Theatre reviews

At a glance
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

The Country Wife Crucible Theatre, Sheffield (0114-249 6000) Is this play a comedy? An absurd question to anyone laughing - and laughing, and laughing - throughout Michael Grandage's buoyant assured production. William Wycherley's plot equates courtship with commerce, as fashionable ladies (especially the gloriously rapacious Suzanne Burden) pursue tasty, saucy Dominic West's Mr Horner, and romping, pouting Victoria Hamilton flirts adorably as the over-excited child-wife. Grandage superbly controls this mostly merry play, while letting it breathe enough for us to hear its sombre notes. Closes tonight. Rhoda Koenig

The Country Wife Crucible Theatre, Sheffield (0114-249 6000) Is this play a comedy? An absurd question to anyone laughing - and laughing, and laughing - throughout Michael Grandage's buoyant assured production. William Wycherley's plot equates courtship with commerce, as fashionable ladies (especially the gloriously rapacious Suzanne Burden) pursue tasty, saucy Dominic West's Mr Horner, and romping, pouting Victoria Hamilton flirts adorably as the over-excited child-wife. Grandage superbly controls this mostly merry play, while letting it breathe enough for us to hear its sombre notes. Closes tonight. Rhoda Koenig

Noises Off National Theatre, London SE1 (020-7452 3000) You could perform Michael Frayn's farce - probably the funniest ever written - in Westminster Abbey during a state funeral and the audience would still be helpless with laughter. The same company of actors are in a ropey farce called Nothing On during a dress rehearsal, then again backstage, and finally in a disastrous last night performance with open actorly warfare upstaging the onstage hilarity. Jeremy Sams's splendidly cast revival is a riot, with blissful performances from the likes of Aden Gillett, Patricia Hodge (above) and Susie Blake. Paul Taylor

Dear Brutus Nottingham Playhouse(0115-941 9419) Richard Baron's handsome production reminds you of the enchanting and upsetting power of JM Barrie's rich dramatic imagination. Running in rep with A Midsummer Night's Dream, a comedy to which it is openly indebted, the play - smartly tweaked by Jeremy Sams - is a midsummer musing. Edward Lipscomb's beautiful set and fine performances allow the play's brilliant twist to result in a fertile, characteristically unsettling mix of comic whimsy and emotional agony that makes JB Priestley and Alan Ayckbourn look tidy-minded. PT

Romeo and Juliet National Theatre, London SE1 (020-7452 3000) While this modern-dress production is no abject disgrace, it suffers from a lack of positive identity, and the dancing and the sluggish cleaver-clashing fights feel rote-learnt instead of conveying Verona's heat, hormonal storms and impulsive haste. It's also a little early to be repeating Trevor Nunn's (above) Troilus and Cressida idea of differentiating feuding families by the colour of the actors. Chiwetel Ejiofor's Romeo is a witty and sexy, if not well-spoken, Romeo, but while Charlotte Randle's Juliet is touching, it's all too calculating. PT

Comments