People often ask me why I go to see so much theatre, as if it were a sign of madness. Perhaps it is, but the answer is simple: because every now and then you encounter something like this new play, which demonstrates the value, power and relevance of theatre and expands your understanding of the world.
The nearest thing I have seen to a perfect play, writes Alex Delaney. Vicky Jones’ award-winning first play, The One, explores the concept of romance in our present age. It is terrifyingly dark, indescribably hilarious, and holds its audience captive from the off. Exquisitely directed and faultlessly performed, it is the nearest thing I have seen to a perfect play. All of which makes it very hard to write a review that doesn’t read like a love letter. ‘The One’ takes place in the living room of a flat shared by Harry and Jo. The space is dominated by a large red sofa, which becomes both battlefield and boudoir as the play unfolds. Classical music swells, a starlit backdrop shimmers; our protagonists glide onto the stage and into a passionate embrace. It is every inch the fairy tale ending, just before ‘happily ever after’. This overblown sentimentality is abruptly and … Read more
The set of Being Shakespeare, Simon Callow’s one-man exploration of the life of our most treasured playwright , appears very simple at first glance: a small raised wooden platform dotted with objects – a sword, a globe, a paper crown, piles of books and a model carousel adorned with sprites. To the right, four wooden chairs are stacked. It is onto this bare space that Callow ambles and begins to speak. Initially he seems merely to lecture us on the facts of Shakespeare’s life but quickly he transforms as he begins to act. Callow plays kings, mothers, boys, teenage lovers, Romans, friends and countrymen; moving seamlessly between them and, with the smallest changes, embodying each character. It is a virtuosic performance. Being Shakespeare is, however, more than a collection of his Greatest Hits. Callow, and the play’s author Johnathan Bate, take us through the seven ages of a single man … Read more