Oliver Simmonds

It needs a dramatization. Caryl Churchill’s ten-minute piece seems a prelude to something bigger. FIsayo Akinade, Sharon D Clarke, Alex Hassell are directed by Dominic Cooke. They are big names in the West End, but even they struggle to surmount the dryness of Pigs and Dogs. Uganda has draconian legislation against gays. Established in 2014, […]

  Oliver Simmonds

Empathy is what defines Medea, a play that in its nervy, Hellenic way justifies filicide. Any adaptation will carry this legacy, from expressionism to the kitchen sink. Fury, by Soho’s resident writer Phoebe Eclair-Powell, goes working-class in a South London council estate through an inspired but patchy retelling. Sam (Sarah Ridgeway) is a single mother […]

  Oliver Simmonds

Self-assured though with no emotional investment, Phillip Ridley’s Karagula is messy, tame sci-fi. Despite deft touches on the production side (read: design), the work never clinches the operatic status it desires. On another planet, a milkshake-drinking society that habitually sacrifices its Prom King and Queen is in crisis; intercut with this we see (unclear where […]

  Oliver Simmonds

What we learn of the Romani is limited but what is limited in the LIFT Festival’s Open For Everything is probed deeply in dance rather than storytelling, a bracing experience when done well. Constanza Macras’ dance company has made a piece that celebrates and explains the ‘last nomadic tribe in Europe’, the Romani. While light […]

Like the sycophantic hotel clerk who opens the play, Off The King’s Road is too eager to please. Neil Koenigsberg’s new work wavers between the sincere and mawkish, never quite landing its desired emotional beats in spite of a capable cast. American widower Matt Browne (Michael Brandon) takes a cultural trip to London to get […]

For a play so intimately connected with Greek tragedy it is daring to have its protagonists’…

  Oliver Simmonds

Christopher (Daniel Kaluuya) has reached the end of a month-long sectioning; on the brink of leaving, his doctor, Bruce (Luke Norris), has doubts over reassimilation given Christopher’s severe delusions, though senior consultant Robert (David Haig) believes him fit to leave. One of the first things we learn in Blue/Orange is that the psych ward bans […]

I had doubts about London improv: we lack institutions (the equivalent UCBs and ImprovOlympics)…

  Oliver Simmonds

It starts weak and ends strong. For a play about a physically-disabled protagonist, it pays to have the action centre on how he cares for others rather than himself. Despite a heap of flaws, Chips Hardy’s decade-old play achieves something resembling poignant, even if it takes an hour to get there. Wheelchair-bound veteran Moss (Darren […]

  Oliver Simmonds

Annie Baker’s The Flick is of a radical theatrical style; it is new and maybe even profound. This is lofty description but it is a rare and wonderful thing when a play’s best moments consist in the absence of dialogue. With director Sam Gold and cast, Baker creates a genuinely new mode of storytelling. Undoubtedly, […]

There are similarities between this play and the school of naive art: both are flawed, though so conspicuously it must be intentional; yet, unfortunately (and often), this intention is to make a point so obvious the artist’s recourse to bad technique wastes the good. While I cannot speak for the naive artists, In the Bar […]

  Oliver Simmonds

A research base orbits Pluto. There has been no communication with Earth for three months, far longer than normal. A crew member is hallucinating and time is not as linear as it first appeared to be. Rather than ambitious, Alistair McDowall’s X is a misunderstanding of theatre’s capabilities. Although some Beckett exists—the characters’ defining action […]

  Oliver Simmonds

It is impossible to love war in the 21st century, so it is a marvel there is empathy in a play so bellicose as Henry V. Performed in the regal Middle Temple Hall, home of Twelfth Night’s inaugural staging, Antic Disposition’s production receives the benefit of intelligent framing and casting. Shakespeare’s history tells us of […]

  Oliver Simmonds

Started in May 2015, London is MyTheatre’s youngest branch. We have only six months and sixty-three reviews under our belt yet, even without a full year to cover, there’s been so much going on in London since May that we had plenty to choose from when it came time to join the My Entertainment World […]

  Oliver Simmonds

Surprisingly perceptive, Greg Wohead’s work is an overall tender analysis of a cynical moment in pop history. This tenderness is crucial, as what Comeback Special could so easily be—and does slip into sporadically—is a easy deconstruction of low-hanging fruit. Elvis Presley’s ‘68 Comeback Special was a TV performance of the fabled singer’s greatest hits, orchestrated […]

  Oliver Simmonds

It is always stimulating to see drama from an area that British theatre usually does not touch. Post-apartheid South Africa is perfect center for such drama, investigating the tension between what was fought for and what is. Mongiwekhaya has used this tension to create I See You, a play that has much to say and […]

  Oliver Simmonds

I liken this play to violent videos available on the internet: they are tempting to watch, may be objects of temporary immersion, yet they are ultimately unedifying. They instill little in us other than a general contempt, for their structure and perspective are highly objective and therefore contrast rather soullessly to the personal and spiritual […]

  Oliver Simmonds

A partial standing ovation followed the press night of A Girl is a Half-formed Thing and that is what it deserves, for this one-woman performance is almost a triumph. It is the story of a maturing Girl (Aoife Duffin) in priggish 20th-century Ireland; however, it is a botched bildungsroman, for we witness her uncle’s sexual […]

  Oliver Simmonds

Daniel Foxsmith’s new play gives up plot in the pursuit of character relationships, and unfortunately the two are more connected than one would like to think. Weald, presented by Snuff Box Theatre, simultaneously generates decent insights into a forgotten lifestyle while having little to make of narrative tension. The two-hander concerns Jim, a mid-twenties runaway […]

  Oliver Simmonds

Started in May 2015, London is MyTheatre’s youngest branch. We have only six months and sixty-three reviews under our belt yet, even without a full year to cover, there’s been so much going on in London since May that we had plenty to choose from when it came time to join the My Entertainment World […]

  Oliver Simmonds

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s latest drama does not need its constant extremes—its actors are accomplished enough that they could make any scenario something exceptional. Myanna Burling and Laura Donnelly deliver realistic performances not only through the play’s dialogue, but also in spite of it. The Wasp is class conflict at its heart: the audience sees wealthy […]

  Oliver Simmonds

Mia Chung’s original work is good at provoking feeling although it does this at the cost of character. Set in the modern day, You For Me For You is the story of two sisters, Minhee (Wendy Kweh) and Junhee (Katie Leung), the latter of whom escapes from her home country of North Korea while the […]

  Oliver Simmonds

Anger can appear in various forms, but is it always justified? After all, most would see anger as a destructive force. Occasionally, it is so strong that it amounts to a wild outburst: this is what Penelope Skinner’s Linda is. It subjects us to the life of Linda Wilde, a middle-aged, award-winning marketing director for […]

  Oliver Simmonds

It is rare a director is so sympathetic to their chosen text; therefore, remember Liz Stevenson’s name. Too often a classic work is smothered by conservatism and theatrical brocade—this production of Barbarians is the opposite, where every direction furthers the purposes of the source. Stevenson’s interpretation is a great symbiosis of text and performance. Of […]

  Oliver Simmonds

Did this play deserve its Olivier Award nomination last year? Absolutely. Its development of character, slow revelation of plot and bitingly black humour make James Fritz’s work a triumph of new writing. The story revolves around two parents, Di and David (Kate Maravan and Jonathan McGuinness), whose son Jack has been beaten up on his […]

  Oliver Simmonds

Belarus Free Theatre can claim that not only is it underground in form but also in substance. What it discusses in its plays is subversive: it challenges basic principles that constitute modern society. Of course, the substance of the underground exists on a spectrum, all the way from Dostoevsky to VICE magazine. After seeing four […]