Theatre

Women's Choice

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Review of the Last Waltz Season, Arcola Theatre, Hackney, London

As the play Musik opens, the respectable veneer of the bourgeois setting is immediately undermined. There may be a piano in the corner, a bust of Mozart and fur-trimmed coats on display but the worms are already wriggling right out of the can.

Klara, an 18 year old music student from Switzerland is about to flee Germany to avoid imprisonment. Following an affair with Josef Reissner - the married music tutor in whose home she has been lodging - she had become pregnant, sought an abortion and is now implicated in the trial of the abortionist.

The Magic Island

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Review of 'The Tempest' by William Shakespeare, Southwark Playhouse, London

The stage at Southwark Playhouse is roughly the size of the National Theatre's toilet, but that is where the comparison ends. This talented, well thought through performance cost just £6 - cheaper than the cinema. I had never seen The Tempest performed and was really hoping it wouldn't disappoint - it didn't.

Divinely Wrong

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Review of 'King Lear' by William Shakespeare, Albery Theatre, London

Shakespeare's King Lear is one of the plays that takes us to the heart of his work. Born in 1564 and dying in 1616, Shakespeare lived at a crucial historical gateway: the end of the old feudal order and the emergence within the traditional world of the new mercantile capitalism. His work vibrates with the tension between two rival conceptions of society, government, family and morality. Feudalism was a fixed, hierarchical, medieval world in which everyone knew their place, the serf at the bottom, the lord at the top.

Coming Down to Earth

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Review of 'A Dream Play' by August Strindberg, National Theatre, London

A Dream Play is an adaptation of a play originally written by August Strindberg in 1901. Strindberg was a prolific writer and revolutionary dramatist. He pulled and pushed at the social and theatrical conventions of his day and constantly experimented with new dramatic form and technique. His later, expressionistic plays drew on the developing theories of psychoanalysis. In his words, 'drama is enacted by symbolic creatures built out of human consciousness' and this drama should be built up 'like the theme in a musical composition'.

From Russia with Love

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Review of 'Wild East' by April de Angelis, Royal Court, London

When Frank went on an archaeological dig that uncovered a 30,000 year old figure of a bird carved from a mammoth's tusk, he made up his mind: this figure was so exquisite, so perfect, so lovingly carved, he had to understand the people who made it. So he studied anthropology, inquisitive about human societies and their desires and needs.

'We Know We are Beautiful'

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Jane Hardy looks at the work of Harlem radical Langston Hughes.

Simply Heavenly stands in very sharp contrast to most of the musicals to be found in the West End of London. Set in a bar in Harlem, its focus is the lives of ordinary black Americans. The music is a mixture of gospel, blues and jazz and the dialogue is quick and witty. However, through the main character, Jesse B Semple (known affectionately as Simple), it portrays the struggles of eking out a living in Harlem. Finding and keeping work, paying the rent and trying to make a better life are daily battles.

Theatre - Coming Up

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A guide to forthcoming productions, compiled by Berit Kuennecke.

Love, Sex and Cider
by Paul Charlton
Director Marc de Launay
Traverse, Edinburgh

Fringe First Award winning play about four teenagers, set in the 1990s. It follows the 14 year old protagonists through a particularly eventful week.

20-22 January (post-show discussion 20 January)

Box office: 0131 228 1404


I'm a Fool to Want You
by Told by an Idiot
Battersea Arts Centre, London

Subject to Script Approval

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Review of 'Embedded' by Tim Robbins, Riverside Studios and 'Stuff Happens' by David Hare, National Theatre

As part of an encouraging renaissance of radical theatre, Embedded and Stuff Happens have attested to the continuing centrality of the war on Iraq in political debate. Though different in style and content, both are written from a clear anti-war perspective.

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