Beowulf, Battersea Arts Centre

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by Laura Kressly

Stories always have monsters. They may not be literal monsters, but anything that’s scary, or an obstacle, or destabilising, or otherwise threatens the story’s hero.

Stories also always have choices. Usually a lot of them, made by the hero, that determine his or her fate.

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Dirty Little Machine, VAULT Festival

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by Laura Kressly

What’s a woman to do when she wants to have filthy, degrading sex that directly opposes her feminist principles?

Find the most degenerate, weasel of a man in the hopes that fucking him will purge her of deep-seated desires to be used, of course.

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Hamilton, Victoria Palace Theatre

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Let’s get this out of the way first – does Hamilton live up to the hype? Yes. It’s very good. Though the revolution in the plot doesn’t influence the dramaturgy, that doesn’t mean it’s not a fantastic show that musically updates the genre and skillfully triggers a spectrum of emotions. It’s simultaneously epic and intimate, staged surprisingly simply with striking, sculptural choreography and utterly engaging throughout.

But this pro-immigration, hip-hop reinvention of the all-American musical about a country gaining independence from a distant, tyrannical overlord resonates rather differently in Brexit Britain than it does in America. Forget the NHS bus – could Hamilton be the new symbol of the Leave campaign?

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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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