Theatre reviews

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The Good Samaritan Hampstead Theatre (020-7722 9301) When Alan (Julian Wadham) and Carol (Claudie Blakey) share a joint on a park bench their meeting violates a principle. Alan is a Samaritan; Carol is a suicidal woman who has come to rely on him, rather than the organisation.

The Good Samaritan Hampstead Theatre (020-7722 9301) When Alan (Julian Wadham) and Carol (Claudie Blakey) share a joint on a park bench their meeting violates a principle. Alan is a Samaritan; Carol is a suicidal woman who has come to rely on him, rather than the organisation.

David Haig's play, partly about the mixed motives for doing good (who benefits most, the giver or the receiver?), and the nature of responsibility, makes us privy to the routine stresses of a job where there may be conflicts between principle and humane instincts. Various phone conversations interweave in an eloquent, tragicomic tapestry. Paul Taylor

As You Like It Manchester Royal Exchange (0161-833 9833) Falling between the current insufferable Stratford production and Michael Grandage's superb Sheffield version, the new As You Like It, directed by Marianne Elliott at the Royal Exchange is vivid, clear, and occasionally inspired, but marred by a deliberateness of intent.

Claire Price is a winning Rosalind, her performance surviving the principal-boy wig she is required to wear when disguised as Ganymede. Tristan Sturrock's excellent Orlando is delightfully unsure of himself, often to be caught surreptitiously trying out manly or poetic poses. PT

Carmen Watermill, Newbury (01635 46044) There's no danger of disputes between the cast and the band in musicals at the Watermill. Here, the cast double as the band.

This year, director John Doyle and company have mounted a radically reinvented version of Carmen, with the action shifted to the time of the Spanish Civil War. Artfully reorchestrated by Catherine Jayes, Bizet's songs now have a thinner, rougher, more raucous texture.

There are some electric moments in this staging but, for all its virtues, this is still the least satisfactory offering to date from this outfit. PT

I'll Go On The Pit, The Barbican (020-7638 5403) The Barbican's International Theatre Event (BITE: 00) has imported from Dublin I'll Go On, Barry McGovern's monologues drawn from Samuel Beckett's trilogy of novels, Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable.

McGovern has a long, sour face. He is not a pretty sight, nor is he meant to be. Beckett's people are forbidding outsiders.

There are memorable lines ("Some people are lucky, born of a wet dream and dead before morning"), and every quick word is clearly spoken. McGovern's astonishing control of Beckett's language is a tour de force. Stephen Fay

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