THEATRE REVIEW: The Unfriend starring Reece Shearsmith, Frances Barber & Amanda Abbington at the Criterion Theatre

By Neil Durham

WORTH A LOOK?: ****

WHEN?: 15 January through to 16 April 2023 RUNTIME: 115 minutes (including a 15-minute interval)

One of the joys of Steven Moffat’s (BBC 1’s Inside Man) first stage comedy is its no-nonsense precision.

  • Read on for reasons including how this is the funniest play currently running in the West End
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THEATRE REVIEW: As You Like It starring Alfred Enoch & Leah Harvey @sohoplace

By Neil Durham

WORTH A LOOK?: ****

WHEN?: Saturday 14 January, runs through 28 January 2023 RUNNING TIME: 180 minutes (with 20-minute interval)

This production of As You Like It by director Josie Rourke is her 1st theatre work for more than 4 years since Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and it is absolutely bursting with ideas

  • Read on for reasons including how there was perhaps 1 idea too many in this intimate and musical As You Like It
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THEATRE REVIEW: On The Ropes starring Mensah Bediako, Ashley D Gayle and Amber James at the Park Theatre

By Neil Durham

WORTH A LOOK?: ***1/2

WHEN?: Tuesday 10 January (press ticket), runs to 4 February 2023

RUNTIME: 140 minutes (including a 20-minute interval)

We cast our eye across the audience at this 200-seat venue and we can see Beverley Knight, David Morrissey, Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar.

  • Read on for reasons including how it’s the performance of classic hits like Labi Siffre’s Something Inside So Strong which works best here
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THEATRE REVIEW: Othello starring Giles Terera at the National Theatre

By Aline Mahrud

WORTH A LOOK?: *** RUNTIME: 180 minutes (including 20-minute interval)

WHEN?: Saturday 3 December (matinee), runs to 21 January 2023

Director Clint Dyer told the New York Times of his 1st visit to this venue in the 80s when he saw a picture in the auditorium of Laurence Olivier in blackface in the title role of this play in the 60s that broke his heart.

  • Read on for reasons including why we wanted this production of Othello to be so much better than it was
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THEATRE REVIEW: A Streetcar Named Desire starring Paul Mescal and Patsy Ferran

By Neil Durham

WORTH A LOOK?: *****

WHEN?: Tuesday 20 December, opens 12 January, runs to 4 February 2023 RUNTIME: 180 minutes (including 20-minute interval) UPDATE: Transfers to the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End for 6 weeks from 20 March 2023

Director Rebecca Frecknall (Cabaret, Playhouse Theatre) takes to the stage before curtain up to explain that its leading lady Patsy Ferran stepped into the production with 4 days’ notice to replace Lydia Wilson who had to withdraw.

  • Read on for reasons including why it is Olivier Award-winning actress Ferran that you will remember most from this illuminating revival
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THEATRE REVIEW: Mother Goose starring Sir Ian McKellen & John Bishop

By Neil Durham

WORTH A LOOK?: ****

WHEN?: Sunday 18 December (matinee), runs to 29 January and then tours until 11 March 2023 RUNTIME: 140 minutes (including a 20-minute interval)

The best reason to see this energetic and fun pantomime is that its Oscar-nominated star Sir Ian McKellen is having a ball and it’s infectious.

  • Read on for reasons including how we’ve never been to a show where so much has been thrown from the stage into the audience
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THEATRE REVIEW: A Christmas Carol-ish by Mr Swallow starring Nick Mohammed & Sarah Hadland

By Neil Durham

WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2 RUNTIME: 80 minutes (no interval)

WHEN?: Saturday 10 December (matinee), runs to 23 December 2022

We’re in the front row here because Mohammed (2nd from left above) is very funny as part of the ensemble in Apple TV’s hilarious Ted Lasso and stars here while also writing the book and lyrics.

  • Read on for reasons including how Hadland from TV’s Miranda gets to perform the giblets out of the hit of the night I Love My Turkey
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THEATRE REVIEW: Jack And The Beanstalk at the London Palladium starring Julian Clary, Dawn French and Alexandra Burke

By Neil Durham

WORTH A LOOK?: **** RUNTIME: 155 minutes (including a 20-minute interval)

WHEN?: Sunday 11 December (matinee), runs to 15 January 2023

We’re in the 4th row behind a group of women who are finding Julian Clary’s character The Spirit Of The Beans uproariously funny and even taking sneaky pictures of his very many costume changes.

  • Read on for reasons including how it is Clary’s saucy quips which once again steal the show
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THEATRE REVIEW: Orlando starring Emma Corrin at the Garrick Theatre

By Aline Mahrud

WORTH A LOOK?: ***1/2

WHEN?: Monday 28 November, runs to 25 February 2023 RUNTIME: 90 minutes (no interval)

Emma Corrin identifies as non-binary and, as such, their portrayal of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando would perhaps have the celebrated author cheering from the stalls were she still alive.

  • Read on for reasons including which stars joined us in the audience for this 2nd preview
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