Burnt Lemon have taken their acclaimed 2019 Edinburgh Fringe hit Tokyo Rose on the road with a retooled cast, score and book and a good deal of anticipation. The bones of this new version of the show remain the same, telling the story of Iva Toguri, a Japanese-American radio journalist wrongly convicted of treason in 1945. As in the original, themes include xenophobia, cultural identity, and scapegoating, all with a six-strong female cast. The show opens with the high-energy and undeniably catchy “Hello America” – attention well and truly grabbed. Unfortunately, the number also represents the pinnacle of what is otherwise a flat, one-note production. The book (by Baldwin and Yoon) is generally good, retaining some of the smart, self-referential moxie that made the show charming in 2019, but is let down by the weakness of the score.
High school and a pregnant teenager – Doll (Georgie Halford) lays out what it means to face judgmental peers and an indifferent mother. She finds support in her new friend, Ted (Roel Fox), but this unlikely friendship will face challenges he didn’t bargain for. They talk directly to the audience, overtly assuming the role of storytellers in what starts as Doll’s story. However, as the show moves forward, they begin to disagree on how much truth they share and how they’ll deal with the recollection of events. Doll, arrogant and stubborn, is resolved to move away from the truth. Ted starts by playing along, humble with a big smile, and assumes the role of a sidekick/assistant as they embark on the recreation of the rise and fall of their friendship. Eventually, however, he breaks out from Doll’s solo attempt as he grows determined to bring the truth to light.
Let ‘spirit tek yuh’ through a cycle of life and death in this time-warp through Brixton from the 1970’s to present day. Through the decades, three families try to navigate their way through an ever-changing environment. With gentrification and protests on the rise, trying to maintain dying family businesses proves difficult when they are all resistant to change.
This was a big hit at the (limited) Edinburgh Fringe this year, and comes down to north London’s Pleasance Theatre for only two performances. It tells the story of the Aurora, Colorado cinema shooting during the Dark Knight Returns movie premiere, when a shooter killed 13 people during a midnight screening. This is a serious subject for a show, and Piccolo Theatre Company put forward the story using the method of verbatim theatre, with the script constructed from interviews with four survivors of the shooting, some of whom lost someone during the attack.
Rainer isn’t fussed about the sort of day job she does, as long as it gives her the opportunity to meet people. Currently working as a bike courier for Angel Deliveries, the young writer narrates the trips that take her all over London delivering food. Her story is punctuated with anecdotes of getting too involved with customers, as well as escapades with her flatmate, sessions with her therapist, and aching odes to London. Her bicycle, named Jean, takes her on these adventures as well as gives her the means to outride her demons, but ultimately they are quicker than her.
This luxurious, multimedia production about magical worlds, the ability to access them, and how society as a whole regards magic is a sensory feast and provokes reflection on the status quo. However, it has a troubling heart. In the programme notes for Mythosphere, director, writer and producer Inna Dulerayn explains how she was inspired by Leonora Carrington, a surrealist artist and activist. Dulerayn writes, “reading about her experience in a mental asylum made me look deep into the nature of mental disorders, discovering their similarities with states of spiritual enlightenment and the phenomenon of extrasensory abilities”. This comment, and the show’s story, make it clear that underlying the production’s beautiful exterior there are dangerous ideas about mental health that could have scary repercussions.