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David Tennant shows

David Tennant on stage: 20 years in the West End

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

Set to star in a revival of CP Taylor's Good, David Tennant adds another show to his lengthy CV of West End appearances. Having performed in brand new plays, London revivals and adaptations of Shakespearean classics, it's no surprise that Tennant is considered to be one of Britain's finest actors. We've taken a look through the archives to see what our critics have said about David Tennant's performances, ahead of his return to the West End later this year.

In 1996, Tennant starred in David Rabe's Hurlyburly at the then-named Queen's Theatre, a dark comedy inspired by Macbeth where influential figures in Hollywood ply themselves with drugs and alcohol. Tennant starred as Mickey, in a play that Darren Dalglish said: "shows human behaviour at its worst and is totally exaggerated... there are too many scenes of shouting, fighting and drug taking and not enough intelligent dialogue." Two years later, Tennant starred in The Real Inspector Hound and Black Comedy, a double-bill of plays at the then-named Comedy Theatre. In the first act, Tennant starred as a depressed critic, but our critic definitely wasn't depressed with the performance, with Darren Dalglish hailing the farcical stories as "sparkling fun."

As we all welcomed a new millennium, Tennant continued to appear in stage productions across the country, including a London transfer of The Rivals. However it didn't please all critics with the Financial Times' Alastair Maculay asking: "If the RSC can't be relied upon to bring depth to popular entertainment, who can? Comedy deserves better, and so do we." But Tennant's next production in London received excellent reviews across the board.

Starring in Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero at the Donmar Warehouse in 2002, Matthew Fay praised his American accent, saying: "unlike some of the others in this all-British cast, (Tennant's American accent) is flawless. He exudes a kind of well-meaning hopelessness, talkative, yet, as he says, sometimes he feels he was 'born worn-out': the classic slacker."

The following year, he starred in Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman at the National Theatre, in a quartet that starred Jim Broadbent, Nigel Lindsay and Adam Godley. Playing Katurian in the show's world premiere, his ability to portray a creepy storyteller was respected by critics, with Amanda Hodges commending Tennant's masterful way of casting "a hypnotic spell on the audience... there's much intellectually to admire here but in terms of being digestible, it's certainly an acquired taste."

After his critically acclaimed performance as the Doctor in BBC's Doctor Who, he returned to the West End to star as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing opposite Catherine Tate at the Wyndham's Theatre. Peter Brown praised "Mr Tennant's obvious natural gift" on stage, delivering Shakespearean language as if it's "spoken on the streets of Glasgow on a daily basis."

He returned to the Wyndham's six years later as the titular character in Patrick Marber's Don Juan in Soho, bringing Moliere's character to the present day. But, even with his ability to deliver a strong performance, Mark Shenton said the sex-inspired farce was "stubbornly earthbound."

Tennant also appeared in a star-studded gala alongside Kylie Minogue and Charles Dance at a one-night show with The Muppets at the O2 Arena in 2018. But, he'll make a proper return to the West End later this year, as he plays professor-turned-Nazi leader John Halder in a revival of CP Taylor's Good, with Good tickets on sale now.

Photo credit: Georgia Tennant

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