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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Singin’ in the Rain, New Wimbledon Theatre

by Zahid Fayyaz

This adaptation of the much-loved 1952 Gene Kelly film has had a very productive life as a stage musical, what with its catchy songs and tap dancing routines. This particular touring production by Jonathan Church previously ran in the West End and Sadler’s Wells so as expected, the dance has received a lot of attention. The lovely New Wimbledon Theatre where it’s on for this leg of the tour is one of the bigger theatres that lie outside of the West End on the edges of London.

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No Particular Order, Theatre503

by Laura Kressly

An Optimist’s Take

Children’s TV performer Fred Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Though horrific events drive Joel Tan’s eon-spanning play, it celebrates those who get us through the worst of times.

Four actors (Jules Chan, Pandora Colin, Pía Laborde-Noguez, and Daniel York Loh) play what feels like dozens of characters across multiple cities, nations and worlds over more than 300 years. The people we meet in each self-contained scene of the episodic script are unrelated to all the others; instead they are brought together by survivorship and hope. The cumulative effect of these people and their experiences is one where they blur into each other regardless of when and where their scenes unfold, but this doesn’t matter. It also tests the limits of each actor’s range with varying results – some characters aren’t particularly distinct. However, what resonates is that humanity keeps going because of its drive to look after each other.

Ingrid Hu’s set design is simple, but soft and timeless. White and black cloth forms a textured back wall and a pillowy, cloud-like ceiling that gently holds the cast of four. The transitions between each scene are clearly signalled with lighting and sound motifs. Their predictability is somewhat comforting because we know that despite the horrible things the characters experience in any given moment, their lives will eventually improve.

Though it would be great to have more time with some of these characters and see how their stories unfold, by the end the human race-wide perseverance serves as a reminder that we are more powerful as a collective rather than individuals during times of adversity. Though this is an intimate staging with a small cast, it is boundless in its esteem for humanity.

A Pessimist’s Reflection

An eternal truism of the human race is that we are and forever will be awful to each other. In Joel Tan’s eon-spanning play, which is essentially a collage of short scenes both on our planet and beyond, his vast collection of characters inhabits times and places where war, dictatorship and violence shape their lives.

The cast of four (Jules Chan, Pandora Colin, Pía Laborde-Noguez, and Daniel York Loh) play what feels like dozens of characters across multiple cities, nations and worlds over more than 300 years. The people we meet in each self-contained scene of the episodic script are unrelated to all the others; instead they are brought together by shared horrific circumstances. The overarching effect is one of the never-ending despair and suffering that shape the human condition. There are no meaningless platitudes about things eventually looking up or rose-tinted views of the real world; instead we are reassured that our individual pain is real, but shared. Everyone is going through it, and always will be.

Designer Ingrid Hu uses drapes of plain black and white cloth to lower the theatre’s ceiling and line its walls. The neutral colours and pillowy shapes dampen the sound and create a timeless claustrophobia from which the cast cannot escape. The stark palate evokes the good-evil binary that shapes each of these people’s existence. Militaristic sound effects underpin each transition and relentlessly propel time forward.

Though it would be great to have more time with some of these characters to see how their stories unfold, by the end of the play the relentless conflict between groups of people (and other creatures) remind us that ultimately, most of us have little to no power within society’s hierarchies. However, we must keep going despite the injustice we endure because this is what really makes us human. Though this is an intimate production with many moments of care, Tan’s play is an epic reminder that people never change and we must simply do our best to carry on.

No Particular Order runs through 18 June.

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The Wedding, Barbican

by Romy Iris Conroy

Born into fun, teddies and laughter, each character comes into the world by a slide, toppling into a pile of stuffed animals. Two at a time, the actors play together as grown-up and child. We watch as the adults entertain the children with their toys. It’s heart-warming, though these encounters do not last long. Shortly after, we see multiple children stripped of their innocence; their cuddly toys adorned with sunflowers are thrown aside. They are thrust straight into marriage and working life. It seems like the fun is over all too quickly.

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Snowflake, Brighton Fringe

By Luisa De la Concha Montes

Snowflake is a one-woman show written and performed by Hanna Winter. Presented as a physical monologue, it tries to unpack the personal impact of intergenerational trauma through the lens of comedy and absurdism. Through continuous audience interaction, the boundaries between fiction and reality are constantly being blurred, creating a show that ultimately ridicules self-indulgent performative art.

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No One, Brighton Fringe

by Diana Miranda

Invisibility’s appeal has a new angle in this show by AKIMBO physical theatre company. Loosely inspired by H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, AKIMBO gives the narrative an original twist that locates the story within the millennial scene of social media, instant messaging, pub parties and nightclubs. The story stands on its own and explores themes that move away from the questions of science and ethics of Wells’ novel. As such, AKIMBO’s No One navigates (in)visibility in the digital era and offers a tragicomic thriller that starts as a detective investigation and slowly takes on a warmer, more intimate focus on an invisible man that craves connection.

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Moral Panic, Brighton Fringe

By Luisa De la Concha Montes

Written by Stuart Warwick and produced by Blue Dog Theatre, the play, set in 1984, follows Charles Hawthorne, a British middle-aged man whose job is to censor extreme horror films, also known as ‘video nasties’. The plot takes the audience through a humour-infused trip that explores the many layers of Hawthorne’s self-obsession with power, morality and success.

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Anne of Green Gables – London Children’s Ballet, Peacock Theatre

by Michaela Clement-Hayes

Anne of Green Gables is one of those stories that will never lose its appeal. She is a charming, feisty orphan who gets into continuous scrapes, but is ultimately trying to do her best.

It’s far from a complex story, but there is a lot going on. Yet, telling the story through the medium of dance seems no simple feat. The London Children’s Ballet have accomplished this phenomenally. Director Ruth Brill ensures all children have a significant role to play, with different ages and abilities involved in multiple scenes.

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La Clique, Cavendish Square

by Zahid Fayyaz

The now ubiquitous cabaret and circus spectacular La Clique has made its annual return to London for its eighteenth year. As the compere says before the show started, the consumption of alcohol is very much encouraged. Though this leads to big queues at the bars, which will hopefully speed up over the run, it’s a great night out. Located in the spiegeltent in Cavendish Square, behind John Lewis on Oxford Street, it’s a lovely spot on sunny days.

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