ENTERTAINMENT

Hugh Bonneville looks like Lewis in Shadowlands, but he exudes a mild Lord Grantham


Shadow lands

Chichester Festival Theater Until May 25, 2 hours 20 minutes

Rating:

Downton Abbey Star Hugh Bonneville is the latest to play Tweedy graduate C S Lewis, author of the Narnia Chronicles, in this old favorite about a confirmed bachelor who will be brutally attacked by love and grief.

In William Nicholson's play, "Jack" Lewis gives smug Christian lectures on how God shapes us out of stone and suffering. "The blows from his chisel that hurt us so much make us perfect."

Still, he speaks Twaddle because Lewis privately feels no pain after spending his life suppressing the trauma of his mother's death when he was a child.

Lewis (Hugh Bonneville) receives fan letters from a brazen woman named Joy Gresham (Liz White), in which she claims to be

Lewis (Hugh Bonneville) receives fan letters from a brazen woman named Joy Gresham (Liz White), in which she describes herself as a "Jewish-Communist Christian American".

He now prefers to live with his cute brother Warnie in a cozy bachelorette party at her home in Oxford. Lewis mentions at one point that the central heating in the house blinked many years earlier and is still not repaired.

Well, his heart is in the same state as his cauldron.

Things change when Lewis receives fan letters from a brazen woman named Joy Gresham, who describes herself as a "Jewish-Communist Christian American." She and her little son come to Oxford to meet him and he agrees to a paper marriage because of their British visa.

In moments in Rachel Kavanaugh's production, the book-lined set gives way to a view of Narnia with its trees and lampposts (see picture above with Ruari Finnegan).

In moments in Rachel Kavanaugh's production, the book-lined set gives way to a view of Narnia with its trees and lampposts (see picture above with Ruari Finnegan).

But only when Joy realizes that she has advanced cancer does he find the courage to love.

In moments in Rachel Kavanaugh's production, the book-lined set gives way to a view of Narnia with its trees and lampposts. Bonnevilles Lewis looks like that in my opinion, but he radiates little more than a mild, Lord Grantham-like decency.

Explosive grief and real emotional turmoil seem to escape him. Liz White makes the most of the thankless work of playing Joy, taking care of her son, and then dying in the hospital.

Liz White makes the most of the thankless work of playing Joy, taking care of her son, and then dying in the hospital

Liz White makes the most of the thankless work of playing Joy, taking care of her son, and then dying in the hospital

Andrew Havill is Lewis & # 39; Brother Warnie, whose deep alcoholism ignores the play. Timothy Watson plays the bitchy atheist in Lewis & # 39; Oxford Circle's pathetic, sherry-sipping dons.

Lewis died in 1963 (the same day as President Kennedy) at the age of 64 and survived Joy, who was only 45 when her cancer finally got her, by three years.

The result of her death was the most useful thing Lewis ever wrote, his short book on grief, A grief is observed.

Her love story is all the better to be true, and it's funny how this humane sob festival of a piece never seems to fail, even in this rather mediocre production.

Rosmersholm

Duke of York Theater, London Until July 20th, 2 hours 20 minutes

Rating:

Hayley Atwell has a global film as Marvels Agent Carter. Now she can be seen in this rarely staged piece by the great Scandi dark Henrik Ibsen from the 19th century. Tom Burke joins her, who has happily sprouted another leg after playing Cormoran Strike, JK Rowling's amputee detective, on television.

Burke is the nobleman and pastor John Rosmer, who has lost both his wife and his faith and is now mourning and thinking radical thoughts under the ancestral portraits of his family.

We are on the eve of an election. The press is wildly partisan and the divided country has a fever in populism.

Hayley Atwell is outstanding as the wired Rebecca, one of Ibsen's greatest heroines. You and Rosmer look at each other with erotic interest and a breathless, shared intellectual passion

Hayley Atwell is outstanding as the wired Rebecca, one of Ibsen's greatest heroines. You and Rosmer look at each other with erotic interest and a breathless, shared intellectual passion

The clever version of Duncan Macmillan avoids the B-word, but ensures that the audience cannot. Excitingly, the play exists on a spring tide beyond the theater's comfort zone.

Giles Terera – fresh from the leading role Hamilton – plays Rosmer's brother-in-law, Governor Kroll, an arrogant elite prig who thinks people stink, and Rosmer's assistant Rebecca West (Atwell) is a dangerous revolutionary.

Atwell is outstanding as the wired Rebecca, one of Ibsen's greatest heroines. You and Rosmer look at each other with erotic interest and a breathless, shared intellectual passion. Mrs. Rosmer drowned herself.

Giles Terera - fresh from the lead role in Hamilton - plays Rosmer's brother-in-law, Governor Kroll, an arrogant elite prig who thinks people stink

Giles Terera – fresh from the leading role Hamilton – Rosmer's brother-in-law, Governor Kroll, plays an arrogant, elite prig who thinks people stink

Did Rebecca, her helper, push her metaphorically? Why Rebecca and Rosmer don't just jump into bed is the great Freudian riddle of the piece.

Ian Rickson's rapid production shows the excellent Peter Wight as a drunken tutor from Rosmer's past. Lucy Briers is the burdened, superstitious housekeeper.

Full of violent discussions about sex, freedom and politics, it is not an easy game. But even if I got over my head occasionally, I never doubted seeing a really passionate masterpiece about how we should live.

Small island

Olivier stage, national theater Until August 10th, 3 hours and 10 minutes

Rating:

At one point the bulky stern of the ship Empire Windrush dominates the stage in this great version of Andrea Levy's acclaimed 2004 novel. It's a timely reminder of the recent windrush scandal.

But also the role of the Caribbean who fought in the war and the first generation of brave immigrants who trembled after winning in a bankrupt Britain.

If, like me, you haven't read the book, it doesn't seem to matter. While the events in Jamaica sweep across the stage like a strong wind, everything makes perfect sense.

Helen Edmundson's adaptation is clearly targeting Brexit, and much of this country's hostility to Jamaicans is being done

Helen Edmundson's adaptation is clearly targeting Brexit, and much of this country's hostility to Jamaicans is being done

The story follows the fate of the primitive, self-contained teacher Hortense (Leah Harvey), who left the island in 1948 to join her husband in gold-paved London – and received a terrible shock.

Her ex-RAF husband lives in a poor apartment that feeds on racial abuse and casual work. Queenie (Aisling Loftus) is his open-minded landlord with an absent husband who is missing in action.

What follows is a saga of birth, love, loss and confusion in the terminally ill British Empire. Helen Edmundson's adaptation is clearly targeting Brexit, and much is being done about the country's hostility to Jamaicans (referred to as "Darkies", "Curlies", and worse), embodied by Queenie's xenophobic husband (Andrew Rothney), who this unexpectedly returned.

The story follows the fate of the primitive, self-contained teacher Hortense (Leah Harvey), who left the island in 1948 to join her husband in gold-paved London

The story follows the fate of the primitive, self-contained teacher Hortense (Leah Harvey), who left the island in 1948 to join her husband in gold-paved London

This resonant, often funny and cumulative moving story holds its own in Rufus Norris' wonderful production with huge, impressive projections of Jamaican palm trees and a bleak London designed by Katrina Lindsay.

More than three hours whistle past, which deserves great success.

Jew

Hampstead Theater, London Until June 1st, 2 hours 20 minutes

Rating:

Edward Hall's production of Howard Brenton's play is his last for the theater that he has directed for almost a decade. It's an amazing choice on many levels – more of a head scratch than the last hurray.

Jude is a loose update from Thomas Hardy Jude The Obscure. Here, Jude is a Syrian refugee with an exceptional talent for languages ​​who is determined to study classics in Oxford but is thwarted by the system.

A promising requirement, but Brenton's treatment is ubiquitous. The plot lurches implausibly and the characters are wildly inconsistent. Jude is heavily over-sexualized, while Jack, her pigsty friend and cousin with whom she flirts with extremism (with whom she also sleeps) are roughly outlined.

Jude (Isabella Nefar) is heavily over-sexualized, while Jack (Luke MacGregor), her pig-breeding friend and her cousin, who flirts with extremism, are roughly outlined

Jude (Isabella Nefar) is heavily over-sexualized, while Jack (Luke MacGregor), her pig-breeding friend and her cousin, who flirts with extremism, are roughly outlined

Tension-increasing subplots filled with spies gush out wet. And a shame about the poor actor who has to play Euripides in a giggling mask.

The dialogue is bad line by line: chunky, overwritten and stubborn in its Greek references. Without Brenton's long collaboration with the Hampstead Theater, this would certainly not be programmed – a cruel irony, since the play itself complains that opportunities are not always offered to those with the most talent.

Jude is a Syrian refugee with an exceptional talent for languages ​​who is determined to study classics in Oxford but is thwarted by the system (Caroline Loncq in picture).

Jude is a Syrian refugee with an exceptional talent for languages ​​who is determined to study classics in Oxford but is thwarted by the system (Caroline Loncq in picture).

The direction of Hall doesn't help: lumpy and leaded, it doesn't prevent conversations from ringing, or it gets thrills in the stranger moments.

Ashley Martin-Davis delivers a streamlined, elegant design, but everything else is a mess.

Holly Williams

Avalanche: a love story

Barbican Theater, London To date 1 hour 30 minutes

Rating:

In Julia Leigh's adaptation of her 2016 memoir about IVF, Maxine Pape's female character, entitled "Woman", spends years, significant parts of her mental reserves and a breathtaking amount of money that she tries to understand.

The production of Anne-Louise Sarks is part of the Barbican & # 39; s Fertility Fest – and although this is a valuable topic, the staging and screenplay don't quite do it justice.

At the beginning, woman reconnects with a former friend and they agree to try a child. It doesn't work; the guy bows; she is brave alone.

Maxine Peake's character, titled "Woman", spends years, considerable parts of her mental reserves, and a breathtaking amount of money that he tries to understand

Maxine Peake's character, titled "Woman", spends years, significant parts of her mental reserves, and a breathtaking amount of money that he tries to grasp

Aside from the ghostly kids floating on and off the stage, this is a one-woman show – and Peake fills the sparse set with her ironic, engaging narrative.

As Woman delves deeper into the IVF process – she's going through a total of eight successful rounds – the process is picking up speed. Here Leigh proves to be a clever chronicler of the strenuous medicalization of life that the fertility treatment entails.

The climatic resolution of Marg Howell's set conveys a feeling of catharsis, albeit in an obvious way.

Ultimately, the stage may not be the right vehicle for this story. But Peake's open-minded performance proves that she is definitely the right person to say it.

Gwendolyn Smith

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