Orangutan, VAULT Festival and online

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by Grace Bouchard

When she was three years old, Alice fell into an orangutan enclosure. Now, as a 24-year-old woman, she recounts the story directly to us, though she makes a point to let us know she doesn’t tell people this story often. Years of being called ‘Monkey Girl’ in school has scarred her somewhat, despite the fact that orangutans are not monkeys – they are apes – something Alice reminds us of frequently throughout.

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The Spirit part 2: The Lion, Battersea Arts Centre

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By Euan Vincent

Director Jack McNamara promised very different performances for each part of Thibault Delferiere’s Spirit trilogy. Attending Lion, we begin to see what he means. Audience filter in to find a desolate Delferiere sitting in a cage. Food is once again dangling from the ceiling, but whereas in the first it was an innocent apple, here a large chunk of meat, tantalises Delferiere from above.

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Zoo, VAULT Festival

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by Maxine Smiles

As reporters all over the country zip themselves into their waterproofs to stand in front of wheelie bins that have fallen over in the wake of Storm Jorge, down in the Vaults it’s Hurricane Jonas that is clogging up the airwaves. CNN are filming in the Cherokee Valley Zoo, and have picked the animal handler Bonnie (Lily Bevan) to guide them her day as she prepares the animals for a troubled night.

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Lobster, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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by Laura Kressly

Modern dating for straight women is a horror show of dick pics, ghosting, casual sex, stealthing, quashed hopes and heartbreak. Yet Polly keeps at it, convinced she’ll eventually find her lobster – a baffling and tasty creature that will commit to her for life. Fragile and fresh out of a relationship with a guy she thought was the one, she enthusiastically dips her toe back into dating in this cheerful account of her hunt for The One.

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Tiger Under My Skin, RADA Festival

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by Laura Kressly

Panic attacks can make you want to tear your skin off so the animal underneath has room to breathe. For the character Tom Kelsey embodies in this solo-performance, that feeling is a daily reality. In an attempt to live a ‘normal’ life and beat ‘the fog’, he agrees to a night out that should be a good laugh with the lads, but his poor mental health means that this is far from easy.

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Equus, Theatre Royal Stratford East

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by Laura Kressly

Sex and power rule the world – or at least they do in the 1970s, little England hospital where Peter Shaffer’s play unfolds. A child psychologist, known for his successful rehabilitation of troubled children, is questioning the value and morals of his work. At the same time, he reluctantly takes on a new patient, a young man who inexplicably committed a horrific crime that has rocked the local community. As the pair spar their way through the lad’s therapy sessions, both reveal secrets they are ashamed to keep.

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Beginners, Unicorn Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

Kids are intuitive. They’re smart, observant and know a lot more about the world than adults think they do. Tim Crouch’s play where adults and children play each other and kids eventually run the show also proves that they aren’t that different from each other anyway. Whimsical design, innovative dramaturgical devices and an unwilling to patronise young people with obvious storytelling combine to create a marvellous and thoughtful piece of theatre for all ages.

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Big Bad, VAULT Festival

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by Laura Kressly

A woman is chained up in a damp cell. Alone, she is watched by an unseen group of men, afraid of her power. She rants, lectures and mocks them, gradually exposing the real reason she is imprisoned. It’s a pretty horrible thing, but her story of abuse, sexual power and society’s fear of strong women echoes like the howl of a wolf.

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Snow White and Rose Red, Battersea Arts Centre

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Battersea Arts Centre’s family Christmas show for people aged 5 and up is far from the Disney version of Snow White. The children’s show by RashDash, creators of naked, feminist, Edinburgh hit Two Man Show, is also far from conventional kids’ theatre. Combining their woman-led, political ethos with the use of live music, the company reclaims femininity and appropriates the traditionally patriarchal adventure of fairytales in this spirited show for all ages.

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