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September 2016

London Fringe theatre news round up

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Pic from Skin a Cat

Fresh from the inbox so far this week:

  • Neil McPherson's It Is Easy To Be Dead is transferring from the Finborough after a sell out run to the Trafalgar Studios 2 from Nov 9. It was nominated for seven Off West End awards.
  • Isley Lynn’s Skin a Cat will be transferring to The Bunker - the new venue at Waterloo - from Oct 12 following its sell-out, award-winning run at the VAULT Festival earlier this year.
  • Camden People's Theatre fourth feminist theatre festival Calm Down, Dear opens on Sept 20 with Blush from Snuffbox Theatre which won The Stage Award at Edinburgh this year.
  • The 1st Open Central Asia International Festival, which will play host to a variety of events celebrating Central Asian arts – work from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan - opens on Oct 5. For details of all the various events go to http://www.orzuartsfestival.co.uk/english/

Review and production photos: Dreamplay, The Vaults

 

I'm gathered with a crowd just outside one of the arches at The Vaults, some people are sat in deck chairs, a cellist is playing. Then a woman dressed in an oversized coat appears, unable to speak she lunges at people straining to vocalise her feelings, the sounds pleading, distressed, frustrated and sometimes aggressive. The audience shuffles awkwardly hoping not to have to meet her direct gaze.

We are then ushered into the arches to watch a 'girl' dressed in cycling gear vomiting into a toilet and calling for her mother to be let out, apologising for something she's done. Then we move to seats and a woman's movement is controlled by the cellist who has reappeared. The faster she plays the faster the woman has to move. It's one of the very few light moments in this play which, considering its title, could probably do with a few more.

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Production photos: The Libertine with Dominic Cooper (and a monkey puppet)

It's currently enjoying a stint at the Theatre Royal Bath before transferring to the Theatre Royal Haymarket later this month but how excited are we about seeing Dominic Cooper in The Libertine? (I still remember him in his vest in Phedre.) And, of course it also stars Stan-fav Jasper Britton which is adding to the excitement. While we are patiently waiting, here are some production shots* - love the monkey puppet:

 

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Review: Culture clashes in Mafia drama Tarantella, Omnibus

7e579f845121b7a06e33557e3003a886Tarantella is a new play written by Elizabeth Bowe about three generations of a Sicilian family living in a tenement in 1941 New York. The title refers to a traditional dance from Sicily which the daughters of the family have learned and perform on feast days and family gatherings.

The problem for the family is that the younger generation are becoming more and more embedded in culture and society of New York which is at odds with the traditions and way of living the older generations want to cling to. When the Mafia comes knocking things are brought to a head and ghosts from the past are unearthed.

There are elements of West Side Story - the daughter who falls for the blond Yankie whom her father bans her from seeing - gangster films and something almost akin to a Greek Tragedy in what happened to the family back in Sicily. And that is in part the plays problem none of the elements really gets proper traction.

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Review: Belarus Free Theatre's Burning Doors, Soho Theatre and UK tour

320x320.fitandcrop-1Belarus Free Theatre productions aren't for the faint hearted or those seeking a nice linear narrative. This production in particular is a physical, poetic, brutal and raw mixture of performance art, verbatim narrative, film archive, audience interaction - and a conversation in the toilets at the Kremlin.

Maria Alyokhina, one of two members of Pussy Riot jailed for 'hooliganism', joins the cast for the piece which explores art and freedom in a repressive regime. Her experiences in prison together with that of Russian performance artist Petr Pavlensky and Ukrainian film maker Oleg Sentsov make up the three 'acts' of the play.

The brutality of life within the Russian justice system is played out, the strip searches and beatings physically represented as are what it represents psychologically and metaphorically. A man who is pushed down keeps getting up, the repetition of such actions demonstrating the relentlessness of the routine and the stamina it takes to resist and to survive.

Through the physicality of the performance - and the actors certainly work up a sweat - comes the poetry, the strength of spirit and the determination not to be ground down and an exploration of what freedom actually is. All three 'prisoners' are artists who use their art as an expression of protest, as a political statement, once that means of expression is taken away from them, what remains?

It is a demanding piece and like the first production of BFT's I saw - Minsk 2011 - I'm not going to pretend I understood everything and at times that can feel a little alienating but overall, as a piece of theatre, it has a powerful essence.

Burning Doors is one hour and 45 minutes long without an interval and I'm giving it four stars. It is on at the Soho Theatre until 24 September and then continues it's UK tour before heading to Italy and Melbourne.


Theatre hottie and girl crush of the month - August edition

After watching Matthew Lewis in Unfaithful - you know, the Harry Potter child actor who got all hot when he grew up - I was asked if he would be my hottie of the month. Unfortunately for Matthew the bar had already been set exceptionally high because of Platonov with Stan fav James (makes me a bit giggly) McArdle.

He would have walked it even without the long johns - if you've seen the play you will know what I mean. To say that I'm stupidly excited about Angels in America next year is an understatement and I haven't even got the tickets yet.

And my girl crush is linked because it is Nina Sosanya who plays the intelligent, feisty and elegant Anna in Platonov. So here are a couple of pics of James and Nina both deserving the hottie/crush status:

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