A Guide to Modern Playwrights, Plays, and Productions

Major Modern Productions

These productions are characterized by respect for the play and a creative presentation in which direction, acting, design, and sound enhance the audience’s appreciation and understanding of the work, whether contemporary or classic.

After Mrs. Rochester Polly Teale, 2003 Polly Teale’s “After Mrs. Rochester” is a theatrical tour de force based on the troubled life of novelist Jean Rhys, a white Creole who identified with the West Indian madwoman in the attic in Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre.”...MORE
Anything Goes Cole Porter, 2003 Anything Goes  is the delectable Cole Porter Art Deco 1934 musical set on shipboard, revived periodically but never so well as in its current reincarnation directed by Trevor Nunn at the National Theatre....MORE
Aristocrats Brian Friel, 2005 Set in Ireland’s County Donegal, Brian Friel’s Aristocrats concerns a once powerful and wealthy family who gather in their crumbling great Georgian house for the wedding of the youngest of four daughters....MORE
As You Like It William Shakespeare, 2002 Celebrating its seventieth anniversary, the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park, London, set amidst the trees, shrubberies, flowers, and fountains of Regent’s Park, offered an idyllic setting for “As You Like It.” ...MORE
Bronte Polly Teale, 2005 Bronte, arriving at the Lyric Hammersmith, is Polly Teale’s third work in a trilogy dealing with Jane Eyre and Charlotte Bronte...MORE
Coriolanus (Fiennes) William Shakespeare, 2000 “Coriolanus” is a definitive production of  Shakespeare’s tragedy of the hero who wins glory for Rome and for himself, only to be brought down by his own pride and anger....MORE
Coriolanus (Hicks) William Shakespeare, 2003 The Royal Shakespeare Company production of Coriolanus at London’s Old Vic is dominated by the magnificent performance of Greg Hicks in the title role....MORE
Cruel and Tender Sophocles, 2004 Sophocles’ “Trachiniae” deals with the all-time number one mythic hero Hercules and centers upon his wife’s revenge for deserting her for another woman....MORE
Cyrano de Bergerac Edmond Rostand, 2004 How do you stage a work full of romantic flourishes as an Errol Flynn movie or “The Count of Monte Cristo,” the potboiler in which Eugene O’Neill’s father toured?...MORE
Distance From Here, The Neil LaBute, 2002 Just about everyone here in London agrees that American Neil LaBute is the most impressive playwright to appear since David Mamet....MORE
Eastward Ho! Ben Johnson, etc. At the Elizabethan Swan Theatre in Stratford, five plays by Shakespeare’s contemporaries are being staged in repertory, the most enjoyable so far (with two to arrive later in the summer) being the city comedy by Ben Jonson, George Chapman, and John Marston....MORE
Frost/Nixon Peter Morgan, 2006 Frost/Nixon at the Donmar Theatre was an engrossing drama about the real-life television interviews in 1997 between talk-show host David Frost and ex-president Richard Nixon....MORE
Hamlet - Al Weaver William Shakespeare, 2004 At last a young Hamlet!  Although the text so indicates, by appending the adjective  every time he is addressed as “young Hamlet,” and the plot bears this out, most actors who play the role are no longer young....MORE
Hamlet - Simon Russell Beale William Shakespeare, 2000 Simon Russell Beale’s Hamlet at the National Theatre captures the character’s keen intelligence and biting satire, as well as his versatility, going in a flash from the emotional first soliloquy (“O that this too, too solid flesh”) to the conviviality of greeting and joking with Horatio, to concealed agitation when he hears of the ghost....MORE
Hamlet - Samuel West William Shakespeare, 2000 Samuel West’s Hamlet in the Royal Shakespeare Company production at London’s Barbican was the Hamlet for our decade....MORE
Hecuba Euripides, 2004 Hecuba, the most produced of Euripides’ nineteen plays, was revived twice, at the Donmar, where Jonathan Kent directs, and by the Royal Shakespeare Company....MORE
Henry V William Shakespeare, 2003 As a Shakespeare play lends itself to a variety of interpretations, why not an anti-heroic Henry V?...MORE
Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 William Shakespeare, 2001 The two best plays in Shakespeare’s epic cycle of English history from “King Richard II” to “King Henry VIII” are the first and second parts of King Henry IV, seen in an exciting production directed by Nicholas Hytner at the National Theatre....MORE
History Boys, The Alan Bennett, 2004 Alan Bennett latest play was another hit for the National Theatre in London....MORE
House of Desires Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, 2004 Mexican nun Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz wrote “House of Desires” for presentation....MORE
Humble Boy Charlotte Jones, 2001 Charlotte Jones’s “Humble Boy” was London’s latest new play to attain the status of an unqualified hit that moved to the West End, that is, on conclusion of its sold-out run at the National Theatre’s Cottesloe....MORE
Iphigenia at Aulis Euripides, 2004 A leader fearful of losing his position at the top, a coalition gathered and itching to depart for the Middle East, a muddled cause that needs clarification (is it revenge for injury or the riches of the enemy?), a self-serving brother, a young person who welcomes death and martyrdom -- sound familiar?....MORE
King John William Shakespeare, 2001 Irony, satire, expediency, and double-dealing are timeless Shakespearean political themes that seem especially relevant today, as demonstrated by productions like the Royal Shakespeare Company’s King John, Peter Hall’s Troilus and Cressida, and Almeida Theatre's Coriolanus....MORE
Love's Labours Lost William Shakespeare, 2001 A delightful “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” set in the Romantic era, among the great trees and shrubbery of Regent’s Park, proved that this early work, dismissed by many scholars, has more to it than meets the eye on a first (or subsequent) reading....MORE
Measure for Measure William Shakespeare, 2001 Mary Zimmerman has directed “Measure for Measure” as the comedy it is, not at all worried that so many critics call it “dark” and “difficult.” ...MORE
Measure for Measure - National Theater William Shakespeare, 2004 The virtues of this inventive modern dress production at the National Theatre are its clarity and the performances of its three principals – Paul Rhys as Angelo, Naomi Frederick as Isabella, and David Troughton as the Duke....MORE
Merchant of Venice, The William Shakespeare, 1999 "The Merchant of Venice" at the Royal National Theatre has moved to the Olivier Theatre from the small Cottesloe, where it sold out early in its run after enthusiastic reviews....MORE
Mercy Seat, The Neil LaBute, 2003 In The Mercy Seat, Neil LaBute focuses on two people on September 12, 2001, the day after the catastrophe at the World Trade Center....MORE
Merry Wives of Windsor, The William Shakespeare, 2002 In Shakespeare’s only contribution to the popular genre of city comedy like "Eastward Ho!", he depicts not London but the town of Windsor, dominated then as now by its castle, seat of Elizabeths I and II....MORE
Midsummer Night's Dream, A William Shakespeare, 2003 At the Open-Air Theatre in Regent’s Park this play provides an enchanting evening or afternoon, the leafy setting perfect for Shakespeare’s comedy of love and magic....MORE
Midsummer Night's Dream, A (Open-Air Theater London) William Shakespeare, 2006 As Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is set in a forest of moonlight and magic, what better place to see a  magical production of it than in the greenery of the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park on a balmy summer night, with real moonlight....MORE
Mill on the Floss, The Polly Teale, 2001 George Eliot’s novel is a classic, and Shared Experience captures not only its narrative but its emotional tenor.  In directing Helen Edmundson’s dramatic adaptation,  Nancy Meckler and Polly Teale imaginatively enlist three actresses to portray the complex psychology of heroine Maggie Tulliver at three stages of her life....MORE
Mr. Peter's Connections Arthur Miller, 2000 “Mr. Peters’ Connections” is a fascinating glimpse into the mind of an aging American....MORE
Much Ado About Nothing William Shakespeare, 2002 That “Much Ado About Nothing” was a hit in Shakespeare’s day the swift publication of the play in a Quarto edition in 1600 bears testimony....MORE
Night Season, The Rebecca Lenkiewicz, 2004 This is only the second play by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, who already is being hailed as a bright, new important addition to the theater scene for her “gift for combining the lyrical and the eccentrically comic” and her “shrewd psychological insights.” ....MORE
Play Without Words Matthew Bourne, 2002 “Play Without Words” is Matthew Bourne’s brilliant dance version reminiscent of the 1963 movie “The Servant,” with a screenplay by Harold Pinter....MORE
Othello William Shakespeare, 2003 This sell-out production by the Royal Shakespeare Company has moved to London, and what a production it is!....MORE
Power Nick Dear, 2003 Nick Dear’s new play Power at the National Theatre was a witty, ribald, relevant commentary on types of power wielded in the 17th century French court of Louis XIV, especially by genial financier Nicolas Fouquet, who seems to have invented creative accounting....MORE
Producers, The Mel Brooks, 2001 Who said movies do not make good musicals? If I did, I take it back. My favorite movie has opened as my favorite musical: Mel Brooks’ “The Producers.” ....MORE
Relapse, The John Vanbrugh, 2004 If you’ve ever asked, “What’s all the fuss about” when confronted with Restoration comedy, ask no more....MORE
Richard II (Fiennes) William Shakespeare, 2000 Ralph Fiennes is giving what must be the virtuoso Shakespeare performance of the new millennium so far: ....MORE
Richard II (Rylance) William Shakespeare, 2003 At Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on the Thames, audiences are cheering Mark Rylance as Richard II, the weak king whose self-indulgence leads to his deposition....MORE
Richard III William Shakespeare, 2001 The Royal Shakespeare Company productions of the eight history plays from “Richard II” through “Richard III” has concluded, after being cheered by audiences in  Stratford-upon-Avon, London, and  Michigan....MORE
Ride Down Mt. Morgan, The Arthur Miller, 2000 Arthur Miller, as one would expect, makes both a moral and a philosophical point in “The Ride Down Mt. Morgan,” but his play is a comedy; its subject, as traditionally with comedy, is sex....MORE
Stones in His Pockets Marie Jones, 2000 In the West End of London, Marie Jones’ serious comedy “Stones in his Pockets” is enacted against a never changing backdrop of clouds, fronted by a lineup of shoes....MORE
Stuff Happens David Hare, 2004 A docudrama, based on actual records and speeches, David Hare’s Stuff Happens takes as its title the response by Donald Rumsfeld when queried about the looting of ancient treasures from the museum in Iraq when the war began....MORE
Talking Cure, The Christopher Hampton, 2004 “The Talking Cure” as produced by the National Theatre in London was one of Christopher Hampton’s best plays, in a career of outstanding works .that include “The Philanthropist,”  “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” and “Tales from Hollywood.”  His talents extend to translations  and adaptations as well, with  versions of “Uncle Vanya, “Hedda Gabler,” “A Doll’s House” and Moliere’s “Don Juan.”...MORE
Taming of the Shrew, The William Shakespeare, 2006 “The Taming of the Shrew” is a delightful production of this early comedy, replete with turnabouts as identities are changed, poses are dropped, and love conquers all, ending with fireworks and a joyful wedding dance....MORE
Tempest, The William Shakespeare, 2002 Michael Boyd directs a production that is not only spectacular, but also thoughtful and imaginative....MORE
This is How it Goes Neil LaBute, 2005 This Is How It Goes  is Neil LaBute’s best play to date.  All the defining qualities of this writer are here: dialogue that is not realistic, but sharpened to seem so, a plot that takes you through twists and turns to an end that surprises, and characters with whom you might sympathize and even trust – until their behavior prevents your doing so....MORE
Twelfth Night William Shakespeare Director Sam Mendes marks his farewell as artistic director of London’s Donmar Warehouse with a definitive production of “Twelfth Night.” ...MORE
Two Gentlemen of Verona, The William Shakespeare The second offering of the Open Air Theatre in London’s Regent’s Park is a delightful rendering of Shakespeare’s early comedy “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.”...MORE
UN Inspector, The David Farr, 2005 The UN Inspector is a clever update of the 1836 comedy that lampooned greedy government bureaucrats who entertain a nondescript clerk they mistakenly believe has arrived to examine corruption in high places....MORE
Vincent in Brixton Nicholas Wright, 2002 Nicholas Wright’s excellent new play is about the twenty-year-old Vincent Van Gogh when he came from Holland to work for the art dealers Goupil and Co....MORE
Winter's Tale, The William Shakespeare In the opening scene, director Matthew Warchus attempts to motivate Sicilian King Leontes’ inexplicable jealousy by depicting him as a 1930s Mafia-type Sicilian-American, who might understandably go berserk at the thought of his wife’s infidelity and inflict upon her the cruel and unusual punishment familiar from television’s “Sopranos.”...MORE