Monthly Archives: July 2016




(Michael Paulson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/31; via Pam Green.)

Alert the Department of Magical Transportation. Harry Potter is considering a trip to New York.

The lead producers of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the new play that is a sequel — and the eighth story — in the Harry Potter canon, said this weekend that, having won over critics and audiences in London, they are ready to start thinking about a Broadway production.

The producers, Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender, said in a joint telephone interview that they have made no decisions, but that they expect to begin conversations in London this week and to schedule meetings in New York in the fall.



(Lyn Gardner’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/29.)

1 The Destroyed Room

Taking its name from Jeff Wall’s famed photograph of a trashed bedroom, which appeared on the cover of a Sonic Youth album, this latest piece from Vanishing Point continues director Matthew Lenton’s obsession with how we watch. The show takes the form of a conversation between three comfortable white people and highlights the gulf between the realities of humanitarian disaster and our view of them from our armchairs. If that sounds a little dry, the show builds to a devastating climax.

Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu to 8 Aug

2 Faith Healer

Brian Friel’s exquisite 1979 play is a work of both brilliant simplicity and swirling complexity that explores human frailty, self-belief and the nature of creativity. Taking the form of four monologues told by three people – the first and last from the faith healer himself, the others from his wife Grace and his manager Teddy – it pioneered a style that influenced a new generation of Irish playwrights, most notably Conor McPherson.

Donmar Warehouse, WC2, to 20 Aug

3 Unreachable

It’s doubtful that there is a funnier show on the London stage than Anthony Neilson’s piece. Former Doctor Who Matt Smith plays Maxim, a film director so intent on capturing the perfect light that he will stall his own movie by any means possible, including bringing in unreliable actor Ivan (Jonjo O’Neill), otherwise known as “the brute”. O’Neill is hilarious, but behind the laughter is a piece that explores the creative process and the way our days are spent chasing the elusive light – or moment – that we believe will make sense of everything.

Jerwood Theatres at The Royal Court, SW1, to 6 Aug



(Bruce Weber’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/26.)

James M. Nederlander, who, with mercenary guile and an admittedly plebeian aesthetic, presided for nearly half a century over a theater empire that encompassed as many as 10 houses on Broadway and stretched across the country to California and across the Atlantic to London, died on Monday in Southampton, N.Y. He was 94.

His death was confirmed by Nick Scandalios, executive vice president of the Nederlander Organization.

Mr. Nederlander (pronounced NEE-der-lan-der), chairman of the organization, an entertainment company that presented arena concerts as well as theatrical shows, began with the purchase of a single New York theater, the Palace on Broadway, in 1964, and rose to become a legitimate rival to the powerful Shuberts.



(Lauren Collins-Hughes’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/28.)

“You drink here, aye?” an outsider named Ian asks Jimmy, the scruffy regular he’s come to meet in a Belfast pub. The look that flickers across Ian’s face says it’s a disquieting choice.

With its couple of taps and its video poker machine, this ordinary bar is seemingly as good a spot as any to have a pint and watch a match on TV. But for these two middle-age men, each of them walking carnage, it will always be the site of the horror that detonated there the summer they were 16, when the Troubles roiled Northern Ireland and they were on opposite sides.

It is difficult to imagine a piece of theater more perfectly suited to our jittery, antagonistic American moment than “Quietly,” Owen McCafferty’s rage-filled, wounded, mournful play about terrorism, civil war and the damage that remains after the hatred cools. Directed by Jimmy Fay, this delicately acted production from the Abbey Theater in Dublin arrives on the stage of the Irish Repertory Theater like Dickens’s ghost of Jacob Marley, dragging the chains of sins committed long ago.



(Robbie Collin’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 7/29.)

Marisa Berenson first realised Stanley Kubrick wasn’t like other directors when he told her to stay out of direct sunlight for six months before filming.

It was the summer of 1972. Berenson was a 25-year-old Vogue cover model who’d spent most of her adult life whistling round the world with a photographer in tow. But she’d also just been cast opposite Ryan O’Neal as the female lead in Barry Lyndon, Kubrick’s long-gestating 18th-century costume drama. And his aim for total historical accuracy extended to the complexions of his cast.

I thought, ‘Oh my God, how am I going to get through the summer?’ ” recalls Berenson, now a regal and radiant 69, in the bar of a London hotel. (She’s appearing as Lady Capulet in Kenneth Branagh’s production of Romeo and Juliet.) “I had a trip planned to St Tropez, and in those days I was always basking on the beach in bikinis.” The solution, as it so often does, involved transparent kaftans.–i-wish-dali-ha/



(Kent’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/29.)

Portmanteau seasons often seem to me more of an exercise in marketing than they are in art. “Thank God,” we used to say, when I ran a theatre, “we can call it the French Season.” Or the Father and Son Season. Or whatever tenuous link we could find between disparate plays. A sort of theatrical forced marriage. I doubt if it ever sold tickets, but it cheered up the marketing department no end.

However the Young Chekhov season is different. It charts the evolution of genius and, with The Seagull, the birth of 20th century theatre, and by extension our contemporary stage. Three plays – PlatonovIvanov and The Seagull – are performed in repertoire by the same company of 23 actors in revelatory and dazzling adaptations by David Hare, who has reshaped and refashioned them, while remaining entirely true to their subversive spirit. We did productions of both Platonov and Ivanov when I was at the Almeida, and it was always our intention to complete the trilogy. However, life got in the way and now, 15 years later, it’s a rare and great opportunity to at last put them together.



(Charles Isherwood’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/22; via Pam Green.)

Light barely seems to penetrate the atmosphere of “The Merchant of Venice” in the brooding, powerful production from Shakespeare’s Globethat’s being presented through the weekend as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. Little illumination filters through the carved wooden walls that dominate the set, and a blanket of smoke often shrouds the stage like a thick fog, as if to hide the iniquity so vividly on display.

The production, which stars a deeply moving Jonathan Pryce as Shylock, does begin on a frolicsome note, with masked actors dancing onstage, as during Venice’s carnival. But a note of discord, of brutality, brings the merriment to a disturbing close, as two Jewish men passing by are attacked and thrown to the ground.



(Mary Leland’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 7/27.)

Choreographer and creator Alan Kenefick’s experiment aims to bridge the genre-gap between, for example, Michael Jackson and traditional Irish dance. It’s this revolutionary thesis that energises the Opera House production.

When choreography has to carry a philosophical message the weight can become too heavy to bear, and in political terms, Prodijig comes close to sinking. Jettison that lode though and, on the physical evidence, no burden is too cumbersome for the troupe gathered here in an ensemble of miraculous stamina.



(Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/25; via Pam Green.)

LONDON — Oh, for a wizard’s spell that would allow me to tell you everything, and then erase it completely from your memory. But though I paid rapt attention during the afternoon and evening I spent at “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” which opened in a blaze of outrageous enchantment on Monday night at the Palace Theater here, I failed to pick up on any recipe for inducing post-tell-all amnesia in Muggles, which is Potter-speak for nonwizards like you and me.

This eagerly anticipated, two-part, five-hour-plus sequel to J. K. Rowling’s best-selling, seven-volume series of “Harry Potter” novels is the kind of play that you want to describe in detail, if only to help you figure out how it achieves what is does. That would be a kind of magic that is purely theatrical yet somehow channels the addictive narrative grip of Ms. Rowling’s prose.



(Dominic Cavendish’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 7/26.)

Flash, Bang, Wallop! What a turn-up for the books! Half a Sixpence, the larky musical that catapulted Tommy Steele into a different showbiz league over half a century ago, has been enhanced, re-sized, had all its blemishes removed and now looks pretty close to perfection. Someone – producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh, surely, who has had a close hand in this revival – should stick it pronto in the West End, where it hasn’t been seen since its initial 1963 run. 

Take a bow Julian Fellowes – he of Downton Abbey fame – who has done a sterling job scripting a new book, finding richer dramatic pickings in the 1905 HG Wells novel “Kipps”, and re-organising the story so that it no longer seems a broken-backed affair on stage. A bouquet apiece for composer George Stiles and lyricist Anthony Drewe who have diligently buffed-up David Heneker’s charming-catchy numbers and brilliantly supplemented them at every turn.