Boy Stroke Girl, Etcetera Theatre

By guest critic Jo Trainor

“There aren’t many feminine girls who like Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes, and vintage motorcycles.”

This line comes after protagonist Peter has met Blue, a non-binary waiter stroke artist, and is trying to explain to his friends why he’s interested in Blue. His friend Sara says this infuriating phrase as part of an explanation as to why Peter has been attracted to tomboys in the past and so might still fancy Blue if they turn out to be male. Peter responds by saying that he doesn’t really respect women who dress in a feminine way. 

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On the Crest of a Wave, VAULT Festival

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Camilla Whitehill’s grandmother died when her dad was 10 years old. He never talked much about her, but Camilla is fascinated by this woman she never met. Inspired by familial memory and grief, Whitehill and five other theatre makers draw on their own histories to create a playful homage to the endurance of family stories. It’s a joyful experience with a retro seaside aesthetic and a big heart, though lacking in polish and a consistent throughline.

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Jerry Sadowitz: Card Tricks with Appropriate Patter, Soho Theatre

by an anonymous guest critic

It’s fair to say that watching Jerry Sadowitz is not for the fainthearted. There is no topic that this infamous comedian/magician won’t attempt to mine comedy material from. So whilst a lot of his jokes are extremely funny, quite often they are proceeded by a jolt to the audience as they realise that yes, he is about to do a bit about some of the following subjects: paedophilia, the Hillsborough disaster, rape, the Holocaust, Trump (whom he supports), Bridget Christie and Stewart Lee to name just a few. Most of the time, the audience, who are well tuned into Sadowitz’s ruthless style, are in hysterics.

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This Is Not Culturally Significant, VAULT Festival

By guest critic Jo Trainor

“Beans, beans good for the heart, the more you eat the more you…”

Adam Scott-Rowley packs an almighty punch with his one man show This is Not Culturally Significant. Twelve characters struggling with the every day, are pieced together in this brutal, beautiful, brilliant performance. 

Scott-Rowley often moves between his characters as if he’s going through an X-Men-esque transformation. The transition can look incredibly painful but he also moves seamlessly between storylines. His range of personalities and the little connections that bind them prove what a clever piece of theatre This is Not Culturally Significant is. Each of Scott-Rowley’s creations feel entirely developed even if they’re only on stage for a few minutes, and he has perfected the unique grotesque and outrageous physicality and facial expressions that define each of them.  

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Scenes From an Urban Gothic, VAULT Festival

By guest critic Jo Trainor

No words, no set, one man and one chair. Using soundscape, lighting and actor James Cross’ elastic limbs, Theatre Imaginers have created an innovative physical performance of a man’s disorientating journey through an overwhelming city. 

Cross has perfected physical comedy. From literally losing his head during an altercation on a busy train, to creating the tallest clean glassware pyramid in record time, Cross’ sound effects and cartoonish expressions and gestures will have you laughing out loud. 
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Summer Nights in Space, VAULT Festival

Since he was little, John Spartan has been obsessed with outer space. His whole existence revolves around being an astronaut so as a young man, he enrolls in Space Base in order to fulfill his life’s purpose. Turns out that John’s course mates and wife find his constant prattling rather tiresome, so they take matters into their own hands – John is given a fake commission and loaded solo onto a shuttle. Three years later, he’s still singing his story to the on-board computer to pass the time until his ship will plummets into a far away star. 

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Beau Brummel – An Elegant Madness, Jermyn Street Theatre

Locked away in a convent in Calais, a mad Beau Brummel and his valet bide their time until the visiting Prince of Wales passes. Disgraced by debts acquired from living well beyond his means, Brummel escaped to France – but his past eventually caught up with him. Will the prince catch sight of his old friend and rescue him? Or will Beau be consigned to life’s scrap heap, forever forgotten, fallen from the pinnacle of London’s social elites?

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Droll, VAULT Festival

img_0177By guest critic Jo Trainor

“Let’s all dance ‘round the shitty faced baby.”

Drolls (director Brice Stratford explains) were short, raucous, illegal plays from the 17th Century. Oliver Cromwell and the Puritan interregnum banned theatre from 1642, but drolls were performed in pubs and alley ways to keep theatrical traditions going. Stratford says no one has put on a droll for 400 years, and boy, have companies been missing a trick because these sketches provide a hilarious evening of entertainment. There’s sex, there’s adultery, and you’re given a shot of whisky when you come in the door.

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Blood & Bone, VAULT Festival

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By guest critic Alistair Wilkinson (@alistairwilks)

A political satire, blended with sexualised humour, with a sprinkle of fertiliser-addicted plants that just want to have fun with their mates – what more could you ask for on a Wednesday night? The overriding rule of their way of life – do not leave the greenhouse. If you do, be prepared to fall prey to being a part of a hipster vegan’s Instagram post.

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La Ronde, The Bunker

Last year, Elon Musk suggested it’s likely that our entire existence is a computer simulation made by some highly evolved species. The simulation might be programmed randomly, or might not. Max Gill’s La Ronde gives credence to the idea that our lives are dictated by a power higher than ourselves. This production is bravely dictated by randomness, with a large wheel choosing the order of the scenes and which characters encounter each other. With such a prominent feature, the unknown is thrilling but the end result is one of cold machination, much like a game show. This modern update often feels stilted, restrained by some clumsy dialogue and overly stereotypical characters, though the chance encounters with little emotional connection bear an unsettling resemblance to casual sex in the digital world. 

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