Lampooning love

Published on: Wed, 16/10/2019 - 08:58

Josh Chown

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, which ran last week at the Network Theatre, London, presents a sequence of comical vignettes of different stages of relationships and romance.

Highlighting the problems of relationships in capitalist society, the show immediately draws comparisons between gender roles and attitudes, with the men possessing overbearing egos, while the women are waiting at home for telephone calls, or for the final seconds of a football match to arrive.

The musical ran for 12 years off-Broadway in New York in 1996-2008. This production intertwines scenes of heterosexual

The Good Soldier Schwejk

Published on: Wed, 17/04/2019 - 10:18

Jill Mountford

Jill Mountford reviews The Good Soldier Schwejk (and His Fortunes in the World War) - written by Jaroslav Hasek, published 1923, adapted and directed by Christine Edzard, Sands Films, 2017. Currently being shown in Rotherhithe, London, and soon to be released on DVD.

Christine Edzard has made it her mission to revive interest in what was possibly the first satirical comedy about the absurdity of war. She adapted The Good Soldier Schwejk (sometimes spelt Svejk, pronounced Shvake) to mark the centenary of World War I.

It is about a naive and foolish patriot, unquestioningly loyal to the Austro

“They steal the roses from our cheeks”

Published on: Wed, 20/03/2019 - 10:11

Jill Mountford

A ten-week strike involving recently unionised women home-workers is the subject of Neil Gore’s latest production.

“‘Rouse, Ye Women” is a folk-ballad opera telling the stirring story of the Chainmakers’ Strike of 1910 through uplifting songs sung by Bryony Purdue as Mary MacArthur, and Rowan Godal as “Bird”, a downtrodden chainmaker.

With only a guitar and banjolele, a simple but evocative set, and an imaginative use of lighting, the audience are quickly transported to a backyard outhouse in Cradley Heath.

This foot tapping, hand clapping, chorus sing-along performance is an inspiring play

Jackie Walker's questionable allies

Published on: Mon, 07/08/2017 - 15:39

Dale Street

“Anti-Semitism is a crime. Anti-Zionism is a duty” read the banner in front of the stage at Jackie Walker’s performance of her one-person show “The Lynching” at the Edinburgh Fringe in early August.

Walker is currently facing Labour Party disciplinary charges over allegations of antisemitism. She describes her play as “the one-woman show about a real-life witch-hunt: an attempt to destroy Jeremy Corbyn and an entire political movement.”

According to the play’s publicity, the play tells you “what they wouldn’t let Jackie Walker tell you.” Who “they” are is not defined. Nor is there any

Rezso Kasztner and Zionism

Published on: Wed, 02/11/2016 - 12:35

Dale Street

Was Rezso Kasztner, leader of the Budapest-based Jewish Relief and Rescue Committee during the Nazi occupation of Hungary, a hero who saved the lives of tens or even hundreds of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust? Or was he a collaborator who knowingly played an indispensable role in assisting the Nazis in the deportation and murder of nearly 500,000 Hungarian Jews in a matter of weeks?

To answer that question Paul Bogdanor has examined previously unused documentation, including Kasztner’s private papers, and evidence provided by Kasztner himself in two libel trials held in Israel in the

The patriotic traitor

Published on: Wed, 24/02/2016 - 10:46

Eric Lee

The title of Jonathan Lynn’s new play The Patriotic Traitor could refer to either of the play’s two protagonists.

One, Marshall Philippe Pétain, betrayed France to the Germans in 1940, while believing all the time that he was doing so in order to save the country. The other, his disciple and close friend Charles de Gaulle, was branded a traitor by the Vichy regime and sentenced to death when he fled the country for exile, to take on leadership of the Free French forces.

The play, which just opened at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, is a tour de force. The venerable Tom Conti is so good

What happens to a dream deferred?

Published on: Wed, 10/02/2016 - 13:08

Jean Lane

A Raisin in the Sun was written in 1959 by Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965), the first black woman to have a play performed on Broadway and the inspiration behind Nina Simone’s ‘Young Gifted and Black’.

The play is set in an overcrowded Chicago slum apartment just before the emergence of the civil rights movement. The Youngers, a working class family comprising of grandmother Nena (Mama), her son Walter with his wife Ruth and child Travis, and Walter’s sister, Beneatha, are about to come into an insurance pay-out of $10,000, after the death of Nina’s husband. The potential opportunities that

“Bottom up not top down”

Published on: Tue, 13/10/2015 - 17:48

Liam Conway

La Villita (Little Village), West Side Chicago, 2001. Parents demand that a school is built on vacant land. Nineteen go on hunger strike to achieve this goal.

They pledge not to back down until there is justice on the south side of town. Many local people turn out to show solidarity with the hunger strikers. Not only do they win the demand for a school but also a role for teachers, parents and students in the design of the new building.

So begins Banner Theatre’s musical account of the inspiring story of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and their supporters, in taking on and mostly defeating

Portraying capitalist injustice

Published on: Tue, 06/10/2015 - 16:56

Sandra Robinson

The touring theatre company, Townsend Productions, are now on the road with their excellent play, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, based on Robert Tressell’s novel, first published in 1914.

The play is the latest in a string of politically committed and successful plays, including ‘United We Stand’ (the story of the Shrewsbury pickets), ‘We Will Be Free!’ (the Tolpuddle Martyrs story) and ‘On the Road to Freedom’ (a choir and theatre community project).

The cast portray the novel’s central message of the brutality and injustice of capitalism whilst remaining true to the story’s

The cultural front

Published on: Fri, 29/08/2014 - 20:16


No quaint period piece (Review of Richard the 3rd by Clive Bradley)
Bringing it all back home (Jimmy Roberts on Bob Dylan)
Forgotten sounds (Maurice Dunstan)

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