Shakespeare, The Tempest, 88 London Road, March 19th 2016

Reported by Simon Jenner


Limited to six multi-roling actors we still got the luxury of four Ariels, multi-voicing on pre-recorded cues like the Weird Sisters. Certainly Director Nick Quirke took this limit and the lapping three-sided promontory of the stage to throw out his voices all over his island, sometimes behind the raked audience, as if the cast were Ariel, which was largely the case. It worked particularly when – this time live – the ensemble sang Ariel’s songs. There’s much genuinely magical in this production – in some ways the most innovative Tempest I’ve seen – and in some ways the most maddening. Continue reading

Euripides Women of Troy, New Venture Theatre, March 4th 2016

Theatre report from Simon Jenner


Director Ella Turk-Thompson’s decision to modernize this 415 BC play isn’t the brave thing about it – Craig Raine’s 1953 adapted it to Nazi Britain. Putting on Kenneth McLeish’s version, with a non-naturalistic speech-delivery pushes everyone in this contemporary vision of torched palaces too easily evoking Iraq, Syria, Gaza. With kicked-over chairs, this razed land is hollow. Continue reading

Martin McDonagh, Hangmen, Wyndham’s March 3rd, 2016

Theatre report from Simon Jenner 

Hangmen now comes with huge endorsements. Is it justified? Matthew Dunster makes the most of the differently-proportioned play with its prequel cell scene and pub, a masterly naturalism designed by Anna Fleischle.

The play’s no simple re-examination of period attitudes, but a refraction of fresh techniques turned period in exploring second-best hangman, Harry Wade. The Ortonesque – both farce and character – explodes at the prologue’s hanging of the luckless, ‘I’m innocent’ Hennessey, a black comedy where ‘if you let go you can die more quickly’, and later embodied in the  wannabe-lodger-and-menacer Mooney. Continue reading

Eimar McBride adapted Annie Ryan A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing, Young Vic, March 2nd 2016

Theare Report from Simon Jenner

Adapted from the novel, this really does seem as if it had been waiting to become a play: the author trained at Drama Centre and it’s voice in this devastating solo-acted tale of a girl growing up in Ireland from the age of 2 to 20, that won’t let go in its startling language or its narration of alienation, rare sibling tenderness with a slowly-dying brother, and sexual abuse by an uncle with whom she then feels complicit. Continue reading

Wallace Shawn, Evening at The Talk House, NT Dorfmann, March 16th 2016

A report from Simon Jenner

A reunion of six characters where they used to meet, a run-down club and kindly owner Nellie, with failed actress Jane returned to help serve faded culinary delights, so it’s not quite My Dinner with André crossed with the wilder reaches of Albee. Nevertheless Shawn himself in the pivotal role of drunk ex-actor Dick, starts with reminiscence – interrupting Robert the dramatist’s monologue – and ends with a flock of murderers. Continue reading

Ibsen, The Master Builder, Old Vic, March 16th, 2016

Latest revue from Simon Jenner

One doesn’t usually put translation above such acting as this production boasts, but having seen David Hare’s Chekhov trilogy it’s a relief to report he’s faithful to the spirit of Ibsen who volubly sanctioned updating his dialogue in any case. This fleet version separated into its three acts sleeks action with devastating clarity. Continue reading