Marianka Swain

Marianka Swain is a critic with Ham&High Broadway. This account has been auto-generated, and does not indicate that this person is an active member of Show-Score.com. That said, if you "follow" this member, you will automatically be updated whenever s/he writes a new review.

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Reviews (73)
London Theatre

"It’s an unforgettable opening to Lyndsey Turner’s magnificent revival of 'The Crucible,' setting up the chilling horror in which humanity turns in on itself with deadly consequences." Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

"Depending on your taste levels, that’s either when this show hits rock bottom or when its hallucinogenic properties really kick in. Personally, it all left me with a hangover." Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

"Within this near-three-hour show there are the makings of an involving and genuinely enlightening play." Full Review

London Theatre

"This adaptation is all bark and no bite." Full Review

London Theatre

"There’s the odd contemporary parallel, like the satire of our obsession with celebrity, but, just like when it was first staged during the Depression, this is really about stepping into another world and leaving our troubles behind. Quite simply: it’s the top." Full Review

Patriots (London)
Islington
London Theatre

"Morgan has inarguably produced a work that speaks to the moment – not just in terms of the war in Ukraine, but our own political squabbles." Full Review

London Theatre

The actors are left rather stranded by [the] bare-bones approach. It’s a set-up that might work better in a more intimate venue, but isn’t terribly well suited to a West End house. Full Review

The Arts Desk

Yes, much of the plotting is enjoyable nonsense; it’s certainly not beholden to actual legal proceedings. But amidst its ... giddy gags are extremely pertinent points about how we judge on appearances, whether it’s dismissing women who proudly own their femininity, or discriminate based on race, sexuality or gender identity. Another triumphant musical reinvention at the Park. Full Review

London Theatre

Peter Andre, if vocally underpowered, is surprisingly good fun as the Elvis-aping DJ and fantasy Teen Angel. But then that’s the core issue with this production, which feels caught between sombre realism and full-throttle, sugar-rush escapism. Full Review

London Theatre

Rylance’s titanic performance as the gypsy Rooster really is one for the ages. Wild and whimsical, uproarious and desolate, Butterworth’s play is still a mighty force of irrepressible live theatre. Full Review

London Theatre

Yet this is ultimately a paean to the self-sacrificing dedication of great teachers – and, thanks to Walker’s blazing performance, it’s a lesson that touches the heart too. Full Review

London Theatre

Drury’s postmodern play does feel rather like a manifesto made flesh. But it also makes a genuine effort to give us a multifaceted Mary, in all her pain and glory. Instead of a saint or a distant historic figure, she becomes a vivid figure who we must grapple with to make sense of our lives today. Full Review

Anyone Can Whistle (London)
Elephant and Castle
London Theatre

A whimsical political satire written with Arthur Laurents, it is, well, pretty loony...ironically, the show is so strenuously unconventional that all meaning is lost. A fun attempt, but this is one for the Sondheim completists. Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

But it’s so extreme and one-sided in its portrayal that it becomes a hectoring lesson about colossal historic and current wrongs, rather than a complex drama that holds up a mirror and invites us to confront our own prejudices. Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

Don’t mention the nose. That’s the warning offered to anyone in the vicinity of Cyrano de Bergerac, who, in James McAvoy’s fiercely charismatic portrayal, is a powder keg of a man: one quip about his legendarily large proboscis and he’s apt to explode. Full Review

A Number (Old Vic)
Southwark
London Theatre

Lyndsey Turner’s well-paced production honours the philosophical and science fiction elements of Churchill’s play while simultaneously exploring more grounded ideas. But it feels excessive to also have chaotic classical music between scenes and a blinding flash of light ... which ... hauls us out of the performance. Full Review

London Theatre

As a Christmas show, it’s a puzzling choice, particularly given the author’s anti-religious sentiments, and it doesn’t really justify its transfer to this new medium. But it should certainly satisfy the Pullman faithful until the next of his books hits our shelves. Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

Yet, on the night I saw it, that piece of farce was botched by imprecise staging. And so it continued: constant commentary met with baffled silence, while both story and physical comedy felt undernourished. Full Review

Six (West End)
West End
London Theatre

Four years on from its Edinburgh Fringe debut, the show still feels like a breath of fresh air. The production is also a true ensemble effort ... You’d need a heart of stone to resist. Full Review

London Theatre

The magnetic Kene sings divinely, honouring Marley’s utterly distinctive sound. But, since we rarely get inside his head, those great songs don’t have much dramatic heft. Full Review

London Theatre

It is astonishing to think that Larry Kramer’s largely autobiographical play debuted in 1985, right in the midst of the AIDS crisis. No wonder it feels like a missive from the battlefield, blood and shrapnel clinging to every word. Full Review

The Memory of Water
Camden Town
The Telegraph (UK)

Stephenson was inspired by her own mother’s funeral, which exacerbated existing tensions, and you can sense that authentic experience. Unfortunately, it’s cheapened by the addition of sitcom zingers, clunky plotting and tortured metaphors. Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

Yet even as the show becomes increasingly topical (including up-to-the-minute script additions) and blazingly confrontational, it’s still playful, personal and thoroughly entertaining theatre that never feels like a lecture. Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

With its plucky youngsters, wicked villains and wolves prowling the frosty moors, Joan Aiken’s gothic novel is a natural for theatre: rich in atmosphere and with a breathless plot...it’s still engrossing school-holiday fare. Full Review

London Theatre

Think Tom Stoppard meets Sliding Doors...This ingenious revival, by original director Michael Longhust, offers four casts — and yet more variations...A starry triumph. Full Review

London Theatre

"The kind of utopian consensus proposed by the 'Eureka Day' board now feels like a pipe dream. At least we can all agree that the Old Vic is supplying a brilliantly funny and cleverly thought-provoking response." Full Review

London Theatre

"It’s not just the whooping Take That fanatics in the crowd who are wowed. He truly is one of the great popular composers of our time, and, as his nostalgic, funny and ultimately triumphant show proves, a strong storyteller too. This is Barlow’s well-earned moment to shine." Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

"In a sublimely well-sung and sumptuously orchestrated production. ... Succumb to the siren call from this shimmering island paradise of a musical." Full Review

London Theatre

"Godwin’s entire production is a feast of ideas, giving us a new point of interest in every scene- ... Crucially, each supports the text rather than overwhelming it. ... This whole production is a wonder too, and you will be just as helpless to resist." Full Review

London Theatre

"Mark Thompson’s design illustrates the production’s sweet spot: a technicolour combination of comic book and live action, Englishness as an aesthetic and a myth. 'Jack Absolute' is more content to cuddle up to that myth than to seriously challenge it, but as pure summer fizz, it goes down a treat." Full Review

London Theatre

This meaty text is an absolute treat for the cast. Noma Dumezweni is a powerhouse Nora. If not quite as earth-shattering as the original, Hnath’s play still asks big, existential questions ...This blistering drama is just the beginning: the conversation will run and run. Ibsen would surely approve. Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

It’s a shame ... that Carr spells out every idea instead of trusting in Annabelle Comyn’s atmospheric staging. The second half loses steam as the family drama grows increasingly convoluted. It’s the women who are unforgettable here. Full Review

London Theatre

Okereke’s ambitious Eliza can hold her own. Harry Hadden-Paton, reprising the role from Broadway, is a riveting whirlwind of a Higgins. The supporting cast is more of a mixed bag ... Most glaringly, Amos is miscast as Doolittle. Full Review

Middle (London)
Waterloo
London Theatre

Though sincere, Eldridge’s portrait feels too conservative and inconsequential. It basically boils down to a white, straight couple with a conventional family life, who are grappling with problems that many viewers could only dream of. Full Review

London Theatre

If the play itself remains flawed, Comer should be nonetheless be commended for putting her star power behind Miller’s campaign...Besides, Comer herself makes this unmissable viewing. It's the unveiling of a serious, and seriously exciting, stage talent. Full Review

London Theatre

Ed Curtis's book is rather less pioneering; in fact, it falls into all the worst traps of jukebox bio-musicals. Knight, of course, brings her own firepower, and the musical kicks into high gear whenever she has a solo number. Full Review

The 47th (London)
Southwark
London Theatre

Carvel is the big draw here with another astonishing transformation...But as funny and compelling as the portrait is, it doesn’t tell us anything new. Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

Jane Austen meets Lizzo in Jeff James’s bold contemporary take on Persuasion, which swaps bonnets and balls for bikinis, pop songs and a foam party. It makes this exhilarating production... Full Review

London Theatre

The ensemble numbers are pin-sharp, funky and exciting, and the disco scenes feel immersive thanks to the colourful lights dancing out into the audience via multiple disco balls...Funky and heartfelt entertainment. Full Review

London Theatre

But none of these quibbles will matter a jot to those who just want to see their favourite film played out live, complete with glittering pink signs, lovingly re-created details and the famous end lift. If that’s what you’re after, you’ll definitely have the time of your life. Full Review

The Arts Desk

It’s kitsch, joyful hedonism writ large, bursting with sparklers, streamers and technicolour vitality – and powered by a cast who know only too well that you should perform every show as though it could be your last. Irresistible entertainment. Full Review

London Theatre

...this production certainly has a spiritual or otherworldly sensation, and it absolutely demonstrates the transporting joy of magnificent theatrical storytelling. Full Review

Four Quartets
West End
London Theatre

Fiennes ... beautifully honours the spirit of the text, which poses questions rather than forcing answers. This isn’t a show where you can sit back and let the entertainment come to you; it’s one that leaves room for you to find your own reading. Full Review

London Theatre

It’s a coming-of-age tale that will appeal to all ages, fascinatingly muddying our sense of time, blurring the boundaries between memory and imagination – if it feels true, it is true – and showing how stories can make sense of our reality. Full Review

London Theatre

As ever with Churchill, the meaning of her work probably isn’t that simple; like the multiverse, there are infinite possibilities for interpretation. Beautifully, sensitively, Macdonald’s production honours that ambiguity... Full Review

London Theatre

And, in truth, it’s not exactly a musical in the traditional sense. After two viewings, I’d be hard pressed to reproduce much of the original score; the songs that stick are the pop hits used in the movie and triumphantly reprised here, “Johnny B Goode” and “The Power of Love.” Full Review

Frozen (London)
West End
The Arts Desk

This isn’t a radical revamp, nor does the core Frozen audience want one. But, even if it plays it safe, Michael Grandage’s handsomely mounted show is still an impressive, twinkling spectacle with a sincere drama at its heart. Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

for a previous production It’s not Lloyd Webber’s most sophisticated work, but its generosity of spirit feels perfectly attuned to the moment. Just as we look to woo people back to theatres, here comes an utterly charming crowd-pleaser. Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

The only duff note is drawing cynical laughs via exaggerated regional accents. Otherwise, this Twelfth Night comes close to achieving greatness. Full Review

Under Milk Wood
Waterloo
London Theatre

But once it kicks into gear, Turner’s production brilliantly communicates the wit of Under Milk Wood... Full Review