Archive for the ‘Theatre’ Category

The Fellowship (Hampstead Theatre)

Posted: June 28, 2022 in Theatre
Photo: Robert Day

Writer: Roy Williams

Director: Paulette Randall


How long does it take for an immigrant community and its new home country to adjust fully to each other? This is the key question asked by Roy Williams in The Fellowship, his newest state of the nation play, receiving its world premiere here. Sisters Marcia and Dawn are descended from the Windrush generation and the play, set in present day London, tells how their lives have followed different courses, while the bond between them has remained strong.

Having stepped in at very short notice to take the pivotal role of Dawn, Cherrelle Skeete emerges in triumph, giving a remarkably assured, almost word perfect performance. Dawn and her partner Tony (Trevor Laird) have had two sons, one of which was murdered in a racially motivated attack. Marcia (Suzette Llewellyn) is a successful barrister who has become involved in a relationship with a high-flying politician and is heading for a fall.

Dawn and Tony’s surviving son, Jermaine (Ethan Hazzard), is now involved in a relationship with a white girl, Simone (Rosie Day). Adding to the family’s woes, the sisters’ mother is upstairs dying, it is revealed that Marcia and Tony were once lovers and both Marcia and Dawn have separate brushes with the law, represented by a black officer, PC Spencer (Yasmin Mwanza). Yes, Williams packs in enough plot, some of it trivial, to fill a whole week’s episodes of Eastenders and the soap-style melodrama frequently threatens to submerge the writer’s cutting and burningly relevant social observations. 

Inserting references to infamous real life event, Williams examines the roles of heritage, identity and family in modern life. He paints a picture of a community which remains ill at ease with its adopted homeland, still harbouring suspicion and mistrust many decades after planting roots there. Marcia is said to be accepted in the corridors of power only because “they” have allowed her to be there and Dawn violently opposes her son’s romance with Simone, because she is white. Williams sees prejudice between minority and majority communities as operating in both direction, but he also expresses hope that barriers are, very gradually, being broken down.

Libby Watson’s set design seems peculiar to say the least. A curved modern staircase embraces the entire stage and a giant overhead halo (representing a much used smart speaker) is mirrored on the floor. Overall, the set resembles the interior of a chic fashion store more than the intimate family living space that it is meant to be and it adds to the muddle of a play which often feels uncertain of its direction.

Director Paulette Randall’s production is at its best when it gives life to the humour in Williams’ writing and at its worst when it substitutes excessive shouting for genuine emotion. The comedy highlight comes with a long speech by Dawn, effectively apologising for becoming immersed in “white” culture. It is delivered by Skeete with total conviction before she dances joyfully to a track by Kylie Minogue.

Part drama and part comedy, part serious social commentary and part soap opera, The Fellowship is, in close to equal measures, entertaining, enlightening and exasperating.

Performance date: 27 June 2022

Photo: The Other Richard

Writer: Pierre Marivaux

Translator: Martin Crimp

Director: Paul Miller


In these days, few of us have servants and that is a blessing if judged by the conniving bunch in Pierre Marivaux’s 18th Century anti-romantic comedy, The False Servant. The French writer’s play in this translation by Martin Crimp was seen previously at the National Theatre in 2004 and director Paul Miller’s revival looks well merited.

The first servant to appear and then disappear is Frontin (Uzair Bhatti). He is despatched to Paris by his master, the Chevalier, and he recruits former acquaintance, Trivelin, a once wealthy man who has fallen on hard (and debauched) times, as his temporary replacement. Before leaving, he informs Trivelin that the Chevalier is actually a woman and also a servant, her disguise being part of a plot to stop the forthcoming marriage of heartless nobleman, Lelio (Julian Moore-Cook), to the elegant but gullible Countess (Phoebe Pryce).

Will Brown revels in the seediness of his Trivelin, his every word spiked with impudence. He alone appears as a dishevelled down-and-out, while all around him are attired in smart, modern day outfits. Lizzy Watts is a not so masculine but ruthless Chevalier, flirting with the Countess sweetly and thwarting the dastardly Lelio without mercy. Many playwrights, Shakespeare included, would allow their cross-dressing heroines to show a softer side, but Marivaux does not go there. Affairs of the heart take a distant second place to affairs of the bank balance in this play’s relentlessly cynical humour.

Silas Wyatt-Barke chips in as Arlequin, Lelio’s scheming, heavy drinking servant. During Miller’s tenure as Artistic Director of the Orange Tree Theatre, shortly coming to an end, many of his own productions have been distinguished by memorably strong ensemble playing. That happy tradition continues here. The play’s ridiculous plot may be too convoluted to follow, but the dexterous wit of Marivaux/Crimp’s dialogue enlivens it and bang-on performances carry it along at a breezy pace.

Marivaux could not have known 21st Century attitudes towards gender and relationships, but Crimp and Miller certainly do and they squeeze every drop of innuendo out of the characters’ antics. The False Servant’s promise of a couple of hours of non-stop fun is not a deception; in that respect, the play is the genuine article.

Performance date: 13 June 2022

Photo: Johan Persson

Writer: Tennessee Williams

Director: Jeremy Herrin


Last seen in the West End as recently as 2017 at this same theatre, Tennessee Williams’ semi-autobiographical play, The Glass Menagerie seems to have become elevated to a place alongside the writer’s better known and most frequently performed works. A study of how family ties draw in and repel, the play embraces themes that resonate widely and it includes a larger-than-life central female character who is equally as fascinating as other Williams creations, such as Maggie “the cat” and Blanche DuBois.

The play, Williams’ first success, premiered in 1944 and is set in 1930s depression era America. The Wingfields, abandoned by their patriarch 16 years earlier, have an impoverished lifestyle and Amanda, now in middle age, yearns for bygone days while still nurturing her two grown children, Laura and the younger Tom, who is forced to work in a menial job to support the family.

Director Jeremy Herrin breaks with custom by casting two actors to play Tom, a character who we take to be based on Williams himself, at different ages. Paul Hilton is the older version, narrating the play as he looks back on his family life with perhaps faltering memory, torn between feelings of relief and guilt for his escape. Tom Glynn-Carney is the rebellious Tom in his early 20s, suffocated by natural affection and his duty as the breadwinner, while finding nightly refuge in trips to the movies and longing to become a poet. This separation of the character enhances a sense of distance between past and present, without obscuring the writer’s essential point that none of us can ever break free completely from our roots.

Amy Adams is a memorable Amanda, defiantly proud and still sprightly as she dons a ball gown, saved from her glory days as a Southern belle, in readiness for the arrival of a now rare gentleman caller. “I know all about the tyranny of women” she declares and, showing no trace of malevolence, she becomes a monster, crossing the line between caring for her offspring and controlling them. Amanda refuses to let go of the past, recalling that she once attracted 17 gentleman callers in a single day, thereby demeaning her daughter who has none in any normal day. Adams brings out the strength and the sadness of a woman who is in denial about  the present and deluded about her children’s futures, specifically the prospects of marrying off crippled and introverted Laura and keeping restless Tom on his leash.

Lizzie Annis is a childlike 24-year-old Laura, her shyness reinforced by her mother’s domination. She is overwhelmed by the gentleman caller, Tom’s work friend Jim O’Connor (a smooth talking Victor Alli). Their scene together, taking place during a power failure, should be pivotal, but it feels slightly overlong and laboured in this production.

Laura’s treasured glass menagerie becomes Williams’ metaphors for family and illusion, both of them fragile and inanimate. It gains prominence in Vicki Mortimer’s set design of the Wingfield’s shabby St Louis apartment; unfortunately, the writer’s direction that a memory play should be dimly lit is at times taken a little too literally by lighting designer Paule Constable.

A reflective and melancholy piece, The Glass Menagerie has no fireworks and contains none of the salacious themes that would become a Williams trademark in his later masterpieces. Herrin’s unspectacular yet beautifully acted revival captures the play’s tone fittingly throughout and its status as a classic of American theatre remains undiminished.

Performance date: 31 May 2022

Photo: Helen Murray

Writer: Beth Steel

Director: Blanche McIntyre


In her 2014 play, Wonderland, writer Beth Steel dissected the Miners’ Strike of 1984/85, showing remarkable balance when attributing blame for the consequences to specific parties. That was some feat and she now widens her perspective to chart the decline of industrial Britain and its human cost from 1965 to 2019 through the experiences of one family. The play is both epic and intimate.

The Websters are a working class family, living in an industrial community. Father Alistair (Stuart McQuarrie) is a trade union official and a fervent supporter of the Labour party. Mum stays at home because husbands in that area do not allow their wives to work; three teenage kids come and go and grandma Edith (Carol Macready) sits in a corner knitting and reminiscing about her late husband. Director Blanche McIntyre’s intense production has a strong opening, recreating an era of the Rolling Stones and hula hoops with the authentic feel of an early 60s “new wave” play or film. In this, she is ably supported by Anna Fleischle’s carefully detailed set designs and Liam Bunster’s period costumes.

The writer’s most compelling creation is the character of Mum, Constance, brought to vivid life by a magnificent performance from Anne-Marie Duff. Bound to Alistair in mutual antipathy, Constance insists that she is middle class, having been denied a place at a grammar school because a tyrannical father refused to buy her uniform. She is the heart and soul of the family and, at the same time, an outsider trapped by convention and imagining an alternative life as a professional singer. As an upholder of social respectability in an era of rigid rules, her actions are to have tragic consequences.

The play’s social themes are most strongly channeled  through Constance, while its political themes come out through Alistair and his children, Jack and Agnes. As a teenager, Jack, always at odds with his father, announces that he is joining the Communist party and, as an adult (given a defiantly resilient air by Michael Grady-Hall), he becomes an arch Thatcherite, going on to prosper in business. Agnes ((Kelly Gough) remains true to the principles held by her beloved father and lives a life of struggle and disappointment. The political arguments are written and performed with clarity and fiery passion.

Beginning with the heady optimism brought by the new Wilson government, the action moves though the industrial strife of the 1970s and the deindustrialisation of the 1980s; new family members are born and others die. Steel navigates this with wry observations, deft touches of humour and even very effective excursions into surrealism, which see the dead meeting the living. The most striking example of this is an encounter of mutual reassurance between Alistair and his hero, Aneurin Bevan (Mark Meadows).

Steel seems to conclude that, broadly over the years, the Tories have done what should have been expected of them, while the Labour movement has consistently failed those that it has existed to represent. When articulated through the angry voice of Agnes, the writer’s views are potent, but they could prove to be a bitter pill for many to swallow, particularly when delivered here, in the heart of Islington.

The final section takes us from 1996, with Blair’s New Labour on the ascendancy, through to 2019’s collapse of the red wall and a play that is already feeling overlong begins to show signs of strain. There are times when The House of Shades is weighed down by over ambition and times when the human and political dramas do not quite gel, but, when all the elements are working together as they should, this is a house on fire.

Performance date: 18 May 2022

The Breach (Hampstead Theatre)

Posted: May 13, 2022 in Theatre
Photo: Johan Persson

Writer: Naomi Wallace

Director: Sarah Frankcom


How easily the careless follies of exuberant youth can turn into regret and disappointment in later life. American born writer Naomi Wallace expands on this theme in her play, receiving its UK premiere here, and also examines the bonds of friendship and family, testing the strength of one against the other.

Set in Kentucky, the play begins in 1977. Teenager Acton (Stanley Morgan) and two of his friends, Frayne (Charlie Beck) and Hoke (Alfie Jones), form a club, meeting in the basement of his family home in the poorer part of town. Acton’s father is dead, following a fall from a high rise building, leaving his mother as the struggling breadwinner and his big sister, 17-year-old Jude, becomes de facto family head.

In alternating scenes, the play leaps forward to 1991, when the characters reunite, apart from Acton, who is missing. Shannon Tarbet as the young Jude is vibrant and controlling, extracting power from her position as the outsider. 14 years later, Jasmine Blackborow’s Jude is bitter and resentful, haunted by breaches of trust and loss, as she confronts Frayne (Douggie McMeekin) and Hoke (Tom Lewis) in a quest to uncover the truth of past events.

The storytelling is clear and compelling, but perhaps Wallace allows the focus to drift too much in the direction of Jude, leaving the male characters less well rounded and, crucially, only sketching in the details of Acton’s fate. The boys require each other to make significant personal sacrifices as demonstrations of commitment to their club and it is these actions which are to have lingering consequences, but, with the characters thinly drawn, the sacrifices made strain credibility.

Director Sarah Frankcom stages the play without sets, sharing the writer’s focus on Jude. The male bonding is, possibly, judged too much from a female perspective, but there is no questioning the depth of sibling devotion as Jude and Acton roll down the sloping stage, imagining the thoughts of their father when he was flying through the air to his death. Tarbet and Morgan make an endearing pair, grasping at the last straws of youthful innocence before adulthood encroaches on their lives.

The story is almost complete by the interval, leaving a gloomy second act of reflection and recrimination. This is not exactly a breach of promise, but it brings a disappointing climax to what is, for the most part, an unusual and gripping drama.

Performance date: 12 May 2022

Oklahoma! (Young Vic)

Posted: May 9, 2022 in Theatre
Photo: Marc Brenner

Music: Richard Rodgers

Book and lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II

Directors: Daniel Fish and Jordan Fein


In 1943, during the darkest days of World War II, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! premiered on Broadway, promising beautiful mornings, fresh beginnings and brighter tomorrows. The show captivated audiences and transformed musical theatre, but can it still work its magic almost 80 years later?

The Young Vic’s auditorium is re-designed to look like a school hall and there is no room for wide open prairies in this transfer of Daniel Fish’s stripped back Tony Award winning 2019 revival, now co-directed with Jordan Fein. When Arthur Darvill steps out to perform the show’s famous opening song, Oh What a Beautiful Morning, the contrast with Hugh Jackman roaming the vast Olivier stage, in Trevor Nunn’s 1998 National Theatre production, could not be starker. Oscar Hammerstein II bases his book on the 1931 play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs, which follows the lives of a pioneering community in the American West as their territory progresses towards full Statehood.

With a guitar hanging from his shoulders, Darvill looks more like a travelling minstrel than a cowboy and he gives the character of Curly McLain a sinister look which significantly alters the hero/villain balance between him and his rival for the affections of the fair Laurey (Anoushka Lucas). A parallel, more comical love triangle sees the dim witted Will Parker (James Davis) vying with the wily Ali Hakim (Stavros Demetraki) to win, or perhaps lose, the hand of the formidable Ado Annie. Marisha Wallace’s Annie is, emphatically, a girl who can’t say no, giving a powerhouse rendition of her key song to prove it. Liza Sadovy is a stabilising presence as Aunt Eller, the wise head in the community who bravely brokers peace between the farmers and the cowmen.

Weaving dark themes into even the fluffiest storylines would become one of Hammerstein’s trademarks and, in Oklahoma!, the darkness is channeled through the character of Jud Fry (Patrick Vaill, attired in black, looking sullen and despondent), a loser in life and in his love rivalry with Curly. Many productions have seen Jud as a simple baddie, a stock character brought in to create dramatic conflict and then readily disposed of. Here he represents an acknowledgement that, whenever mankind moves forward, someone gets left behind and he is viewed altogether more sympathetically. It becomes crystal clear that Hammerstein is reminding us that American society may be built on good Christian principles, but violence and injustice are also embedded firmly in its foundations.

In this product, dark means very, very dark, as in the pivotal confrontation between Curly and Jud, projected with menacing close-ups onto a large wall. In the second act, the darkness very briefly drains the show of its momentum and it makes transitions back to a celebratory mood feel awkward, but, overall, the directors’ bold emphasis pays rich dividends.

A company of 12 is unusually small for this show, but, when the house lights are up, the audience blends into the action. John Heginbotham’s choreography (from Agnes de Mille’s original) is somewhat cramped by the first act staging, but the second act overture features a solo ballet, danced with enchanting freedom by Marie-Astrid Mence and, then, a rousing The Farmer and the Cowman brings the show to exuberant life.

Arguably the most radical innovations come with the total reimagining of the songs in orchestrations and arrangements by Daniel Kluger. A small band of seven sits inside the performance area, playing instruments including a banjo and electric guitars and embracing styles from Country and Western to Soul, Heavy Metal to Gospel, with many more in between. The surprises seem endless and, if composer Richard Rodgers is turning in his grave, it can only be to join in a toast to the durability and versatility of his marvellous score.

Yes, there are times when the corn is definitely “as high as an elephant’s eye” and, yes, parts of this revival are less uplifting than some may expect, but Oklahoma!’s depiction of honest values in simpler times proves once more that it has enduring appeal.

Performance date: 7 May 2022

Photo: Mark Douet

Writer: Ben Brown

Director: Alan Strachan


World War II has thrown up many unlikely stories and they continue to emerge, but few could be so strange as a meeting to discuss peace between a Jewish leader and Adolf Hitler’s deputy. We are told that such a meeting actually happened in the early hours of an April morning in 1945 and Ben Brown’s new one-act play imagines how events transpired.

Dr Felix Kersten (Michael Lumsden) is an eminent Finnish physiotherapist based in Sweden, who has as a client Heinrich Himmler. He sees himself able to act as a go-between, bringing together Himmler and the Swedish Jew, Norbert Masur, representing the World Jewish Congress. The objective is to secure the release to the international Red Cross of Jews held in concentration camps, thereby preventing a much worse fate for them before the War comes to its now inevitable end.

The meeting takes place in Kersten’s Berlin home, occupied by his housekeeper, Elizabeth (Audrey Palmer). Allied bombers are flying overhead and the Russians are advancing from the East as we listen to the voice of Goebbels over the radio, paying an annual birthday tribute to Hitler, who is holed up in his bunker, unaware of Himmler’s mission.

Richard Clothier’s Himmler has the arrogant air of an old Etonian and, thankfully, no affected German accent. It is clear from the outset that Ben Caplan’s mild manner Masur would be no match for him. The key mystery is why Himmler, one of the chief architects of the Holocaust, would want to justify himself to the Jewish community and seek atonement; the play solves it in a manner that is persuasive when spoken, but leaves lingering doubts. This Himmler is a man who has come to believe in his own propaganda, yet he is also a realist who sees a remote chance that he can lead post-War Germany in an alliance with former enemies against the rising threat of the Russian Bolsheviks.

The playwright’s lucid style is largely humourless, but he brings to the fore all the bitter ironies in the conversations, without overplaying them, while focussing firmly on the detailed facts of the history that he is relating. Director Alan Strachan’s unspectacular staging matches the text perfectly, never seeking dramatic flashpoints, but bringing out solid performances to carry the weight. A testimony from a concentration camp survivor (Olivia Bernstone) ends the play movingly, making it clear that there are no Oscar Schindlers in this story, just pragmatists working to achieve their own different goals.

Brown exposes the dirty business of ending a dirty war. While watching this chilling play, it becomes impossible to stop the mind wandering to current events in Eastern Europe, which will also, at some point, have to be resolved. The night over which this drama unfolds comes to an end, but, seemingly the nightmare is endless.

Performance date: 3 May 2022

Photo: Rjjie Kurttz

Writer: Pamela Carter:

Director: Oscar Toeman


In the Spring of 1936, King Edward VIII sat on the British throne, Nazis were on the ascendancy in Germany and a group of 27 English schoolboys set out on an ill-fated trek through the Black Forest. Inspired by true events, Pamela Carter’s 95-minute drama recounts the boys’ misfortunes and interrogates the peculiar condition of being English.

The boys, from The Strand School in London, describe themselves as “lower middle class”. Class remains the key to everything in their homeland. Their story is told from the perspective of just three of them, all in their early teens and appearing in their maroon school blazers: Harrison (Hubert Burton) embodies the bulldog spirit; Lyons (Matthew Tennyson) strives to not be the outsider, guiltily denying his Jewish heritage; and Eaton (Vinnie Heaven) comments irreverently on all around him, his every word dripping with irony.

After spending a night at the Adolf Hitler Youth Hostel, the party begins its journey on foot to the next destination, led by a novice teacher (not seen). A late Winter blizzard is on its way. There is an easy route and a difficult route crossing a mountain, so, unanimously, they choose the latter. Being English, the writer asks, would they have any other option? Carter chips away at the quirks and foibles that join together to make a nation’s psyche and makes us wonder whether they add up to insanity or the attributes that win wars.

Director Oscar Toeman’s highly animated in-the-round production is played out on a bare stage, with the house lights up for much of the time. The three boys, always trying to maintain stiff upper lips, play tapes of familiar voices on a machine that would be invented decades later and huddle together to sing I’ll Stand By You in a moving scene that is also remarkable, considering that none of the song’s writers had been born in 1936. Period detail is not the production’s strength and Carter occasionally has a tendency to wander off course as easily as the schoolboys, seeming to overlook that her play’s suspenseful main narrative is more involving than her underlying thesis. Fortunately, three lively and captivating performances provide compensation for other shortcomings.

Towards the end, when the play is already walking on tires legs, a German tour guide (Eva Magyar) emerges to deliver a sort of epilogue, which has all the subtlety of a school History lecture. It provides an untidy climax to an intriguing, if not entirely satisfying, piece of theatre.

Performance date: 28 April 2022

Photo: PBGstudios

Writer and director: Glenn Chandler


There are countless examples of injustices against homosexual men in the years up to the 1960s. Many have been officially acknowledged and rectified in small part with posthumous pardons, but others lie buried more deeply in the annals of legal history. Writer/director Glenn Chandler sets out to throw light on one such case with his gripping, but slightly ambiguous 70-minute drama.

In the 1920s, Sidney Fox travels around South-East England with his mother, staying either in hotels without paying the bills or, in his case, in prison. The story begins with the young man standing accused of matricide by setting fire to Mum’s Margate hotel room a few hours before an insurance policy on her life is due to expire. The play asks whether he can possibly get a fair trial when prejudice against his class and sexual orientation are stacking the odds so heavily against him.

Sidney Fox is a prostitute, an habitual thief and a compulsive liar, so what’s not to like about him? Sebastian Calver counters the facts by making the character a loveable rogue, exuding boyish charm; this is all fine, except that there are few signs of the steel that Sidney would have needed to come through in his tough lifestyle. His close relationship with his mother, Rosaline (his “pal”), is touching and amusing, Amanda Bailey giving her maternal warmth and, crucially, a twinkle of mischief in the eye.

Mark Curry plays Cassels, a barrister who is not quite a fully paid-up member of the establishment, but who plays their game anyway, rounding off Chandler’s solid production. The audience is being asked to act as a jury, judging not guilt or innocence, but whether or not the trial process is fair. The whole point of the drama is to demonstrate the existence of prejudice, but does Chandler make his case beyond reasonable doubt? In Scotland, where this play premiered in 2021, the verdict would be “not proven”.

Performance date: 21 April 2022

Photo: Marc Brenner

Writer: Mike Bartlett

Director: Rachel O’Riordan


Mike Bartlett is known as a prolific writer for theatre and television and this, his second play to open in London within a week and his third currently running in the city, only adds to that reputation. Of course, Scandaltown refers to London and it asserts that nothing of much significance has changed since the the post-pandemic second half of the 17th Century. The play is a mash-up of modern social/political satire and traditional Restoration Comedy.

Pinpricking hypocrisy and pomposity, the writer takes plot lines and character names that are no less ludicrous than those featured in the original comedies and places them into a post-pandemic 21st Century setting in which corruption, substance abuse and infidelity are rife. The jokes are, in some ways, scattershot and many miss the mark, but it feels genuinely scandalous that there are still so many targets in the modern world to be aimed at.

Northerner Phoebe Virtue (Cecilia Appiah) heads south, cross dresses and embarks on a mission to find her missing brother Jack Virtue (Matthew Broome) and rescue him from a life of debauchery. She arrives in time to attend the social event of the season, the Netflix Masked Ball. This extravaganza results in a cascade of mistaken identities and it provides an opportunity for th 12-strong cast to parade in flamboyant costumes, designed by Kinnetia Isidore. 

The London elite appears before us. Lady Susan Climber (Rachel Stirling), came third in the 2015 series of The Apprentice, but suffered a fall from grace following some ill-advised comments on social media. She hires as her consultant Hannah Tweetwell (Aysha Kala), who guides her into a liaison with Matt Eton (Richard Goulding), the randy and duplicitous Secretary of State for Procurement. Bartlett does not try too hard to conceal similarities between many characters and real life counterparts.

The humour is risqué, but also risk-free, not threatening to give real offence to anyone. The play flounders when Bartlett wades too deep in the swamp of party politics and when he takes it all much too seriously and lectures the audience. Otherwise, his joke-a-minute style keeps the ridiculous comedy bubbling and director Rachel O’Riordan’s nimble production maintains the flavour of Restoration Comedy throughout. The actors all seem to have a whale of a time, given complete freedom to go over the top.

Bartlett stitches the second act together with a potentially glorious running gag and then, unforgivably, fails to deliver the punchline. It is an up and down ride, but, overall, the laughs far outnumber the yawns and, in these grim days, that is a cause for gratitude.

Performance date: 14 April 2022