Belgrade Theatre preview: A Monster Calls

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Revenge, Belgrade, Coventry, to Saturday (Feb 15)

An action-packed but disappointing play is billed as a thriller, but didn't thrill our reviewer. She reports that the first half was flat and the second half which promised more, also failed to deliver.

Crongton Knights, Belgrade, to Feb 22

This bitingly relevant musical drama explores the tough choices a group of teens must make to survive on a gritty inner-city estate. There's some unflinching and convincing violence, but some lighter moments too.

The Whip, Swan Theatre, Stratford, to March 21

Over two and a half hours of intense drama seem to pass in an instant as this historical-political tale explores the parliamentary infighting, personal torments and dodgy dealing that lay behind the abolition of slavery. 

Glorious, Criterion, Coventry, to Feb 1

Jan Nightingale is Florence Foster Jenkins, who was dubbed the worst singer in the world, in this glorious-ly funny production, and she tackles the role with all the confidence and relish required. The supporting cast is strong, and between them they have the audience in hysterics.

Jack and the Beanstalk, Rugby Theatre, to Feb 2

Banish the January blues with this slightly out-of-season panto. It's got all the usual ingredients - music, song and dance, and plenty of slapstick. Don't worry about the story, just enjoy the fun.

Jane Eyre, Albany Theatre, to tonight (Jan 23)

This adaptation has some new dialogue and even music, but it manages to stay true to the classic Bronte story. The four cast members put in some excellent quick costume and character changes - it's an energetic performance, well staged and performed.

Christopher Hampton’s adaptation from a steamy French novel spares no
blushes in its cold-blooded expose of late-18 th century lust and immorality.

The Gift, Belgrade B2, to Jan 25

It's a slow burner, but the play manages to explore such issues as race relations, cultural diversity and what it's like to be in a minority - while being genuinely hilarious, at least in parts. It's a remarkable achievement with some outstanding performances.

Cinderella, Warwick Arts Centre, to Jan 12

This sparkly post-Christmas production from the Three Spires Guildhall theatre group has some great performances, plenty of singing and dancing, and enough excitement to get the kids in the audience screaming with delight. A winner for all the family.

The Sound of Music, Rugby Theatre, to Dec 15

Fifty years-plus on from the much-loved film, the Rodgers and Hammerstein songs have lost none of their appeal. And the performers at Rugby Theatre do them justice with some pitch-perfect singing. This feel-good production is the perfect antidote to Christmas shopping.

Merrily We Roll Along, Loft Theatre, Leamington, to Dec 14

This challenging Stephen Sondheim showbiz musical is carried along by vigorous direction and some fine performances. The music may not be Sondheim's best, but company vocal work under conductor Liam Walker is impressive.

Pictured: Franklin Shepard (Chris Gilbey-Smith), Mary Flynn (Vicky Holding), Charley Kringas (Justin Steer)

"...everything you would expect from a show and more. Superb acting, fabulous singing, sparkly costumes, beautiful stage sets and an abundance of audience participation."

Puss in Boots, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, to Jan 11

Wonderful singing and dancing, great performances by the cast, and a spectacular set - this is another triumph for writer, director and star Iain Lauchlan, his talented sidekick Craig Hollingsworth, and the whole team. Don't miss it!

The Boy in the Dress, RSC, Stratford, to March 8

The story - from the hit David Walliams book - is a bit thin in places, but the performances are terrific, the song and dance numbers brilliant, and the set stunning. Overall, the show packs a potent punch. Recommended.

It's A Wonderful Life, Criterion Theatre, Coventry, Nov 30-Dec 7

This production promises to be a very different take on the classic Christmas story. Director Richard Warren says: "It's an affectionate tribute to the golden age of radio, and the way stories were told before cameras filled in the pictures".

Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story, Belgrade, to Nov 9

This uplifting show is packed with great toe-tapping, hand-clapping rock 'n' roll classics and you won't be able to resist singing along. The singing and musicianship are outstanding.

Chess, Abbey Theatre, Nuneaton, to Nov 9

One of the most ambitious musicals ever staged by The Masqueraders Theatrical Society, Chess has a huge cast and an impressive band. Sometimes the stage seems too small for the action - but it all works amazingly well.