ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL revived with “style and verve”
Read More On: Tom Littler
One of Shakespeare’s lesser-known plays, ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL opens at the Jermyn Street Theatre in a co-production with the Guildford Shakespeare Company, directed by MLR’s Tom Littler.
“Director Tom Littler has brilliantly edited Shakespeare’s play down to work with just 6 actors... This is a beautiful magical production; I am not sure if five stars really does it justice.”
“Director Tom Littler scales down the narrative and assembles a cast of six to present an exceptionally instinctive and nostalgic production. He places the action in a cryptic era, using music as a vehicle and memories as the main narration instrument.”
“The direction triumphs in exploiting the intrinsic comedy in the text while keeping the show tonally homogeneous. The crowd laughs when the Queen appoints Bertram as Helena's future husband before Littler has her imperceptibly break in the face of his refusal, which creates a continuous swinging of directive inflection.”
“Littler manages to give a soberly cool and indie vibe to the show, making All's Well That Ends Well a relatively modern and piercing tale while maintaining a rather classical slant.
“The approach to the text and the grander core intentions of the production feel like a breath of fresh air for the material.”
“Littler succeeds in reviving Shakespeare's lesser performed plays with style and verve, offering a new take on what is historically quite a cynical and unconventional plot.”
“Tom Littler’s inventive production at the Jermyn Street Theatre adds a subtle twist that instils a touch of much needed pathos.”
“The character of Helena is granted an unusual amount of control over her narrative for a Shakespearean heroine. Hannah Morrish has a beautifully natural way with the language in the role and gives a compelling performance as a young woman who is struggling to find her place in the world and yet knows exactly what she wants.”
THE SEASON is a ★★★★ festive delight
Read More On: Tim Jackson
Directed by Tim Jackson, this brand-new musical opened at the New Wolsey, Ipswich in a co-production with the Royal & Derngate, Northampton.
“This new musical is a miniature Christmas miracle. An urban fairytale... as lightweight as a falling snowflake, yet quirky, quick-witted and touching in Tim Jackson’s bijou production.”
“A design of subways, street signs and skyscrapers supplies a compact, snow-globe setting. And with a melodic, poppy score and some deft lyrics, the simple story is sharply observed and delivered with affecting sincerity.”
“…this is a bittersweet treat: a lovely little musical with huge charm.”
“A naive quality to the overall feel is achieved through sophisticated means: solid and clever musicality. The is witty and well-served by the production.”
“Tim Jackson’s direction is sure-footed and, in Allen-Martin and Cardall, he has young performers who are surely stars in the making.”
“…this particular Grinch was won over by a promising blend of audacity, charm and talent.”
“What unfolds is a perfectly-crafted romantic comedy… both heart-warming and hilarious.”
GHOST QUARTET haunts the senses at brand new Boulevard Theatre
Read More On: Simon Kenny
Opening London’s newest playhouse, the Boulevard Theatre in Soho, GHOST QUARTET features an otherworldly design by Simon Kenny.
“Designer Simon Kenny turns the playing space cum orchestra with its tarnished mirrored floor into an attic of the mind, stuffed not just with the astonishing array of instruments that are used by the actor-musicians, but also photographs, old trunks, a telescope, a drinks trolley. They all play there part or operate as an aide-memoire in an evening that conjures Scheherazade and her wonderous tales, the Victorian ghost story, Stephen King and that uncanny sense of capturing a glimpse of something just beyond your line of vision.”
“Designer Simon Kenny has provided a number of fascinating ‘clues’ to the show and what it might ‘mean’ in the paraphernalia he has assembled around the musical instruments on the petite stage. Thus, while the room resembles a trendy Sixties nightspot, ranged around – below and aloft – with cosy bespoke armchairs and stools by Race Furniture, the performance space nods towards ‘The 1001 Nights’, ‘Ulysees’ and other emblematic signposts of Western Culture: more than that, drawerfuls of Scotch, Irish and American whisk(e)y are produced, and served to the lucky few in the crowd through its duration, while an artful ‘brindisi’ urges us to quaff it with its ‘four friends’."
“Intimately staged in the round… Ghost Quartet gives one the soothing, tingling sensation of being inside when it’s raining.”
“You get the feeling that the world of Simon Kenny’s set only exists at night. The centre of the circle is stacked with travel trunks, old lamps, lace throws, piles of books and empty picture frames, like a grandparent’s attic that hasn’t been disturbed for years.”
“Simon Kenny's set design stands on a suggestive stained copper floor cluttered with musical instruments and paraphernalia that adds a travelling band vibe to the mix… lights reflect on the surface, creating patterns and marble-like effects that add a splash of magic to an already dreamy show. It's a seductive yet convivial experience; its eerie and mystical tones carry humour and melancholy in the same breath before its players drag their listeners back to Earth.”
“Director Bill Buckhurst adds some stylish touches here to heighten the stories: a mysterious camera suspended in a glass case suddenly illuminated; a telescope rotating, just as those who look into it see the world from a different angle; and percussion accentuated with light flashes in time with the drumming. Simon Kenny’s set is a treasure trove, with new items constantly emerging from steamer trunks or hidden inside books...”
“Simon Kenny’s set is part junk shop, with its curios and antiques, and part haunted house, with its dusty old trunks. It’s also, more abstractly, like a campfire, especially in the orange hues of Emma Chapman’s hard-working lighting – running the gamut from natural to supernatural – a place where we’ve gathered to hear these ghost stories.”
“Director Bill Buckhurst, designer Simon Kenny and musical director Benjamin Cox have created a similarly intricately and intimately realised aural and dramatic landscape that pulls you deep into strange, frequently perplexing but always fascinating world.”
“The final song, The Wind & Rain, is beautiful, and the way the performers cede the stage gradually to us is one of the loveliest moments I’ve witnessed in a theatre recently.”
Kirsty Housley Directs ★★★★★ MEPHISTO [A RHAPSODY] at The Gate
Read More On: Kirsty Housley
Kirsty Housley's production of Mephisto: A Rhapsody at the Gate Theatre has been a huge success with audiences and critics.
‘This bracing show has been translated by Chris Campbell and tailored for an English-speaking audience by the remarkable Kirsty Housley (she describes herself as a theatre maker rather than a director). Her work fizzes with ideas (look out for her ingeniously stylised take on how to use stage blood). Serious without being worthy, the play is excruciatingly pertinent – especially in its exploration of nationalistic feeling.’
‘Mephisto [A Rhapsody]’ is something special. Radical, bold, political, funny, scary, shocking, moving – a truly transformational night at the theatre.
'Kirsty Housley’s ravishingly good production turns into a kind of avant-garde fantasia deluxe [...] an exquisitely staged nightmare.'
'The cautionary tale on the repetition of history turns into a complex and multilayered piece of theatre with Kirsty Housley's direction.'
'It's a high-octane production from Kirsty Housley, who is already a must-see director.'
‘Housley’s slightly heightened, headily intense direction has a palpable vein of fury and terror which runs just under the surface.'
Director Kirsty Housley delivers a juicy mix of satire and sincere worry – keeping the piece fast, heady and consistently watchable.
Roy Alexander Weise Directs the 'Elegant and Nimble' MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS at the NT
Roy Alexander Weise’s production of Athol Fugard’s MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS is earning standing ovations from National Theatre audiences night after night and has been widely praised by the critics. Designed by MLR's Rajha Shakiry, Lighting Design by Paule Constable and Sound Design by Giles Thomas.
Lyn Gardner via Stagedoor
‘It’s like watching a rocket go whoosh. It makes you lean back in your seat from the heat and the rush and the glow lingers to the very end.’
‘Exquisitely designed by Rajha Shakiry.’
‘We see the lingering consequences in the scorched image of two men dancing in the dark.’
‘Director Roy Alexander Weise – and Fugard – are saving their skill for the climax. Fugard’s mastery of structure becomes very clear, as does the reason behind Weise’s decision to sit back and let the words do the work.’
‘It’s dancing that brings choreography to chaos, and Weise treads the line between the two with care and skill in order to best serve Fugard’s point: that all souls moulder under the inhumanity of a system like Apartheid.’
‘Roy Alexander Weise’s exemplary production opens to Ella Fitzgerald’s Tenderly, as afternoon rain patters down on the large skylight looming over a stylishly realised tea-room, complete with faded Coca Cola ad and jukebox.’
‘What happens next isn’t just theatrically compelling, it’s absolutely spellbinding in its simple affirmation of the need for humanity to declare itself at the bleakest moments.’
‘It's a classic example of a play where a single room – in this case, a tea shop in Port Elizabeth, beautifully evoked with a rain-soaked skylight and a pattern of wooden tables designed by Rajha Shakiry – stands for an entire world.’
‘Director Roy Alexander Weise modulates the mood on a pinhead; each beat of the changing moods is wonderfully caught, through early joshing, to deep pain, to its final, emotional conclusion.’
‘Roy Alexander Weise’s production is as elegant and nimble as the foxtrot that Sam is teaching Willie (hats off to the choreographer Shelley Maxwell). Like Willie it can be a bit slow and it doesn’t always get the steps right, but when it does it is a thing of beauty.’
‘Roy Alexander Weise makes some excellent choices in his powerful revival, not least emphasising the idea of ballroom dancing as a vision for a world free from conflict, and where men like Sam and Willie can have grace, beauty and aspiration - dancing centre stage in all their finery instead of clearing up their master's messes in dark corners.’
‘Rajha Shakiry's exquisite design - featuring a period tearoom with glass-fronted counter, faded Coke sign and rain pattering rhythmically on the skylight - opens up beautifully at the climax for a romantic, hopeful vision.’