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Dzifa Benson


BWW Review: BREAKIN' CONVENTION, Sadler's Wells
May 7, 2019

It's an immediate testament to the enduring appeal of Breakin' Convention, Sadler's Wells annual festival of hip hop theatre, now in its 16th year, to see the queues of people snaking round the block of the imposing building. They are dressed much more casually than the usual demographic that attends a show at this theatre.

May 6, 2019

In her comprehensive and insightful book Contemporary Women Stage Directors, Paulette Marty attempts to answer a pivotal question: 'How does gender influence the work of women directors?'

April 26, 2019

At the beginning of the performance of Mitten wir im Leben sind/Bach6Cellosuiten, choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (she's also one of the five dancers) comes right to the front of the stage and holds up what appears to be a peremptory finger as if to silence the welcoming applause.

BWW Review: THE THREAD, Sadler's Wells
March 17, 2019

Receiving its world premiere at Sadler's Wells, The Thread is acclaimed British choreographer and Sadler's Wells Associate Artist Russell Maliphant's new work. Staged in collaboration with Vangelis, Oscar winning composer of scores for the films Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner, it marks something of a departure for Maliphant. It was developed from an original concept by producer Georgia Iliopoulou who invited Maliphant to blend his signature approach to flow and energy in the body with traditional Greek dance.

BWW Review: AWAKENING, Royal Opera House
March 13, 2019

Presented by National Dance Company Wales (NDCWales), Awakening is a tour that marks the company's entry into a fresh phase of its development under the leadership of new artistic director, Fearghus Ó Conchuir. As part of the opening season of the Royal Opera House's newly designed Linbury Theatre, Awakening is a good indicator of the choreographic emphasis of showcasing new voices intended for this sleek and intimate space.

BWW Review: RICHARD II, Shakespeare's Globe
March 8, 2019

It's the 21st century, so we should live in a world where an all-women-of-colour major production of a Shakespeare play like Richard II isn't so remarkable.

Feature: Ten Years of THRILLER LIVE in the West End
February 27, 2019

In this year, the 10th anniversary of Thriller Live at the Lyric Theatre and about a decade since Michael Jackson's passing, the show has played to over two million people, is the 15th-longest-running musical in the West End and the theatre's longest-running show ever. Michael Jackson's legacy resonates so much in the recent cultural memory that it's disconcerting to realise 2019 commemorates the 10th year since his death.

February 23, 2019

During her lifetime, Pina Bausch's expansion of German expressionist dance into raw, bizarre but nonetheless affecting spectacle revolutionised contemporary dance. In the decade since her sudden death, her company Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch has restricted itself to performing the back catalogue of prolific work she created.

BWW Review: MACBETH, Shakespeare's Globe
November 17, 2018

You wait so long for a Macbeth then like the buses, four major productions come along at once. The Barbican is staging the Royal Shakespeare Company's offering while the roundly panned National Theatre's effort is out on tour and the National Youth Theatre's version is playing in the West End.

BWW Review: CONTAGION, British Library
November 4, 2018

The British Library isn't the most obvious place to stage a dance installation but in the case of choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh's Contagion, (which has toured to other non-theatre spaces around the country) the mezzanine floor of the main auditorium of the library takes on the ambience of a dedicated and exactly the right performance space.

September 29, 2018

New English Ballet Theatre, founded by artistic director Karen Pilkington-Miksa, has been on a mission to nurture and showcase young dancers and emerging choreographers since it launched seven years ago. In the intervening time, it has become synonymous with a visionary and thoroughly modern approach to making original touring pieces to present to the widest possible audience. This year, it returns to the Peacock Theatre with a double bill of sensitively pitched but contrasting pieces in Four Seasons and Remembrance.

BWW Review: MARATHON, Barbican
September 26, 2018

If you go to see Alan Fieldan with JAMS' (which presumably stands for the names of the four actors, Jemima, Alan, Malachy and Sophie), Marathon at the Barbican, you'd do you well to remember an illuminating part of the blurb about the show:

BWW Review: THE PRISONER, National Theatre
September 19, 2018

It's been a long minute - over two decades, in fact - since acclaimed director Peter Brook, who is now 93 years old and has been called "our greatest living theatre director", helmed a play at the National Theatre. So this new production of The Prisoner which he has co-directed with his long-time collaborator Marie-Helene Estienne, has been long and hugely anticipated given that it may well be the last chance ever to see a Brook production at the National Theatre.

September 14, 2018

The boundary razing two-hander created and performed by Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R Sheppard Underground Railroad Game doesn't give too much of its own game away in the pre-show literature. From the first two words of the title, we can surmise that it has something to do with slavery but what does the word 'game' imply?

BWW Review: DUST, Trafalgar Studios
September 8, 2018

It isn't often that the trifecta of the writing, directing and acting of a play harmonise perfectly into a deeply satisfying whole, but when that happens - as it does in Milly Thomas's award winning one-person play Dust - it makes for a very thrilling 80 minutes of pure theatre.

August 22, 2018

The will-they-won't-they trope of the Beatrice/Benedick relationship in Much Ado About Nothing is so familiar to audiences that, even though it's staged repeatedly (the last time this reviewer saw it was at Shakespeare's Globe in March), the joy in watching it again is to see how much sparkle a new production can bring to the witty wordplay (these days that's called banter) of the warring lovers in Shakespeare's sunniest comedy.

BWW Review: BACKBONE, Southbank Centre
August 15, 2018

As the lights fade up on stage in the Royal Festival Hall, nine figures lying supine and inert are revealed, along with a rack of clothes, rocks, silver pails of what appear to be soil and, most curiously, a suit of armour. Suddenly, everything comes to life, including the suit of armour.

BWW Review: THE STAR SEEKERS, National Theatre
August 15, 2018

The Dorfmann Theatre within the National Theatre complex is proving to be an even more versatile space than promised when it reopened after refurbishment in 2014.

BWW Review: GREEK, Arcola Theatre
August 11, 2018

Thirty years after composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and director Jonathan Moore's trailblazing opera Greek premiered at the ENO, it's apparent from this new production, part of Arcola Theatre's Grimeborn Opera Festival 2018, that it's lost none of the punchy, punk attitude that made it such an innovative tour-de-force.

BWW Review: SPIRAL, Park Theatre
August 10, 2018

In the programme notes for her darkly disturbing new play Spiral, Abigail Hood quotes a plea she discovered at the bottom of a free London newspaper: "Dear Steven, we love you, we miss you. We hope you found what you were looking for."