Of Mice And Men

4 stars

Like many people, I first encountered this iconic piece of literature during my school days – and I was curious to see how the familiar tale of rural America would transition to Brighton’s Theatre Royal. Very successfully, as it turns out. The set was fantastic – put together by the ensemble of actors, accompanied by live musicians – and formed the perfect backdrop to the touching story of friendship between George (played by William Rodell) and Lennie (Kristian Phillips). The pair are farm workers, constantly on the move in the search for employment, but dreaming of eventually having enough money to buy their own land and build their own home.

Reviewed by Tig Land on Wednesday 20 April | Read more

Jackie The Musical

4 stars

Entering the Theatre Royal for this upbeat evening of entertainment, there is absolutely no mistaking which era you are embracing. The retro set – complete with glitter balls and lurid furniture – is complemented the flamboyant costumes of the 70’s, where tank tops, flares and patterned shirts ruled the fashion of the day.

Reviewed by Tig Land on Wednesday 6 April | Read more

The Herbal Bed

4 stars

Set in 1613, and based – it’s claimed – on real events, The Herbal Bed centres around the home and herbal garden of the gullible Dr John Hall, played here by Jonathan Guy Lewis. All seems well in the doctor’s world – until his wife Susanna (Emma Lowndes) is publicly accused of adultery with her neighbour Rafe Smith (Philip Correia). The affair has a double edge to it, for Susanna is the daughter of a rebellious playwright called William Shakespeare… and her husband’s practice of natural medicine challenges the fundamental beliefs of the church. Facts become distorted, rumours are fuelled by lies, and it is decided that a public enquiry by a Church court must play both judge and jury.

Reviewed by Tig Land on Wednesday 23 March | Read more

Rambert - The 3 Dancers, plus other works

3 stars

The dance company Rambert returns to Brighton with this triple-bill, combining the title piece The 3 Dancers with two further new performances, Hydrargyrum and Transfigured Night. As so often with mixed bills, it’s hard to know what to expect overall; the effect is a bit like a lucky dip, and how much you connect with the combination of works is at least partly down to chance.

Reviewed by Tig Land on Thursday 17 March | Read more

The Perfect Murder

3 stars

A red carpet outside the theatre, police cadets on every door, a full house… and two of my very favourite soap stars in the lead roles. My expectations were high for this adaptation of the novel by Peter James. As you’d expect from James, the play is set in Brighton, and it focuses on the long-term marriage of Victor and Joan Smiley (Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace) – who, when together, are anything but “smiley by name and smiley by nature.”

Reviewed by Tig Land on Tuesday 8 March | Read more

King Charles III

4 stars

King Charles III has certainly picked an irresistible theme to explore: the soap opera that is the British Royal Family, and the unanswerable question of what really happens behind those tightly-closed sovereign doors. When no cameras are rolling, how different is the private persona from what we see in public? Could it be that something more manipulative and devious is afoot?

Reviewed by Tig Land on Tuesday 9 February | Read more

Private Lives

4 stars

When they’re done well, Noel Coward's fast-moving and quick-witted plays are always a delight to witness, and this production of his famous comedy of manners did not disappoint. The storyline is a simple one: a divorced couple, who haven’t seen each other for years, each embark on honeymoon with their new partners… only to discover that they’re in adjacent hotel rooms. Predictably, their “ludicrous, over bearing” passion is re-kindled on sight.

Reviewed by Tig Land on Thursday 4 February | Read more

Hairspray

4 stars

Hairspray is a show full of big musical numbers, big costumes and even bigger hair. Set in the 1960's, the storyline follows the upbeat Tracy Turnblad (played by the excellent Freya Sutton) – an unlikely heroine, who gets the guy and changes Baltimore's attitude towards racial integration. The combination works well: it's an inspired move to tackle serious issues of segregation behind a superficial facade. And it's all done with the help of a back-combed hairdo, and Tracy's trusty can of hairspray.

Reviewed by Tig Land on Tuesday 1 December | Read more

The Last Tango

3 stars

The Last Tango is the latest show from former Strictly Come Dancing stars Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace – and, if you believe their website, the very last chance to see them on tour. My attention was caught at once by the tantalising chaos of a life-size house, beautifully arranged around an assortment of belongings which had been clearly hoarded by the main character. And so we find George (Teddy Kempner) emerging into the attic, fighting his way through boxes full of memories.

Reviewed by Tig Land on Tuesday 17 November | Read more

Dial 'M' For Murder

3 stars

Chances are, you know Dial M For Murder as a Hitchcock film – but long before it got the big-screen treatment, it was already a successful stage play. This comfortingly old-fashioned production returns to Frederick Knott’s original script, telling the ill-starred tale of a cuckolded husband and his plans for revenge on his wayward wife. Set, as the programme tells us, on “a Friday evening in September 1952”, the plot oscillates between meticulously well-laid plans and desperate off-the-cuff improvisation… and as the husband’s murderous scheme begins to unravel, the shadow of the hangman’s noose is never far away.

Reviewed by Richard Stamp on Thursday 5 November | Read more

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