The Girl Who Was Very Good at Lying, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Bryony Rae Taylor

21-year-old Catriona is very good at lying. She knows she isn’t supposed to, but she just can’t help herself when a ‘not unhandsome’ American man comes into the pub where she works. Craving some exhilaration and a reprieve from her mother’s grilling about whether she is living an exciting life yet or not, Catriona takes American Man on a wild goose chase of tall tales around her small home town in Northern Ireland.

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This Is Paradise, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

Kate is a 30-something woman in Belfast expecting her first child with her husband, Brendy. At the same time, Northern Ireland and its political parties have announced that peace is finally coming. Though Kate and her country should be looking forward, she is troubled by recurring abdominal pain and memories from her past that threaten the peace she has made for herself.

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Happy Meal, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

Bette and Alex first meet as young teenagers in the early-00s on the kids’ online gaming platform, Club Penguin. As they grow up, they move to MySpace and Neopets, then Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. As much as older generations are quick to criticise young people being terminally online, the anonymity of these platforms allow them to safely be their authentic selves. In Alex’s case, he’s a closeted trans guy living as a lesbian. Bette, also trans, appears to be a gay boy. As their relationship develops and they navigate their transitions, the pressures of cisnormativity cause tension that risks the collapse of their long-term, online friendship.

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Sister Act, Eventim Apollo

by Zahid Fayyaz

Based on the hit 1992 comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg, this is the latest touring incarnation of this highly entertaining musical. Originally set to star Goldberg in a reprise of the role, the cast instead has the more than able replacement of Beverley Knight. Joined by Jennifer Saunders, Lesley Joseph and Clive Rowe, this revival certainly isn’t lacking firepower in the casting department.

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The plot is a little thin, like in the film. Beverley Knight’s Deloris Van Cartier has to hide from her gangster ex-boyfriend in a convent, only to find herself connecting with the nuns living there. The show itself however has a lot of energy, with Saunders proving the crowd favourite because of her droll one-liners as the Mother Superior. Overall, the comic timing from the cast is certainly on point as well, and the set and majority of the songs are wonderful. Particular highlights are Beverly Knight and Clive Rowe when they are able to let loose during the musical numbers. It is fair to say that the crowd are having a blast throughout.

There are a couple of flaws in the show, unfortunately. Firstly, the song with Curtis and his goons working out how they want to kill Delores is extremely distasteful. Additionally, some of the off-colour jokes given to Lesley Joseph’s Sister Mary Lazarus are not particularly wise to include in this day and age. At two hours and 40 minutes long, it could also do with an edit.

However, despite these issues, the high points of the production turn the show into a highly enjoyable evening, It’s a fun musical running for the rest of the summer, and makes for great seasonal theatregoing.

Sister Act runs through 28 August then tours.

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The Darkest Part of the Night, Kiln Theatre

by Lewis Wood

Autism isn’t a subject that theatre shies away from. Portraying Autism onstage can be difficult, but plays such as Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime have done an effective job of not only showing different ways that autistic people interpret the world, but also the difficulties resulting from neurotypical people’s reactions to Autism. A crucial factor of other prominent shows with autism, however? A white protagonist.

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Jean Paul Gaultier: Fashion Freak Show, Camden Roundhouse

by Zahid Fayyaz

Originally staged in London in 2019 at the Southbank Centre, this part-revue, part-fashion show has been rebooted and now has a long residency at Camden’s iconic Roundhouse venue for around 50 dates. The concept consists of a narrative of the life and times of fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier, put together to include a multitude of his fashion designs and a large cast of dancers.

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I Can’t Hear You, Theatre503

by Laura Kressly

After Ash and Lucy hook up after work drinks, things quickly get serious between the two young call centre workers. Initially they can’t get enough of each other, but something shifts between them after a homophobic attack on a night out. Their different responses ultimately drive a wedge between them, though underneath this conflict there is genuine and joyful queer love.

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Favour, Bush Theatre

by Zahid Fayyaz

This is a brand new play, co-commissioned by the Bush Theatre and Clean Break Theatre Company. Clean Break was formed in 1979, and focuses on given women, who have experienced the justice and prison systems, opportunities to work and tell their stories through theatre and performance. This particular story focuses on the release of Aleena from prison, and how this release impacts her daughter Leila, who was been living with Noor, her grandmother during Aleena’s imprisonment. There is a clash of philosophies between the traditional Noor and the freer-spirited and highly strung Aleena, with family secrets threatening to come to a head.

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Moment of Grace, Hope Theatre

by Diana Miranda

Moment of Grace by Bren Gosling narrates Princess Diana’s visit to Britain’s first HIV/AIDS unit at the end of the eighties. It’s a personal and moving show that addresses people’s misconceptions that kept AIDS a taboo, driven by anger and fear. The show is produced by Backstory Ensemble Productions in association with The National HIV Story Trust (NHST), a charity set up to ensure the history of the 80’s and 90’s HIV/AIDS pandemic is not forgotten.

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