As the Actress said to the Critic

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  • Last word on the Oliviers - and two new plays about friendship

    Sarah and Nancy have been watching the Oliviers on screen - and wondering why it's so difficult for television to catch the spirit of theatre. Plus Nancy has been to see An Actor Convalescing in Devon at Hampstead Theatre and Sarah has watched The Comeuppance at the Almeida which prompts a conversation about two great American writers - Richard Nelson and Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins - and how they find ways into examining friendship, illness, death and the human condition.

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  • Brian Cox, Patricia Clarkson, the Brontes - and why cutting the creative arts is mad

    Sarah and Nancy talk about a new compelling new production of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night, starring Brian Cox and Patricia Clarkson, and the new play Underdog: the other, other Bronte - both stories that lay bare the rivalries and difficulties of family life. And what is the UK government thinking about with its latest plan to cut funding for creative arts courses at universities? Plus more praise for Andrew Scott in All of Us Strangers, and tributes to Adrian Schiller and Trevor Griffiths.
  • What's the point of critics if they can't agree?

    The reviews of Opening Night, a new Rufus Wainwright musical starring Sheridan Smith, have ranged from utterly brilliant to absolutely abysmal. Sarah and Nancy talk about what this means about the state of criticism and whether this is a good or bad thing. Plus Andrew Scott's emotional speech at the Critics Circle awards
  • Faith Healer, Keir Starmer and the arts, and the popularity of podcasts

    It's been a busy time for Nancy and Sarah, with Nancy recording a new audio drama that builds on new ways of listening to plays and visiting the Royal Shakespeare Company to say goodbye to long-time artistic director Gregory Doran. Meanwhile, Sarah has been to the Lyric Hammersmiith to see a fine revival of Brian Friel's great Faith Healer. Plus Keir Starmer has set out Labour's vision for culture - and it feels unusually heartfelt.
  • A final word on the Oscars

    Nancy and Sarah have been watching the Oscars - and the Oscar-nominated films. Although Oppenheimer won most of the prizes, all this year's best picture nominees - from Poor Things to Zone of Interest, from Barbie to Anatomy of a Fall - are some of the strongest films to watch today. And all reveal that though individuals win awards, film is a matter of pulling together.
  • Family sagas from Dear Octopus to The Simpsons

    As Dodie Smith's Dear Octopus is revived at the National Theatre, Sarah and Nancy talk about family sagas they have loved. Does Star Wars count? Is this why The Simpsons is endlessly compelling? And why are Britain's playwrights turning their attention once more to this simplest and most interesting way of telling a story. Plus: Nancy reveals what happens at an R & D workshop on Shakespeare. Is there a case for cutting to make Shakespeare speak more clearly to the modern age?
  • Hadestown, Matt Smith and the importance of speaking out

    This week Nancy and Sarah discuss criticism itself, inspired by a new, updated version of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People starring Matt Smith which encourages its audience to enter the debate - and by Sarah's review of the musical Hadestown which pitched her into an unexpected online controversy. Just how important is it to express strong opinions? Is it possible to disagree agreeably or does honest debate end up as a shouting match? And what did the Greeks know about it all? Sarah has been watching a new version of Aristophanes's The Frogs which is also food for thought - and the first example of theatre criticism.