Lisa McKeown

Manwatching is a one-man show written by a woman. That’s all I know about the author going in to see the show, because she remains anonymous. And each night a different male comedian sees her script for the first time, as he performs it. This was such a weird premise for a show that I […]

  Oliver Simmonds

Chloe Lamford’s set presents a box in the Jerwood Downstairs surrounded by scaffolding, which contains the kind of modern, expensive, prefab apartment you see in every part of Central London. It’s typical, and typically furnished, and the performance notes specify that the ‘generic art’ on the walls looks like it’s been ‘chosen by a property […]

  Oliver Simmonds

The Royal Court’s associate designer, Chloe Lamford, got five writers ‘exploring performance through language, physicality and the power of the imagination’. They wrote a piece each. I caught two of those. I’ll be writing this review in past tense because the plays were on for three nights, and I wanted time to think over them. […]

  Oliver Simmonds

It was an Event. Jez Butterworth is The Playwright. An Architect. Racy and gnomic. Not a priori great—David Hare was The Playwright and he’s made no great work since Skylight. But look at any recommendations of the century’s best plays: Jerusalem ranks one. Since 2009 Butterworth’s done minor work, like The River, and disconcertingly/reassuringly added […]

  Oliver Simmonds

Okay, time for another round. For some reason I forgot why I chose Best Actor/Best Actress categories—was there a special reason for that? They seem like a 1950’s vestige. Who knows. So here are the winners, acknowledging that two productions win twice, but I can assure those who didn’t see them they really were that […]

  Oliver Simmonds

‘Why?’ is what you leave with. It’s what you come in with, too, but you have an answer to that. ‘It’s Simon McBurney. It’s Complicite. It’s about a plainly interesting Hollywood producer, but you know McBurney’s going to spin it into something relevant, something golden.’ But does he? Because The Kid Stays in the Picture […]

  Oliver Simmonds

It’s a grind to attend three hours of theatre. But grinds aren’t always bad. Sometimes, the alienation that accompanies “why I am watching this?” can induce some valuable critical distance. There are good questions to be raised about Suzan-Lori Parks’ Father Comes Home from the Wars. In the process of watching it: “why three parts?”, […]

  Oliver Simmonds

A lot of Royal Court’s Upstairs programming is too dry for its own good. Not this. Nathaniel Martello-White’s Torn wears complexity on its sleeve. Angel arranges a circle of seats and then her family into a room, like an AA meeting, and wants to tackle the wrongs in her life. We don’t know her problem, […]

  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 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

It is best to see Lela & Co without knowledge of it beforehand—if you want to see worthwhile theatre then stop reading this and go see it, essentially. The reason you want to know less about it is that Cordelia Lynn’s script creates expectations from the outset and relentlessly reshapes them. Lela is a pitiful […]