The Man Who Knows It All, Unicorn Theatre

Regardless of your thoughts on European theatre’s influence on our island’s stages, it’s impossible to deny it’s happening. Unicorn Theatre is one venue that isn’t shying away from international influence and experimentation in theatre for children and young people – they’re embracing it. Work produced and booked here challenges expectations of the genre and doesn’t patronise its young audiences.

Dutch company Theatre Artemis are no exception to their ethos. Understated clowning, public failure and live music create a metatheatrical world of mediocrity that is meant to be challenged. A musician supports a showman that claims to know it all, but who really can only partially list items in categories like ‘colours’ and ‘weather’, and bungles up counting in several languages. A hapless stagehand tries to help when not interrupting with offstage crashes and bangs. 

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I Am My Own Wife, Wimbledon Studio Theatre

Charlotte von Mahlsdorf was a collector and museum curator in East Berlin who survived WWII and the the Stasis, and murdered her abusive father when she was a teenager. More remarkably, she was transgender. I Am My Own Wife is primarily her biography and a tribute to her achievements, but also the research process by playwright Doug Wright. Wright set out to make a play about her, but was so affected by her stories that his reactions make their way into the text. It deservedly won all major American theatre awards after its Broadway premier in 2003, but Unusual Theatre Company’s production doesn’t serve the text as well as it could.

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