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Andrzej Lukowski

Andrzej Lukowski

Andrzej Lukowski has been the theatre and dance editor of Time Out London since 2013.

He mostly writes about theatre and also has additional editorial responsibility for dance, comedy and opera. He has lived in London a decade and has probably spent about a year of that watching productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He covered podcasts for about five minutes during lockdown and gets about a million podcast emails a day now but honestly can’t help you, sorry.

Oczywiście on jest Polakiem.

Reach him at andrzej.lukowski@timeout.com or connect with him on Twitter @MrLukowski

Articles (194)

The 15 best fiction podcasts

The 15 best fiction podcasts

What’s the difference between a ‘fiction podcast’ and a ‘radio play’? To be honest, it doesn’t really matter, and if you want to call these gripping yarns radio plays, then you do you. However, as a rule, these selections are united by scope and length that’s closer to a TV show than a play, with many of these picks lengthy and with multiple series, and several of the more successful ones already well on their way to being adapted for the small screen. For whatever reason, podcast dramas lend themselves to science fiction and horror-based shows, but this lovingly-curated list contains everything from gripping conspiracy thrillers to sitcoms as funny as anything you’ll catch on the box. RECOMMENDED:🎧 The best podcasts to listen to right now🎶 The best podcasts on Spotify🔪 The best true crime podcasts😂 The best comedy podcasts🏃 The best motivational podcasts✊ The best political podcasts

The 15 best history podcasts

The 15 best history podcasts

There is, let’s be honest, a lot of history out there, and looking at English-language history podcasts alone there is such a bewildering array that it can be difficult to narrow a decent selection down without setting some fairly serious parameters. This list, then, is focused on the history of English speaking countries, plus broader world history, emphasising alternative and interesting perspectives. If you want to find something more specific – say, the history of an individual country – it’s probably out there! If you want to hear some dudes rattle on about the First World War, it’s definitely out there! But here are the history shows you might not yet know you need to listen to. Perfect road trip fodder, to say the least. RECOMMENDED:🎧 The best podcasts to listen to right now💤 The best sleep podcasts🔪 The best true crime podcasts🎶 The best podcasts on Spotify🏃 The best motivational podcasts✊ The best political podcasts

The best new London theatre for 2022 – shows not to miss

The best new London theatre for 2022 – shows not to miss

Touch wood, but there's every reason to think that 2022 will be the first year since 2019 that London’s theatres won’t have been forced to close en masse as a result of the global pandemic. We’re not out of the woods yet, but theatre survived 2020 and 2021 and it’s not going away any time soon. So with just the tiniest note of caution, let’s get excited for London theatre in 2022, as the plays, musicals and other good stuff we’re used to by-and-large return to how they were. These choices aren’t the be-all and end-all of great theatre in 2022, but they are, as a rule, the biggest and splashiest shows of the year, the big highlights in the year’s theatre diary – the shows worth booking for, pronto. Want to see if these shows live up to the hype? Check out our theatre reviews.

The 15 best music podcasts

The 15 best music podcasts

Why not just tune into a radio station? Frankly, there are many reasons. A music podcast can mean a hell of a lot of different things. Some of these shows are searingly good documentaries about musicians rather than being foremost a selection of tunes (although they’re usually that too). Others delve into albums or even individual songs with the sort of deep-dive expansiveness that you’re unlikely to hear on even the hippest of radio stations. And others just have really cool hosts who you want to spend more time with. Needless to say, there are a lot of good choices for a long road trip or when you fancy having something on in the background – it goes without saying that most of these podcasts come with terrific soundtracks. RECOMMENDED:🎧 The best podcasts to listen to right now🎶 The best podcasts on Spotify🔪 The best true crime podcasts😂 The best comedy podcasts🏃 The best motivational podcasts✊ The best political podcasts

The 15 best self-help podcasts

The 15 best self-help podcasts

Sometimes, you just really need to sort your life out, and the good news is there are plenty of self-help podcasts out there, covering everything from taking up jogging to decluttering your home. We’ll be honest: as a rule, this is not a hugely funny or bantersome selection (though there are a couple of more amusing ones). They’re probably not things you’d casually listen to just out of interest. Instead, they’re podcasts you’d use as tools, not just for fun, but to turn specific bits of your life around. Heavy, right? But there’s some great stuff here. You never know: a podcast might just save your life. RECOMMENDED:🎧 The best podcasts to listen to right now🎶 The best podcasts on Spotify🔪 The best true crime podcasts😂 The best comedy podcasts🏃 The best motivational podcasts✊ The best political podcasts

The 15 best true crime podcasts

The 15 best true crime podcasts

There’s much more to the world of podcasts than true crime, but there’s no denying that true crime dominates the podcasting world. Spurred on by the almost incomprehensibly vast success of 2014’s ‘Serial’, the standard true crime ’cast now has a very recognisable form, usually revolving around an intrepid investigative reporter drilling into a criminal case – often a cold one – and shedding new light on it throughout a multi-part documentary that goes deeper than any TV show would likely be allowed to. But crime isn’t just dead bodies: this eclectic list touches on everything from a podcast about British colonial looting to a reappraisal of Jack the Ripper’s victims. RECOMMENDED:🎧 The best podcasts to listen to right now🔪 The best murder podcasts🎶 The best podcasts on Spotify😂 The best comedy podcasts🏃 The best motivational podcasts✊ The best political podcasts

The 15 best road trip podcasts

The 15 best road trip podcasts

What is a quintessential road trip podcast? To be honest, there’s no real answer: the best podcast for a road trip is whatever you feel like listening to on your road trip. Still, it doesn’t hurt to have a bit of inspiration, and as a rule, you’re probably after something fun and light rather than difficult and challenging. So that’s what we’ve gone for here, a mix of upbeat music podcasts, gripping stories, big old belly laughs and fascinating trivia. All of them should at the very least keep your mind stimulated and your eyes open as you’re racking up the miles. Safe travels, and keep on podcastin’! RECOMMENDED:🎧 The best podcasts to listen to right now🎶 The best podcasts on Spotify🔪 The best true crime podcasts😂 The best comedy podcasts🏃 The best motivational podcasts✊ The best political podcasts

The best new theatre shows opening in London April 2022

The best new theatre shows opening in London April 2022

It’s April, and quite probably the biggest month for new theatre openings since before the pandemic Check out the best new shows, plays and musicals coming to London this month, as recommended by the Time Out theatre team. To play further ahead, check out our top shows to see this year. Also check out our latest theatre reviews.  And if you need somewhere to stay, see the best hotels near the West End.  RECOMMENDED: Find the best West End theatre shows.

Punchdrunk comes home with ‘The Burnt City’

Punchdrunk comes home with ‘The Burnt City’

Exclusive £25 weekly rush tickets to ‘The Burnt City’ Twenty-two years ago, Felix Barrett, an Exeter University student from London, staged his graduation show in a Territorial Army barracks. It was a deconstructed version of Georg Büchner’s tragedy ‘Woyzeck’, in which the action was spread through the shadowy, candlelit army building, with the audience free to wander about but made to wear expressionless masks so that their faces fitted in with the show’s haunting world. Nowadays we’d call it ‘immersive theatre’; back then it was ‘site-specific’ Everyone loved it, but what really persuaded him to take things further was the praise of a uni coursemate who didn’t like him. Made to come and see the show, she was blown away: ‘She said, “Wow, you really should do that again sometime,” ’ recalls Barrett. ‘It was her response that made me think I should carry on.’ Barrett started a company called Punchdrunk, which he was in sole charge of for the first few years, setting up shows in found spaces and disused buildings. But he sensed that something was missing: at a 2003 version of ‘The Tempest’, stunningly staged in a disused distillery in Deptford, he realised that having conventional actors just saying lines from the play was kind of lame, and played against the silent menace of the building. The one performance in it that he really rated was a spirit, played wordlessly by a dancer. It gave him inspiration for his next project, which he won a grant for by pitching ‘Macbeth’ as a H

Is London ready for Jeremy O Harris?

Is London ready for Jeremy O Harris?

I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anyone more obviously destined for stardom than playwright Jeremy O Harris. In March 2020, we met at Ottolenghi in Islington to discuss his imminent UK debut – the Almeida Theatre’s production of his play ‘“Daddy” A Melodrama’. Black, gay, wildly clever yet unashamedly given to Twitter beefs, he radiates the sort of charisma that only an American can truly muster. He immediately launched into an anecdote about attending Kanye West’s ‘Sunday Service’ the other day and proceeded apace for an amusing, articulate, namedroptastic hour. Inevitably, ‘“Daddy”’ was put on ice due to the pandemic, but Harris is not a man you can keep down. The last couple of years have seen him net 12 Tony nominations for his explosive Broadway smash ‘Slave Play’, land an acting role in Netflix’s ‘Emily in Paris’, sign on as a producer for another hit show, ‘Euphoria’, and score a critical smash with cult film ‘Zola’ (which he co-wrote). And now ‘“Daddy”’ is back. Though Harris sent me a voice note with a couple of updates, this is essentially our 2020 chat. ‘Slave Play’, then, is the most talked-about US drama of the last few years, an outrageous dark comedy about three interracial American couples in which the Black partners have lost desire for their white paramours and so they turn to shocking sexual roleplay of America’s slave-owning past to spice it up, with traumatic results. We’re not getting that: we’re getting ‘“Daddy”’, the play Harris wrote before ‘Slave

Immersive theatre in London

Immersive theatre in London

Whether you call it immersive theatre, interactive theatre or site-specific theatre, London is usually bursting with plays and experiences which welcome you into a real-life adventure. Their numbers are somewhat diminished at the moment, but as such shows typically allow for social distancing, there are several surprisingly big shows available to see right now.

Listings and reviews (769)

‘Marys Seacole’ review

‘Marys Seacole’ review

3 out of 5 stars

Jackie Sibblies Drury’s ‘Fairview’ was the boldest London premiere of 2019, a wildly inventive race relations satire that culminated in all the white audience members being asked to come up on stage and be stared at by the non-white punters. So a reunion for Drury, director Nadia Latif and designer Tom Scutt for the UK premiere of Drury’s ‘Marys Seacole’ is a pretty exciting prospect. As it happens, ‘Marys Seacole’ is an altogether different affair, which retains the extreme willingness to be awkward that ‘Fairview’ had without quite managing to channel it into the same sort of thrilling conclusion. That’s not to be too hard on it: for much of its length ‘Marys Seacole’ is very good indeed. It naturally concerns Mary Seacole, the Scottish-Jamaican nurse who treated British soldiers during the Crimean War and has gone on to be one of the most famous Black Victorians. When we first meet Kayla Meikle’s Seacole she seems exactly how you’d expect: soliloquising expansively to us – I think in direct quotation from her 1857 autobiography – about how grand the adventures she’s about to share with us were, talking about her childhood on Jamaica and the ‘good Scotch blood’ flowing in her veins from her white soldier father. Then, she’s cut off mid-flow when her elderly mother (Llewella Gideon) inexplicably turns up, and pops out a couple of AirPods for them to shove in their ears. Scutt’s set – a big green cloth wall with pockets, like surgical scrubs – lifts to reveal another, similar

‘The Burnt City’ review

‘The Burnt City’ review

4 out of 5 stars

In many ways, Punchdrunk’s new show ‘The Burnt City’ is a lot like Punchdrunk’s old shows: you put on a spooky mask; you wander through a dark, cavernous, hyper-detailed world full of eerie hidden rooms; you follow sexy dancer-slash-actors around as they enact the show’s diffuse plot; you spend an improbable amount of time trying to find a huge but almost impossible-to-locate bar. Let’s be clear, though: criticising this is like criticising Bruce Springsteen for having too many songs about cars, or NASA for being fixated on space. Punchdrunk has a very distinct aesthetic, and when the company was more prolific and there was a new production every couple of years it was easy to affect a certain cynicism about the recurring elements. But as they finally return after eight years away, it’s clear that there is no other immersive theatre company even remotely comparable to Punchdrunk. Nonetheless, ‘The Burnt City’ is very much its own thing. Based on the myths of the Trojan War and set in two enormous former arsenal buildings in Woolwich – one representing Troy, one Greece – we enter through a smaller, third building, a sort of pretend museum that doesn’t carry vast dramatic heft but helps acclimatise us to the inevitable donning of the masks. The main buildings are big. Really big. And that doesn’t mean Punchdrunk have simply cranked their Punchdrunkiness up to 11 with more rooms. In Greece particularly, the smaller, out-of-the-way chambers are intriguing but dwarfed in importan

‘The 47th’ review

‘The 47th’ review

4 out of 5 stars

  Mike Bartlett's gripping blank verse fantasia on the 2024 US elections has such a relentlessly enthralling, twisty turny plot that I’m afraid I’m going to recuse myself from giving away too many details.  But here’s the one major spoiler I’ll give: ‘The 47th’ refers to the forty-seventh President of the United States, and in Bartlett’s play that’s US actor Tamara Tunie’s beleaguered Kamala Harris, who inherits the role under… circumstances (probably not the circumstances you’d expect), and as the elections loom must face off against the chaos unleashed by Bertie Carvel’s stupendous Donald Trump. ‘I know, I know, you hate me’ declares the virtually unrecognisable Carvel at the outset, as he trundles on to Miriam Buether’s sweeping thrust set in a golf cart. The 44-year-old actor is virtually half Trump’s age, and yet the transformation is uncanny: there’s the blonde wig and the fat suit, of course. But his mannerisms are the same. His jowls, somehow, are the same. And his way of speaking is just remarkable – even bound up in Bartlett’s Shakespeare-style verse, Carvel absolutely nails Trump’s weird mixture of thuggish malevolence and effete high society camp. Within the Shakespearean fantasy realm that Bartlett and director Rupert Goold have constructed, he absolutely is Trump. What he’s not is our, real Trump. The real Trump can of course barely string a sentence together, and fictionalised depictions often become obsessed with trying to replicate his speech patterns. In wri

Last Days

Last Days

The Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio is home to all sorts of intriguing operatic experiments, and the most eye-catching entry in the new season is undoubtedly ‘Last Days’, which is indeed an opera adaptation of Gus Van Sant’s gruelling, impressionistic film inspired by the final days in the life of grunge icon Kurt Cobain (though the lead character is actually a guy called Blake with a functionally identical life to the Nirvana frontman). With music by Oliver Leith and Libretto by Matt Copson, there are clearly quite a lot of questions to be asked about this project: will it feature a singer with unkept blonde hair, plaid shirt and sunnies? Will the music make any nod towards Nirvana’s explosively metallic sound? How much singing will there even be, given that the film is virtually wordless, and having Blake sing about what’s on his mind would clearly undermine the vibe of the source material? We’ll find out in the autumn.  Tickets will go on sale July 27.  

‘“Daddy”’ review

‘“Daddy”’ review

4 out of 5 stars

The continued non-UK appearance of Jeremy O Harris’s colossally acclaimed, prodigiously talked-about 2019 Broadway smash ‘Slave Play’ is one of the great theatrical mysteries of modern times. But perhaps it’s good that ‘“Daddy”: A Melodrama’ – his first play to be written, but second to be staged – has come here first. Because while I can kind of see why it received less warm notices across the Pond than its (sort of) predecessor, as an initial taste of Harris’s writing it’s so fizzingly original that it’s hard to be particularly aggrieved that it goes on a bit towards the end. Sweet but troubled Franklin (Terique Jarrett) is a young Black artist who we first meet high as a kite at the poolside of the lavish LA apartment of Andre (Claes Bang), an assured, extremely minted British art collector whom Franklin has just met in a club. For its first half, Danya Taymor’s production surges away as a whip-smart interrogation of personal and artistic integrity. Franklin dives headlong into the luxury new life afforded to him by Andre’s wealth. But he’s also troubled at what his lover’s patronage means for both the integrity of his work and the way he’s perceived in the art world (as represented by Jenny Rainsford’s cheerily cynical gallery curator Alessia).  The tone remains fairly light, largely due to Franklin being allowed to bring his BFFs along to the mansion: Max (John McCrea), is a pale, perceptive, waspish gay guy who embodies Frankin’s creeping doubts; Bellamy (Ioanna Kimbook

‘Black Love’ review

‘Black Love’ review

3 out of 5 stars

Playwright and director Chinonyerem Odimba’s mini-musical ‘Black Love’ centres on Aurora, aka Roo (Nicholle Cherrie) and Orion (Nathan Queeley-Dennis), a Black British brother and sister who live together in a flat given to them by their father.  Orion is a struggling actor, grappling with doubts over whether it’s worth the humiliation of a stream of excruciatingly stereotypical minor roles in the hope he’ll progress to proper work. Roo doesn’t appear to have a job, but with no rent to pay she has thrown herself into embodying their late mum’s legacy, which involves crystals, sex positivity, and a passionate belief in the importance of Black love, Black spaces, and Black culture. She also loves to get properly mashed, and it’s while trying to track down his extremely spannered sister at a festival that Orion meets Lois (Beth Elliott), a white girl. The two of them fall for each other, to the immediate and uncompromising disgust of Roo, who believes Orion is betraying their parents’ love by getting into a relationship with a white woman. In this instance, she’s proven entirely correct. Despite a lack of early red flags, Lois turns out to be astoundingly awful: increasingly obsessed with Orion’s race, clearly treating the whole relationship like a form of exotic cultural tourism. Nonetheless, she seems to be a sucking void of self-esteem, and it’s hard not to feel slightly sorry for her when brother and sister have a confrontation over the relationship and Orion launches into a

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ review

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ review

4 out of 5 stars

Meet Atticus Finch: centrist dad. Aaron Sorkin’s smash Broadway stage version of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ makes a fair few tweaks to Harper Lee’s 1960 literary masterpiece.  Most predictably, there’s the ‘West Wing’ mastermind’s trademark sparkling dialogue. Yes, he remains faithful to the idea that we’re in ’30s Alabama, but his polished wit is very much present and correct, most especially in the goofily pinging three-way narration provided by his child characters: plucky Scout (Gwyneth Keyworth), chippy Jem (Harry Redding) and dorky Dill (David Moorst). The narrative structure has been tinkered with: the climactic trial scene is now parcelled up into chunks throughout the play rather than included as a single sweeping sequence.  The plot, however, is essentially unchanged. By far Sorkin’s most significant intervention via Bartlett Sher’s production is to pointedly reimagine the play’s white lawyer hero Atticus Finch. Rafe Spall’s interpretation of the role steers well clear of Gregory Peck’s immortal screen version and, to a large extent, the book. Peck’s Finch was famously sonorous-voiced and saintly. In both book and film, Finch was explicitly seen through the adoring eyes of his daughter Scout. Here, with his chipmunk Alabama twang, Spall simply *sounds* less like a wise statesman than Peck ever did. And his behaviour is different: he’s thinner-skinned and more erratic as he sets about defending Jude Owosu’s resigned Tom Robinson, a young Black man accused of rape. Atti

‘Clybourne Park’ review

‘Clybourne Park’ review

3 out of 5 stars

Revivals of hit plays can be odd things: some huge smashes can run for years then be ignored for decades. Nonetheless, it’s not surprising that the second UK production of Bruce Norris’s enormo-hit ‘Clybourne Park’ is far lower key than the first. The discourse on race relations and white privilege has moved on a lot since it premiered to blockbuster effect at the Royal Court in 2010. And the liberal Obama-era America it satirises no longer exists.  So a race-relations comedy celebrated for its outrageousness feels like a definite hot potato in 2022. In fact, ‘Clybourne Park’ is much more measured than I remember it, with the Black characters – played by Aliyah Odoffin and Eric Underwood – perhaps wisely underwritten as the sensible straight people, horrified observers to the terrible behaviour of the white characters.  Set in the titular fictional Chicago neighbourhood in 1959 and 2009, it’s the first half that stands up best, as we meet the brooding Russ (Richard Lintern) and fretful Bev (Imogen Stubbs), a couple traumatised by the suicide of their soldier son, who was irreparably scarred by atrocities he committed against civilians in the Korean War.  They’re preparing to move out of the house, to a fresh start. But the great and the good of Clybourne Park community have just discovered they’ve sold up to a Black family, and they’re not happy. It’s excruciating, as Andrew Langtree’s hypnotically obnoxious neighbourhood busybody Karl explains with expansive assurance why ‘c

Horrible Histories: Terrible Thames

Horrible Histories: Terrible Thames

The stage versions of Terry’s Deary’s enormously successful ‘Horrible Histories’ franchise – that’s history for kids with a heavy emphasis on the naughty bits – are now so successful in and of themselves that they’re starting to wrack up a ‘Fast & Furious’-volume of sequels – summer 2021 will see the West End debut of the lengthily-titled ‘Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain: Part Five’. Not content with that, they’re now taking to the high seas (well, river) with ‘Terrible Thames’. It’s an enjoyable hour-long clipper tour that forgoes humdrum observations on London’s great waterway and instead focussed on the darker stuff. To do so, there’s a dramatic device. Billie, a schoolchild, has earned a special trip on the Thames with her teacher, and the two of them spend the trip engaged in a duelling dialogue of facts, putting the awkwardly blokey teacher’s more conventional wisdom against Billie’s knowledge of the darker stories or the Thames, as handed down to her by her family. It’s not exactly ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’, and if I were being particularly annoying I might point out that they become fairly interchangeable after a while, with each of them being well-informed or pig-ignorant on whatever we happen to be sailing past on a strictly alternating basis. Nonetheless: it’s fun! Written by Deary and the show’s director, Neal Foster, the facts are understandably quick-fire, given you can’t, for instance, explain the background to the 1014 Viking incursion into London tha

‘Straight Line Crazy’ review

‘Straight Line Crazy’ review

3 out of 5 stars

David Hare has indubitably managed to parlay the fact that he wrote some great plays in the twentieth century into getting some truly rancid ones commissioned in the twenty-first. But while it’s no masterpiece, he’s definitely on to something with ‘Straight Line Crazy’. More specifically, he’s on to something in sensing that the relatively obscure (in the UK, anyway) New York city planner Bob Moses would make a great subject for a biographical drama. ‘Straight Line Crazy’ reconvenes Hare, actor Ralph Fiennes and director Nicholas Hytner for an altogether more substantial work than ‘Beat the Devil’, the theoretically admirable, actually half-baked monologue that reopened the Bridge Theatre after the first lockdown. What’s particularly effective is that ‘Straight Line Crazy’ shuns the traditional cradle-to-grave biographical format, and instead shows the unelected Moses at just two junctures in his life, in 1926 and 1955. You’d have to look it up to determine how old Moses is actually supposed to be in either timeline (Fiennes wears a toupee in ’26 and has a limp in ’55, it’s not aggressively transformative). Crucially, though, it’s a play about how much Moses doesn’t change as much as how he does: key is the fact that what makes him a progressive revolutionary in the first half makes him a borderline monster in the second.  Self-important, arrogant, detached and fanatical, Fiennes’s magnetic Moses is a case study in the advantages and dangers of (nominally) benevolent dictator

‘A Monster Calls’ review

‘A Monster Calls’ review

4 out of 5 stars

This review is from the Old Vic in 2018. ‘A Monster Calls’ tours to the Rose Theatre Kingston in 2022. Patrick Ness’s ‘A Monster Calls’ is one of the great young adult fiction novels of our time, a devastating articulation of the fury that comes with grief, bound up in a nifty magical realist chassis. It has already been turned into a film, which essentially treated the story of 13-year-old Conor and his mother, dying of cancer, as a kitchen sinky drama, sporadically interrupted by the gargantuan, CGI-generated Monster – an ancient walking yew tree, voiced by Liam Neeson. Super-director Sally Cookson’s stab at turning it into a stage play so soon after the film is a tad audacious in theory, but to her credit she mostly nails it. Devised with her company, ‘A Monster Calls’ takes a while to warm up, but ultimately locks into the searing emotional clarity of the book more closely than the film did. Despite the uncluttered starkness of Michael Vale’s pure white set, at first the production suffers from an abundance of bells and whistles. Benji Bower’s pulsing, ‘Kid A’-style score feels a mite intrusive, Dan Canham’s stylised movement a bit busy, and the initial introduction of the Monster as a mix of actor Stuart Goodwin, some ropes and Dick Straker’s (gorgeous) projections feels a bit difficult to quite take in. It slightly clogs the story of brave, bullied Conor (Matthew Tennyson) and his endlessly – perhaps dangerously – optimistic mum (Marianne Oldham). But as with the book,

‘Gulliver's Travels’ review

‘Gulliver's Travels’ review

4 out of 5 stars

How to stage Oliver Swift’s satirical fantasy opus ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ without a kerjillian pound budget? This wildly innovative, extremely fun show for ages seven-plus shows you how.  In a nutshell, Jaz Woodcock-Stewart’s production uses live video and other charmingly lo-fi live camera work to create a series of extremely clever forced perspectives – often quite funny ones – that make Mae Munuo’s Gulliver look tiny or huge on the screens set up around the stage, depending on whether she’s surrounded by pint-sized Lilliputians or giant Brobingnagians. Sometimes tiny characters are played by a member of the four-strong cast with the aid of digital trickery; sometimes tiny model people are drolly trundled out. Set designer Rosanna Vize has created a delightful series of diorama-style scenes to represent the various fantasy kingdoms Gulliver visits, but there’s an abundance of inventiveness all round. More than that, though, there’s a palpable glee to every second of the show, from the way the four actors have a boogie on stage before the show starts, to the deployment of amusingly random pop songs throughout (most memorably Lionel Richie’s ‘All Night Long’), to the fact that right until the end they’re still finding fresh, funny new ways to bring Swift’s imaginary countries to life – the flying island of Laputa is an absolute hoot. The Unicorn is of course a kids’ theatre, but when I attended there was a noticeable sprinkling of child-free theatre hipsters in the audience –

News (394)

Famous actors will perform a one-off West End comedy made of text messages

Famous actors will perform a one-off West End comedy made of text messages

Putting the comedy chops of such big name actors as (deep breath) Aki Omoshaybi, Amanda Holden, Catherine Tate, Denise Gough, Dougray Scott, Indira Varma, Iwan Rheon, Tamsin Greig, Nicholas Pinnock, Pearl Mackie, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Rupert Evans, Robert Bathurst, Sally Phillips and Tracy Ann Oberman to the test, next Monday sees the one-off performance of ‘The Joy of Text’, a fundraiser for the Ambassador Theatre Group Playwright’s Prize, which is an award for new plays sponsored by the Ambassador Theatre Group and Time Out. Directed by top-notch stage and screen director Josie Rourke, the night will feature the glittering array of actors performing a script crafted from text-message-conversation screenshots sent in by the public.The one-off night will run at the Savoy Theatre on April 25, with tickets on sale here and a special discount for Time Out readers – just enter TimeOutJoy to get 10 percent off.It’s a fun way to support the playwrights of the future, and a rare chance to see some huge names parking around in the name of a good time for a never-to-be-repeated night of amusement.‘The Joy of Text’ is at the Savoy Theatre on Apr 25. Buy tickets here. The best theatre shows to book for in London in 2022. Check out these London fundraising events in support of Ukraine.

Exclusive: the Royal Court’s new play is by some guy no one’s ever heard of

Exclusive: the Royal Court’s new play is by some guy no one’s ever heard of

When the Royal Court Theatre reached out with the offer of an exclusive show announcement, we jumped at the chance, sight unseen. After all, the main house programming of London’s foremost new-writing theatre – which has given us the likes of John Osborne, Caryl Churchill and Jez Butterworth – is always worth paying attention to. Then it all got a bit weird: we were sworn to secrecy and told that the next main house play at the Royal Court would be ‘That Is Not Who I Am’, by one Dave Davidson, a man we’ve literally never heard of, whose entire biog is ‘he has worked in the security industry for 38 years’, and who is ‘highly security conscious’, meaning he won’t allow anybody to photograph him (how accurate the blurry supplied image is we don’t know). His play seems to lean into those themes: it’s a thriller about somebody called Ollie whose life spirals drastically out of control after his identity is stolen on the internet. You’d almost think there was something suspicious about an unknown playwright who there are no proper pictures of being given a remarkably high-profile slot for a play about identity called ‘That Is Not Who I Am’. But apparently he’s 100 percent legit as the Royal Court has provided testimonies for him from big-name playwrights Simon Stephens (‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’) and Dennis Kelly (‘Matilda’). Says Stephens: ‘Dave Davidson had been working steadily on the fringes of the London new-writing scene when I first met him in a wri

A massive new musical about Nelson Mandela is coming to the Young Vic

A massive new musical about Nelson Mandela is coming to the Young Vic

The Young Vic has announced a storming summer to winter season that runs the gamut from a searingly hip avant-garde European monologue to the big headline attraction, a massive new biographical musical about Nelson Mandela made in partnership with the great man’s family. ‘Mandela’ – as it’s craftily called – is the last show in the season but the biggest attraction, with a lengthy run over Christmas (Nov 28-Feb 4). Details are both relatively scant and fairly obvious: it’s a musical about Nelson Mandela, helmed by Broadway director Schele Williams, with a book by Broadway actor and writer Laiona Michelle, and music by South African songwriters Greg Dean Borowsky and Shaun Borowsky. In other words, it seems intended for Broadway and is having a posh tryout at the hip London theatre. Exactly how it will play out is the main question: it’s billed as an uplifting affair, infused with the rhythms of South Africa, but fundamentally Mandela was a freedom fighter in a racist state who was thrown in prison for 27 years: we all know the end was glorious, but it’s surely important that the story told reflects the hardship of his life. We’ll find out by the end of the year – keep a particular eye on the casting of an absolutely monumental role. Elsewhere in the season and there’s nothing quite so massive, though theatre hipsters will salivate at the great European director Ivo van Hove’s monologue adaptation of author Édouard Louis’s furious and tender book ‘Who Killed My Father’ (Sep 7-

London theatre’s biggest awards are back this weekend – here’s who will win

London theatre’s biggest awards are back this weekend – here’s who will win

Although a spirited, mostly online edition of the Laurence Olivier Awards was pulled out of the hat in the autumn of 2020, you really have to look back to 2019 for the last ‘normal’ incarnation of British theatre’s most prestigious awards. But now the Oliviers are back! And for the most part, they’re looking the same as they were before, with the fact the nominating season was effectively shorter than usual (because theatres were closed until May) having little impact: indeed, the high volume of delayed musicals finally getting staged means it’s arguably a busier year than usual.  So without further ado, here’s all you need to know about the nominees and potential winners at Sunday’s ceremony, which will take place at the Royal Albert Hall, with coverage on ITV and Magic Radio. The frontrunner The West End’s luxury revival of Kander & Ebb’s ‘Cabaret’ has received 11 nominations, and looks likely to take a decent chunk of them. Some of the technical categories and minor acting awards are liable to be more contested, and there’s stiff competition from the Barbican revival of ‘Anything Goes’, but it would be pretty remarkable if ‘Cabaret’ didn’t take home best actor in a musical (for Eddie Redmayne), actress in a musical (Jessie Buckley), set design (Tom Scutt) and musical revival – and that’s a bare minimum. It’s ‘Cabaret’'s night to throw away, basically. The dark horse-slash-tiger Okay, Max Webster’s puppet-driven West End version of Yann Martel’s ‘Life of Pi’ is hardly a plu

Harry Potter’s Tom Felton stars in the Tower of London’s immersive Gunpowder Plot show

Harry Potter’s Tom Felton stars in the Tower of London’s immersive Gunpowder Plot show

There is, of course, absolutely nothing the British love more than to celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot. Some 416 years after Guy Fawkes and his band of Catholic conspirators failed to blow up parliament on November 5, 1605, the good people of the UK commemorate his failure via the medium of fireworks and – in sadly decreasing numbers – burning effigies of Fawkes on huge bonfires. But what if you could commemorate the plot’s failure every day? Not with fireworks and massive bonfires, of course. But how about… a ‘layered reality experience, blending VR, live actors and various special effects? Well, great news: today the Tower of London has announced new immersive attraction ‘The Gunpowder Plot’, which sees you step back in time and attempt to win the trust of and join the plotters – the inference being that your intention is to betray them to the crown, though details are pretty scant at the moment. What we do know is that it’s promising a completely immersive environment, full of the sounds, sensations and even smells of 1605: you’ll be able to see the Tower as it was back then. Plus it has a top-notch creative team: the script is by Danny Robins, author of hit podcast ‘The Battersea Poltergeist’ and this summer’s smash play ‘2:22 – A Ghost Story’. And it’s directed by Hannah Price, the rising star co-director of the revamped King’s Head Theatre. And it’s got a very decent star: Tom Felton – aka Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter films! He'll be leading a digital c

An opera on a beach! A ghost hunt in Brent Cross! A trans Pinocchio! LIFT is back

An opera on a beach! A ghost hunt in Brent Cross! A trans Pinocchio! LIFT is back

    It feels like only yesterday that the London Festival of Theatre 2020 was announced… and immediately got cancelled due to the pandemic. Where most London venues have essentially spent the time since they reopened catching up on the work that got scotched by lockdown, the ephemeral, international nature of LIFT – London’s biggest, boldest festival of theatre –  means that the 2020 festival simply didn’t happen and will never happen, as the festival has moved on with an all-new 2022 bill. So *sniff* we never got to see Ruth Wilson in a 100-scene, 24-hour-long play. But onwards and upwards – the ’22 edition is a jolly exciting one.  The highlight is still probably the previously-announced Lithuanian durational climate change opera ‘Sun & Sea’, which will run on an artificial beach in Deptford June 23 to July 10. But there are some major additions to the line-up, notably ZU-UK’s ‘Radio Ghost’, a fascinating-sounding interactive ghost hunt through a series of already pretty cursed London shopping malls, notably Brent Cross, the Mall Wood Green and the Exchange Ilford (Jul 2-3) and ‘The Making of Pinocchio’ (Battersea Arts Centre, Jun 29-Jul 2) in which artist and lovers Rosana Cade and Ivor MacAskill explore his transsexualism via an attempt to make a new version of ‘Pinocchio’. There will also be some major work from Nairobi artists The Nest Collective who will be throwing a massive all-day party in a ‘hidden palace’ in Deptford. Entitled ‘The Feminine and the Foreign’, the s

Gary Barlow’s theatrical solo show ‘A Different Stage’ is coming to the West End

Gary Barlow’s theatrical solo show ‘A Different Stage’ is coming to the West End

Take That leader and all-round national treasure (if you can look past the tax stuff) Gary Barlow is no stranger to theatre, having written two musicals – ‘Finding Neverland’ and ‘Calendar Girls’ – and contributed, alongside the rest of Take That, to ‘The Band’. The latter two shows were co-written with Tim Firth, who has teamed up with Barlow again for ‘A Different Stage’, a theatrical solo show that’ll play a stint in the West End this summer. It’ll combine songs from the length and breadth of Barlow’s career (pre-reformation Take That, post-reformation Take That, a bit of solo stuff) with a few judicious covers, plus Barlow himself chatting away at length about his life and times.  Directed by Firth and designed by the great Es Devlin, it’s basically a posh ‘evening with’ that’ll delight fans of Barlow’s music and no doubt induce rapture in those interested in getting to know the man a bit better. Certainly by Take That’s arena-traipsing standards, the 640-seat Duke of York’s Theatre represents a very rare chance to get up close and personal with the Cheshire pop titan. Gary Barlow: ‘A Different Stage’ is at the Duke of York’s Theatre, Aug 30-Sep 18. Tickets go on sale at 10am on Wed Mar 23 from here. Take part in Time Out’s City Index survey. The best London theatre shows to book for in 2022.

Lenny Henry has written a play about the Windrush scandal

Lenny Henry has written a play about the Windrush scandal

Shepherd’s Bush’s beloved, hugely influential theatre institution the Bush turns 50 this year, and artistic director Lynette Linton has just announced an enormous half-centenary season that will stretch well into 2023. There’s lots of good stuff there, from all manner of playwrights, kicking off with Beru Tessema’s ‘House of Ife’, which starts previews next month. However, there’s unquestionably one name that stands out in the context of the traditionally fairly low-key Bush: Sir Lenny Henry will be making his debut as a playwright with his monologue ‘August in England’, about a Jamaican immigrant to the West Midlands who is proud of the life he has made in England in the decades since coming over… until he gets horrifyingly caught up in the Windrush scandal. This is Henry’s first play, though he’s no stranger to stage acting, and he’ll be performing ‘August in England’ himself when it runs in a production by Lynette Linton and Daniel Bailey next April.  The tickets for ‘August in England’ aren’t due to go on sale until June, but in the meantime the first tranche of fiftieth anniversary shows – that’s ‘House of Ife’, plus ‘Favour’ by Ambreen Razia and ‘The P Word’ by Waleed Akhtar – are on sale already. ‘August in England’ is at the Bush Theatre, Apr 28-Jun 10 2023. Best theatre shows to book in London right now ‘Cabaret’ leads the way in the 2022 Oliviers nominations

‘Call My Agent! The Musical’ is coming to the West End

‘Call My Agent! The Musical’ is coming to the West End

‘Call My Agent!’ is everyone’s favourite cameo-heavy French Netflix smash about the coming and goings of a bickering, dysfunctional Parisian talent agency. The French equivalent of ‘The Office’ (sort of), it wound up its run last year, but will soon be back with us in a new, English-language remake called ‘Ten Percent’ that’s due to hit Amazon Prime later this year. In fact, the French name for the show is also ‘Ten Percent’ (or ‘Dix Pour Cent’), meaning that ‘Call My Agent!’ feels increasingly less like its actual name. But that hasn’t deterred the producers of a brand new musical that’s due to hit the West End up in… 2024!! It’s quite the lead time for a show that doesn’t even have a creative team announced yet, but after the show’s formative existence was revealed by the Daily Mail it has been officially confirmed that it’s happening. Further details are pretty scant – for instance, it’s not clear whether it will be set in Paris or in London – but we are promised that ‘Call My Agent! The Musical’ will mirror the TV show in terms of having a special guest star in it each week to keep things fresh. Further information is due to arrive later this year. The best London theatre shows to book in 2022 A-Z of musicals in London

‘Cabaret’ leads the way in the 2022 Olivier Awards nominations

‘Cabaret’ leads the way in the 2022 Olivier Awards nominations

The nominations for the long-awaited 2022 Laurence Olivier Awards – the biggest and most prestigious theatre awards in the UK – are finally in, the first edition of the Oliviers since 2020 and the first since 2019 that’ll actually take place with the full in-person ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall. Not unexpectedly, the West End’s superdeluxe revival of Kander & Ebb’s ‘Cabaret’ leads the nominations, being up for a full 11 gongs, which is probably something you could have predicted even before seeing it, given the colossal names involved (notably stars Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley) and the fact that it involved a highly ambitious overhaul of the Playhouse Theatre (designer Tom Scutt and most of his technical team are up for something, as is director Rebecca Frecknall). There’s also a haul of nine nominations for the Barbican’s superlative summer production of ‘Anything Goes’, and perhaps surprisingly an equal number for current West End smash ‘Life of Pi’ – some innovative ways have been found to nominate the puppet-based production, including a best supporting actor nod for the seven performers playing the tiger, Richard Parker, and a best choreographer nomination for puppet director Finn Caldwell (both thoroughly deserved). Elsewhere and ‘Back to the Future’ did the best of the rest of the many musicals that opened last year with seven nominations; ‘Moulin Rouge!’ got five, ‘Frozen’ four, ‘Get Up, Stand Up!’ three, ‘The Drifters Girl’ two, while Andrew Lloyd Webber’s

Judi Dench, Adrian Lester, Michael Ball and more celebrate Stephen Sondheim with a special concert

Judi Dench, Adrian Lester, Michael Ball and more celebrate Stephen Sondheim with a special concert

Stephen Sondheim never actually got to visit the West End’s Sondheim Theatre after its name was changed from the Queen’s Theatre in 2019. Nor has it previously played host to any of its late namesake’s musicals: despite the name change, the theatre remains the base for the indestructible ‘Les Misérables’. Nonetheless, it provided a focal point for fans and mourners when the West End’s lights were dimmed in memory of the music-theatre titan last year. And now it’s the rightful home to a very special concert in the great man’s honour that’ll take place later this year. ‘Old Friends’ features British performers who’ve starred in Sondheim’s works over the decades, and features quite a guestlist, with Michael Ball, Petula Clark, Judi Dench, Daniel Evans, Bonnie Langford, Adrian Lester, Damian Lewis, Julia Mckenzie, Bernadette Peters, Elaine Paige, Clive Rowe, Imelda Staunton and Hannah Waddingham all featuring. And yes, they’ll all be singing: Sondheim was very much the actor’s songwriter, and the likes of Dench and Lester all performed in his musicals (in their cases ‘A Little Night Music’ and ‘Sweeney Todd’) back in the day, and will be doing rare reprisals this May. The show will be directed by Sondheim’s regular interpreter Maria Friedman, along with the great choreographer Matthew Bourne. More names will be added, but book this quick if you want a chance of seeing this once-in-a-lifetime celebration of one of the greatest artists who ever lived. ‘Old Friends’ is at the Sondhe

You can book £15 to £45 West End theatre tickets for the next fortnight as London Theatre Week returns

You can book £15 to £45 West End theatre tickets for the next fortnight as London Theatre Week returns

After successfully welcoming full-capacity theatre audiences back last autumn, the excellent West End ticket promotion London Theatre Week has moved back to its usual February/March slot for 2022 (lest we forget, it didn’t run at this time last year because all the theatres were closed).  Put simply, for the next couple of weeks (London Theatre Week is two weeks long for whatever reason) you can head over to the official site and book tickets to most major West End shows from a price range running from £15 to £45 – which is, not to put too fine a point on it, exceptional value considering most shows in Theatreland tend to have upper prices that spiral off well into triple figures. Certainly if you’ve ever dreamed of buying yourself a stalls seat and still having money left over for the overpriced wine, London Theatre Week is for you. Note that while the London Theatre Week booking period only runs for the next fortnight (until March 6), the tickets can be for whenever – several shows like ‘The Seagull’ and ‘The Glass Menagerie’ aren’t even starting for several months. While it doesn’t encompass literally every West End show (sorry, you’re not getting £45 ‘Cabaret’ tickets), the offer does account for most of them, including such perennially hot tickets as ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’, ‘The Book of Mormon’ (pictured with old cast) and ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’. The complete list of shows on offer during London Theatre Week is:  ‘& Juliet’, ‘After the End’, ‘Anything Goes’,