Stage

The Lion King, Lyceum Theatre, London

After all the hype, just how good is the Lion King which finally opened last night at the Lyceum Theatre in London? Impressive certainly. But its diverse visual brilliance is often betrayed by its Disneyfied verbal banality. To suggest, as one commentator recently did, that it is on a creative par with Hamlet is to show an insane lack of proportion.

Michael Billington

20, Oct, 1999 @11:00 PM

Age cannot wither him

Age may have nudged Irek Mukhamedov out of the biggest classical roles open to him but it certainly hasn't stopped him being a star. Even though the 39-year-old has been demoted to guest principal with the Royal Ballet, he can still give himself top billing with his own temporary company, performing at Sadler's Wells this week. Here he not only gets to pick his own roles, but also to choose the cast and repertoire - and it has to be said he does an impressive job.

Judith Mackrell

20, Oct, 1999 @11:00 PM

Power of words

A nigh on irresistible prospect, this. The Scottish premiere of David Greig's magnificent play about language, space and love also marks the re-opening of the Tron Theatre after a £5m redevelopment and artistic director Irina Brown's swansong production at the venue. And then there's the title - The Cosmonaut's Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former Soviet Union. If only there were prizes for such things.

Keith Watson

18, Oct, 1999 @11:00 PM

Cinema with moves

"Is it a film? Is it a dance?" is the question often asked when Mark Murphy's V-TOL takes to the stage. Actually it's both.

Dave Simpson

18, Oct, 1999 @11:00 PM

Comic Potential

Seeing Janie Dee at the start of the decade in Show Boat, I tipped her for future stardom. Her performance as an awakening android in Alan Ayckbourn's Comic Potential, newly arrived from Scarborough, vividly vindicates my claim. This is a superb comic performance fit to be mentioned in the same breath as Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch or Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday.

Michael Billington

17, Oct, 1999 @11:00 PM

A return to old fights

Can he do it again? Having roused the nation with Shopping and Fucking, will Mark Ravenhill's new play cause a similar stir? Possibly not since it's as much about socialism as sex. And, while I found it bright, sharp and funny, I feel it sometimes falls prey to the soundbite values it condemns.

Michael Billington

15, Oct, 1999 @11:00 PM

The body as battlefield

Far From Sleeping Dogs, the latest work from Slovenian choreographer Iztok Kovak, is partly a formal inquiry into the ways in which movement, music and image can co-exist - a matter that it pursues with the kind of ascetic fervour that only central Europeans seem to muster these days.

Judith Mackrell

14, Oct, 1999 @11:00 PM

All the world on stage

How does one justify the existence of national theatre companies? One answer is that they should do work that no one else can. Adrian Noble of the Royal Shakespeare Company will shortly announce the kind of Big Idea that gives new life to a company

13, Oct, 1999 @1:50 AM

Would Say Something

By rights this one-man show should not work at all. It's just a middle-aged man in a cardigan, talking. Or not talking. Sometimes hugging a cupboard. Sometimes suspended by a rope. Occasionally swinging. Occasionally soaring. He is accompanied by a musician who provides an instant soundtrack.

Lyn Gardner

12, Oct, 1999 @11:00 PM

A play for today

The presence of Jude Law will certainly attract hip young movie-goers to this version of 'Tis Pity She's A Whore, but the real marvel of David Lan's electric production is just how modern he succeeds in making John Ford's 400-year-old play seem. It could have been written yesterday for the Royal Court.

Lyn Gardner

11, Oct, 1999 @11:00 PM

No time for reflection

How do you stage Macbeth? When I first went to the theatre it was a two-interval spectacle. Terry Hands's production, presented in the 200-seat black box of Clwyd's Emlyn Williams Theatre, hurtles along like an express. At 110 minutes it is fast, exciting, an unbroken arc of crime and punishment. Even so, you pay a price for the emphasis on the play's unstoppable narrative drive.

Michael Billington

11, Oct, 1999 @11:00 PM

The Master Builder

Stephen Unwin and English Touring Theatre produced the best Hedda Gabler of the decade. Now they have done the same for Ibsen's subsequent play.

Lyn Gardner

11, Oct, 1999 @11:00 PM

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