Feature | Favourite Theatre Moments of 2019

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by Laura Kressly

Determining a Top 10 has become increasingly troublesome what with the amount of work reviewed by guest critics and the even larger amount that we get invited to but aren’t able to see. So, rather than a more traditional ‘best-of’ list, here’s a totally subjective list of a few of my favourite things – in no particular order – from theatre and performance in 2019.

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Cinderella, Fairfield Halls

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by Laura Kressly

Croydon’s Fairfield Halls re-opened to much fanfare this year, and their traditional pantomime – with all the glitz, glamour and gags that you’d expect – is ramped up with Disney-quality animations, LED screens and special effects. Though all the problematic elements of panto are still there – like heteronormativity, misogyny, and narrow gender roles – this production showcase the capabilities of tech within what is now a conservative form.

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A Kind of People, Royal Court

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by Laura Kressly

Pretty much anyone that isn’t rich is never far away from losing everything no matter how aspirational they might be. A decade of austerity measures mean that anything going wrong, like losing a job or a relationship breaks down, can lead to ruin within a matter of months, particularly for those who are already marginalised by Britain’s systemic inequality. At the start of Mark’s birthday party, it’s a possibility doesn’t occur to anyone. By the end, racism from one of the party guests catalyses a series of events that shows just how vulnerable people of colour and the working class are, and how desperation can make all of us do things that are ethically and morally questionable, even to our friends and families.

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I Wanna Be Yours, Bush Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

Ella works three jobs whilst trying to forge a career as an actor in London, but misses the slower pace of her hometown of Hebden Bridge. Haseeb is a Muslim factory worker and writer from Cricklewood who is tired of the whiteness in the poetry scene. Though the two meet in a drama workshop that Ella’s, time passes and their love grows. Yet, it’s not enough to compensate for their differences in privilege. This ever-growing elephant in the room becomes harder and harder for the couple to ignore.

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Kneehigh’s Ubu!: A Singalong Satire, Shoreditch Town Hall

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By Laura Kressly

It’s election day in Lovelyville, a place that lives up to its name and is the exact opposite of Britain at the moment. Its citizens are friendly, cheerful and compassionate, and when Nick Dallas is reelected president, things should keep ticking on quietly as usual. Of course, people can’t leave well enough alone and good things never last forever – Mr and Mrs Ubu have just arrived in town with sinister ambitions. 

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Post Popular, Soho Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

I feel for the stage manager that has to coordinate the clean-up after this show. Soil, leaves, ketchup, chocolate wrappers, cherry bakewell crumbs, fake flowers and bodily fluids are everywhere. Lucy McCormick is certainly the queen of filth. She’s also ruler of the absurd, grotesque and biting social commentary. Though her previous show Triple Threat is more sophisticated than this one, comedy and vulgarity join forces as McCormick chronicles history’s strong women in the hopes of finding herself a hero.

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Midnight Movie, Royal Court

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by Laura Kressly

Night can be a time of rest and escape, or mystery and danger where anything can happen. For people with chronic illnesses, vampires lurk in the darkness whilst those around you sleep. In the wee hours of the morning, playwright Eve Leigh seeks refuge online from her pain and corporeal limitations. Whilst it’s all too easy to condemn the downsides of an extremely online lifestyle, Leigh celebrates its ability to fly her around the world when her body lets her down. This millennial fever-dream of memories, horror stories and conspiracy theories blur the real and the internet’s dark corners as two actor/avatars and colour-soaked design convey the realities of a life punctuated by an uncooperative body.

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