Othello, Shakespeare’s Globe

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By Laura Kressly

Who knew one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies could be funny? Director and composer Claire van Kampen has tapped into a rare rhythm that sees Iago as a weaselly, clownish man lacking power and finesse, yet still manages to twist Othello into knots. Played by Mark Rylance, one of the finest actors of his generation, his performance is the strongest feature of this production.

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As You Like It & Hamlet, Shakespeare’s Globe

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It would be so much fun to be part of Michelle Terry’s ensemble cast that performs both Hamlet and As You Like It to open this year’s season and her tenure as artistic director. They’re having a great time in what are something of a return to the Rylance era of the actor-manager, but uneven pacing and a smattering of interesting but disconnected choices lead to a lack of cohesion that indicates a lack directorial voice.

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Pericles Prince de Tyr, Barbican

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by Laura Kressly

Flawless royal blue walls reminiscent of the sea surround an unresponsive, middle aged man lying in a hospital bed. Nurses and a doctor flit in an out, efficiently checking vitals and holding quick, whispered conversations with waiting family. This is Pericles, physically and mentally buffeted by a life of grief and tragedy, but this is not quite the story of Pericles that Shakespeare and Wilkins co-wrote. Translated into French and then adapted, Cheek by Jowl here present a man in poor physical and mental health trapped inside his head, in a world composed either of memories or the figments of his imagination.

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Hamilton, Victoria Palace Theatre

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Let’s get this out of the way first – does Hamilton live up to the hype? Yes. It’s very good. Though the revolution in the plot doesn’t influence the dramaturgy, that doesn’t mean it’s not a fantastic show that musically updates the genre and skillfully triggers a spectrum of emotions. It’s simultaneously epic and intimate, staged surprisingly simply with striking, sculptural choreography and utterly engaging throughout.

But this pro-immigration, hip-hop reinvention of the all-American musical about a country gaining independence from a distant, tyrannical overlord resonates rather differently in Brexit Britain than it does in America. Forget the NHS bus – could Hamilton be the new symbol of the Leave campaign?

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This Beautiful Future, Yard Theatre

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by guest critic Nastazja Somers

France 1944. A young French girl Elodike runs to meet her lover, a German soldier Otto. Their love is innocent and pure, the exact opposite of the world around them. This is a place that has been torn by war, despair and hunger. Yet the young pair of lovers find time and space to make love, talk about their family and friends, and most importantly connect – despite their differences.

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Nanette, Soho Theatre

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by guest critics Maeve Ryan & Mark Nilsson

The show opens with award-winning comedian Hannah Gadsby revealing that, actually, she plans to give up standup comedy. She confesses that she has spent her ten-year career doing the set up and punchline of jokes. Jokes, she says, are about tension: in the first part she creates the tension and in the second part she releases it, and then we laugh.

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Part of the Picture, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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Peppered across the North Sea, giant metal birds stretch towards the sky and drill into the seabed below, hunting for life-giving oils and gasses. Along their wide bellies, men work day and night to keep them moving in dangerous, dirty conditions. The money’s good, and the work is plentiful.

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