Review: The Belle’s Stratagem

The strength, and weakness, of theatre is that it’s a gamble. Often quite an extensive one if you find yourself gravitating towards the good stuff. So I’m just going to come out right off the back and tell you this one’s a sparkler. The material is great, the execution is spot on – it’s well-conceived, well-designed, and most importantly of all, it’s great fun.

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Review: The Lover

Marguerite Duras’s autobiographical novel The Lover, published in 1984, is about an unnamed teenage girl who embarks on a relationship with a man twelve years her senior in 1930s Vietnam. From one angle, it’s about finding beautiful things in places you don’t expect them. From another, it’s about the dynamic between two very different people, and how it might be different from what you might anticipate. If you believe David Grieg in his programme note, The Lover might have one or two things to tell you about love.

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Review: The Tin Soldier

The first thing you should know about The Tin Soldier – and in fact the first thing I said upon leaving the theatre – is that it is absolutely charming. Its an unusual choice of source material for a show aimed at youngsters, not least because Hans Christian Andersen’s original, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, doesn’t have the most cheerful ending – but Birds of Paradise’s adaptation written by Mike Kenny is heartwarming, funny, inclusive, and cleverly realised. It might well be the show you didn’t realise you wanted to see this Christmas.

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Review: The Arabian Nights

Why have one story in your Christmas show when you could have a whole collection of them? In Suhayla El-Bushra’s new telling of The Arabian Nights at the Lyceum, directed by Joe Douglas, a stubborn and resourceful young girl named Scheherazade – played very likeably by Rehanna MacDonald – must use her storytelling to save her mother and the other inhabitants of Baghdad’s marketplace from imprisonment by the Sultan. There’s intrigue. There’s shadow puppetry. There’s a sock genie and dogs making fart jokes. In short, it’s everything you could want from a fun, charming night at the theatre.

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Review: Legally Blonde

The point of Legally Blonde – or at least this version of Legally Blonde, directed by Anthony Williams – isn’t so much what happens, as how it feels. Personally, I think that’s one of the things that makes theatre different from other modes of storytelling – the experience of being in a room with the rest of the audience, the rest of the performers, and sharing the feelings, the electricity. And this production goes all out, precisely as it should do: there’s technicolour set, dozens upon dozens of costume changes, frequent full-company dance breaks, glitter balls over the auditorium. The lighting designer has clearly had a field day. The result is exuberant, lively, and just all round a really great room to spend three hours in.

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