A Midsummer Night’s Dream – February 2019

Experience: 8/10

By WIlliam Shakespeare

Directed by Mike Tweddle

Venue: Tobacco Factory

Date: Wednesday 27th February 2019

One advantage of having to wait outside the theatre for our ride back to the hotel was that it gave us a chance to speak to a couple of the actors – Danaan McAleer and Evlyne Oyedokun – to congratulate them and thank them for such an imaginative and inspiring production. I was especially pleased because the audience numbers tonight were on the low side. This innovative, cross-gender casting version of the play deserves full houses every night, and we’re happy to have already booked for another helping of the fun.

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Rutherford And Son – February 2019

Experience: 8/10

By Githa Sowerby

Directed by Caroline Steinbeis

Venue: Crucible Theatre

Date: Thursday 21st February 2019

Lovely to see this marvellous play again, and this was a very good production of it. Owen Teale was strong as Rutherford himself, and the rest of cast gave good support. Not a huge audience – the place was about half full – but there was plenty of applause, and a number stayed behind for the post-show Q&A.

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Richard II – January 2019

Experience: 8/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins

Venue: Almeida Theatre

Date: Tuesday 8th January 2019

“I have been studying how I may compare this prison where I live unto the world”: not the usual start to Richard II, but when Simon Russell Beale came to the front of the box-like stage, clad in dark leggings and a black top, to deliver this line, I grasped instantly that this production was set entirely within the deposed king’s mind. All the other ‘characters’ were simply his perception of those people, and he was spending his time going over and over the events that led up to his deposition, as if trying to figure out where it all went wrong. Or perhaps nurturing his grudges in case he ever got the chance at revenge. Whatever his motivation, this was an excellent way to allow Simon to play a part which, in a ‘traditional’ production, he would be too old for, and allow the rest of us to rejoice in hearing these lines spoken so brilliantly by one of our finest actors, whether of Shakespeare or anything else.

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Love From A Stranger – March 2018

Experience: 8/10

By Frank Vosper, adapted from a short story by Agatha Christie

Directed by Lucy Bailey

Co-produced by Fiery Angel and Royal & Derngate Northampton

Venue: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Date: Thursday 29th March 2018

Several surprises tonight. Firstly, this was an Agatha Christie story which I didn’t remember, so I was much more caught up in the suspense that I expected. Secondly, Lucy Bailey’s production had more tension and was more gripping than I’d anticipated. We’d seen her version of Dial M For Murder some years ago, and really enjoyed the way she used the movement of the stage and a much looser set design to create a greater sense of suspense than usual, but although the set here was less balletic, with front and back sections simply sliding from side to side as needed, it didn’t get in the way of the performances, and allowed the tension to build. And finally, and even more surprising, was to find in our records that we saw a production of Love From A Stranger thirty years ago, at the Theatre Royal Brighton: safe to say, I have absolutely no recollection of that production at all.

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Humble Boy – March 2018

Experience: 8/10

By Charlotte Jones

Directed by Paul Miller

Venue: Orange Tree Theatre

Date: Thursday 29th March 2018

It was good to see such a strong production here again, after our last visit. The set was good, the performances very good and we enjoyed ourselves very much. The only downside for me was that I’m currently waiting for an appointment to get my ears syringed – until that happens everything is a bit muffled. But in such a small space, and with such skilled actors, that wasn’t a problem today. I may have missed the occasional word, but that’s normal.

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Driving Miss Daisy – November 2017

Experience: 8/10

By Alfred Uhry

Directed by Richard Beecham

Company: Theatre Royal Bath

Venue: Chichester Festival Theatre

Date: Thursday 30th November 2017

This was a pleasant surprise. Having seen a decent touring production at the Theatre Royal Brighton in 1993, I considered this a fairly average play: I was happy to see it again but didn’t have high expectations. Steve had also seen the production at the Old Vic in 2011, in which Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones demonstrated that they might have been the right age, but they no longer had the power to do the parts justice.

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Tartuffe – April 2017

Experience: 8/10

By Andrew Hilton and Dominic Power, after Molière

Company: Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory

Directed by Andrew Hilton

Venue: Tobacco Factory

Date: Tuesday 11th April 2017

I was aware that this was an adapted version of Tartuffe, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turned out, this was one of the best versions we’ve seen of this play, second only to the RSC’s 1983 production with Nigel Hawthorne, Alison Steadman, Anthony Sher and David Bradley, amongst others. In this adaptation, the story has been updated to the present day, allowing for topical references, and it all worked brilliantly within a political setting. The characters were also wonderfully updated, and although the comedy took a while to get going – the audience were a bit slow to warm up tonight – there was plenty to laugh at in the later acts.

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