Tag Archives: Arthur Darvill




Wyndham’s Theatre

OKLAHOMA! at Wyndham’s Theatre



“The diverse cast of this Oklahoma! are a powerhouse of talents that make you rethink every line of Hammerstein’s lyrics”


Daniel Fish’s vividly reimagined Oklahoma!, now playing at Wyndham’s Theatre, is a many layered, complex, and somewhat melancholy take on Rodgers and Hammerstein’s well loved classic. The musical has been recreated in ways that make this Oklahoma! both funny and touching. But it is a radical rethink of the sunny American optimism that we commonly associate with musicals like Oklahoma! Fish’s approach is refreshing. It’s also an authentic nod to the problematic heart that exists at the core of every Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.

The plot of Oklahoma! is a conventional love story. The main characters, Laurey and Curly, are negotiating the details of their eventual partnership. It seems to revolve around whether Curly will ask Laurey to the box social and whether he can take her there in appropriate style. Since Curly is a cowhand with little to show except a cheerful disposition, Laurey doubts his ability to make good on his promises. His rival Jud sees an opportunity to win Laurey for himself, which throws Laurey into a spin of indecision. The main plot is echoed by a comic subplot concerning a girl named Ado Annie, who changes her mind about her suitors the moment one leaves the room, and another enters. What turns the story of Oklahoma! into a much loved classic is the genius of Richard Rodgers’ music, and Oscar Hammerstein’s lyrics. Songs like Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’, I’m a Girl That Just Can’t Say No, and the title song Oklahoma! have a freshness and originality that turn this homespun tale into an anthem celebrating American inventiveness and a can-do attitude that carried the United States out of the Great Depression, and through the Second World War.

Daniel Fish’s Oklahoma! is many miles from the home imagined by Rodgers and Hammerstein in the early 1940s. Their Oklahoma! was inspired by Lynn Riggs’ play Green Grow The Lilacs, which looked back to a more troubled era in American history, where western homesteads were being established, often at the point of a gun. Lael Jellinek and Grace Laubacher’s set is a bright sun drenched space that looks like the setting for a church social, complete with gun racks on the walls, and cheap and cheerful tinsel fringes hanging from above. This version of Oklahoma! is one of tense interiors. The outdoors exists in a space we cannot really appreciate, unless it is through Scott Zielinski’s lighting, which perfectly captures the unyielding brightness of the Oklahoma plains. With such a visual reminder of conflict established right at the beginning, we’re ready for the messier battles that erupt as Laurey has to choose between two very different suitors.

The genius of this production is that Fish is not afraid to ditch the sunny optimism for uncertain, conflicted characters. They know farming in this unforgiving landscape is going to be a struggle, full of compromises with people with unknown histories, and no guarantees of success. The diverse cast of this Oklahoma! are a powerhouse of talents that make you rethink every line of Hammerstein’s lyrics. Arthur Darvill’s Curly is the portrayal of a man with a complicated future, not a past. As we find out. Darvill’s musical talents are a revelation, and give us a reason to root for his Curly. Anoushka Lucas’ Laurey has a voice that transforms the part, as does Georgina Onuorah, playing Ado Annie. Musically, the cast doesn’t put a foot wrong. Stavros Demetraki as Ali Hakim and Liza Sadovy provide the perfect comic foils to all this conflict. And at the heart of the conflict is a truly memorable Jud, played by Patrick Vaill. Vaill radiates a brooding and tragic melancholy throughout, foreshadowing the messy outcome of Curly and Laurey’s wedding day.

Daniel Kluger’s musical rethink of Rodgers’ score is likewise a revelation. Instead of a big Broadway orchestra, we have a small group of musicians playing instruments that are appropri-ate for a “box social.” The interaction between singers and musicians bring everyone together in a lively exchange that makes the music sound modern and contemporary. If the intervention of electric guitars are key moments in the drama are harsh and uncompromising, it’s appropriate to Fish’s multifaceted reinterpretation of Oklahoma! The musicians manage their musical transitions with courage and commitment, even through the Dream Ballet, which again, is a radical rethink of Agnes de Mille’s choreography. John Heginbotham’s choreography sketches details, and sets a powerful mood, but it’s the music and singing that claims the attention.

There are some weak spots in this Oklahoma! The pace is very slow at times, and it can feel as though the audience is present at a drama, rather than a musical. There are scenes where the audience is plunged into darkness. It seems an unnecessary intensification of the tensions already present on stage. But when all is said and done, this production of Oklahoma! raises good questions about American history, and its tendency to mythologize a past that was violent and complicated. It’s all there in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s original production, and Daniel Fish knows how to draw our attention to these subtle clues. For that reason, and for the wonderful performances, do not miss this production of Oklahoma!


Reviewed on 28th February 2023

by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Marc Brenner



Previously reviewed at this venue:


Life of Pi | ★★★★★ | November 2021


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My White Best Friend and Even More Letters Best Left Unsaid


The Bunker

My White Best Friend

My White Best Friend and Even More Letters Best Left Unsaid

The Bunker

Reviewed – 25th November 2019



“a hugely powerful piece of theatre, a hugely important piece of theatre, and one that everyone must see”


On arrival at the Bunker Theatre we are handed wristbands, and enter into a theatre space transformed. There are three pieces of stage, in the corner is a DJ, and milling around are the audience, stood waiting, ready. Posters adorn the walls that highlight the show’s history and echoing the gig-like set up designed by Khadija Raza.

The first letter, by Rachel De-Lahay, the night’s curator, begins with a request to reshuffle the space, putting black and brown, queer and female bodies, front and centre.

This first letter is to her best friend, her white best friend, and it is read by Inès de Clercq. It is about the micro-aggressions, as well as the macro, the things people say that they don’t mean, that they don’t even see the problem in, the things that hurt all the more for it. The letter talks about white privilege, about how even a best friend can be part of the problem. “This is the fight you and your white best friend will never have,” writes De-Lahay, highlighting how much is left unsaid.

The second letter is to a “white ex situation-man-ship”, read by Tom Mothersdale, a white actor, who is reading these words for the first time. It touches upon the white privilege surrounding drug addiction and the way it is talked about. The letter and final letter of the evening starts, “Dear so-called allies.” Read by Susan Wokoma, our writer takes us back to Stonewall, to the erasure of a black and brown history and a trans history in the way Stonewall is remembered and celebrated today.

These letters are from different people, to different people, but they share a power. They are funny sometimes, and moving at other times, and generous and unforgiving and brave, spilling over with words that have been left on the tips of tongues too many times to count.

‘My White Best Friend (And Even More Letters Left Unsaid)’ is back by popular demand, with new letters and performers each night, and it isn’t hard to see why. The audience audibly responds to what is being read out, to a mis-pronounciation of a black name by a white actors, to things they recognise in their own experience, to things they will leave here with trying harder to recognise in their black and brown friends’ experiences. It is hard not to respond, like that, in the middle of the space, surrounded by people.

Directed by Milli Bhatia, this is a hugely powerful piece of theatre, a hugely important piece of theatre, and one that everyone must see.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown


My White Best Friend and Even More Letters Best Left Unsaid

The Bunker until 30th November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
My White Best Friend | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Funeral Flowers | ★★★½ | April 2019
Fuck You Pay Me | ★★★★ | May 2019
The Flies | ★★★ | June 2019
Have I Told You I’m Writing a Play About my Vagina? | ★★★★ | July 2019
Jade City | ★★★ | September 2019
Germ Free Adolescent | ★★★★ | October 2019
We Anchor In Hope | ★★★★ | October 2019
Before I Was A Bear | ★★★★★ | November 2019
I Will Still Be Whole (When You Rip Me In Half) | ★★★★ | November 2019


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