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Christmas comes to London's fringe theatres - a round of up festive treats

A Christmas Carol (c) Mat Johns (6)
A Christmas Carol (c) Mat Johns

PANTO Ricky Whittington and his Cat is a timely, satirical and funny take on old-school panto featuring song, dance and a WEALTH of comic talent and guest cameos. Catch it at the New Diorama from December 12 to January 7 with a special New Years Eve performance and party.

HUMANETTE PUPPET COMEDY An absurd and endearing portrait of Christmas, like The Royle Family meets Phoenix Nights, in miniature Holy Presents is on at the Camden People's Theatre from 6 to 17 December.

COMEDY The BAC has a season of festive fun including two festive stand up shows: A John Kearns Christmas (6-10 Dec) and Josie Long Hosts Christmas This Year (13-17 Dec). For more details head to the BAC website.

SIMON STEPHENS' CHRISTMAS Not his actual Christmas but his play Christmas which Theatre N16 is reviving for a run from 11 to 22 December. It's one week ‘til Christmas. A bleak bar in the heart of London’s East End. Landlord Michael Macgraw is setting up for the Saturday punters - all two of them; young Billy Russell, a foul-mouthed football fan and Seppo the barber with an odd fondness for Drambuie and dreaming of Vienna. Christmas, a time for family, goodwill and peace to all men, but not for these three.

OPERA PANTO The King's Head Theatre in Islington has chosen Pinochio for it's festive treat. Performed by a cast of Charles Court Opera with a whale-full of jaw-dropping musical numbers from pop to opera, and puns and tomfoolery galore, this year's 10th anniversary celebration promises to be the biggest and best yet. It runs from Dec 1 to Jan 7.

DINNER & CHRISTMAS CAROL Dickens' classic festive tale comes to the Above the Arts Theatre in Covent Garden served over a two-course dinner. Food and theatre are dished up from Dec 12 to 31.


London fringe theatre news round up - opera, circus and more

Rehearsal Shot (c) Vantage Point (6)
This Might Be It rehearsal (c) Vantage Point

2017 SEASON ANNOUNCEMENT Print Room  at the Coronet in Notting Hill has announced five plays for the first half of next year opening with Howard Barker's In The Depth of Love followed by Out of Blixen directed by Kathryn Hunter. For full season details visit the Print Rooms website.

TEEN DRAMA More to look forward to next year, Southwark Playhouse has announced a production of The Diary of a Teenage Girl which opens on Mar 1, 2017 and runs until Mar 25. It's a coming of age story as told through the eyes of a teenage girl growing up in 1970s San Francisco.

THE ONE I CAN'T PRONOUNCE Director Jimmy Walters returns to the Finborough Theatre with a new production of Tony Harrison’s The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus in its first London staging for nearly 30 years. It will run from Tuesday 3rd – Saturday 28th January 2017.

CONTEMPORARY ISSUES Theatre N16 plays host to new company Vantage Point and their first show This Might Be It, which examines our relationship to technology in the digital age - think Black Mirror on stage from a millennial perspective. It runs from Dec 4 - 8.

PUB OPERA I saw my first opera in a small room above a pub a couple of years ago and despite my scepticism really enjoyed it - you are certainly never going to get that close to the singers at the ROH. If you aren't sure whether opera is your thing, pub opera is a brilliant way to try it out and as an experience after all you won't be sitting that close to the singers if you go to ROH. This is my preamble to the King's Head Theatre announcing its opera season for next year. It includes new collaborations with Olivier Award-winning librettist Amanda Holden and Charles Court Opera, the return of internationally acclaimed opera director Paul Higgins and a new production of Tosca from the King’s Head Theatre’s Artistic Director Adam Spreadbury-Maher. For more details head to the KH website.

CIRCUS French Compagnie XY, widely regarded as one of the leading contemporary circus companies in the world, will return to London for the UK premiere of their spectacular new show It’s Not Yet Midnight….This poetic and jaw-defying spectacle will run at the Roundhouse in Camden from 10th – 23rd April 2017.

 

 


Rehearsal and promotional photos: Rufus Sewell, Tim Key and Paul Ritter in Art, Old Vic Theatre

The photo shoot for Art's promotional pics look like Rufus, Tim and Paul all had fun (see a behind the scenes vid here). There's also a bunch of rehearsal shots - really looking forward to this one and not just because of the opportunity to see Rufus Sewell on stage again. Ahem.

Art at Old Vic Theatre is directed by Yasmina Reza and opens for previews on Dec 10 and then runs until Feb 17, 2017. For more info head to the Old Vic website.

ART Fight-222-Landscape Tim Key, Rufus Sewell and Paul Ritter. Photo by Manuel Harlan (1)
ART Tim Key, Rufus Sewell and Paul Ritter. Photo by Manuel Harlan
ART Fight-243 portrait. Tim Key, Paul Ritter and Rufus Sewell. Photo by Manuel Harlan (2)
ART Tim Key, Paul Ritter and Rufus Sewell. Photo by Manuel Harlan

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London fringe theatre news round up - upcoming tidbits, monologues and one offs

Title
Happiness Is A Cup of Tea

MONOLOGUE After successful stints on London's fringe circuit Happiness Is A Cup Of Tea comes to Theatre N16 in Balham. Story-telling, puppetry, song and grief all collide in this show about family, being the youngest, and losing the ones we love, written and performed by East 15 graduate Annie McKenzie. Catch it from Nov 27 to Dec 1.

DARKLY COMIC Pat Kinevane brings his show Underneath to the Soho Theatre. Raw, beautiful and darkly comic, Kinevane invites the audience into an intimate confidence which is at once brilliantly wise, touching and true, as he unwraps a life shaped and destroyed by disfigurement and cruelty. Underneath won the Fringe First Award at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015 and the Adelaide Fringe Best Theatre Award 2016. It was named on the Forbes ‘Best Theater on Broadway and Beyond’ List, 2015.  Catch it at Soho Theatre from Nov 22 to Dec 17.

8 PLAYS CREATED IN 12 DAYS The Collective Project 2016 brings together a group of actors, directors and writers to create eight new 12 minute plays in 12 days and you can see the results at the Tristan Bates Theatre from Dec 13 to Dec 17.

JANUARY COMEDY New play The Doppel Gang combines the wild wit of iconic comedy giants The Marx Brothers – Groucho, Harpo and Chico – with generous helpings of British humour and humility. As the Blitz ravages London, a hopeless theatre manager persuades a desperate double act and a not-so-convincing male impersonator to join him in an audacious stunt – impersonating The Marx Brothers. Catch it at the Tristan Bates Theatre from 17 Jan to 11 Feb 2017.

OLD VIC's ONE VOICE This one off afternoon on Nov 26 consists of monologues specially commissioned by Shami Chakrabarti, Marie Jones and John Godber and performed by Maxine Peake, Gemma Jones and Martha Godber. Details on the Old Vic website.

 


Rehearsal photos: Wild Honey, Hampstead Theatre

Hot on the heels of Platonov at the National Theatre in the summer comes Michael Frayn's Wild Honey which is based on the same early Chekhov play which was untitled and discovered after the playwright's death. Directed by Howard Davies and Jonathan Kent, this comedy of errors is a tale of nineteenth century Russian life replete with classic misunderstandings, irrepressible desires and nostalgia for a vanishing world.  

Geoffrey Streatfeild stars as Platonov and the play opens for previews on Dec 2 and runs until Jan 14. Look out for my review in December.

 


London fringe theatre news round up - horror, dark comedy and transfers

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Benighted, Old Red Lion

HORROR ADAPTATION - JB Priestley's novel Benighted is described as a masterwork of horror literature. It was adapted by Universal into a film version called The Old Dark House in 1932 and now it has been adapted for the first time for the stage by Duncan Gates. You can see it at the Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington from Dec 6 to Jan 7, 2017.

FRINGE TRANSFER Stuart Slade’s BU21 is transferring to Trafalgar Studios following its award nominated, sell-out run at Theatre503. BU21 follows six Londoners in the aftermath of a fictitious terrorist attack, based on real testimonies gathered from a variety of terrorist incidents including the 7/7 bombings, 9/11, the Paris attacks and the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack. It runs from Jan 4 to Feb 18, 2017.

COMEDY It's just a dinner party. A normal civilised dinner party. Except it's not - definitely not. Jess Bray’s hilarious Ayckbourn-esque play, Swing By Around 8, about two couples with two very different ideas about a certain dinner party comes to Theatre N16 this month. It is part of the Balham theatre's new First Credit Scheme which helps new actors and directs get their first professional credit. It runs from Nov 20 to Dec 1.

OFFICE POLITICS Work Play written and performed by Nick Field at the Oval House Theatre leads the audience playfully through office politics with an inventive soundtrack, political satire and an awkward office party. Catch it's brief run until this Saturday (12 Nov).

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS SHORTS These four short plays date from Williams’ early years as a playwright and are perfect little gems, exploring many of the themes that dominated his best known works. Under the title Wild at Heart you can see them at the Pentameters Theatre in Hampstead until Nov 20.

BLACK COMEDY Ella Hickson’s critically acclaimed dark comedy about suicide, Boys, comes to the LOST Theatre, Stockwell. This new revival is directed by James Thacker, new associate director, following his full-length directorial debut, Mojo by Jez Butterworth, at LOST in 2015. It's got a short run from Nov 23 to 26.

WEST END TRANSFER Neil McPherson's It's Easy To Be Dead is transferring to Trafalgar Studios after a successful run at the Finborough Theatre. It tells the story of a young man killed during the first world war who leaves behind a collections of letters and poems. It opens tonight and runs until Dec 3.

 


Fringe theatre news round up - from Halloween shows to immersive dance

Follow The Faun (c) Maximilian Webster (1)
Follow The Faun Photo: Maximilian Webster

FESTIVAL: The BAC's London Stories: Made by Migrants is a festival of true stories and runs from Nov 4-26. Led by a guide, audience groups of five will go on a journey to hear a selection of six stories from people for whom London has become their second home. From the rooftop terrace to the basement bedrooms, routes will traverse newly-refurbished swathes of the building, open to the public for the first time following a phased capital project with architects Haworth Tompkins that began in 2007. Info and tickets from the BAC website.

SHAKESPEARE: The Rose Playhouse has announced a production of Romeo and Juliet set in a refugee camp. They've trimmed Shakespeare's play of star crossed lovers to a bitesized 90 minutes straight through and you can catch it from Nov 15 to Dec 10 for more details head to the Rose website. Please note the Rose Playhouse is an archaeological site see the website for visit and facilities advice.

FARCE: Curl Up and Die is a comedy murder mystery set in a hair salon where the clientèle are mainly the blue rinse brigade. Catch it at the Questors in Ealing from Nov 15 to 19, details on the Questors website.

IMMERSIVE HORROR SHOW If you can't get enough of the Halloween frights 139 Copeland Road runs from Nov 1 to Nov 30 and takes at the house of the title in Peckham: In 1974 a huge fire engulfed 139 Copeland Road, with it’s inhabitants still inside. Guided by a renowned psychic, we will invite intimate audiences of 15 to take part in a unique immersive experiment, and conduct a séance to discover the dark secrets that lie hidden within the house. What happens next we cannot predict or apologise for. For more details head to http://www.139copelandroad.com/

BLACK COMEDY Eliza Powers' play Feathers is describes as 'sex, lies and black comedy: When Marisa and Dan welcome Marisa’s estranged sister Edie into their home, to help care for their toddler son, their marriage is put to the test. It plays at the Hen and Chickens in Islington between Nov 8 and Nov 27 and for more details head to the website: http://featherstheplay.com/

DRESS TO DANCE Nope that isn't the name of the play but a genuine instruction to the audience. Called Follow The Faun it promises a blend of ancient Bacchanalian rite and participatory theatre.  Guided by swirling projections and a banging electronic soundtrack, the audience travel through new worlds and dimensions to experience ecstasy, transformation, and a serious attack of the giggles. Curious? Head to the Arts Theatre West End between 31 Oct and 12 Nov.

VISUAL THEATRE Masters of pulp-cinematic visual theatre Rhum & Clay return to New Diorama Theatre with a completely new type of project; a semi-autobiographical look at the construct of masculinity, written and performed by renowned female-male transgender actor and writer Kit Redstone and told through Rhum & Clay’s inimitably distinct theatrical lens. Testosterone runs from Nov 22 to Dec 3.

 


London fringe theatre news round up - Halloween treats, pub Shakespeare and more

Louise Orwin by Field and McGlynn_02 EXTRA COLOUR_sml1HALLOWEEN THEATRE: All Hallows Eve is nearly here and where better to spend it than at the atmospheric Wilton’s Music Hall, where Extempore Theatre & Something for the Weekend present The Society of Strange – the creepiest, strangest and most macabre of tales in a hilariously twisted improv show guaranteed to give you goosebumps…..Details and tickets on the Wilton's website.

MORE HALLOWEEN THEATRE: The children of Time + Space are being hunted. Terrorized by a dark and enigmatic figure. A monster feeding on blood, bones, and Fear itself...  LIONS + TIGERS + BEARS features 5 actors conjuring up more than 40 characters throughout the ages and across dimensions, including a Victorian schoolgirl, a really sh*t zookeeper, a lobotomist, Myra Hindley, a robotic nurse, a chorus line, Adolf Hitler, vampires, a computer virus, and a tree. It's delightfully deranged, slightly unwholesome, totally questionable family entertainment that's completely unsuitable for children. Catch it at Theatre N16 in Balham from Oct 30 to Nov 3.

PROVOCATIVE THEATRE One of the most talked about, witty and provocative theatre shows currently touring the country comes to London’s Pleasance Theatre on 24 and 25 November. In the sixties, French new wave filmmaker Jean Luc Godard famously claimed that all he needed to make a film was a girl and a gun. Artist and theatremaker Louise Orwin, a big fan of his films, got to thinking about this and how the media’s portrayal of women has moved on in the 50 odd years since he made his claim. A Girl & A Gun is a witty, fun yet unflinchingly provocative look at the relationship between women and violence in media, starring Orwin and a different male performer at each show.

PUB SHAKESPEARE Fox and Chips brings its Pub Brawl Shakespeare: Hamlet to the Pack and Carriage in Camden. NW1. It plays Mondays and Tuesdays until 15th Dec for details and to book head to the Fox and Chips productions website.

SHAKESPEARE INSPIRED Two London boroughs both alike in poverty, south and east – she’s from E8 and he’s from southeast, where Intermission Youth Theatre tell their tale. These two lovers fight for their love despite the backlash of each hood. Through drama, Intermission Youth Theatre engages young people from London’s inner-city communities who are at risk of offending or who lack opportunity and introduces them to Shakespeare, arguably one of the best story-tellers of all time. Love Me To Death is on at St Saviours Church in Knightsbridge from Oct 26 to Nov 19.

INTERACTIVE PERFORMANCE A House Repeated by Seth Kriebel is back by popular demand after a sell out run last year. It's an interactive performance-game made for Battersea Arts Centre’s old town hall where Seth has meticulously memorised every nook and cranny of the 80-room building before inviting audiences to explore it without leaving their seats. It runs at BAC from Oct 18 to Oct 29.

 


New Woyzeck artwork featuring John Boyega

Star Wars actor John Boyega has been given graffiti artist treatment by Aske 19 ahead of his up coming role in Woyzeck at the Old Vic.

George Buchner's play, adapted by Jack Thorne, is set in 1980s Berlin and sees Boyega play a soldier who is trying a build a better future for the love of his life and their child - but at what cost?

It runs from May 6 to June 24.

John Boyega in Woyzeck at The Old Vic. Photo by AKSE P19 Pentagram
John Boyega in Woyzeck at The Old Vic. Photo by AKSE P19 Pentagram