List: Three boys called Josh (and a boy called Lewis) or the Donmar young actors’ club

The Donmar Warehouse is having a good year. After Versailles (which I didn’t like), they hit a home run of three productions, each of them special in distinct and varied ways. Not only that, but a series of young actors took centre stage, and it’s been a huge pleasure discovering new talent for the ever expanding “Actors to Watch Out for” list. In strict alphabetical order:

Joshua James: Before Fathers and Sons, I hadn’t seen Joshua James since Polly Stenham’s No Quarter and how has he grown! As Arkady, he held the centre of the story with confidence and did this thing my favourite actors do, balancing the ridiculousness and majesty of the human nature in a single breath.

Joshua James in Fathers and Sons. Photo Johan Persson

Joshua James in Fathers and Sons. Photo Johan Persson

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Review: James Graham’s Privacy at the Donmar Warehouse

Joshua Mcguire and (in the background) Jonathan Coy, Paul Chahidi, Gunnar Cauthery. Photo Johan Persson

Joshua Mcguire and (in the background) Jonathan Coy, Paul Chahidi, Gunnar Cauthery. Photo Johan Persson

Is it a play? Is it a comedy gig? Is it an interactive training session? Or maybe an existential thriller? Dazzling and confident, James Graham’s new play Privacy could very well sit under any of these banners but before you have time to consider a label, it has already moved on. Multitasking underlines most of modern life, why not the theatre? All in one, the tour is fast and furious: data, journalism, Mousetrap, Shakespeare, squeaky dolphin, NSA, Google earth, Tesco club cards, and that’s only scratching the surface. (By the corporate name-dropping, it’s evident the Donmar lawyers had to work overtime on this. So much so, they got to be in the play).

Which is not to say Privacy lacks substance. It all ties to a coherent – if unconventional – narrative where the writer is the protagonist, as much of the story as of his own existential and creative crisis. Continue reading

Review: The Magistrate at the National Theatre (starring John Lithgow, Nancy Carroll)

Arthur Wing Pinero’s The Magistrate was not the first choice for a Christmas show at the National, but as Christmas productions go, it’s a perfect seasonal treat: expertly directed by Timothy Sheader, it’s light footed, frothy, witty, with a twinkle in its eye and a spring in its step.

For anyone familiar with 19th century farce, the plot has few surprises: Agatha Farringdon, a young widow with a son, married the Magistrate Mr Posket and a little lie at the time of her wedding has complicated her life ever since. The more she tries to cover it, the more things twist and turn out of her control. At the same time, her husband and son succumb into their own temptations, as a result two imperfect worlds collide with – as they say – unforeseen consequences.

The plot might be less than surprising but the fun is in the spaces in between: Continue reading