Antigone, New Diorama

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by Laura Kressly

In 2018, Lulu Raczka’s A Girl in School Uniform (Walks into a Bar) showed her talent for writing compelling, teenage girl characters. In a world that’s so keen to criticise and dismiss young women and their interests and emotions, Raczka’s writing legitimises them. By putting them in life-or-death scenarios, she shows they are empathetic and capable of making huge decisions that shouldn’t be made by anyone other than those much older than them, but they can still like boys and partying. This two-person take on Antigone zooms in on young sisters Ismene and Antigone, social outcasts due to actions by others in their family and who are forced to grow up much too quickly.

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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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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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Red Palace, The Vaults

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by Laura Kressly

In an unnamed kingdom long ago, the prince celebrates ruling for 1000 days despite a prophesy saying that his reign will only be that long. He is convinced he defeated the fates, so has invited his citizens – nobles and peasants – to explore the wonders of his palace in a night of feasting and debauchery. Exploiting the Vaults’ atmospheric tunnels, writer Cressida Peever draws on Edgar Allan Poe and the Brothers Grimm to create this promenade and gently immersive, dark fairytale.

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The Ice Cream Boys, Jermyn Street Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

Jacob Zuma, the retired president of South Africa, is in hospital for some tests. On checking into his room he discovers his nemesis, former Minister of Intelligence Ronnie Kasrils, in the room opposite. The two men have a long and complex history that unfolds over the course of Gail Louw’s play as a dialogue-driven wrestling match. Though their relationship has plenty of material to fuel discussions and augments about revolution, women, race and South Africa’s history, the plot meanders through topics rather than telling a cohesive story. Strong performances make this an engaging production minute-by-minute, but the overall result is not satisfying.

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Mephisto [A Rhapsody], Gate Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

Aymeric has been working at the Balbek Theatre, in a small town miles away from the nation’s capital, its culture and politics, for five years. He longs for fame, excitement and to leave the relentless monotony of provincial life behind him and will do anything to achieve these goals. Along with his discontent, right-wing sentiment grows across the country. In the capital, the ‘liberal elite’ make great art, drink champagne and argue over how, as state-funded artists, they should respond to the rising fascism – or if they can at all.

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Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp., Royal Court

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by Laura Kressly

A new Caryl Churchill play is a special occasion, but four at once is a treat. Radically different in tone and theme, this collection ranges from pleasantly surreal to shocking and strange. Though they stand alone as short plays, as a whole they take on an array of society’s ills – but the pronounced concepts that Churchill is known for occasionally stale here, despite regular moments of brilliance.

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