Review of ’The People Next Door‘ by Henry Adams, Theatre Royal, London
When his local mosque was firebombed, Henry Adams responded by writing The People Next Door, a very funny play about the scapegoating of Muslims which has accompanied the post 9/11 ’war on terror‘. It also challenges prejudices around age, race and the unemployed.
Review of ’Animal‘ by Kay Adshead, Soho Theatre, London
’On the street side the wooden gate is covered in flowers, when they wilt people come and put others, they nail them to the planks ... There‘s a tiny hand-knitted cardie with bloody cuffs, and a shoe with a bloody lace ... At the very front, sat in a deckchair like she‘s on Brighton beach, is the mother of one of the kids trampled to death by the horses ... It‘s very quiet but her lips are moving all the time.‘ The nurse Elmo sets the scene for Kay Adshead‘s new play Animal.
Review of ’The War is Dead, Long Live the War‘ by Patrick Jones, Touring
Walking into the theatre at London‘s ICA, the first thing you could see was the stall covered with Stop the War Coalition leaflets for the demonstration on 27 September. Then, looking at the play‘s programme, there was a full-page advert for the demo, and a list of useful websites which included www.socialistreview.org.uk. Before the play started, a speaker from the Stop the War Coalition gave a brief speech about the horrors of the occupation in Iraq, and called for people in the audience to come on the demo and bring their friends.
Review of 'The Boy David Story', director Alex McCall
The Boy David Story follows the life of a baby born in 1974 with a horribly disfigured face - a big hole where a nose should have been, half a mouth and two normal eyes. He was abandoned in a Peruvian forest. He was found and taken to hospital in Lima where the long saga of rehabilitation and plastic surgery began, covering in all 85 operations (70 before he was 14), mostly performed in the US, for which there were few precedents to help the surgeons. Just one of these - using bone from his skull to build a nose - took five hours.
Review of 'Pugilist Specialist' by The Riot Group/Adriano Shaplin, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh
Leon Trotsky argued that cultural creations, whether they be novels, paintings or plays, should be considered first in terms of what he called 'the laws of art', rather than simply 'the laws of politics'. This is a lesson which should be learned by a number of writers and companies who brought work to this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Review of 'Edward II' by Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London
The hugely enjoyable production of Edward II condenses 23 years of action into just under three hours of stage time, and it successfully conveys Marlowe's vision of the interplay between personal tragedy and historical process.
Review of 'Hobson's Choice' by Harold Brighouse, Young Vic, London, then touring
When I heard that the Young Vic was planning to do radical things to Hobson's Choice I wasn't happy. My only previous contact with the play had been the wonderful David Lean film version in 1953. I'm very loyal to that straight retelling of the stage play, which has a magnificent central performance by Charles Laughton as the grotesque patriarch Henry Horatio Hobson.
Review of 'Goodbye Swingtime', Matthew Herbert Big Band, Accidental Records £13.99
Being any kind of conscious artist under 21st century imperialism is fraught with contradictory tensions. Aesthetics v politics? Art v propaganda? Individual v the masses? Local v global? Innovation v tradition? Particular v genre?