Potted Panto, Garrick Theatre

POTTED PANTO - Nimax Theatres

by Zahid Fayyaz

Panto, as most British traditions, is a deeply weird thing but entertains many families over the Christmas period. Bad jokes, overblown costumes, and instinctive call and response catchphrases are all a constant and comforting part of the tradition. In this instance, the talented ‘Potted’ production franchise are doing their annual Christmas tradition of a performance of all seven panto staples in 70 minutes.

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Fair Play, Bush Theatre

Fair Play - Bush Theatre, London - The Reviews Hub

by Laura Kressly

Sophie has been running competitively since she was nine. Now on the threshold of adulthood, she’s training hard with an unwavering focused on major international competitions she is likely to win. Her life completely revolves around her sport and everything else – school, relationships, hobbies – are so far out on her periphery they often disappear. The arrival of a new girl at her running club, Ann, initially changes little for Sophie until their friendship develops and Ann starts pulling far ahead.

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Sleeping Beauty and the Beast, Battersea Arts Centre

Review: Sleeping Beauty and the Beast, Battersea Arts Centre - Everything  Theatre

by Romy Foster

It’s a wonder that Sleeping Trees have managed to put on a show for kids. Their adult productions are cheeky, provocative, silly and inappropriate but in Sleeping Beauty and the Beast they bring the fun for kids and adults alike in this partially improvised twist on two children’s classics.

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The Wonderful, Theatre Peckham

REVIEW: The Wonderful at Theatre Peckham celebrates diversity and spreads  festive joy

by Romy Foster

It’s opening night at Theatre Peckham and I am one of the first to see The Wonderful performed in front of a real, live audience (they only had their dress rehearsal THAT DAY). I followed the yellow brick road through the foyer to my seats and eagerly awaited this Peckham-ised twist on the lovable children’s classic, The Wizard of Oz.

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In Bad Taste, Bread and Roses Theatre

In Bad Taste – The Bread & Roses Theatre, London - The Reviews Hub

by Diana Miranda

The stage is flooded in red light, ‘angry-chick’ music plays, and four women (Rachel Ferguson, Kirby Merner, Léonie Crawford and Chloe Pidhoreckyj) are eating what looks like chorizo slices with their faces pierced by disgust, fear, sadness, and anger.  I feel like I might be watching the B+15 rated version of Pixars’ Inside Out, specifically the inside of an angry, feminist cannibal. Just when I wonder where Joy is, a frenzied character bursts in (Daisy Kelly, also the playwright), bringing some more food that the group rejects. We discover that it’s the flesh of a banker they’re eating, supposedly as a stand against capitalism. Violet, who kindled the revolutionary spark but is now sat silently, is forced to confess that it was not her rebellious spirit that inspired her but an episode of sexual harassment from the banker, also her former boss.  

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Fear Eats Life, Cockpit

by Diana Miranda

“Today you can get rid of your fear”, Strangers Like Me Collective promises. As the audience arrives at Fears Eat Life, premiering at the Voila! Europe Festival, they find a sheet of paper on each seat inviting them to write down what they’re most afraid of and throw it on stage. And so, this interactive cabaret show, written and directed by Timna Krenn, begins before the lights go down. To throw one’s fears away to the power of theatrical catharsis seems meaningful enough, and the prospect of having performers enacting them back to us in a dark comedy improv seems like something to look forward to.  

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The Magician’s Elephant, Royal Shakespeare Company

Vibrant, joyous and fun' - The Magician's Elephant at RSC reviewed - Sarah  Probert - Birmingham Live

by Michaela Clement-Hayes

Everyone deserves a happy ending, and as we head towards the festive season, messages of hope and forgiveness start to provide us with a real sense of magic. This is perhaps what the RSC is tying to do with its winter production of The Magician’s Elephant, based on Kate DiCamillo’s book. A young orphan is told by a fortune teller that he will find his sister if he follows the elephant. But there has never been an elephant in Baltese…or has there?

It’s a fairly traditional arc, with our suffering hero going on a journey of discovery, helped and hindered by plenty of interesting characters. It begins with a mesmerising opening scene. A magical narrator (Amy Booth-Steel) introduces us to the town and her sleight of hand provides ripples of anticipation and excitement around the theatre.

Our hero Peter (Jack Wolfe) is excellent. Naive and curious with an excellent voice and stage presence, he is totally believable as a young boy looking to belong. The police chief (Forbes Masson) provides the comedy, while the young couple (Melissa James and Marc Antolin) guide our hero on his quest. Antolin and James are wonderful to watch. Their chemistry is genuine, but their sadness is heartbreaking; in spite of this their concern for Peter is very natural and touching. Summer Strallen plays the ‘villain’ – a spoilt, childlike countess who is incensed that the elephant’s arrival has stopped people talking about her. But the real star is of course the elephant, which is an impressive feat of stage design and incredibly realistic. The lighting works well to create a mysterious ambiance which is effective and intense.

It’s a lovely story, with simple songs that children will enjoy and a nice sprinkling of humour for the adults. Although a good production, it feels quite safe and there’s little to make it stand out from other musicals. At times it is very hard to hear some of the actors, especially those speaking quickly. There are also certain topics that make the story very dark in places and almost unsuitable for very young audience members. That said, this is still a magical production that leaves you with a fuzzy, festive feeling of joy.

The Magician’s Elephant runs through 1 January.

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Tokyo Rose, Curve Leicester

Curve Theatre / Tokyo Rose

by Olivia Rose Deane

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.

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Epic Love and Pop Songs, New Wimbledon Studio

Epic Love and Pop Songs Tickets | Studio at New Wimbledon Theatre in  Greater London | ATG Tickets

by Diana Miranda

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.

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A Place for We, Park Theatre

Review: A Place for We at Park Theatre, London – 'Absorbing, nuanced  performances'

by Romy Foster

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.

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