Brought to us by ChewBoy Productions, Tethered, Or the Adventures of the Adequately Excited People is a surrealist, dark comedy about isolation, hope(lessness) and the effects of relying on others while searching for freedom. Written by Georgie Bailey and told through a series of short scenes, Tethered unfolds as a play within a play that jumps back and forth in a metatheatrical game, with a tone ranging from running-commentary comedy to meaning-searching existentialism.
Renewing a passport is usually a straightforward – if annoying – bit of life paperwork so Benedict is surprised when a letter arrives from the Home Office indicating otherwise. However, this admin obstacle is the start of her explorations a historic maze of familial border crossings, cultural differences, and complex identities. Of course, it’s still far bigger than than that because a family does not exist in a vacuum. In this instance, colonial and racial violence have shaped entire nations and Benedict’s family is a part of that, and she is here to ensure we hear her story, and those of many others who are marginalised and oppressed by imperialism.
As part of Clean Break’s 40th anniversary celebrations, this outdoor, in-person production showcases some of the work the company created over the past year. The collection of short monologues created by Clean Break members and associate artists all share stories of loss, isolation and loneliness, which are further contextualised by lived experiences of incarceration. The character-driven pieces are remarkable examples of human resilience in the face of systemic oppression and a criminal justice system that is punitive and cruel.
After the past year, Friends fans truly have been spoilt for choice for new content and activities, from “Friends Fest” around the country, to the big reunion, and discovering that Ross and Rachel were, in fact, real. However, someone we don’t often hear about when talking about the sensational six is who some consider to be the seventh friend. The man behind the coffee and presumably the “reserved” sign at the table, Mr Gunther CentralPerk.
Theatre Peckham’s Artistic Director Suzann McLean hits the target as she notes that …cake is a bold new play which honours intersectionality. Written by babirye bukilwa and directed by malakaï sargeant, this two-hander drama pulls away from the myth of neatly defined tropes regarding gender identities, roots, class and relationships, and sets out to explore the complexities of stepping out of a familial cocoon that shifts from warm to flaming.
As her latest show further proves, Lucy McCormick is a queen of pop culture critique. Embodying her alter ego Lucy Muck, she debuts as a pop star but not one with the spit and polish of a music video. Instead she embraces an aesthetics of failure in both her design and dramaturgy. DIY costumes, gunge and water combine with her character’s emotional vulnerability to interrogate the high shine of celebrity and expectations of a music icon in this absurd and often poignant gig.
The Royal Shakespeare Company flung open their locked playhouse doors with a new project that engaged audiences in a socially distanced but immersive manner: they put the making process of a play online for anyone to watch. From 1- 13 June, audiences (or rather Vimeo viewers) could join the cast and creatives of Henry VI Part One every weekday for live streams of the company’s morning physical and voice warm-ups, lunchtime rehearsals, and evening green rooms that answered audience questions and allowed the team to expand on their crafts, normally kept behind the scenes. All the live streams were available to watch until 25 June. If uncovering a rehearsal process doesn’t sound unconventional enough, the show did not hit the stage boards. Instead, the final performance consisted of a live-streamed, rehearsal room run-through from the RSC’s Ashcroft Room on 23 June.
This is certainly a different one: a whirlwind, 75 minute-long tour through Gilbert and Sullivan’s most popular operas, with three actors and a pianist in tow to run through all the songs they can fit into that limited time period. Charles Court Opera, a talented and experienced company, do a great job with the songs, with the solo numbers being a particularly wonderful part of the show.
In some of the recent popular discourse on the abuse that pollutes the theatre industry, hierarchies and the power they bestow on those at the top have – rightly – been criticised. A rehearsal room mostly populated by freelancers, but run by a single salaried person on staff with the production company or venue, creates a massive power imbalance that can be weaponised. Of course, many rehearsal processes are steered by good people who don’t exploit their position, but in my 20+ years of working in theatre, I’ve rarely seen these hierarchies dismantled, either partially or fully, when the production company operates with one in place. Power is clearly and consistently utilised, with the person in charge easily visible at all times.
Whilst feeling uncertain and lost may well be something everyone goes through at least at one point in their life, thats no consolation in the moment. Everyone else seems to have purpose, direction and a place, and the sense of not having that can be debilitating. That’s certainly the case for Myah.