(NOTE: Pam Gems’s Camille offers a fresh look at one of the tawdry yet somehow great stories about doomed heroines that have come down to us from the high romantic age of the nineteenth century. Maggie Smith has developed a well-honed specialty among modern classic actresses, so much so that she explicates the role of the vulnerable comic heroine simply by stepping into it, as she did, memorably, in Ronald Harwood’s play Interpreters. The RSC’s expert approach to late Shakespearean tragedy is exemplified in this full-stage rendition of Othello, featuring the stand-out performance of the omni-talented David Suchet as the villainous Iago. Early plays by Bernard Shaw, as in this National Theatre production of Mrs Warren’s Profession, have the added extra-theatrical feature of having laid the groundwork for an exceedingly long and productive career as a peerless comic dramatist. In a double bill making for a full and engaging evening of theatregoing, the National Theatre brings together on its main stage two plays of signal accomplishment in the genre of travesty, pairing Stoppard’s romp through the stage detective mystery, The Real Inspector Hound, with Sheridan’s time-tested comical satire, The Critic. William Congreve had an undisputed genius for complex dramatic plots that require comparable genius in the actors who venture to take them on, as exemplified in his two masterpieces, The Way of the World and, in this sparkling production by the National Theatre, Love for Love. John Gay’s immortal ballad opera The Beggar’s Opera has spawned an amazing progeny over two hundred-plus years, lately exemplified in Ayckbourn’s sure-handed engagement with the rehearsal play, A Chorus of Disapproval. Comparable demands on actors are made by the Jacobean playwright John Webster in his grim tragedy The Duchess of Malfi, here given an oddly compromised treatment by the National Theatre company under Phillip Prowse’s determined, unheroic approach to a work whose language nevertheless survives in much of its grotesque beauty.)
An American Playgoer in London by Joseph Donohue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.