Wednesday, December 25, 2013

London Year-End Roundup: Five Best Productions of 2013 (Matt Smith, Rupert Grint, Brendan Coyle, Rufus Sewell...)

 By Matt Wolf December 25, 2013 - 12:00AM

London Year-End Roundup: Five Best Productions of 2013

American Psycho, Almeida Theatre
Critics were divided on the merits of Spring Awakening composer Duncan Sheik’s stage take on the era-defining Bret Easton Ellis novel, and who can blame them? One must look back to Sweeney Todd to find a musical that makes such a compelling case for putting psychosis center-stage. In Rupert Goold’s expert production, British TV name Matt Smith (Doctor Who) makes the gym-fit Patrick Bateman a charismatic killer of anyone’s dreams…or, make that nightmares. You have until February 1 to be drawn in—and then recoil—for yourself.

Mojo, Harold Pinter Theatre
Can a play that looked show-offy and posturing in one incarnation seem mournful and even profound the next? The answer is there to be savored in Mojo, running through February 8 at the Harold Pinter Theater (an apt locale given that Pinter himself appeared in Jez Butterworth’s 1997 film adaptation of gangster low-life in 1950s London). The cast—encompassing Harry Potter star Rupert Grint, Skyfall’s Ben Whishaw and Downtown Abbey’s own Bates, Brendan Coyle—remains the starriest seen in London all year, and the peerless director is Ian Rickson.

Old Times, Harold Pinter Theatre
Two brilliant actresses, Oscar nominee Kristin Scott Thomas and Tony nominee Lia Williams, traded roles throughout the run of Ian Rickson’s quietly dazzling take on Harold Pinter’s 1971 play, which meant audiences got two chances to ponder the shimmering mysteries at the heart of the text. This was a big year on both sides of the Atlantic for the Nobel laureate, with Broadway’s starry No Man’s Land and Betrayal competing for attention, as well. But Rickson and his cast of three, including the divine Rufus Sewell, stood a league apart. Can they go to Broadway, as well, please?


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