Bard in the Yard, Park Hill Park

Preview: Bard in the Yard - Theatre Weekly

by Laura Kressly

About four and a half months since seeing last seeing live, in-person performance, I’m in a park 20 minutes away from my flat, about to watch a one-person, outdoor show. It feels slightly surreal given the times we live in, but Bard in the Yard embraces that, and truly lifts a mirror up to pandemic life today.

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The Incident Room, New Diorama Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

Over the second half of the 1970s, a serial killer murdered at least 13 women in the North of England. He attacked many others. Determined to stop him, the West Yorkshire police assign a small team of staff to the case, using a paper system to pursue and track numerous leads. Hardened force veteran George Oldfield helms the investigation, and he is determined that they leave no stone unturned. Shut away in a dedicated room at Millgarth Police Station in Leeds, they comb through evidence, argue over approaches and race to catch the Yorkshire Ripper before another woman’s body is found. Yet, they have another enemy – the systemic misogyny and pride that cause chasmic blindspots in their investigation.

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Madame Ovary, VAULT Festival

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by Laura Kressly

Rosa’s been bloated and uncomfortable for about week, but she’s sure it’s nothing. She just needs to find some clothes that hide it, and are also suitable for a first date. A week after that, convinced the pain is something she’s eaten or trapped wind, she’s diagnosed with cancer. It’s 1 April 2018. She’s only 23 years old. Despite her hopes for it to be the year she sorts her life out, the reality is much more stark and scary.

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Frida Kahlo: Viva la Vida!, VAULT Festival

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by Bryony Rae Taylor

So many of us are guilty of idolising women without investing in their stories. Frida Kahlo’s memory is probably one of the most exploited in the art world. She’s on rucksacks; she’s on pencil cases; she’s perpetually immortalised on cotton tote bags. But how many of us have genuinely spent time learning about her? Maybe that’s too cynical, but the phrase ‘I love Frida Kahlo!’ has fallen out of my mouth on so many occasions when, actually, what do I know? Probably not enough.

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Sold, VAULT Festival

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by Laura Kressly

In 1831, Mary Prince’s autobiography was the first book published in the UK about a Black woman. Her straightforward, emotive prose shares her lived experience of being an enslaved woman in the West Indies and England in great detail, including numerous accounts of abuse. This two-woman show embraces it all, packing this story of family separation, numerous masters, and a quest for freedom into an hour. Dance, music and ritual are embedded into the dramaturgy, too – this is a dense show, but one telling an important story that’s exquisitely performed.

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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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What Girls Are Made Of, Soho Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

When Cora Bissett was 17, she joined a band. It’s the stuff of many indie kids’ school days, but Darlingheart found overnight success. They went from tiny venues to opening for the biggest britpop bands in the country in an extraordinarily short time, but their fame was just as short-lived. Bissett’s show, assembled from the diaries she kept as a child and into adulthood, chronicles her rise to fame and subsequent readjustment to real life. Tenacity, banging tunes and engaging storytelling celebrate Bissett’s resilience whilst critiquing the music industry in this vibrant gig-theatre piece.

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Shackleton’s Carpenter, Jermyn Street Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

In 1914 Sir Earnest Shackleton set off to cross Antarctica via the South Pole, but the mission was cut short when one of the two ships froze in an ice floe that eventually crushed it. Miraculously, the men were able to seek help due to the ship’s carpenter repurposing the life boats to make them suitable for long journeys in turbulent water. That carpenter’s name was Harry McNish, and in his dying days on a New Zealand dock, he relives his memories of that voyage.

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