Donmar Warehouse

Moonlight, Donmar Warehouse, London

In the diary of her life with Harold Pinter, Must You Go?, Antonia Fraser says that she and HP were amused when, reviewing the first performance in 1993, I called for "hard-edged political plays" – which I didn't. Slightly put off by Moonlight's mist of poetic sleep-talking, I hankered for the "hard, cutting, political edge" of some of his shorter pieces like One for the Road and Mountain Language.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Donmar Warehouse, London

The Broadway musical, as a habitat, tends not to throng with nature's great spellers. Gypsy's Mama Rose could probably get through "audition", without mishap, but the chances are that she'd put a middle "e" in "monstrous". And, even though it's her native German, how would Maria von Trapp cope with "Weltanschauung" – the word that happens to be the climactic clincher in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a musical comedy (by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin), that redresses the balance, to an almost parodic degree, in favour of the non-orthographically-challenged?

The Late Middle Classes, Donmar Warehouse, London

The late Harold Pinter, who first directed the late Simon Gray's The Late Middle Classes, found it to be a rich and beautifully wrought piece of work that was "deeply satisfying" to direct. I see what he means but I do not share his certainty.

Life is a Dream, Donmar Warehouse, London

Have you heard the Chinese sage's story about the man who dreamt he was a butterfly and then woke up to wonder if he was, in fact, a butterfly dreaming he was a man? A compelling variation on this theme of the confusion between illusion and reality is dramatised in Life Is a Dream, the 1635 play by the great golden age Spanish dramatist, Calderó*de la Barca. Set in Poland, the play focuses on Segismundo, the young heir to the throne who has spent his life imprisoned in a tower because omens foretold that he would one day overthrow his father, the king. As in Oedipus Rex, this paternal insurance policy backfires. The monarch's neurotic desire to outwit fate is itself outsmarted by circumstance, although here a very qualified happy ending is reached.

More headlines

You write the reviews: Piaf, Donmar Warehouse, London

Before sex and drugs were co-opted by rock'n'roll, they belonged to Edith Piaf. A diminutive woman whose looks were far from stunning, Piaf rose from singing on the street to become the highest-paid performer in the world, while engaging in countless affairs and, later, developing a morphine addiction. In this new production of Pam Gems's 1978 play-with-music, the Donmar has struck gold.