Critics - Anya Ryan

Anya Ryan – London Theatre Critic

Selected reviews by Anya Ryan, freelance theatre critic for publications including the Guardian, the Independent and the Stage.

Anya Ryan is journalist, specialising in culture and lifestyle content for publications including The Guardian, The i, The Stage, the Independent, Metro and Stylist.

She has also worked at companies including the BBC and ITV.

More about Anya Ryan:

The Guardian Bio & Articles | The Stage Bio & Articles | The Independent Bio & Articles | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn


Sarah (2022)

★★★

"Pungent story of self-destruction"

"Jonathan Slinger is the antihero – and all the other characters – in an adaptation of Scott McClanahan’s novel, staged by Oliver Reese"

"... this is a modern all-American tragedy, spiralling in slow motion as a love story goes wrong."

"Companionless on stage, Jonathan Slinger transforms into Scott and all of the story’s supporting characters slickly."

"The dialogue sometimes lags. Scott’s efforts to get Sarah’s attention are progressively less surprising; there are poems, pretend suicide attempts, and camping out in a Walmart car park."

The Guardian
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Elephant (2022)

★★★★

"Magnetic monologue on mixed-race identity in Britain"

"In her melodic debut play, Anoushka Lucas asks difficult questions about her own existence, the origins of her beloved piano and the British class system"

"Anoushka Lucas’s debut play is, on paper, a monologue. But in this melodic study of mixed-raced identity within the British middle class, there are two stars; Lylah (played by Lucas) and her first love – her mahogany piano."

"Developed and directed by Jess Edwards, this is a fully loaded hour that still manages to remain subtle. Lucas jams at the keys of her piano as she coaxes out her internal conflicts and the hidden denials of white middle classes that they’d probably rather forget. Lucas is a writer and actor of rare magnetism – we should be waiting eagerly for what she says next."

The Guardian
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A Single Man (2022)

★★★

"Intriguing but somewhat distant stage version of Christopher Isherwood’s poignant novel"

"n Simon Reade’s adaptation, directed by Philip Wilson, George’s life is sepia in tone. Choked with grief, his experiences are dulled out to become colourless."

"Theo Fraser Steele channels the essence of Colin Firth’s take on George in Tom Ford’s 2010 film version and feels entirely natural for it. Always slightly withdrawn, there is careful hesitation in each of his exchanges. Yet, despite his natural urge to remain unsociable and alone with his ever-ticking thoughts, there is wry wit to his speech"

"... despite the compelling performances and the lasting tenderness of Isherwood’s narrative, Wilson’s production still feels distant"

TimeOut
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Good (2022)

★★★

"David Tennant is hypnotic in muddled Nazi drama"

"Dominic Cooke’s revival of CP Taylor’s 1982 play, about a liberal professor who is lured by Nazism, is a mixed bag"

"In the lead role, David Tennant is stonily cold and compassionless in his sink from goodness, but Dominic Cooke’s confused production needs more clarity for it to fly."

The Independent
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The P Word (2022)

★★★

"The actors shine"

"It’s complicated being Pakistani and gay – and Waleed Akhtar’s The P Word doesn’t flinch from it."

"Directed by Anthony Simpson-Pike, it’s a love story of heat and heart, but it takes some time to get there."

"Akhtar’s script is self-aware and sprinkled with humour"

The Stage
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I, Joan (2022)

★★★★

"Non-binary Joan of Arc proves a rousing protest piece"

"Isobel Thom gives a visceral, courageous performance as France’s patron saint, brought into the modern day by Charlie Josephine’s joyous production"

"It is a joyous few hours directed by Ilinca Radulian. On Naomi Kuyck-Cohen’s stretched-out wooden ramp set, actors slide and climb as if they were in a playground."

"With the risk of wind, rain and loudly passing aeroplanes at the Globe, I, Joan is performed with kinetic vigour. Ignore the Twitter storm – this politically charged sensation is a much-needed whirl."

The Guardian
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Millennials (2022)

★★★

"Easy to see why it's a TikTok sensation"

"It might not get to the core of the millennial experience, but Clay’s tunes still have real style."

"There is no weak link in this cast of six, who work as well as an ensemble as they do individually. But while this is a good first outing for this new musical, it could do with digging deeper than its prettily decorated interior."

The Stage
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Jitney (2022)

★★★★

"A captivating revival"

"Tinuke Craig’s exquisite revival peels back the walls of their crumbling workplace, allowing us to enter it as bystanders who have happened to stumble across their little world."

"Wondrous and captivating, Craig’s production gets this play’s soul."

TimeOut
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Grease (2022)

★★★

"Slick"

"Nikolai Foster’s .. has replaced all the twee of the fan favourite with something darker."

"All the joy of Summer Nights comes rushing back with the unmistakable first notes from the orchestra pit. The dance numbers, choreographed by Arlene Phillips, are as hip-thrusting and hand-jiving as ever. But the truly affecting moments come with Foster’s considered directorial choices. As Olivia Moore begins pondering her heartbreak in a flawless delivery of Hopelessly Devoted to You, she watches, sidelined, as Danny slow-dances with another girl. And in her spats with the acidic Rizzo – a wonderfully cruel Jocasta Almgill – Moore rises to become her equal. This Sandy can hold her own."

"Though the humour in this production – with the exception of the loveably loud Mary Moore as Jan – could be cranked up a notch or two, this is a good night out. And for many, the euphoria of young love will be enough to have them dancing along to the final megamix."

The Stage
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The 47th (2022)

★★★★

"Bertie Carvel’s hypnotic Trump is a whirlwind, career-defining performance"

"Mike Bartlett’s new play, set in 2024 with Donald Trump gearing up for a second shot at the presidency, is a riff on Shakespearean tragedy with a punchy contemporary angle"

"As soon as Bertie Carvel’s Donald Trump drives his golf buggy into eyesight, there’s a sense we’re watching something remarkable. Buried under orange-stained prosthetics, Carvel is unrecognisable. Hunched and puckered lipped, he is the full embodiment of the 45th president – with rigid hand gestures, a blond-dyed quiffed hairstyle and all. More than just an impersonation, though, this is a whirlwind, career-defining performance. “I know, I know, you hate me,” Trump clacks at us. We might – but not for one second can we look away."

The Independent
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Anyone Can Whistle (2022)

★★★

"A revival that celebrates diversity"

"Sondheim described his show as a “cartoon”, which seems a fitting description for Rankcom’s fantastically silly retelling. Sitting on either side of a pastel pink catwalk, we watch from two banks of seats as the “cookies” strut along in a perfectly pitched chorus. But, we are more than mere observers here – we’re part of Rankcom’s civilisation too. Audience members are selected randomly to read from pieces of paper. One joins a conga line in celebration, while another is used in place of a chair for the mayoress to perch on. Though a bit bumpy at times, this is a refreshing restaging."

The Stage
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The Ocean at the End of the Lane (2021)

★★★★★

"A thunderous, sometimes terrifying adaptation"

"Joel Horwood’s thunderous adaptation finds wonder even in the most unremarkable of moments."

"While the book excels at conveying the enchantment of the supernatural realm, Katy Rudd’s direction pushes it even further. Fly Davis’s set is a constantly moving, sparky phenomenon."

"Hauntingly memorable, this knockout production is theatre at its best."

The Independent
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