Verity Healey

Verity Healey

Writes about theatre for TLE, Exeunt, Howlround + Belarus Free Theatre's Ministry of Counterculture.

Film maker. Follow me @verityrhealey

Theatre review: Precious Little Talent, Courtyard Theatre

Theatre review: Precious Little Talent, Courtyard Theatre

No one might have planned it quite this way but this vulnerable three-hander could not have come along at a more perfect time. Two baby boomers-Sam, a buoyant dreamy American and Joey, sad and lost in her Englishness-meet upon a rooftop overlooking New York. He’s all starry-eyed and full of...

Theatre Review: The Prisoner

The Prisoner’s precise. It’s as perfectly formed as a ripple caused by a stone dropping cleanly into a lake. It’s a play about what punishment should be. It asks who has the right to mete it out, what form it should take and tells us to be wary of impure...

An open letter to Oleg Sentsov

Filmmaker, writer and activist Ukrainian Oleg Sentsov is 94 days into a hunger strike after being sentenced to 20 years of hard labour on charges of plotting terrorist attacks in Crimea after the Russian Federation annexed it in March 2015.  He has allegedly been beaten and threatened with rape in...

Theatre review: Exit the King, National Theatre

Theatre review: Exit the King, National Theatre

Commonly seen as a theatre of the absurd play, Exit the King (this is a new version by Patrick Marber) is one of four by Eugène Ionesco where the main protagonist Berenger is written as a kind of Every Person. Though Ionesco is a towering presence in the history of...

Theatre review: Pity, Royal Court

Theatre review: Pity, Royal Court

Rory Mullarkey’s boundless satirical investigation into the nature of storytelling and role play is a reflection of the chaotic times we live in and a measure of the changing ways in which we use narrative and personal myth-making to navigate the modern world. Mullarkey’s writing has an ironic bite through...

Theatre Review: The Jungle, Playhouse Theatre

Theatre Review: The Jungle, Playhouse Theatre

The Jungle’s an urgent political immersive monumental piece of theatre set in an Afghan restaurant deep inside the Calais refugee camp, which was bulldozed to the ground by the French authorities in 2016. It’s a hypnotic play. Part documentary, part fiction, part activist, it gives voice to the stories of...

Review: Machinal- Almeida Theatre

Review: Machinal- Almeida Theatre

Machinal was first performed in 1928 but its ninety-minute dissection of enforced marriage and America’s obsession with business and money-making is as resonant today as it has been over the last few decades. Playwright Sophie Treadwell (also a human rights journalist ahead of her time) took her main inspiration from...

Review – Julie, National Theatre

Review – Julie, National Theatre

Julie is playwright Polly Stenham’s modern day reworking of Strindberg’s naturalistic 1888 play Miss Julie. The original was daring for its emphasis on class and sex wars in an intimate realistic setting, which explains why it is has been such a mainstay in British Theatre’s diet. It is possible to see...

Review: Translations, National Theatre

Review: Translations, National Theatre

Like the characters who wear several layers of clothes even though it’s a hot summer in 1833 in Baile Beag, an Irish speaking community in Donegal about to have a new civilisation and language imposed on them by the English, director Ian Rickson’s production of Brian Friel’s Translations (1980) is...

Theatre Review: Gundog, Royal Court

Theatre Review: Gundog, Royal Court

Old certainties die and new ones rise as sure as the sun. Stories with their truths embellished are told to maintain a sense of control, even as the sheep farming family in Simon Longman’s sparse piece realises that their fate might be out of their hands. As two sisters, Becky...

Theatre Review: Anatomy of a Suicide, Royal Court

Theatre Review: Anatomy of a Suicide, Royal Court

“Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is 100%” said R D Laing. He also said “Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be a breakthrough.” Alice Birch seems to explore these not quite perfect opposite attitudes to mental ill health in her new play...

The Belarus Free Theatre’s Kitchen Revolutions

The Belarus Free Theatre’s Kitchen Revolutions

With change or revolution comes a breakdown in convention and relationships between things have to be re-established and new narratives invented. I get this from reading journalist and broadcaster Paul Mason’s Wtf is Eleni Haifa? inspired by Viginia Woolf’s argument with Arnold Bennett who believed that after WW1 writers could...

Theatre Review: Obsession, Barbican

Theatre Review: Obsession, Barbican

This review contains spoilers Obsession is a work about frustrated sexual expectations and celluloid dreams. It is self-reflexive and caught in the repetitive loop of Luchino Visconti’s 1942 film Ossessione yet feels like a radical comment on our age. Ivo van Hove directs and Simon Stephens gives us an English...

The Ferryman- Royal Court

The Ferryman- Royal Court

The Ferryman, set in Derry in the 1981 by Jez Butterworth, comes after his last sell out 2009 show Jerusalem. As with that play the title here is ambiguous. Who is The Ferryman exactly? Is it the actual ferryman who takes hundreds of disillusioned Irish men and women to Liverpool...

Theatre Review: Divine Chaos of Starry Things, White Bear Theatre

Theatre Review: Divine Chaos of Starry Things, White Bear Theatre

There could not be a better time to write a play about revolutionary commitment and individual freedom. Journalist Paul Mason’s piece about working class female communards exiled to New Caledonia on the back of a colonial project for their part in the 1871 Parisian uprising asks hard questions about what...

Theatre Review: Nuclear War, Royal Court

Theatre Review: Nuclear War, Royal Court

It breathes many breaths, beats as one heart. Maureen Beattie as the woman appears to be a woman lost. Lost in the circles of people who swirl around her like personified nuclei, lost in her own nuclear reactor and the forces of life it connects her to, but which she...

Why it’s kicking off everywhere

Why it’s kicking off everywhere

As UK theatres fret over how to respond to the increasing national and global crises that are hitting or emerging from our shores in wave after wave of tsunami like proportions: Brexit, Syria, the refugee crisis, Russia, Crimea, Ukraine, Belarus, the Greek meltdown, Egypt, Spain, the Occupy movement, Trump, Brexit,...

My Country, a work in progress- National Theatre

My Country, a work in progress- National Theatre

There’s an air of expectancy in the National Theatre's Dorfman, a buzz back grounded by nervous laughter. No wonder, this is the NT’s response to leaving the EU and they have made a verbatim play taken from hundreds of interviews from people of all ages and backgrounds from the UK...

Review: Hamlet- Almeida Theatre

Review: Hamlet- Almeida Theatre

Andrew Scott is a lean and yet crumpled waif of a Hamlet who looks like he buys his clothes from Zara. Appearances are deceptive and helpless innocence isn’t everything though. As he waits as Angus Wright’s Claudius ignores his nephew in favour of Luke Thompson’s more buoyant Laertes he becomes...

Theatre Review: Ugly Lies the Bone, National Theatre

Theatre Review: Ugly Lies the Bone, National Theatre

The safety curtains part the stage like an eyelid. A spotlight flicks on and a woman, barely recognisable from her face or from her tight bandage wrapped body, stands awkwardly and unevenly, gripping her support frame for all she is worth. A voice (Buffy Davis), like the computerised Siri, takes...

Theatre Review: Roundelay, Southwark Playhouse

Theatre Review: Roundelay, Southwark Playhouse

This take on Arthur Schnitzler’s sexual debacle La Ronde is a welcome venture into the sex, love and death lives of the older generation by Visible, but ultimately feels less than the sum of its parts. The seven vignettes, where each character’s story is pushed forward into the next scene...

Theatre Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Young Vic

Theatre Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Young Vic

This Dream is a bit of surprise- silent weavings of the spirit (or fairies) explode at the end of director Joe Hill-Gibbins' interpretation to give us something in the epilogue that is both nightmarish and joyful and brings new meanings to the play’s normal tranquil self. To this end it...

Theatre Review: The Cherry Orchard, Arcola Theatre

Theatre Review: The Cherry Orchard, Arcola Theatre

A tall narrow bookcase dominates Iona McLeish’s set design on director Mehmet Ergen’s stage. It’s never ending length, reaching to the stars, and with a cherry tree exploding up and ripping through its belly, is a metaphor for Mme Ranevsky’s pipe dream that somehow her family estate will be saved...

Theatre Review: See Me Now, The Young Vic

Theatre Review: See Me Now, The Young Vic

As the lights go down at the end of See Me Now’s press night the audience rise collectively to their feet in outright admiration. This display of elation is not born out of left liberal values, but out of respect for the performers, for the gutsy real life stories they...

Theatre Review: Years of Sunlight, Theatre 503

Theatre Review: Years of Sunlight, Theatre 503

There’s plenty of drama in Michael McLean’s Years of Sunlight about friendship and the exodus of Liverpudlians living in 1960s slums to new purpose built town Skelmersdale, but Mark Rice-Oxley’s Paul, best friend of parent-less Emlyn, is directed by Amelia Sears to stand as still as one of Anthony Gormley’s...

Theatre Review: Escaped Alone, Royal Court

Theatre Review: Escaped Alone, Royal Court

Critic Mark Shenton wrote of the 2016 Escaped Alone production, now back at the Royal Court for a second run that he wouldn’t be surprised “if we woke to headlines today that described exactly what she'd foretold.” The play by Caryl Churchill premiered before the UK left the EU, a...

Theatre Review: Us/Them, National Theatre

Theatre Review: Us/Them, National Theatre

The Beslan School Massacre in Russia began on September 1st 2004 and lasted for three days before special forces brought it to an end. Of the 1,100 hostages held by the Chechen rebels, around 385 were killed, 186 of them children. Us/Them is a physical theatre response by playwright Carly...

Theatre Review: The Lower Depths, Arcola Theatre

Theatre Review: The Lower Depths, Arcola Theatre

This production directed by Helena Kaut-Howson and translated by Jeremy Brooks and Kitty Hunter-Blair really is in the anguished lows as it opens the Arcola’s commemorative Russian Revolution season. It’s Maxim Gorky’s best known play, heralds the birth of theatrical social realism, made his name in 1902 but was lambasted...

Theatre Review: Wish List, Royal Court Theatre

Theatre Review: Wish List, Royal Court Theatre

Overwhelming problems face Tamsin in Katherine Soper’s debut Bruntwood Prize winning 2015 play. Her younger brother Dean has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and cannot leave the house. Even so his benefits are being disputed and are at risk. The only place Tamsin, lacking in qualifications, can find much needed work, is...

Theatre Review: Three Sisters, Union Theatre

Theatre Review: Three Sisters, Union Theatre

Director Phil Wilmott’s Three Sisters in a version by Tracey Letts (August: Osage County) is full of micro aggression. In a small space such as the Union Theatre’s new venue, nothing can be bigged up too much: subsequently this production is full of nuances sometimes so macro you’d miss them...

Review: Hedda Gabler at the National Theatre

Review: Hedda Gabler at the National Theatre

Hedda is down, but Ibsen is up in this crystalline razor sharp new translation of the playwright’s supposedly realist play by Patrick Marber and directed by Ivo van Hove. The Belgian director and his years long collaborator designer Jan Versweyveld have removed every inch of realistic detail that made Ibsen...

Theatre Review: Once in a Lifetime, The Young Vic

Theatre Review: Once in a Lifetime, The Young Vic

Once in a Lifetime is a show about the tenuous and complicated relationship between creativity and destruction. Re-adapted here by Chris Hart, son of one half of the original writing duo Moss Hart and George S Kaufman, the show may well be set in 1930s Hollywood just as the talkies...

Living With The Lights On

Living With The Lights On

It’s not possible for the audience to hide in the darkness in the Young Vic’s Maria Studio because there isn’t any. Throughout the show the lights remain on and the audience can see every bead of sweat, every grimace, cutting smile and flick of the eye in Mark Lockyer’s physiognomy...

Our Short Film About Being Genderqueer

Our Short Film About Being Genderqueer

Just as I was finalising our Kickstarter Campaign for BURN, my team’s short film about a genderqueer woman struggling with her bisexual partner and her Trinidadian father, Sita Balani published “Is it time to say goodbye to the non-binary in gender?” in Open Democracy. After reading it, to say that...

The Unmarried: Review

The Unmarried: Review

It’s ironic that The Unmarried, where “gig meets theatre” by Lauren Gauge, part of Camden People’s Theatre’s All the Right Notes, starts off with a rendition of The Rhythm of Life by Beatbox Academy artists Kate and Nate because it is precisely that that Gauge’s character Luna is running from....