Critics - Susannah Clapp

Susannah Clapp – The Observer | London Theatre Critic

Selected reviews by Susannah Clapp, theatre critic for the Observer.

Susannah Clapp is the theatre critic for the Guardian’s Sunday publication the Observer.

She is also the author of With Chatwin and A Card from Angela Carter, and a regular broadcaster. Susannah was one of the founders of the London Review of Books.

More about Susannah Clapp:

The Guardian & Observer Bio & Articles | Twitter | MuckRack | Instagram


Long Day’s Journey Into Night at the Wyndham's Theatre (2024)

★★★
"Brian Cox and, especially, Patricia Clarkson shine as dysfunctional parents in Eugene O’Neill’s autobiographical play" "Jeremy Herrin’s production is careful,…
The Observer
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Nye at the National Theatre (2024)

★★
"Norris’s production is infected with a dreadful larkiness" "Nye is a fevered dream. The form is fractured, giddy: Vicki Mortimer’s…
The Observer
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Standing at the Sky's Edge at the Gillian Lynne Theatre & National Theatre (2024)

★★★★
"Richard Hawley’s paean to Sheffield finds a home from home" (National Theatre) "... the lives of these imagined residents –…
The Observer
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Nachtland at the The Young Vic (2024)

★★★
"a Hitler painting causes a family rift in Patrick Marber’s latest production" "Anna Fleischle’s design ingeniously suggests the lumber of…
The Observer
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Shifters at the Bush Theatre (2024)

★★★★
"Benedict Lombe’s new play about two almost-lovers is alive and unpredictable" "If I were running London theatre, I would put…
The Observer
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An Enemy of the People at the Duke of York's Theatre (2024)

★★★★
"Matt Smith heads a rousing adaptation of Ibsen for a bruised world" "A terrific Matt Smith stars in a dynamic…
The Observer
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The Hills of California at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2024)

★★★★
"Dreams of fame trap and inspire in Jez Butterworth’s female-centred, Blackpool-set new play" "Butterworth is ingenious about the way fantasy…
The Observer
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Till the Stars Come Down at the National Theatre (2024)

★★★★
"Beth Steel’s battling Notts wedding guests are a treat" "Beth Steel’s new play Till the Stars Come Down – zingingly…
The Observer
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Othello at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (2024)

★★★
"Ola Ince’s Met police Othello makes horrible sense" "In Black-lives-don’t-matter London, Othello is a top cop in the Met. Amelia…
The Observer
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Plaza Suite at the Savoy Theatre (2024)

"Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker send ticket prices soaring in a creaking Neil Simon revival" "Though rapturously applauded as…
The Observer
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The Enfield Haunting at the Ambassadors Theatre (2024)

"Catherine Tate and David Threlfall are stranded in a scarily dull ghost story" "The trigger warnings at The Enfield Haunting…
The Observer
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Exhibitionists at the King's Head Theatre (2024)

★★
"The new King’s Head kicks off with a cheery, sub-Coward gay romcom" "Exhibitionists, the first production in the new home,…
The Observer
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The Motive and the Cue at the National Theatre & Noel Coward Theatre (2023)

★★★
"Sam Mendes reignites Gielgud and Burton’s Broadway Hamlet" (National Theatre) "Charged up, but without actually propelling the action: too many…
The Observer
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Stranger Things: The First Shadow at the Phoenix Theatre (2023)

★★★★
"Stranger Things takes theatrical spectacle to the next dimension" "The feast of Stranger Things: The First Shadow makes most technologically…
The Observer
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Ulster American at the Riverside Studios (2023)

★★★
"Woody Harrelson and co fire off David Ireland’s machine-gun provocations" "Jeremy Herrin’s rapid, bright production has all-round strong performances from…
The Observer
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Cold War at the Almeida Theatre (2023)

★★★★
"Elvis Costello soundtracks a postwar Polish love story" "Rupert Goold’s Almeida has seriousness and swagger. You smell those qualities even…
The Observer
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The Homecoming at the The Young Vic (2023)

★★
"Stealth and a powerful sense of undercurrent are the play’s motors. They do not power Matthew Dunster’s production. Although jazz…
The Observer
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Pacific Overtures at the Menier Chocolate Factory (2023)

★★★
"Stephen Sondheim’s rarely revived Pacific Overtures, first seen on Broadway in 1976, is an intriguing thing: irradiated by the brilliance…
The Observer
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Macbeth The Show at the The Depot, Liverpool (2023)

★★★★
"Ralph Fiennes and Indira Varma are magnetic murderers in Simon Godwin’s bleakly immersive warehouse production" "This is not site-specific in…
The Observer
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The House of Bernarda Alba at the National Theatre (2023)

★★★
"Harriet Walter commands the stage in Rebecca Frecknall’s stylish, if underheated Lorca" "Everything is intelligent, but the purpose is too…
The Observer
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King Lear at the Wyndham's Theatre (2023)

"Kenneth Branagh savours Lear’s words rather too much" "Howl. Kenneth Branagh’s rapid, over-elocuted King Lear has a shaggy vigour but…
The Observer
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Clyde's at the Donmar Warehouse (2023)

★★★★
"Lynn Nottage wires us into American life with her all-consuming truck-stop cafe drama" "Few playwrights can shake the stage like…
The Observer
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Lyonesse at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2023)

★★
"... her new play skitters all over the place, stunning accomplished actors. A satirical scene leaves astute Doon Mackichan looking…
The Observer
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The Score at the Theatre Royal Bath (2023)

★★★
"Brian Cox makes a formidable JS Bach" "Brian Cox, the production’s big draw, exercises an immediate pull as the composer,…
The Observer
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Dear England at the Prince Edward Theatre (2023)

★★★★
"Joseph Fiennes scores as Gareth Southgate in a rousing football drama" (National Theatre London) "... Dear England is by James…
The Observer
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Hamnet at the Garrick Theatre (2023)

★★★
"Shakespeare’s wife moves centre stage in Lolita Chakrabarti’s pivotal adaptation of Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet" (Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon) "Not since Matilda…
The Observer
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Portia Coughlan at the Almeida Theatre (2023)

★★★
"Marina Carr’s intense Irish play finds its ideal director" "Make a list of the main elements in Portia Coughlan and…
The Observer
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Sunset Boulevard at the Savoy Theatre (2023)

★★★
"Nicole Scherzinger hammers home the drama as Norma Desmond" "The director Jamie Lloyd seizes the story of Norma Desmond, the…
The Observer
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Noises Off at the Phoenix Theatre (2023)

★★★★
"Michael Frayn’s clever farce also proves timeless" (Theatre Royal Haymarket) "Lindsay Posner’s anniversary production, first seen in Bath last year,…
The Observer
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Boys From The Blackstuff at the Royal Court Liverpool (2023)

★★★★
"Alan Bleasdale’s 80s TV classic about jobless workers hits home in James Graham’s adaptation" "The story is both specific and…
The Observer
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Stephen Sondheim's Old Friends at the Gielgud Theatre (2023)

★★★★
"An all-star tribute to the acid genius of the late composer offers a terrific medley of hits" "It is hard…
The Observer
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Untitled F*ck M*ss S**gon Play at the Young Vic theatre (2023)

★★★
(Royal Exchange Manchester) "Kimber Lee’s untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play, ripping into the portrayal of Asian characters, is an overdue…
The Observer
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God of Carnage at the Lyric Hammersmith (2023)

★★★
"The set is the star in a heavy-handed revival of Yasmina Reza’s tale of parents at loggerheads" "Carnage is more…
The Observer
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Rock Follies at the Minerva Theatre Chichester  (2023)

★★★
"The wit and sharpness of the 70s TV series about a pioneering all-female band is partially captured in a spirited…
The Observer
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The Crown Jewels at the Garrick Theatre (2023)

"The more off-script the better" "... Sean Foley’s lamentable, regally inspired production of The Crown Jewels" "It manages to be…
The Observer
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Word-Play at the Royal Court Theatre (2023)

★★★
"A dinner party turns nasty at the Royal Court" "There are sharp descriptions of the way words from a mother…
The Observer
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Ride - A New Musical at the Southwark Playhouse Elephant / Charing Cross Theatre (2023)

★★
"Around the world in bloomers" "At the fine new gleaming Southwark Playhouse Elephant, the transfer of Sarah Meadows’s award-winning production…
The Observer
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The Pillowman at the Duke of York's Theatre (2023)

★★★
"Lily Allen glimmers in a low-voltage Martin McDonagh revival" "The Pillowman needs to move like the unconscious: with speed and…
The Observer
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The Third Man - A Musical Thriller at the Menier Chocolate Factory (2023)

★★
"A musical Third Man hits a bum note" "It is a truly dangerous liaison. Theatre and movies, that is. Its…
The Observer
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Romeo and Juliet at the Almeida Theatre (2023)

★★★★
"Danger stalks the radiant lovers in Rebecca Frecknall’s tumultuous, twilit Romeo and Juliet" "Rebecca Frecknall has again gone to the…
The Observer
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When Winston Went To War With The Wireless at the Donmar Warehouse (2023)

★★★
"A 1920s battle for the soul of BBC radio couldn’t be more timely" "The craggy and godly Reith is shown,…
The Observer
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Patriots at the Noel Coward Theatre (2023)

★★★★
"Peter Morgan’s oligarch drama transfers to the West End with added historical weight" "Rupert Goold’s vivid production of Patriots has…
The Observer
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Brokeback Mountain at the Soho Place Theatre (2023)

★★★
"Tender moments illuminate a faithful yet distanced adaptation of Annie Proulx’s cowboy love story" "Jonathan Butterell’s production is faithful in…
The Observer
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Once On This Island at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre (2023)

★★
"Voodoo comes to Regent’s Park" "The plot, told as a fairytale to a child, features a barter with the gods…
The Observer
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4000 Miles at the Chichester Festival Theatre (2023)

★★★
"Eileen Atkins at her most subtle" "Everyone should see Atkins. She makes acting look like being, not performing." "It is…
The Observer
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The Vortex at the Chichester Festival Theatre (2023)

★★★
"Lia Williams and son ignite Noël Coward at his darkest" "Now Daniel Raggett directs Coward’s most startling play. Though awkward…
The Observer
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August in England at the Bush Theatre (2023)

★★★★
"In his powerful debut play, Lenny Henry draws his audience deep into the life – and its shattering – of…
The Observer
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Retrograde at the Kiln Theatre (2023)

★★★★
"In his quickfire new McCarthy-era play, For Black Boys… creator Ryan Calais Cameron speaks his mind" "His new play is…
The Observer
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The Secret Life of Bees at the Almeida Theatre (2023)

★★★
"A civil rights musical buzzes with potential" "As a playwright, Nottage has provided some of the outstanding dramas of the…
The Observer
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Dancing at Lughnasa at the National Theatre (2023)

★★★★
"Brian Friel’s thoughtful 1930s drama remains absorbing" "Josie Rourke’s sumptuous and thoughtful staging of Dancing at Lughnasa shows why this…
The Observer
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Private Lives at the Donmar Warehouse (2023)

★★★
"Noel Coward’s classic has fine cigarette work but fails to ignite" "... though Michael Longhurst’s production has sparks and intelligence,…
The Observer
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A Little Life at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2023)

★★★★
"James Norton elevates Ivo van Hove’s knotty adaptation of Hanya Yanagihara’s bestseller" "At its best it is transfixing. At its…
The Observer
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Marjorie Prime at the Menier Chocolate Factory (2023)

★★★
"Nancy Carroll and Anne Reid surf memory and identity" "Something happens in Nancy Carroll’s face that I have not seen…
The Observer
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Guys & Dolls at the Bridge Theatre (2023)

★★★★★
"The audience is swept along with the action in Nicholas Hytner’s thrillingly immersive new Guys and Dolls" "Not merely rocking…
The Observer
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Shirley Valentine at the Duke of York's Theatre (2023)

★★★★
"Sheridan Smith makes Willy Russell’s midlife monologue her own" "It is nimble, generous and truly feminist in showing that the…
The Observer
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Grenfell: System Failure at the The Playground Theatre (2023)

★★★★
"Richard Norton-Taylor and Nicolas Kent’s second Grenfell drama is a shocking dissection of negligence" "Staging actual trials and tribunals, using…
The Observer
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Women, Beware The Devil at the Almeida Theatre (2023)

★★★
"Director Rupert Goold and co have a field day with Lulu Raczka’s elusive new Jacobean folk horror" "The trouble is…
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Romeo and Julie at the National Theatre (2023)

★★★★
"Star-crossed Cardiff teenagers snare hearts and minds" "It is unusual to sit in the stalls hanging on a plot twist.…
The Observer
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Trouble in Butetown at the Donmar Warehouse (2023)

★★★
"Diana Nneka Atuona brings wartime Cardiff to life" "Diana Nneka Atuona draws on the place’s well-known qualities to make Trouble…
The Observer
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Medea at the @sohoplace (2023)

★★★★
"Sophie Okonedo breathes fire as Medea" "The success of the play depends on general plausibility being swamped by the strength…
The Observer
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Sylvia at the The Old Vic Theatre (2023)

★★★
"Dance, not speech, powers Kate Prince’s suffragette musical" "Sylvia unrolls its story of a mighty movement with exhilaration, in uncompromising…
The Observer
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Phaedra at the National Theatre (2023)

★★★★★
"Janet McTeer is mighty in Simon Stone’s electric remaking of myth" "Simon Stone’s Phaedra is unlike anything I’ve experienced before.…
The Observer
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The Lehman Trilogy at the Gillian Lynne Theatre (2023)

★★★★
"Illusion captivates in a revival of Sam Mendes’s banking saga" "If anything, The Lehman Trilogy has become weightier, more threatening…
The Observer
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Linck & Mülhahn at the Hampstead Theatre (2023)

★★★
"The 21st century erupts into a tale of 18th century gender subversion" "The RSC needs to prove it is essential,…
The Observer
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The Tempest at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (2023)

★★★
"Alex Kingston’s fine Prospero weathers an RSC concept storm" "The climate crisis is one in a blizzard of ideas that…
The Observer
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Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2023)

★★★
"Aidan Turner and Jenna Coleman keep it brief in Sam Steiner’s social media allegory" "The questions tick round as they…
The Observer
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Sound of the Underground at the Royal Court Theatre (2023)

★★★★
"Travis Alabanza and friends joyously return drag to its radical roots" "Anyone who thinks theatre costumes are incidental decorations should…
The Observer
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The Unfriend at the Criterion Theatre (2023)

★★★
"Steven Moffat and co flirt with farce" "Humorous, with a few chiller touches" "Frances Barber, both luscious and frightening, has…
The Observer
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A Streetcar Named Desire at the Almeida Theatre (2023)

★★★★★
"Paul Mescal, Patsy Ferran and Anjana Vasan captivate in Rebecca Frecknall’s headlong take on Tennessee Williams" "This Streetcar is transporting.…
The Observer
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On The Ropes at the Park Theatre (2023)

★★★
"The story of Windrush boxer Vernon Vanriel hits home in song" "It is an important story and it exerts a…
The Observer
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Watch on the Rhine at the Donmar Warehouse (2023)

★★★★
"Lillian Hellman’s 1941 call to arms resonates anew" "Ellen McDougall’s handsome, convinced production speaks to today’s fear of the rise…
The Observer
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One Woman Show at the Ambassadors Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"Liz Kingsman’s zinging take on Fleabag goes beyond parody" "Here’s a good start to the new year. A show that…
The Observer
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As You Like It at the @sohoplace (2022)

★★★
"The many voices of Josie Rourke’s fresh As You Like It are led by Rose Ayling-Ellis, signing the part of…
The Observer
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Mandela at the The Young Vic (2022)

★★
"A new Mandela musical can’t do the great man justice" "I have seldom seen a show that began with such…
The Observer
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Hex at the National Theatre (2022)

★★
"A bad fairy casts a spell on Rufus Norris’s Sleeping Beauty musical" "For much of the time, watching Hex is…
The Observer
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Orlando at the Garrick Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"Corrin shape-shifts to perfection in Neil Bartlett’s zestful take on Virginia Woolf’s novel" "Watching Emma Corrin on stage is like…
The Observer
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Henry V at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (2022)

★★★★
"Oliver Johnstone mesmerises as Henry V" "In an extraordinary stripped-back version, for which the playwright Cordelia Lynn was the dramaturg…
The Observer
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Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial at the Wyndham's Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"Vardy and Rooney go head to head" "Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial is a game of two halves.…
The Observer
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The Sex Party at the Menier Chocolate Factory (2022)

"Terry Johnson leaves little to the imagination" "Pity the talented cast enmired in The Sex Party." "Terry Johnson’s new play,…
The Observer
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Not One of These People at the Royal Court Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"Sometimes lines and image seemed congruent, sometimes they were wildly unexpected, but, then, what sentence wouldn’t be unexpected from the…
The Observer
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Super High Resolution at the Soho Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"Jasmine Blackborow comes shooting out of the traps as a glowing talent in Super High Resolution" "Nathan Ellis’s new play…
The Observer
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Tammy Faye – A New Musical at the Almeida Theatre (2022)

★★★
"Katie Brayben nails the title role as Tammy Faye in a musical otherwise lacking edge" "He [James Graham] has faltered…
The Observer
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@sohoplace at the @sohoplace (2022)

"At the first purpose-built theatre in the West End for 50 years, preconceptions melt. At first, Soho Place looks too…
The Observer
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Marvellous at the @sohoplace (2022)

★★★★
"The action is warmly circled – the upper tiers glow like copper – and embraced by its audience. I’ve rarely…
The Observer
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Local Hero at the Chichester Festival Theatre (2022)

★★★
"Local Hero is appealing, but not dynamic enough for the best display of Evans’s talents" "It is Mark Knopfler’s music…
The Observer
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My Neighbour Totoro at the Barbican Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"A beloved Studio Ghibli anime is brought to magical life in Phelim McDermott’s new RSC production" "A battery of talent…
The Observer
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Good at the Harold Pinter Theatre (2022)

★★★
"David Tennant is transfixing" "Now revived with terrific David Tennant – the more acute because the more restrained – as…
The Observer
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The Band's Visit at the Donmar Warehouse (2022)

★★★★
"A vibrant oddball musical bridges the Israeli-Arab gap" "The story is simple and sometimes expressed awkwardly, with bumbling humour in…
The Observer
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The Boy with Two Hearts at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★
"An Afghan family seek more than sanctuary" "In Phil Porter’s adaptation of the book by Hamed and Hessam Amiri, speech…
The Observer
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Blues For An Alabama Sky at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"Thirties Harlem is vibrantly alive at the National" "What a vital evening. Lynette Linton’s production of Blues for an Alabama…
The Observer
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John Gabriel Borkman at the Bridge Theatre (2022)

★★★
"Simon Russell Beale is doubly commanding as Ibsen’s charismatic banker in a problem-raising revival" "Nicholas Hytner’s production, even with Simon…
The Observer
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The Crucible at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★
"Mob rule meets Little House on the Prairie in an assured revival of The Crucible" "Lyndsey Turner’s assured production rings…
The Observer
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Eureka Day at the The Old Vic (2022)

★★
"A new anti-vax satire needs more than a shot of Helen Hunt’s star power" "In turning over the debate between…
The Observer
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Silence at the Donmar Warehouse (2022)

★★
"Partition yields neither documentary nor drama" "... in this four-handed adaptation – by Sonali Bhattacharyya, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, Ishy Din…
The Observer
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I, Joan at the Shakespeare's Globe (2022)

★★★★
"Isobel Thom’s non-binary Joan of Arc blazes on to the stage in Charlie Josephine’s eye-opening new play" "“Non-binary finery”: I…
The Observer
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The Narcissist at the Chichester Festival Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"Christopher Shinn’s new play of post-Trump politics finds complex characters lost in ego and addiction" "Josh Seymour’s production swoops adroitly…
The Observer
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Into The Woods at the Theatre Royal Bath (2022)

★★★
"Terry Gilliam and Leah Hausman’s take on Sondheim is just a bit too much" "The time for Into the Woods…
The Observer
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The Trials at the Donmar Warehouse (2022)

★★★
" A teenage jury call their climate-ruining elders to account" "The ‘dinosaur’ generation is put on trial in Dawn King’s…
The Observer
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All of Us at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★
"Disablism, austerity and therapy-speak fuel Francesca Martinez’s jolting drama" "There are startling, sparkling episodes in All of Us, revelatory moments…
The Observer
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Jack Absolute Flies Again at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★
"Mrs Malaprop’s a loose cannon in Richard Bean’s Battle of Britain take on Sheridan" "Quentin, shiny as a creature on…
The Observer
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Much Ado About Nothing at the National Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"Shakespeare’s comedy is the gift that keeps on giving" "As the hate-to-love, love-to-hate couple, John Heffernan and Katherine Parkinson give…
The Observer
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Crazy For You at the Chichester Festival Theatre (2022)

★★★★
"Who can resist Gershwin?" "Development and detail is all in the swelling voices and frisking toes of Carly Anderson and…
The Observer
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That Is Not Who I Am at the Royal Court Theatre (2022)

★★★
"A revelatory drama about identity theft is let down by its thriller plot" "At its best, Lucy Morrison’s production spins…
The Observer
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A Dolls House, Part 2 at the Donmar Warehouse (2022)

★★★
"Lucas Hnath’s sequel to the Ibsen classic is intriguing rather than revelator" "This Doll’s House is a hybrid: it uses…
The Observer
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Jitney at the Old Vic Theatre (2022)

★★★
"August Wilson’s taxi-stand drama has developed new flavour with age" "Punctuated by the constant ringing of the phone, and by…
The Observer
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Punchdrunk: The Burnt City at the One Cartridge Place (2022)

★★★★★
"The immersive theatre trailblazers return with an all-consuming vision of the siege of Troy" "The current embracing of all things…
The Observer
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All About Eve at the Noel Coward Theatre (2019)

★★★
"Van Hove’s paraphernalia is there – the cameras circling the stage, the video screen capturing and magnifying the action. But…
The Observer
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📷 Main photo: Critics - Susannah Clapp

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