The Damned United, Pleasance Theatre

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By an anonymous guest critic

There are few sadder sights than two old blokes trying to describe their team scoring a goal. Yet in Red Ladder’s production of The Damned United, we are subjected to this sight a few times. And this isn’t even the worst of its crimes.

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Mendoza, Southwark Playhouse

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by guest critic Nastazja Somers

A Shakespeare expert, friend of mine always says, “I love Shakespeare but I hate watching it, most of the time it bores me”. And isn’t it the truth? I get to see a lot of the Bard’s plays and most of the time I leave theatres feeling uninspired and craving a surprise. I yearn for Shakespeare productions that will move audiences whilst placing them in a centre a collective experience.

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The Toxic Avenger, Arts Theatre

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I’ve seen sexist theatre. I’ve seen ableist theatre. But it’s rare to come across a show that is so openly and unashamedly both of these things.

Even more frustrating, these aspects of the story are heightened and played for laughs. There’s no commentary or condemnation, just the worst parts of cult movies rolled into one superhero story reliant on anti-women stereotypes. The performances are excellent and there are some great tunes, but the overtly offensive storyline overwhelms any of the production’s positive aspects.

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Jane Eyre, National Theatre

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One of the unfortunate side effects from my time as a secondary school Drama teacher is that Brechtian staging has been ruined for me forever. Brecht is particularly beloved by Drama teachers what with his trademark styles that work particularly well with low production budgets and the diverse abilities of most Drama classes. He is also part of GCSE and A-level syllabuses, and as such, I’ve imparted his techniques to young people entirely too frequently over my short time at the chalkface. His work will long be associated with devised exam productions and low-budget school plays, so anything similar on a professional stage is burdened by those memories.

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The Magic Flute, Soho Theatre

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Late one night, a couple fights in bed. After falling asleep angry, Tamino fitfully dreams of a nightclub, a beautiful girl and a quest to save her. He is accompanied by a cheerful sidekick and is given a magic flute by the Queen of the Night, a glamorous celebrity who strokes his ego and stokes his curiosity.

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