, director Lyndsey Turner’s low-key approach lacks dramatic momentum"

"Doherty is abrasively effective and Fisayo Akinade’s Reverend Hale has real dramatic traction; Tilly Tremayne and Karl Johnson bring experience to their roles while Eileen Walsh embodies both strength and vulnerability as Elizabeth Proctor."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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Who Killed My Father at the The Young Vic (2022)

★★★★

"Hans Kesting excels in one-man show"

"The title is not a question but a statement. Based on Edouard Louis' 2018 autobiographical novel, this one-man play, adapted and directed by Ivo van Hove, explores the author's attempt at reconciliation with his dying father in northern France."

"Exposing the damage inflicted on the physical body by cuts in the welfare system, Louis, van Hove and Kesting collaborate on a blazing, powerful and essential play that blasts most single-character shows into oblivion. I haven’t seen a performance like it in years."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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I, Joan at the Shakespeare's Globe (2022)

★★★

"Non-binary actor Isobel Thom makes theatre history"

"The Globe has made history by casting a trans actor in a lead role for the first time. In Charlie Josephine's new play, non-binary Isobel Thom plays the 16-year-old peasant girl who led the French army and gave a bloody nose to the English at the siege of Orléans in 1429."

"The first half is exuberantly theatrical and Thom is the firecracker at its centre."

"Alas, the second half descends into polemic in which Joan adopts a hectoring tone to address the audience, the theme of gender identity overwhelming a narrative that was shallow to start with."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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Ride - A New Musical at the Charing Cross Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"Get on your bike and go!"

"In 1894, Bostonian Annie Londonderry became the first woman to cycle around the world."

"Freya Catrin Smith and Jack Williams’ new musical not only chronicles her extraordinary achievement but also uncovers her deception. On a set depicting a Victorian library, it takes you by surprise at every turn."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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Into The Woods at the Theatre Royal Bath (2022)

★★★★

"A perfect 'combination of innocence and malevolence'"

"Following the jiggery-wokery that cancelled this production at The Old Vic, Bath's Theatre Royal has embraced Terry Gilliam's extravagant version of Stephen Sondheim's Grimm musical with alacrity."

"Jon Bausor’s sets and props deliver the kind of shock and awe one hopes for and rarely gets."

"Gilliam’s combination of innocence and malevolence is a perfect fit for Sondheim’s work, however, and his child’s eye vision is mischievously entertaining."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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All of Us at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★

"Immaculate comic timing' but lacks 'under the weight of its ambition"

"It wrongfoots us from the start. Cerebral palsy sufferer Jess (Francesca Martinez) takes a chair in a therapy session."

"The debut play from actress and stand-up comic Martinez continues in this vein as a variety of disabilities are addressed and then not so much undermined as carpet bombed with humour."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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South Pacific at the Sadler's Wells (2022)

★★★★★

"An inventive and exhilarating thing of wonder"

"CHICHESTER Theatre's production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's classic musical is a thing of wonder. In the space of a year, it has matured like fine wine and is now one of the most inventive and exhilarating musical productions in the UK."

"There are heaps of good musicals around as well as some great ones. Then there is South Pacific. If you see one musical this year, it has to be this."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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The Great British Bake Off Musical at the Everyman Theatre Cheltenham (2022)

★★★★

"A sweet treat"

"Great British Bake Off: The Musical is exactly what it says on the packet — a tried-and-tested recipe (would it be unkind to call it a formula?) with the theme music, the bunting-bedecked tent and the sweetie-coloured Kitchen Aids all in place. Fold in gooey songs and a gluey love story and you've got the icing on the cake."

"Rachel Kavanaugh's well-presented production slips down a treat, but what's missing is any depth of flavour, that dash of balsamic that makes a competent cook into a star baker."

"An audience of spellbound children appeared to recognise themselves."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe at the Gillian Lynne Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"All aboard for a bewitching return to Narnia"

"There is a distinct echo of Harry Potter at the start of this imaginative, occasionally spectacular adaptation of C. S. Lewis's classic when the four Pevensie children — Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy — evacuees from a blitzed World War II London, gather on a station platform. The fantastical world of Narnia clearly inspired J. K. Rowling."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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Chasing Hares at the Young Vic (2022)

★★★

"A family-inspired play with 'terrific performances'"

"Sonali Bhattacharyya's family-inspired play illuminates the terrible plight of factory workers in West Bengal and their subsequent move to the UK."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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Sister Act at the Eventim Apollo (2022)

★★★

"Beverley Knight is pure heaven with Jennifer Saunders in joyous musical"

"Beverley Knight, Jennifer Saunders and The Greatest Showman star Keala Setttle raise the roof in a joyously fun staging of the classic Whoopi Goldberg film."

"Lighting up the stage with star quality, Knight follows leading roles in The Bodguard and The Drifters Girl with another high-octane confirmation of her West End leading lady status. Not only is that voice goosebumpingly glorious, she has the impressive comedy chops to go toe to toe and wimple to wimple with Saunders."

Stefan Kyriazis, Daily Express
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101 Dalmatians at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre (2022)

★★★

"A long way from Disney's version"

"This musical version of Dodie Smith's book finds its paws in the appropriate setting of Regent's Park, where the story is set."

"Resplendent in a succession of outrageous wigs and costumes, Kate Fleetwood makes a good fist of Cruella and delivers her numbers with old-school panache, although Hodge’s frequently witty lyrics are ill-served by his banal tune-making."

'The occasional highlights in the second half aren’t enough to raise it above the level of a lesser-spotted musical."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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Jack Absolute Flies Again at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★★★

"Humorous with unerring accuracy"

"Aiming for a target whose coordinates lie somewhere between farce, panto and social satire, Richard Bean's latest comedy delivers his humorous payload with unerring accuracy."

"Director Emily Burns keeps the production airborne and knows when to decelerate Bean’s comic mayhem to allow breathing space."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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Peaky Blinders: The Rise reviews at the Camden Garrison (2022)

★★★★★

"'A truly unmissable experience... this is a blinder of a show'"

It's a heady and head-spinning experience to be so fully immersed in the world and characters of a show you have loved and watched for years on television. The beautifully recreated sets and costumes are as impressive as the performances and provide endless delights, big and small, at every turn.

Melanie Kaidan, Daily Express
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Britannicus at the Lyric Hammersmith (2022)

★★★★

"Fantastic backstabbing fun with a towering central performance"

"A fantastically entertaining modern dress look at the early days of Emperor Nero at the Lyric Hammersmith. The razor-sharp script is anchored by a sensational central performance from William Robinson as the mad, bad and definitely dangerous to know budding pyromaniac. Huge fun - do not miss."

Stefan Kyriazis, Daily Express
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My Fair Lady  (2022)

★★★

"London's first revival in 21 years is lavish and absolutely loverly"

"The smash Broadway revival brings Lerner and Loewe's classic musical back to the London stage for the first time in 21 years. With the West End groaning under endless brutally radical 'modern' productions, this is rather reassuringly old-fashioned. Playing at the Coliseum, it is, as Eliza would say, absolutely 'loverly.'"

"Catherine Zuber's costumes are undeniably classy and there was some applause for Eliza's final bejeweled Embassy Ball concoction. The Ascot races group scene was mutedly tasteful but you might yearn for the exquisite excess of Cecil Beaton's glorious creations from the film. There were some fabulously plumed hats but no real 'wow' moments.

Indeed, the whole production and pacing is a little too elegant, gliding elegantly along like a swan you might admire on a nearby river, but never really making a splash."

Stefan Kyriazis, Daily Express
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Oklahoma! at the Young Vic Theatre (2022)

★★★★★

"We’re only sayin’ You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma!"

"Trailing a Tony Award from Broadway, Daniel Fish's version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's western musical is stripped to thrill. White trestle tables are arranged in a horseshoe-like a wagon train circled against attack, while lethally decorative rifle racks loom overhead."

"Everyone involved including co-director Jordan Fein, choreographer John Heginbotham and musical arranger Daniel Kluger honour the original by emphasising the visceral conflicts behind the corn fed story and repositioning it as musical noir. It’s terrific."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre (2022)

★★★★★

"Sensational Mark Rylance creates true magic on stage – Do not miss"

" It's been 13 years since Mark Rylance debuted in Jez Butterworth's extraordinary theatrical tour de force and (was there any doubt?) he has created real magic once again. The 62-year-old star was dancing with exuberant joy, overwhelmed with emotion, at the curtain call on opening night - and the roaring audience felt exactly the same. This is what theatre is all about. Just over three hours fly by like a heady dream."

Stefan Kyriazis, Daily Express
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Prima Facie at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"Killing Eve's Jodie Comer makes an astonishing West End debut"

"After impressing on the big and small screen in the likes of Killing Eve, Jodie Comer has just established her self as a major new force in theatre with a staggering virtuoso display in this powerful and thought-provoking new play about sexual assault and the legal system from Australian playwright Suzie Miller."

Stefan Kyriazis, Daily Express
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Straight Line Crazy at the Bridge Theatre (2022)

★★★★

"A story about the man who created modern New York"

"Ralph Fiennes seems to alter his entire physique to play Robert Moses, the man who created modern New York. Swaggering around the stage like a grizzly bear in a suit, he embodies a man described as being 'on the side of the angels but uses the methods of the Devil'."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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Cock at the Ambassadors Theatre (2022)

★★

"Bridgerton's Jonathan Bailey and Taron Egerton star in limp sexual melodrama"

"Bridgerton hunk Jonathan Bailey and Taron Egerton bring their megawatt star power and talents to the London stage but can't breathe life into this melodrama about sexual identity."

"The humour and bitchy exchanges mostly fall flat, perhaps exacerbated by the oddly stilted mannerisms and delivery. Marianna Elliott's production insists on such bizarrely cartoony gestures and inflections that all three superb and wildly charismatic actors rarely feel real. Little natural rhythm to speech or emotion ever emerges."

Stefan Kyriazis, Daily Express
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Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre (2021)

★★★★

"Defying Gravity after TWELVE years, this show continues to soar"

"The enormous Apollo Victoria Theatre is still packing them in to see Wicked twelve long years after Idina Menzel flew in with the show direct from Broadway."

"I was lucky enough to see it then and I'm very happy to report it has lost none of its magic and the latest cast brings an enchanting freshness and smart edge to this classic twisted tale of good and wicked."

Stefan Kyriazis, Daily Express
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Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre (2021)

★★★★★

"Joyous show is practically perfect in every way"

"In a world forced to swallow a very bitter pill over the past 18 months, this Disney classic is just the spoonful of sensational sugar we all need right now."

"Zizi Strallen is absolutely spit-spot as the nanny who flies in to save the Banks children, and in the process rescues their parents, too. With a gleaming voice, ringing vowels and a firm but fair heart, you can't help wishing more men (and a few of the women) in power these days had been raised by her."

Stefan Kyriazis, Daily Express
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The Phantom of the Opera at the Her Majesty's Theatre (2021)

★★★★

"Let the spectacle astound you"

"Andrew Lloyd-Webber's classic musical is back in a sensationally polished production that rings out with the Music of the Night. That famous falling chandelier isn't the only thrill in a triumphantly staged theatrical tour-de-force."

"Much has been made of the casting of Lucy St Louis, the first black leading lady to play Christine in the West End. All I saw was a powerful actress who brings strength and shading to a tricky role that can easily become a fluttering victim, and a stirring soprano to the big money notes scattered lavishly throughout that sumptuous score. She's matched by the dashing and dynamic Rhys Whitfield as her earnest suitor Raoul, his voice soaring alongside hers."

Stefan Kyriazis, Daily Express
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The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre (2020)

★★★★★

"Sentimental without being slushy, The Snowman is one of the most enduring festive shows in town."

"Set in a fantasy suburban era it is almost operatic in its musical strategy, with Howard Blake's score travelling far beyond the usual musical perimeter of children-orientated shows."

Neil Norman (2012), Daily Express
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& Juliet at the Shaftesbury Theatre (2019)

★★★

"Ludicrously fun jukebox musical mashes up Britney, Pink and N'Sync"

"Max Martin musical mashes up his greatest pop hits with Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to delirious effect."

"Prepare to leave your grumbles, worries (and history books) at the door. This is a bonkers romp through the most famous love story of all time via some of the biggest pop songs of all time. It doesn't always make sense but it is a ridiculous amount of fun and performed with enormous charm by a talented young cast."

Stefan Kyriazis, Daily Express
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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium (2019)

"What a joyous treat this splendid new revival is."

"Somehow the show seems bigger, richer, deeper and even more ridiculous fun than ever."

"Director Laurence Connor has elevated the show with inventive staging, hilarity and unexpectedly heartfelt emotion."

"New tricks abound, especially in the use of Sheridan Smith as the Narrator. Already gloriously gurning for laffs, she breaks new ground by tackling three more roles – adding broad comedy accents and dodgy beards to play Joseph's father, the jailer and Potipha's randy wife. "Still me," she winks each time. Bless. And bliss."

"Her energy and exuberance throughout are infectious, merrily breaking the fourth wall to pull the audience right into the show."

"Elsewhere camels ride bicycles, Pharaoh's huge golden statues wield electric guitars and Joseph's brothers tap dance in sandals. The staging is simple but with so many smart touches and endless visual gags, it is as entertaining as the performances themselves."

Stefan Kyriazis, Daily Express
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Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre (2019)

★★★★★

"This show is a foot-stomping, heart-warming TRIUMPH"

"COME FROM AWAY is a musical based on the incredible true story of the tiny remote town that welcomed and looked after 7,000 passengers stranded after 9/11. It will make you laugh, cry and leave the theatre with a heart full of hope."

Stefan Kyriazis, Daily Express
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