Review: Overflow, live stream via Bush Theatre - toilet drama makes for clever and powerful storytelling
Sunday theatre question: A screen/book adaptation that worked surprising well on stage

Lockdown London theatre walks: White Bear Theatre, Kennington and two very different memories

I should have thought of this back in March but better late than never... I've started using my lockdown weekend walks (or cycles) to visit some of my favourite London theatres.

White Bear Theatre in lockdown Jan 2021
White Bear Theatre, Kennington in lockdown Jan 2021

The off-the-top-of-my-head list I drew up has 18 non-West End theatres (well not the big West End Theatres anyway) so let's see how many I get to between now and, well, having something else to do at the weekends other than walk or cycle.

First up is the White Bear Theatre in Kennington, which is about a 30-minute walk from home.

Now I have to start with a question. Did the theatre at the White Bear use to be downstairs at the back of the pub before they moved it into swisher space upstairs? Or am I getting it mixed up with somewhere else?

Anyway, it's one of my favourite pub theatres, and I'm not just saying that because it's close to home. It's a nice size, has some raked seating (important when you are 5ft 2in tall) and puts on an interesting mix of new work.

I'm all for pub theatres being the proving ground for new talent and to be quite frank; I'm long over pub theatre productions of classics by Shakespeare and Chekhov. 

Going to a pub theatre is about the chance to see a spark of new talent or something different and inventive.

Two particular plays I've seen at the White Bear Theatre stand out for very different reasons:

Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Rd by Keith Stevenson

This was one of those productions which had me grinning and feeling full of life. It came at a dark time - Trump's inauguration and Theresa May spouting hard Brexit speeches - so was a very welcome diversion on a cold January evening.

As I said in my review, it was a reminder that there is some good in the world.

Play poster outside White Bear Theatre Jan 2021
Play posters outside the White Bear Theatre, Kennington Jan 2021

It got a much-deserved transfer to the Trafalgar Studios 2, so I got to enjoy it all over again.

And it's one of those plays that I'd be off to see again, like a shot, if it got a revival. In fact, can I put in a good word now because when this shit show of a pandemic does retreat enough to allow us back to the theatre, Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Rd is exactly the sort of play I want to go and see.

Mojo by Jez Butterworth

This production I remember for very different reasons, although timing did have a big part to play.

You see I love Mojo or rather I love a particular production of Mojo which was in the West End with a rather fabulous cast (Ben Whishaw, Colin Morgan, Daniels Mays, Rupert Grint etc.).

And this production came just six months after that production had finished.

It was still so fresh in my mind that it was an almost line by line performance comparison. And it just didn't work for me.

Perhaps if it had been a year or two later, I'd have had a different impression. So it sticks in my mind for that reason.

Have you been to the White Bear Theatre in Kennington - do you have a particular favourite production from there? Please share in the comments.


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