Critics - Sarah Hemming

Sarah Hemming – London Theatre Critic

Selected reviews by Sarah Hemming, theatre critic for the Financial Times.

Previous roles include theatre editor of The Independent for five years, and was founding joint-editor of The List magazine in Scotland.

Sarah has also written about theatre for most of the UK’s national broadsheet newspapers and wrote the official National Theatre Guide. She has also appeared on BBC Radio 4, and presents platform talks and discussions with artists, including the National Theatre’s Platforms series.

Sarah teaches drama criticism at the British American Drama Academy.

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The Unfriend at the Criterion Theatre (2023)

★★★
"Social awkwardness is a staple of British comedy and there is much about The Unfriend that is very amusing, although…
The Financial Times
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Alex Edelman: Just for Us at the Menier Chocolate Factory (2023)

★★★★
"... as a Jewish New York comedian, he once spent an evening at a meeting of white supremacists. The specifics…
The Financial Times
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George Takei's Allegiance at the Charing Cross Theatre (2023)

★★★
"A gripping musical about Japanese internment — review" "It is a joy to see the Star Trek icon George Takei…
The Financial Times
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A Streetcar Named Desire at the Almeida Theatre (2023)

★★★★
"Paul Mescal is brilliantly brutal in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Almeida Theatre" "Led by three outstanding performances —…
The Financial Times
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Watch on the Rhine at the Donmar Warehouse (2023)

★★★★
"This 1941 drama might feel creakily of its period in places, but the frustration that drives it comes spilling off…
The Financial Times
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As You Like It at the @sohoplace (2022)

★★★★
"Wintry enchantment with besotted lovers" "... a gorgeous staging of As You Like It at the Soho Place theatre" "Josie…
The Financial Times
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Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre (2022)

★★★
"It is, unsurprisingly, the songs that drive the story, many of which are gorgeous." "This is not a version that…
The Financial Times
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Mother Goose at the Duke of York's Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"Irresistible" "Harvey’s script is wreathed with the obligatory double-entendres and political jokes" "At the centre of it all is the…
The Financial Times
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Mandela at the The Young Vic (2022)

★★★
"Mandela at the Young Vic has exhilarating choreography but insufficient depth" "... it’s a musical with huge political import and…
The Financial Times
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Disney's Newsies at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre (2022)

★★★
"Paperboy walkout makes for a striking musical in Newsies " "... its depiction of what is essentially an exploitative gig…
The Financial Times
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Hex at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★
"Complicated and macabre fairytale ‘Hex’ at the Olivier" "Fairy tales are often macabre, testing out our deepest fears, and this…
The Financial Times
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Orlando at the Garrick Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"Emma Corrin is luminous in gender-switching fantasy Orlando" "Bartlett’s affectionate, witty stage adaptation of Woolf’s groundbreaking 1928 novel is in…
The Financial Times
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Othello at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"A searing staging of ‘Othello’ at the Lyttelton" "Giles Terera’s Othello is the only black actor in a white cast,…
The Financial Times
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Best of Enemies at the Noel Coward Theatre (2022)

★★★★★
"Five stars for Best of Enemies, a scintillating, perfectly-timed play" "James Graham’s show is a hit" "James Graham’s brilliant play…
The Financial Times
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Henry V at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (2022)

★★★★
"More national soul-searching is on the agenda for Holly Race Roughan’s intense, stripped-down version of Henry V. Productions of Shakespeare’s…
The Financial Times
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The Sex Party at the Menier Chocolate Factory (2022)

★★
"‘The Sex Party’ disappoints" "A sex party, it turns out, is just like any other party in that no matter…
The Financial Times
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Blackout Songs at the Hampstead Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"Witty and toxic show at Hampstead Theatre" "... this drama about addiction is witty, warm and unpredictable, combining classic romcom…
The Financial Times
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Elephant at the Bush Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"This clever, subtle piece draws on Lucas’s own experience as a young female musician of mixed heritage: endlessly told to…
The Financial Times
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Tammy Faye – A New Musical at the Almeida Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"Elton John’s delirious glitz-bomb of a musical" "With book by James Graham and lyrics from Jake Shears, the show about…
The Financial Times
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A Single Man at the Park Theatre (2022)

★★★
"Reade’s adaptation, directed by Philip Wilson, skilfully catches the strange dislocation of grief" "Fraser Steele’s excellent, angular, awkward performance precisely…
The Financial Times
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@sohoplace at the @sohoplace (2022)

"Risk pays off as new West End theatre opens" "[Marvellous] is a perfect fit for @sohoplace’s softly lit auditorium, an…
The Financial Times
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Marvellous at the @sohoplace (2022)

★★★★
"Risk pays off as new West End theatre opens" "To name a play Marvellous might seem like a risk. To…
The Financial Times
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My Neighbour Totoro at the Barbican Theatre (2022)

★★★★★
"Magical staging of a much-loved film at the Barbican" "The stage responds with its number-one asset: the audience’s imagination. The…
The Financial Times
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Good at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2022)

★★★★★
"David Tennant grips in 1930s-set ethical drama Good" "'We probably are good,' says David Tennant’s Halder, meditatively, towards the end…
The Financial Times
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The Doctor at the Duke of York's Theatre (2022)

★★★★★
"Easy answers come under scrutiny again in Robert Icke’s The Doctor. The pandemic delayed its transfer to the West End…
The Financial Times
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The Band's Visit at the Donmar Warehouse (2022)

★★★
"“Welcome to nowhere,” sing the locals, as they warn their unexpected visitors that this is a place where nothing happens.…
The Financial Times
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The Boy with Two Hearts at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★
"Amit Sharma’s production has a fable-like quality, with the cast of five narrating the tale and acting out all the…
The Financial Times
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Blues For An Alabama Sky at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"A wonderful, bittersweet staging at the National Theatre" "The skill of Cleage’s writing and of Linton’s warm, beautifully paced production…
The Financial Times
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Iphigenia in Splott at the Lyric Hammersmith (2022)

★★★★
"This revival arrives amid a political storm about possible cuts in public spending by Liz Truss’s government. That the play…
The Financial Times
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John Gabriel Borkman at the Bridge Theatre (2022)

★★★
"This is kind of distilled Ibsen: a combination of bitter black humour, detailed psychological acuity and wild symbolism. Rather than…
The Financial Times
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The Crucible at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"A curtain of rain teems down around three sides of the stage, creating a shimmering blue veil between the residents…
The Financial Times
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Eureka Day at the The Old Vic (2022)

★★★
"Culture wars go ballistic in Eureka Day at the Old Vic" "With Eureka Day, Spector is wading into the hornets’…
The Financial Times
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Handbagged at the Kiln Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"Comedy about the Queen and Thatcher has new layer of poignancy" "Some plays have topicality thrust upon them." "... while…
The Financial Times
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The Snail House at the Hampstead Theatre (2022)

★★
"Richard Eyre’s debut falls flat" "As a bruising summary of the many problems besetting current Britain and of polarised public…
The Financial Times
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The Clinic at the Almeida Theatre (2022)

★★★
"Racism tears apart a family in ‘The Clinic’" "You’re expecting a drama about racial inequalities in healthcare — and we…
The Financial Times
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Antigone at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre (2022)

★★★
" Love fights the law" "The script bristles with topical references and running through it is a plea for nuance…
The Financial Times
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Silence at the Donmar Warehouse (2022)

★★★
"A powerful play about partition" "As testimony, it is a moving and immensely powerful piece of theatre. As drama, however,…
The Financial Times
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Who Killed My Father at the The Young Vic (2022)

★★★★
"Grief and poverty furiously warp a father-son relationship" "... it’s a one-man show. But in Hans Kesting’s superb performance, there…
The Financial Times
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I, Joan at the Shakespeare's Globe (2022)

★★★
"This is clearly not the definitive Joan — it is a Joan: a dramatic character, a version, an exploration. It’s…
The Financial Times
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The Narcissist at the Chichester Festival Theatre (2022)

★★★
"It’s that splintered and toxic public arena that Shinn seeks to portray, and this gripping, if fitful, play is at…
The Financial Times
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All of Us at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★
"All of Us is a state-of-the-nation play: a frank, often funny, often shocking drama about what it is to be…
The Financial Times
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The Tempest at the Shakespeare's Glob (2022)

★★★
"The Tempest at the Globe is gaudy, playful and smart" "This is a vibrant production and the ensemble achieve great…
The Financial Times
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Chasing Hares at the Young Vic (2022)

★★★
"Sonali Bhattacharyya’s new play asks searching questions about the gig economy, workers’ rights and the effectiveness of theatre in addressing…
The Financial Times
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Sister Act at the Eventim Apollo (2022)

★★★
"At the helm now is Beverley Knight as Deloris and what a fabulous job she does, blasting the heavens with…
The Financial Times
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101 Dalmatians at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre (2022)

★★★
"It doesn’t match up to some of this venue’s outstanding musical revivals, but this big-hearted family show is as benign…
The Financial Times
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Much Ado About Nothing at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"A bittersweet summer cocktail with some peachy parts and laugh-out-loud slapstick scenes." "Godwin’s production is sweet, sparky, sexy, sombre and,…
The Financial Times
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Crazy For You at the Chichester Festival Theatre (2022)

★★★★★
"Deliriously daft musical is revived in Chichester" "This deliriously daft George and Ira Gershwin musical is just the latest gem…
The Financial Times
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Patriots at the Almeida Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"Putin and Berezovsky play chilling power games in Patriots at the Almeida Theatre" "Tom Hollander and Will Keen excel in…
The Financial Times
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Richard III reviews - RSC Stratford at the Stratford Upon Avon (2022)

★★★★
"The RSC’s Richard III is a powerful portrait of savagery" "The production features a magnetic central performance from Arthur Hughes."
The Financial Times
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Jitney at the Old Vic Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"Theatre review — a superbly acted revival of August Wilson’s Jitney at the Old Vic"
The Financial Times
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Tony! [The Tony Blair Rock Opera] at the Park Theatre (2022)

★★★
"Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) — a premier painted in broad strokes" "his lively show at the Park Theatre,…
The Financial Times
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The Glass Menagerie at the Duke of York's Theatre (2022)

★★★
"Amy Adams stars in a sensitive staging of The Glass Menagerie" "This is a staging that eschews melodrama — but…
The Financial Times
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The House of Shades at the Almeida Theatre (2022)

★★★
"Anne-Marie Duff is magnificent" "Steel’s play pulses with care and fury for the people left behind by global economic shifts…
The Financial Times
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Oklahoma! at the Young Vic Theatre (2022)

★★★★★
"Oklahoma! is stunningly reimagined at the Young Vic — plus more London theatre reviews" "Ending with a rousing, determined delivery…
The Financial Times
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Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre (2022)

★★★★★
"Mark Rylance’s Rooster makes a stunning return in Jerusalem" "Jez Butterworth’s drama is exhilarating, dazzling and darker than ever in…
The Financial Times
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Prima Facie at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"Jodie Comer is a tour de force in Prima Facie at the Harold Pinter Theatre"
The Financial Times
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Punchdrunk: The Burnt City at the One Cartridge Place (2022)

★★★★
"Punchdrunk’s The Burnt City is a stunning immersion in the fall of Troy" "... at the core is a moving…
The Financial Times
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Scandaltown at the Lyric Hammersmith (2022)

★★★
"Restoration comedy romps into the 21st century in Scandaltown" "Leading the fray is Stirling, who is a joy as Lady…
The Financial Times
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The 47th at the The Old Vic (2022)

★★★★
"Bertie Carvel is a jaw-droppingly good Donald Trump in The 47th at the Old Vic" "Mike Bartlett’s bold new drama…
The Financial Times
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To Kill A Mockingbird at the Gielgud Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"To Kill a Mockingbird — stirring drama celebrates and scrutinises Harper Lee’s novel" "It’s in his exchanges with Calpurnia that…
The Financial Times
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The Human Voice at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2022)

★★★
"Ruth Wilson shines in a beautiful, flawed revival of The Human Voice" "You start to long for a script that…
The Financial Times
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Moulin Rouge! The Musical at the Piccadilly Theatre (2022)

★★★
"Moulin Rouge! — jukebox musical is thin on plot but rich in spectacle" "Peppered with good performances (Pennycooke’s Toulouse-Lautrec particularly…
The Financial Times
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Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club (Playhouse Theatre) (2021)

★★★★★
"Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley thrill and chill in sensational Cabaret" "Finally, the party gives way to the Party and…
The Financial Times
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Best of Enemies at the The Young Vic (2021)

★★★★★
"Best of Enemies — James Graham’s gripping culture-war drama" "It dramatises the 1968 televised debates between William F Buckley Jr…
The Financial Times
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The Ocean at the End of the Lane at the Duke of York's Theatre (2021)

★★★★
"The Ocean at the End of the Lane — love, loss and monsters at the Duke of York’s" "The stage…
The Financial Times
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Frozen The Musical at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane (2021)

★★★★
"Frozen stage musical combines icy spectacle with human warmth" "Drawbacks aside, this is a joyously delivered story of the transformative…
The Financial Times
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Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne Theatre (2021)

★★★★
"Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella is a gorgeous glitterball of a show" "The songs are memorable and writer Emerald Fennell brings…
The Financial Times
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Anything Goes at the Barbican Theatre (2021)

★★★★★
"Anything Goes offers the delirious delight of a musical in full sail" "Kathleen Marshall’s production of Cole Porter’s effervescent 1934…
The Financial Times
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Vassa at the Almeida Theatre (2019)

★★
"It somehow falls flat" "Everyone is so grotesque and larger-than-life right from the beginning that it grows wearisome." "There are…
The Financial Times
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A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg at the Trafalgar Theatre (2019)

"Startling in its frankness" "A Day in the Death of Joe Egg...is still, in Simon Evans’ revival, startling in its…
The Financial Times
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Solaris at the Lyric Hammersmith (2019)

★★★★
"David Greig’s fascinating, funny and moving stage version of Stanislaw Lem’s 1961 sci-fi novel" “Starts slowly, gathers in intensity as…
The Financial Times
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Fiddler On The Roof at the Meniere Chocolate Factory (2018)

★★★★
"Trevor Nunn’s production bursts from the stage — but there’s a chill wind blowing, too" ‘Yes, there is whimsy here…
The Financial Times
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