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Theatre: The Week in Review



OVERVIEW: The Motion Picture Event of the decade has finally arrived. George Lucas's The Phantom Menace forms the first of the three Star Wars prequels.

CRITICAL VIEW: "No summary can convey the spirit of a movie whose defining characteristics are pomposity, vulgarity and dreariness," stated Anthony Quinn. "While Lucas's technology may be fresh, his notion of entertainment is dead and buried," griped The Express. "Nothing has the right to disappoint us this much," groaned The Guardian. "Deliriously inventive," gushed The Daily Telegraph.

OUR VIEW: If the endless political discussions don't put you to sleep, the cavalcade of digital walk-ons will. An unmitigated disaster.

ON VIEW: Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace is out on general release, certificate U. 133 minutes.



OVERVIEW: Anouilh's 1941 play - a reworking of the Orpheus myth into a 1930s love story - is revived by Simon Godwin and his Straydogs company.

CRITICAL VIEW: "There is no reason why Straydogs' beautifully acted production shouldn't stand its ground amid the tainted commercialism of the West End," declared Dominic Cavendish. "Hifalutin' stuff; yet it is given a weird plausibility by a fine cast," applauded The Times. "Godwin's small-scale direction is dwarfed in the echoing wastes of the Whitehall," carped the Evening Standard.

OUR VIEW: Straydogs have made a successful transition from the fringe to the West End with a compellingly understated production.

ON VIEW: Eurydice is at the Whitehall Theatre until 14 Aug. For bookings and enquiries, call 0171-369 1735



OVERVIEW: 100 million album-selling warbler Celine Dion brings her titanic stadium set-up to the UK, performing in the round on a heart-shaped stage.

CRITICAL VIEW: "If credibility was measured in terms of volume, [Dion] has no competition. But like her predilection for spilling her guts to strangers, her singing similarly lacks subtlety," revealed Fiona Sturges. "This isn't soul music: it's lung music," cried the Daily Mail. "Her show is big on regimented precision and strangely eerie," noted The Guardian. "There is an endearing innocence to her stage manner," The Times.

OUR VIEW: Dion's show was earth-shatteringly loud but short on imagination. But when she switched on the schmaltz, the crowd lapped it up.

ON VIEW: Celine Dion's album Let's Talk About Love is out now on Epic records