258 posts categorized "Fringe/pub theatre" Feed

Review: The Actor's Nightmare, Park Theatre - a few giggles but it needs more bite

The Actor's Nightmare is six short plays, linked by themes of acting, theatre and performance and brought together for the first time at the Park Theatre.

The Cast of The Actor's Nightmare. Photo credit - Ali Wright
The Cast of The Actor's Nightmare. Photo: Ali Wright

It kicks off with a monologue, Mrs Sorken, which is in part a lecture about the etymology of words such as 'theatre' and part reflection from a theatre-goer.

While observations about the ancient origins of the language around theatre and performance elevate the importance of the medium, the theatre-goer brings things down to earth with a bump, talking about the practicalities of outside theatre and wanting to be home by 10.30.

The irony of the arts perceived lofty importance pitched against mundane reality is refreshing and I'd have liked to have seen more of the audience perspective explored.

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Coming soon klaxon...a fringe play you should see

Squarehires
One of the highlights of my trip to the Edinburgh Fringe last year was Nouveau Riché's Queens of Sheba.

It was an exhilarating watch and sparked a strong emotional response so I'm chuffed to see that it is touring the country in the Autumn.

Details of the tour can be found here and if you are London-based, like me, then Queens of Sheba will be at the Battersea Arts Centre 18-23 November.

It's a show I can't recommend enough and if you want to know more, you can read my review here.


Review: Seven Methods Of Killing Kylie Jenner, Royal Court - makes a lot of what is on stage look stodgy and staid

It made me feel young and old, angry and ashamed, it was interesting, revealing and funny.

Seven methods of killing kylie jenner_Production_Helen Murray48
Seven methods of killing kylie jenner, Royal Court: Photo Helen Murray

London's theatre scene is awash with productions which offer a 'fresh' take on classics but Jasmine Lee-Jones' play Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner demonstrates exactly what really 'fresh' theatre is - and should be.

Closeted in her bedroom, Cleo (Danielle Vitalis) is venting her anger and frustration at the world using Twitter.

However, she doesn't anticipate the storm she will create not just on social media but with her friend Kara (Tia Bannon).

Starts with a Tweet

It starts with Cleo's sarcastic tweet under her handle @incognegro about reality TV star Kylie Jenner being described as a 'self-made billionaire':

"YT woman born into rich American family, somehow against all odds manages to get more rich..."

She goes on to call out the hypocrisy pointing out the cultural appropriation, colourism and inequality.

A glib death threat becomes a musing on how you kill a 'social media figure' and the ensuing Twitter storm serves to highlight not only the toxicity that exists on social media but within society.

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Review: Dark Sublime, Trafalgar Studios - laughs and hammy 80s sci-fi but could be slicker

While the play gets off to a punchy start with plenty of laughs it doesn't feel like the focus on relationships, loneliness and the nature of friendship get sufficient purchase. 

Dark Sublime  Trafalgar Studios (credit Scott Rylander) (3) Marina Sirtis and Kwaku Mills
Dark Sublime Trafalgar Studios: Marina Sirtis and Kwaku Mills. Photo: Scott Rylander

There are two actors playing actors on stage in London at the moment and both characters present as needy and vain.

Andrew Scott's Garry in Present Laughter (Old Vic) is at the extreme end of the spectrum but there are elements too in Marina Sirtis' Marianne.

She's an actress whose star has long been in the descendent having reached the heady heights of a 1980s sci-fi series called Dark Sublime and some episodes in a soap.

Now she gets by on the odd bit of radio work and corporate training gigs and spends her evenings drinking and grumbling with old friend Kate (Jacqueline King) when she isn't seeing her new, young girlfriend Suzanne (Sophie Ward).

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Review: Summer Rolls, Park Theatre - tough love viewed through a lens in the first British Vietnamese play

Actress and writer Tuyen Do's first full length play Summer Rolls brings a story about a British Vietnamese family to a UK stage for the first time.

13. Anna Nguyen - Summer Rolls - Photographer: Danté Kim
Anna Nguyen - Summer Rolls, Park Theatre. Photo: Danté Kim

Mother (Linh-Dan Pham) believes hard work and drive will result in success. She is strict with her two children Mai (Anna Nguyen) and Anh (Michael Phong Lee) and her husband (Kwong Loke) doesn't come off lightly either.

Mai is bright and works hard but pushes against the boundaries imposed by her mother.

She enjoys photography and delving beneath the surface of a photo but it makes her realise there is far more to her parents and what they've experienced than they outwardly present.

But, she doesn't know how to talk to them about it until almost too late.

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Review: Strange Fruit, Bush Theatre - an exposing and painful play which distracts from its key themes

It is the women that come to the fore and feel like the more interesting and sympathetic characters.

Rakie Ayola as Vivian in 'Strange Fruit' at the Bush Theatre. Photo credit Helen Murray.
Rakie Ayola as Vivian in 'Strange Fruit', Bush Theatre. Photo: Helen Murray.

Caryl Phillips' play Strange Fruit focuses on cultural identity in 1980s Britain.

Vivian (Rakie Ayola) left the Caribbean with her two young sons Errol and Alvin seeking a better life but after 20 years in England, the family finds themselves caught between two cultures.

The grown-up brothers are disaffected and angry. Errol (Jonathan Ajayi) rages at society and that includes his mother and white girlfriend Shelley (Tilly Steele) - which doesn't make for comfortable viewing.

England is riddled with racism and prejudice, neither brother feels welcome or that it is the land of opportunity their mother believes. 

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Review: Little Bulb Theatre's The Future, Battersea Arts Centre - science and rock songs (guess which I liked more?)

The eccentric inventiveness of what Little Bulb has done is thoroughly entertaining.

Little Bulb  The Future at Battersea Arts Centre 2019  PHOTOCREDIT Adam Trigg - www-naturaltheatre-photos Future-006
Little Bulb Theatre: The Future, Battersea Arts Centre 2019. Photo: Adam Trigg

I loved Little Bulb Theatre's last production Orpheus so much I saw it twice, so I was really excited to see their new work The Future.

It projects us into the world of three scientists who, with the help of a compere/conductor/presenter (Clare Beresford), explore super intelligence - AI - and the impact it will have on humanity. 

This being Little Bulb their take is executed with quirkiness, music and song.

The scientists wear tinfoil on their heads and have an idiosyncratic way of talking that manages to be nerdy, dry and humorous all at the same time. Shamira Turner is particularly brilliant in her style of delivery.

Living with super intelligence

AI is represented by a box on a stand - the genie contained - and the play (and it's rock-inflected songs) explore the good and bad of living with super intelligence.

Scenarios and presentations are played out by the scientists in their own quirky style of fun and you find yourself laughing at them just as much as with.

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Review: Woke, Battersea Arts Centre - powerful and atmospheric

Apphia Campbell gives a powerful and engaging performance and the play's message... is firmly nailed to the mast.

Woke New 1 photocredit MIHAELA BODLOVIC
Apphia Campbell, Woke. Photo Mihaela Bodlovic

Woke is an appropriate title for Apphia Campbell's play about what makes an activist and the battle for civil rights and.

She weaves together two stories, set in different time periods, contrasting the Black Panthers with Black Lives Matter to ask how far things have progressed.

First, we meet the naive - 'unwoke' - university fresher Ambrosia whose first semester coincides with the murder of Michael Brown by a white police officer which sparks social unrest near her college campus.

Views challenged

She's been brought up to believe that the law is just and justice will prevail until she meets Trey, the law student who challenges her views and inadvertently introduces her to the realities of the legal system for African Americans.

Then we meet Assata Shakur who, while a member of the Black Liberation Army in the 1970s, was jailed for shooting a police officer despite the prosecution case not having to prove that she actually fired the fatal shots. 

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Review: Simon Stephens' Country Music, Omnibus Theatre - seeking out meaning in the silence

There is much to be gleaned from the subtlety of the play but it requires work and attention to seek it out.

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Cary Crankson, Country Music Omnibus Theatre

Country Music opens with two teenagers 18-year-old Jamie (Cary Crankson) and 15-year-old Lynsey (Rebecca Stone) sitting in a car talking about a trip to Southend.

It appears relatively innocent, a boy trying to impress a girl until we discover that Jamie has stolen the car and is putting distance between himself and a violent crime he has committed which we later find out resulted in a death.

Lynsey, who lives in a care home, may enjoy the attention and this moment of fun and promise but is savvy and when Jamie reveals exactly what he has done she gets cold feet.

The play goes on to visit Jamie at three further pivotal moments in his life in a series of two-handers. 

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Review: F*ck You Pay Me, Bunker Theatre - lifting the lid on life working as a stripper

Backstage there is camaraderie among the strippers and 'office' politics, personal dramas and worries just like any place of work.

Fuck You Pay Me  The Bunker (Credit David Monteith Hodge) Joana Nastari (2)
Joana Nastari  F*ck You Pay Me The Bunker. Photo: David Monteith Hodge

There's a DJ deck and DJ (Charlotte Bickley), faux fur walls and palm trees and three mini circular stages. This is a strip club, Holly's (Joana Nastari) place of work and she'll take us behind the scenes to her world as a stripper to see the good, the bad and the ugly aspects.

Holly isn't student who needs the cash, neither is she paying for a drug addict, she likes the work, the flexibility of it and can earn good money.

Her job title maybe stripper but that means she is also in sales, marketing, PR, acting and dancing but she doesn't have the same level of workers rights.

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