Powerful and Emotional: The Opening Night of Frost/Nixon Completely Delivers

Though perhaps weighed down by a slightly sluggish start where the occasional delivery was hampered by an occasionally overpowering soundtrack, and even if characters seemed to take some time to really engage with their role, the second half of Frost/Nixon proved a testimony to student productions and allowed the highly talented leads to shine. Working closely […]

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Review: She Stoops to Conquer

Yesterday evening’s weather put UC’s annual garden play at a disadvantage. There was the inevitable fear of rain, and the audience were afraid to laugh in case they swallowed a midge. Despite this, Carolina Grierson powered through her opening monologue, setting the stage for a determinedly comic and enjoyable evening. The play portrays a farcical […]

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Review: Arcadia

From a purely aesthetic point of view, the President’s Garden in Magdalen College provided a marvellous backdrop to this skilful and enjoyable production of Arcadia, yet, with an irony that Stoppard himself may have enjoyed, such sumptuous surroundings were the only drawback for the Magdalen Players’ latest offering. The choice of Arcadia for this year’s Magdalen Garden play was […]

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Review: Lead Feathers

Nearly 60 years ago, Kenneth Tynan saw in Tabitha what yesterday I saw in Lead Feathers: At discreet intervals, a ‘plot point’ is made; between points, the characters brew tea, drink whisky and chat quietly among themselves. During these interludes, I submit, it would be a courtesy on the part of the management to turn […]

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Review: The Winterling

A dark and profound danger sulks under Butterworth’s repartee. It is not precisely the same kind of darkness we find in Pinter’s early plays. The old master himself called this idiosyncratic darkness “the weasel under the cocktail cabinet”: in other words, an indescribable violence concealed by an inconceivable object. The nearest thing we have to […]

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The Trial’s Verdict

Having just run across Oxford in order to catch the first showing of The Trial at the Burton Taylor Studio, I was quite flustered as I took my seat and watched the play’s action begin to unfold. It became clear during the play that I was not the only one, with others in a similar […]

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Review: The Glass Menagerie

Classics are always difficult to stage: either you follow convention and risk being labelled boring, or you throw caution to the winds and add some wacky directorial spin for the audience to stomach as best they can. Rob Natzler, director of this four-player production, has gone for the former, and I am happy to announce […]

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Review: 1984

“Big Brother is watching you.” CCTV cameras, flashing lights, a projection screen that covered an entire wall of the stage set; who was being watched? The actors or the audience members? Luke Rollason’s production of 1984 is one that highlights and links the relevance of the voyeuristic aspects of a totalitarian regime to the increase of surveillance usage in modern […]

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Review: Hay Fever

On the sun-drenched quad of Brasenose College, the Pimms is being poured and Cole Porter’s ‘Let’s Do It’ provides the perfect back-drop to the sparkling comedy that is Noël Coward’s Hay Fever, one of the plays being staged during the Brasenose Arts Week. The setting is simple: one stage dominated by a large, green sofa which is well […]

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No Sacred Cows in The Goat

Two and a half hours, an extraordinarily intimate venue, a small cast, a script of high tragedy. A challenge, for sure. And one made all the greater by the fact that its subject is the unspeakable agony of falling in love… with a goat. Her name was Sylvia. Tom Dowling gives a genuinely remarkable performance as Martin, […]

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Ed Barr-Sim’s Frost/Nixon rehearsal diary: Part Three – Accepting the Facts

Opening night is now only a week and a half away: its desired imminence and imminent nature are both causes for concern. The actual acting and rehearsing bit has slightly slowed down – and how could it not in amongst the waves of promotion (bizarre, awkward and brilliant) and more particularly in amongst the tech-angst. This is going […]

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Review: Guys and Dolls

The art of acting, at its best, is a way to lift an audience out of one reality and deposit them in another. It can take us to worlds of the imagination, but the more fantastic those worlds are, the trickier it is to pull off. Our suspension of disbelief can be easily destroyed through one false note, […]

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Review: The Lesson

Rarely has the phrase “My tutor’s going to kill me” had greater resonance. In Eugène Ionesco’s The Lesson, the Pupil (Missy Malek) arrives at the house of the Professor (Hannah Bristow), ready for a lesson in which “Arithmetic leads to philology and philology leads to crime”, in the words of the Professor’s Maid (Benedict Tate). The […]

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Review: Repetition

“Can one say the same thing twice? Can one say the same thing twice?” Thus opens George Pattison’s new adaptation of Kierkegaard’s book Repetition, an exploration of the continually changing self. Are we, from one moment to the next, ever the same person? This well-written play in three acts follows the search for repetition by […]

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