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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Anansi the Spider, Unicorn Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

They say that a long time ago animals could talk, just like people do now. Anansi the spider was the smartest of all these ancient creatures, and used his intelligence for all sorts of nefarious aims. His legacy of scheming lives on as a collection of stories from West Africa to the Caribbean. This new production presents three of them where the mythical trickster isn’t always the nicest, but directed by Artistic Director Justin Audibert for 4-7 year-olds, they are engaging morality tales with music, interaction and excellent performances.

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The Sea Queen and Twelfth Night, The Scoop

by Laura Kressly

Since 2003, there has been a summer of free, open-air theatre at The Scoop, a sweeping, granite amphitheatre on the Thames next to City Hall. This year’s double-bill is a 90-minute version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and a new children’s musical, The Sea Queen. Performed by one cast doing double-duty, Twelfth Night is the far superior show though there is plenty to appeal to young children in The Sea Queen.

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