Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Slava's Snowshow

Royal Festival Hall
18 December

You could say that this
is yellow clown and green,
snowfall and bubble,
broom and wink and fish,

but that would hardly capture
all the blue and gold,
the shock of water
and of whirling snow,

and at the heart of it
the one old clown, paw-eyed
and shuffling, conjuring up
the stuff of strangest dream.

Slava's Snowshow runs at the Royal Festival Hall until 7 January 2013

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Father Christmas

15 December

On Christmas Eve the sky is cold
and full of whirling snow,
but in the house it’s cosy
and the kitchen all aglow;

and Father Christmas makes it clear
he doesn’t want to go,
but still he packs his sandwiches
and takes the radio;

and out across the world he flies
reindeer and sleigh,
from London houses to igloos
and pyramids along the way,

and leaves a present everywhere
that children play,
and flies back home in time
to go to bed on Christmas day.

Father Christmas runs until 5 January at the Lyric

Friday, 14 December 2012

Midnight's Pumpkin

Battersea Arts Centre
18 December

The magic is in simple things transformed:
the garden shed press-ganged into a coach,
the bathrobe-bedecked mice prancing ahead.

The story fairly drips with blood
and bawdy pantomime, as roaring stepmother
takes on the household; oh but we adored

the ginger cat scooting on wheels,
and the flying toes and tears as the sisters
fought to fit their feet into that tiny shoe...

Midnight's Pumpkin runs until 13 January 2013 at the BAC

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Architects

Shunt at the Biscuit Factory
4 December

There is no ship! they cry,
as though they have deceived us.
But we knew that. We are
in a biscuit factory in Bermondsey.
We chose a ship of dreams,
a bubble where deceit and innocence,
knowledge and architecture,
rule the roost. What we did not know
was what lurked inside the bull.
Or the chaos of darkness.

The Architects by Shunt
runs at The Biscuit Factory
until 2 February 2013

Monday, 3 December 2012

A Christmas Carol

A year ago I wrote this response to 'A Christmas Carol' - directed by Tim Carroll and performed by Dominic Gerrard. I loved it, and I'm delighted that this production has now returned for a full run at the Waterloo East Theatre, opening tonight!

You were a stranger to me
in your sober coat and high, starched collar.
Scrooge too, scowling and slow, lifting his head
and taking his first breaths
was not the wooden puppet that I knew
but animate: a bitter, sneering man
I would not like to meet.

That little room of yours became a treasure box
of small surprises – music and laughter,
turkey and crackers. I saw the snow
and heard the soft, sweet music
of the violin, conjuring time and place,
the clanking of chains
and murmuring of ghosts.

You conjured up a distant evening,
snowfall on a quiet road,
and then (your favourite, I know)
a moonlit flight over a silver sea.
You carried fear and hope, frost-bitten fingers
and a crackling fireside
till we arrived, inexorably,  at Christmas.

Dickens loved a feast, and you bowed out
with bowls of steaming punch
and plum pudding, music and laughter,
dancing and holly.
You left us warm with hope and charity,
blazing coals and candlelight,
redemption and revelry.

'A Christmas Carol' runs at the Waterloo East Theatre from 3 - 15 December

Friday, 30 November 2012

Arab Nights

Soho Theatre
28 November

Shahrazad, bright as a lamp 
and full of fire, nightly tells a story 
for her life: filling the dark 
with dreams and danger, 
love, adventure and the quick 
of golden flickering matchlight.

Arab Nights is on tour until 13 December 

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Cat's Mother

Hoxton Courtyard
22 November

Windowless, we lose our way
where strange reality
meets blacked-out dream;
and stumble headlong into stories
blacker than they seem.

The Cat’s Mother plays at the Courtyard Theatre until 8 December

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


Royal Court
19 November

They do not deal in love -
only in sex and skin, bodily flaws
and imperfections. They are safe

behind their slick demands
and steely walls – the palaces
they build for glamour scum.

NSFW runs at the Royal Court until 24 November

Thursday, 15 November 2012


Duke of York's Theatre
14 November

Beautiful white balloons and galaxies
where couples meet 
as though they were the first
to live this way – each word a choice, 
unseen, but now a fragment
of a new reality. Like bees they fly 
above the city – so intent,
although they cannot see their way
or which of all these worlds
will be their destiny.

Constellations plays at the Duke of York's Theatre until 5 January 2013

Monday, 12 November 2012


White Rabbit Cocktail Club
10 November

White-faced and wigged
and robed (or not) in silk 
the Marquis sits,elegant 
in his strange small cell of sin;
his fantasies played out in ink
upon his bed sheets: 
stories that slither 
in the ears of madmen.

Quills was presented by Second Skin Theatre, 
17 October - 11 November 2012

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Matilda the Musical

Cambridge Theatre
6 November

They erupt, these children,
naughty little newts and bookworms,
daring to defy both cake and school,
playing with superglue and telling stories
you would weep to hear.

They are as loud and bright
as fireworks onstage, exploding
in the face of huge, mad Trunchbull
and those odious Wormwoods.
I adored it all – 
especially the scooter curtain call.

Matilda the Musical plays at the Cambridge Theatre

Sunday, 4 November 2012

The President and the Pakistani

Waterloo East Theatre
3 November

Here, in a square of cardboard boxes
and the lull of leaving, fighting,
losing a dog, dancing and drugs
and 80s breakbeat, Moby Dick
and pained surprise and loss
and new ways out and on and up at last;
here are the seeds of a new president
emerging in a flat in Harlem,
and the rest is history.

The President and the Pakistani played at the Waterloo East Theatre, 3 October - 4 November

Saturday, 3 November 2012

La Fille a la Mode

Theatre Royal Haymarket
2 November

Follow the girl in red foyer to bar,
up stairs and down,
down labyrinthine passageways
and in and out of plush plum velvet chairs.

They like a drink, these girls
who know too well the price of fame,
perfume and sex.  Their stories linger
like a bitter aftertaste to their success.

La Fille a la Mode runs at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 9 November

Thursday, 1 November 2012


Theatre Delicatessen
 29 October

Balloon in hand you bowl along
the grimy corridors of birth
and school, uni mistakes
and cheap satiny weddings;
then emerge onto a rooftop
in the rain, above a city gleaming stars,
streetlamps below, and all about you
white balloons are letting go.

Shelf-Life runs at Theatre Delicatessen until 10 November

Saturday, 13 October 2012


Normand Park
13 October

We follow them around the park 
recalling games of children past,
and look how clothes and music changed
and children don’t play all the games 
they used to play – 
or is that what they always say?

Childsplay runs until Sunday 14 October

The Most Gorgeous Lady Blessington

The Wallace Collection
12 October

Within the house there lies a gallery
of red brocade and gilt; and here she sits,
happy in silk, as in her portrait.

Here she travels time and continent,
recalling friends and creditors, husbands
and lovers, paintings and poetry;

and here her life unfurls and floats away, 
thinner and sadder now, as might a leaf 
from some grand old oak tree.

The Most Gorgeous Lady Blessington, by Tangent Theatre 
in association with The Wallace Collection