Tag Archives: Tom Stoppard

A Separate Peace



A Separate Peace

A Separate Peace

Online via www.theremoteread.com

Reviewed – 2nd May 2020



“Where this production undoubtedly succeeds is in Stoppard’s writing and the magnificent performances of a stellar cast”


“Limitation, like desperation, can be the mother of invention” says the award-winning film and director Sam Yates, talking about his revival of Tom Stoppard’s 1966 play “A Separate Peace”, broadcast live as a real-time performance via Zoom. It is an apt rephrasing of Plato’s original quotation (“Necessity is the mother of all invention”), but then again Plato was also a strong advocate of the idea that theatre, as an artform, was immoral, disrespectful and a distraction of the mind. Not many people would agree with this, and over time, theatre has endured, and conquered greater obstacles over the centuries, and I have no doubt that it will survive the current crisis in due time.

In the meantime, however, the practitioners and audiences need something to fill the void created by the temporary closure. This has been met in part by some high-quality recordings of stage productions. Inevitably these don’t replicate the experience of live theatre. The ‘Remote Read’ series, of which “A Separate Peace” is the first, sets out to produce live virtual theatre by embracing the limitations of lockdown rather than by opposing.

Stoppard’s’ play is an inspired choice, which touches on themes of isolation and a central character who wants no social interaction at all. Set in a private nursing home, the smooth running and peace of mind of its staff is disrupted by the arrival of a new patient, John Brown. He has money, which he believes entitles him to pay for the room despite the fact he is perfectly healthy. All he wants to do is get away from the ‘chaos’ of the outside world. The nursing staff know nothing about his motives for this, or his background. Simultaneously content with taking his money, they find his presence discomforting. “We have to keep the beds for people who need them”. Half a century on this is one of many lines that resonate right now.

Where this production undoubtedly succeeds is in Stoppard’s writing and the magnificent performances of a stellar cast. Although a reading, there is little evidence of a script in hand and there is a spontaneity to the actors’ interpretation that belies the lack of a live audience. We sympathise with David Morrissey’s John Brown, albeit guiltily, as he slowly gives us clues as to why he chooses to check himself into the nursing home. The four nursing staff who unravel these clues operate on a kind of good-cop-bad-cop system. Ed Stoppard’s Matron has a knuckle duster of steel beneath his kid gloves, whereas Maggie Service’s Nurse doesn’t even bother to wear the gloves. In the background is the Doctor, played by Denise Gough like the desk sergeant coolly analysing the reality and digging deep. The most watchable is Jenna Coleman’s flirtatious yet duplicitous Nurse Maggie who teases out the mystery from the man.

By default, however, there is an experimental feel to the whole piece and while the objectives of the producers must be highly commended, this does not come close to a true theatre experience. It lies in a no man’s land somewhere between a radio play and a televised broadcast. Sam Glossop’s sound design is impressive, as is Andrzej Goulding’s occasional back projection, but the format ultimately disappoints visually. It is all too tempting to shut down the screen and just listen and let our imagination paint the picture, and the formidable cast ensure we are able to do this.

The technology for this media is in its infancy and, while I’d like to see it grow, we can only hope that there isn’t the time for it to reach maturity. Yes, it is definitely a necessity in the current situation, but let us hope that the mother of this invention is only a surrogate one, and we will soon be handed back to our natural environment when the theatres reopen.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans


A Separate Peace

Online via www.theremoreread.com


Last ten shows reviewed by Jonathan:
Love, Loss & Chianti | ★★★★ | Riverside Studios | February 2020
Message In A Bottle | ★★★★ | Peacock Theatre | February 2020
Musik | ★★★★ | Leicester Square Theatre | February 2020
Nearly Human | ★★★ | The Vaults | February 2020
Tell It Slant | ★★★ | Hope Theatre | February 2020
The Importance Of Being Earnest | ★★★½ | The Turbine Theatre | February 2020
Closed Lands | ★★★ | The Vaults | March 2020
Max Raabe & Palast Orchester | ★★★★★ | Cadogan Hall | March 2020
The Kite Runner | ★★★★ | Richmond Theatre | March 2020
The Last Five Years | ★★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | March 2020


Click here to see our most recent reviews


Rose Theatre Kingston – Autumn 17 / Spring 18 Season



Highlights of the season include:

• Laurence Fox in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing

• Phil Daniels in Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

• Lindsay Posner directs Stephen Bill’s award-winning play Curtains

• Season Saver 4for3 ticket offer on The Real Thing, Rules for Living, Dr Jekyll & My Hyde and Curtains.


Rose Theatre Kingston has announced its autumn 2017 and spring 2018 season.

The programme includes Laurence Fox starring in a revival of Tom Stoppard’s modern classic The Real Thing, produced with Theatre Royal Bath and Cambridge Arts Theatre, the first Stoppard to be staged at the Rose, and Phil Daniels as the titular roles in David Edgar’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s thriller Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, a co-production with Touring Consortium Theatre Company.

Lindsay Posner makes his Rose Theatre Kingston directing debut with a production of Stephen Bill’s award-winning play Curtains and there is a renewed collaboration with English Touring Theatre and Royal & Derngate, Northampton on Sam Holcroft’s Rules for Living, following their award-winning production of The Herbal Bed in 2016.

Joining the previously announced Christmas production of Alice in Winterland are two further family shows – David Wood’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine running over Easter, co-produced with Curve following the success of The Twits earlier this year and The Witches in 2016, and Miranda Larson’s adaptation of Peter Harris and Deborah Allwright’s The Night Pirates, a co-production with Nick Brooke Ltd.

Chief Executive Robert O’Dowd said:

“We are delighted to be presenting another hugely exciting season here at the Rose. In line with our strategy to present a varied and engaging mix of drama and family shows supported by comedy and music, this year we are collaborating with some of the most brilliant and gifted talent around, from Olivier Award-winning director Lindsay Posner to celebrated actors Laurence Fox and Phil Daniels. In the last couple of years the Rose has brought not just world class drama but a new energy to Kingston and we continue our mission to become a vibrant cultural hub for South West London and beyond.”

The programme of visiting shows also features a range of family productions including an adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, following a summer West End run, and Jules Verne’s classic Around the World in 80 Days. There are returning visits to the Rose from celebrated pianist Lucy Parham and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with further musical performances from acts including Ronnie Scott’s All Stars and one offs including Sir Michael Parkinson in conversation. Full details of visiting shows available at:



Rose Theatre Kingston, Theatre Royal Bath and Cambridge Arts Theatre present

The Real Thing

Written by Tom Stoppard

Directed by Stephen Unwin

Starring Laurence Fox as Henry

2 – 14 October 2017

Henry is the smartest and sharpest playwright of his generation. His wife, Charlotte, an actress, has been appearing in a play by Henry about a couple whose marriage is on the verge of collapse. Max, her leading man, is also married to an actress, Annie. When Henry’s affair with Annie threatens to destroy his own marriage, he realises life has started imitating art. But are they really in love? Is it the real thing?

First staged in 1982, The Real Thing combines the intellectual and dazzling wordplay of Stoppard at his most witty with some of his most tender and touching writing. A clever, poignant and entertaining examination of infidelity, The Real Thing is a multi-award-winning modern classic

Tom Stoppard is a playwright and screenwriter, and is one of the most internationally performed dramatists of his generation. He has written prolifically for stage, film, television and radio. His most recent play is The Hard Problem. Other plays include The Real Inspector Hound, After Magritte, Jumpers, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (with André Previn), Dirty Linen, New-Found-Land, Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth , Night and Day, The Real Thing, Hapgood , Arcadia, Indian Ink, The Invention of Love, The Coast of Utopia and Rock’n’Roll. His many translations and adaptations include Tango, Undiscovered Country, On the Razzle, Three Men in a Boat, Parade’s End and Ivanov. He co-wrote the screenplays for the films Brazil, Shakespeare in Love and The Russia House. His has received an Academy Award and four Tony Awards. He was knighted in 1997.

Laurence Fox’s theatre credits include A Patriotic Traitor (Park Theatre), Strangers on A Train (Gielgud Theatre), Our Boys (Duchess Theatre), Treats (Garrick Theatre), ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore (Southwark Playhouse) and Mrs Warren’s Profession (Strand Theatre). His television work includes The Frankenstein Chronicles, Lewis (series regular), Fast Freddie, Wired, A Room with a View, Whatever Love Means, Egypt, Jericho, Colditz, Ad, Bc: A Rock Opera, Island At War and Foyle’s War; and for film, The Professor and The Madmen, This Family, W.E., Blackwater Transit, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Becoming Jane, Wasp, The Last Drop, South From Grenada, Deathwatch, Gosford Park and The Hole.

Stephen Unwin is former Artistic Director of Rose Theatre Kingston and founder of English Touring Theatre. For the Rose, his previous directing credits include Hay Fever, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Lady from the Sea, The Vortex, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. For English Touring Theatre, his productions included Hamlet, Hedda Gabler, Henry IV Parts One and Two, King Lear, Ghost, The York Realist and Uncle Vanya. He has directed at Traverse Theatre, Royal Court, Almeida Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, Theatre Royal Bath and directed 15 operas at Royal Opera House, ENO, Buxton Festival, Garsington, Opera 80 and Almeida Theatre. He has also written four plays including All Our Children, currently running at Jermyn Street Theatre.


Rose Theatre Kingston, English Touring Theatre and Royal & Derngate, Northampton present

Rules for Living

Written by Sam Holcroft

Directed by Simon Godwin

7 – 18 November 2017

Edith must clean to keep calm. Matthew must sit to tell a lie.

Everyone creates their own rules for living. But what happens when an extended family gathers for a traditional Christmas dinner, and each of them rigidly follows those rules?

Christmas day will never be the same again. As the drinks flow and the obligatory games intensify, family resentments rise and relationships are pulled apart with a bang.

Evening Standard award-winning Simon Godwin directs Sam Holcroft’s brilliant and darkly funny play. Following its critically acclaimed run at the National Theatre in 2015, Rules For Living is now brought to the stage in a brand new Rose Theatre Kingston co-production in conjunction with English Touring Theatre and Royal & Derngate, Northampton, the same team that won the 2016 UK Theatre Award for Best Touring Production for The Herbal Bed.

Sam Holcroft was the Writer-in-Residence at the National Theatre Studio from 2013-14 and was the Pearson Playwright in Residence at the Traverse Theatre in 2009-10. In 2014 she was a recipient of the Windham Campbell Prize for Literature in the Drama category and in 2009 she won the Tom Erhardt Award for up and coming writers. Her other plays include The Wardrobe, Edgar And Annabel, Dancing Bears, While You Lie, Pink, Vanya and Cockroach and she recently adapted Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox for Nuffield Southampton Theatres. She is currently under commission from the Royal Court Theatre.

Simon Godwin directs. He has worked previously at Royal & Derngate, Northampton on Regeneration (also tour), The Seagull, Habeas Corpus, Relatively Speaking and The Quartermaine’s Terms (with Salisbury Playhouse). He is an Associate Director at the National Theatre, where he has directed Sunset at the Villa Thalia, The Beaux Stratagem, Man and Superman and Strange Interlude. His work for the Royal Court includes Routes, If You Don’t Let Us Dream, We Won’t Let You Sleep, NSFW, The Witness, Goodbye to All That, The Acid Test and Wanderlust. For Bristol Old Vic, he has directed The Little Mermaid, Krapp’s Last Tape, A Kind of Alaska, Faith Healer and Far Away. His other credits include Occupational Hazards (Hampstead Theatre), Hamlet and The Two Gentlemen of Verona (RSC), The Cherry Orchard (Roundabout, New York), Richard II (Shakespeare’s Globe), Candida (Theatre Royal Bath), The Winter’s Tale (Headlong with Nuffield Theatre & Schtanhaus/UK tour) and he will shortly direct Measure for Measure at the Theatre for a New Audience, New York.


Rose Theatre Kingston and Touring Consortium Theatre Company present

Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

Written by Robert Louis Stevenson

Adapted by David Edgar

Directed by Stephen Unwin

Starring Phil Daniels

9 – 17 February 2018

Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic thriller starring Phil Daniels as the eponymous character, tells the gripping tale of Dr Jekyll and his alter ego Mr Hyde.

During one of his audacious experiments trying to separate good from evil in human nature, the kind and gifted Dr Jekyll inadvertently unleashes an alternate personality of pure evil… the mysterious Mr Hyde

As this sinister and ominous figure starts causing murderous havoc around the foggy streets of London, the physician’s friends and fiancée grow increasingly worried about him. Jekyll must race to find a cure for his monstrous alter ego before it takes over for good.

David Edgar has been writing plays professionally since 1971. His original plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company include Destiny, Maydays and Pentecost (1994 Evening Standard Best Play Award), the second in a series of plays about Eastern Europe after the Cold War, following The Shape of the Table and preceding The Prisoner’s Dilemma. In addition to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, his adaptations include plays based on the memoir Mary Barnes, Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby (Olivier and New York Tony Best Play Awards), Julian Barnes’s Arthur & George and Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. His recent stage work includes Albert Speer, Playing with Fire, Testing the Echo, Written on the Heart and If Only. He has written for television and radio, and wrote the screenplay for Trevor Nunn’s 1986 film Lady Jane.

Phil Daniels’ recent stage credits include This House (National Theatre and West End), Antony and Cleopatra and The Knight of the Burning Castle (Shakespeare’s Globe), and Les Misérables (West End). He has also performed at Royal Court and RSC. His television work includes Sunnyside Farm, Time Gentlemen Please, Gimme Gimme, Outlaws, The Long Firm, Holding On, EastEnders, Rock & Chips, Poirot, Moonfleet and Zapped; and for film, Quadrophenia, Breaking Glass, Scum, Bad Behaviour, Goodnight Charlie Bright, Chicken Run, Freebird, Vinyl and The Hatton Garden Job. Daniels recorded and toured with Blur, providing a vocal for their huge hit Park Life. He has also sung with The Stranglers and The Who.


Rose Theatre Kingston presents


Written by Stephen Bill

Directed by Lindsay Posner

22 Feb – 17 March 2018

Ida’s family is throwing her a birthday tea for her eighty-sixth birthday. Their efforts to be cheerful and make the event a success verge on the desperate. Ida is racked with pain and feels she has lived too long. As the painfully laboured celebrations go on, her third daughter Susan returns unexpectedly after an absence of 25 years. Tensions immediately flare between the sisters, whilst Ida struggles to recognise her.

As the party comes to an end, the family disperse leaving Katherine remembering the pact she made with Ida not to let her suffer into old age… When the family returns, old prejudices and rivalries are forced into the open in this hilarious, painful and moving picture of a family in turmoil.

Stephen Bill won Drama Magazine’s award for Best Play, alongside Most Promising Playwright from both London Standard Drama and Plays and Players London Critics’ Awards for Curtains. His other playwrighting credits include The Old Order, Piggy Back Riders, Naked in the Bull Ring, The Bottom Drawer, Over the Bar, Over a Barrel, Cassie and What the Heart Feels. His television writing includes Eh Brian It’s a Whopper, Marjorie and The Preacher Man, The Darling Buds of May, Broke, The Locksmith and Maisie Raine.

Lindsay Posner’s directing credits include The Truth, Dinner with Saddam, Communicating Doors (Menier Chocolate Factory), Abigail’s Party (Menier Chocolate Factory, Theatre Royal Bath, Wyndham’s and UK tour), The End of Longing (Playhouse), Hay Fever (Duke of York’s), Harvey (Theatre Royal Haymarket), Speed the Plow (Playhouse), Relatively Speaking (Wyndham’s), A Little Hotel on the Side (Theatre Royal Bath), Other Desert Cities, The Winslow Boy and Noises Off (Old Vic), The Turn of the Screw (Almeida Theatre) and Uncle Vanya (Vaudeville). He was Associate Director of the Royal Court from 1987-1992 where his productions included Death and the Maiden (which transferred to the Duke of York’s and won two Olivier Awards), Colquhoun and McBryde and The Treatment.



Rose Theatre Kingston and Nick Brooke Productions Ltd present

The Night Pirates

By Peter Harris and Deborah Allwright

Adapted and directed by Miranda Larson

6 – 16 September 2017

Rough, tough little girl pirates. With their own pirate ship. A ship set for sailing. A ship off on adventures.

Adapted from the best-selling children’s book by Peter Harris and Deborah Allwright, The Night Pirates tells the tale of a group of little girl pirates who descend on a young boy called Tom at bedtime. Eager to join the pirate adventure, Tom uses his house as a pirate ship and sets sail to retrieve stolen treasure from Captain Patch and the bumbling grown-up pirates.

Adapted and directed by Miranda Larson, this show combines original songs and swashbuckling adventures, suitable for any budding young pirate!

Miranda Larson is a writer and director for children’s theatre and television. Her live stage work includes Angelina Ballerina the Mousical, Bob The Builder, Teletubbies, Fireman Sam, Ben 10, Power Puff Girls, The Little Princess and Cartoon Network Live: HEROES UNITE. She is also a regular screen writer on TV shows like Fireman Sam, Bob the Builder, Thomas The Tank Engine, CBeebies’ Melody and Let’s Play.


Rose Theatre Kingston presents

Alice in Winterland

Based on the books by Lewis Carroll

Adapted and directed by Ciaran McConville

Composer and Lyricist: Eamonn O’Dwyer

Designer: Tim Bird; Choreographer: Jamie Neale

7 Dec 2017 – 7 Jan 2018

Alice has always been brought up to believe in wonder but her life takes an unexpected turn when she is sent to live with her stern auntie… until she is visited by a White Rabbit and propelled on a quest to save Winterland.

Follow Alice to the magically curious world of Winterland, a world of ice and imagination, of mad hatters and cruel queens, strong-minded dodos and friendly knights. A world inhabited by the mysterious Bandersnatch and the terrible Jabberwock, a world that lies in the shuffle of a pack of cards or in the lines across a chess board, where the impossible becomes possible…

This dazzlingly festive new stage production is based on Lewis Carroll’s timeless books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Step through the Looking Glass with Alice this Christmas and join her for this glorious adventure.


Rose Theatre Kingston and Curve present

George’s Marvellous Medicine

Written by Roald Dahl

Adapted by David Wood

27 March – Sun 8 April 2018

Director: tbc

Most grandmothers are lovely, kind, helpful old ladies. Not George’s Grandmother. George’s Grandmother likes to gobble up slugs and bugs, and is always telling George what to do.

But one day, when his parents leave him alone with the grizzly old grunion, George takes his chance and sets about creating a brand new medicine to cure her of her cruelty. Little does he know that his

perilous potion will be the start of a rather marvellous adventure…

Following the success of The Twits and The Witches, Rose Theatre Kingston’s magnificent new co-production with Curve, Leicester promises to be yet another hugely imaginative and entertaining stage adaptation, bursting with growing grannies, feathery farm animals and bags of frothbuggling family fun.

David Wood’s seventy plus plays for children are performed worldwide, and he was dubbed ‘the national children’s dramatist’ by The Times. His adaptations of The Twits and The Witches have previously run at the Rose Theatre Kingston in 2016 and 2015. 2013 saw his adaptation of Michelle Magorian’s Goodnight Mister Tom win the Olivier Award for Best Entertainment and Family, for which his adaptation of Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea was nominated the previous year. His adult musical, based on L P Hartley’s The Go-Between, co-written with Richard Taylor, also toured in 2011 and won Best Musical Production (Theatre Awards UK). In 2006, to celebrate the Queen’s 80th birthday, he wrote The Queen’s Handbag, performed in Buckingham Palace Gardens and seen by 8,000,000 BBC1 viewers. In 2004 he was awarded the OBE for services to drama and literature.