Review Round Up: Torch Song, Turbine Theatre

Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for Drew McOnie’s revival of Harvey Fierstein’s play.    

(c)Mark Senior.

The Stage: *** “McOnie directs his first straight play with confidence. The emotional fireworks explode in all the right places and there’s an elegance to much of the staging.”

WhatsOnStage: **** ” This version may not be as moving or as funny as previous takes on this gorgeous script, but chances are that anybody encountering Arnold and his bittersweet milieu for the first time will still know they’re in the presence of something special.”

The Guardian: *** “The play may have done its work in the world, but it offers a fat star-role that Mr Needham fills with the right tremulous assurance.”

The Arts Desk: **** “Director Drew McOnie deftly handles Fierstein’s fluid structure, which moves from monologues – Needham is brilliantly assured early on as he takes us through the awkwardness of a particular backroom encounter – and duets to group scenes: the Coward-like second-act ensemble of couples rotating in different combinations between the sheets of a large double bed is done with particular aplomb. Ryan Laight’s set puts the new venue’s small stage to good use, especially for the closing act’s crowded kitchen bustling.”

Time Out: **** “The cast beautifully sell Fierstein’s deep dive into the fragile but enduring spark of love. Matthew Needham is magnetic as a spiky, raw Arnold, chucking out cynical asides like a stand-up while exposing every bruised nerve-ending. Dino Fetscher, meanwhile, gives us an endearingly bewildered Ed, often confounded by himself.” **** “There is much to enjoy and, most of all, there is a fresh chance to savour every blessed, blissful word Fierstein wrote and quietly wish you could grab him for a quick chat to make sense of life for every single one of us – gay, straight and everything in between.”

London Box Office: ***** “If you want to be entertained and leave the theatre with a warm glow, go and see this iconic gay play at the new Turbine Theatre.”

British *** ” Listen to what the actors are saying, including Needham, and regardless of how it falls on your ears, its magic will work: it will make you turn your thoughts inward and ask yourself searching, important questions about who and what you love, where and how you have felt loss in life, and – above all – who exactly do you feel and think yourself to be.”

Pocket Size Theatre: **** “This is a promising start for Artistic Director Paul Taylor Mills and his new theatre setting out an ambitious intent and served by some very good performances in this opening play. The train rumblings may be insoluble but Battersea will be well served by this new venue.”

London Theatre1: **** “Overall this is an excellent production of a classic piece of theatre. One frustration for this critic is that whilst Fierstein’s wonderful funny lines had the audience (and me) laughing out loud, the pathos of the third act didn’t have me shedding a tear or two and I think it should have. It had a lot for the head – it just lacked a little for the heart.”

The Reviews Hub: **** “directed with panache by Drew McOnie, who rarely lets the action flag.”

The Spy in the Stalls: ***** “Torch Song is both touching and raucously funny. The characters are flawed but entirely relatable due to this, and the script is excellent. The play’s issues of love, loss and acceptance are still relevant today making Fierstein’s work a timeless insight into the human condition. McOnie does a spectacular job of adapting Torch Song for the contemporary stage and this is definitely a production worth shouting about.”

Torch Song will continue to play at the Turbine Theatre until the 13th October. For more information visit:

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