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Central Reviews

King John – Swan Theatre, Stratford upon Avon

Writer: William Shakespeare Director: Eleanor Rhode Reviewer: Katie Burchett Neon lights, foam hands and political sparring in a boxing ring; Eleanor Rhode brings Shakespeare’s unsung King John to the Swan Theatre in an explosion of visual splendour. It is a rare thing to go into a Shakespeare play with no preconceived ideas of how it’ll be done, but from the ...

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Barber Shop Chronicles – The HOUSE, Birmingham REP

Writer: Inua Ellams Director: Bijan Sheibani Reviewer: John Kennedy This heart and soul hug from a 100% proof rum-soaked octopus, is a pan-African celebratory safari of the human condition. The episodic chronicles, bookended with a capella tribal chants rendered in location-context local dialects, are a seductive, ear-stalking delight. These barbers’ shops monopolise the community-chest treasury of folly, frailty and home-spun ...

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9 to 5: The Musical – Milton Keynes Theatre

Book: Patricia Resnick Music and Lyrics: Dolly Parton Director: Jeff Calhoun Reviewer: Rebecca Cohen Reviewer: Gemma Fincher If you are looking for a musical with big hair and even bigger belts, then look no further than Dolly Parton’s ultimate feel-good musical of female empowerment, 9 to 5 The Musical. The queen of country music’s signature style is all over this ...

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Calendar Girls: The Musical – Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton

Music: Gary Barlow Lyrics: Gary Barlow and Tim Firth Director: Matt Ryan Reviewer: Clare White It’s been 16 years since the film Calendar Girls was released, inspired by a true story about a Women’s Institute group from Yorkshire who ditched jam and Jerusalem to bare all for a nude charity calendar. It was the brainchild of Chris Harper, who wanted ...

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The Lovely Bones – Theatre Royal Nottingham

Writer: Bryony Lavery from the book by Alice Sebold Director: Melly Stil Reviewer: CL Delft Alice Sebold’s The  Lovely Bones was an unlikely literary best-seller in the mid-2000s: it tells the story of the consequences of a child murder and its impact on her family and community, seen from the point of view of the murdered child (Susie Salmon) herself.  ...

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Rebel Music – The DOOR, Birmingham REP

Creators: Robin French and Alex Brown Director: Alex Brown Reviewer: John Kennedy Complementing the programme’s Punk Font front cover, the audience are welcomed with hi-viz stickers proclaiming  ‘NAZIS are No Fun’. Evidence alone that, not only did Rock Against Racism coalesce seemingly impossible, eclectic musical genres under a common cause, they also had a wry sense of ironic understatement. Mixed-race, Denise’s ...

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Birmingham Royal Ballet Autumn Mixed Bill – Birmingham Hippodrome

Choreographers: Jack Lister, Cathy Marston, Twyla Tharp Reviewer: John Kennedy A Brief Nostalgia reveals two vertical, concreted-texture slabs. A vicious, horizontal fusillade of power-shadowed lighting splays the six dancers flaying in a dystopian matrix nightmare. Well, Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) just wouldn’t have it any other way when inviting the Queensland (Australia) Ballet to nimble/stomp tread their guest-spot balletic brilliance on the ...

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Stardust – Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Book: Shahid Iqbal Khan and Sâmir Bhamra Music and Lyrics: Robby Khela Director: Sâmir Bhamra Reviewer: James Garrington This week at the Belgrade we find the world premiere of Stardust, which is billed as the “first South Asian-led production to depict a same-sex marriage on a British stage.” It may seem strange to a white British audience to realise how many cultures exist where ...

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