Born into fun, teddies and laughter, each character comes into the world by a slide, toppling into a pile of stuffed animals. Two at a time, the actors play together as grown-up and child. We watch as the adults entertain the children with their toys. It’s heart-warming, though these encounters do not last long. Shortly after, we see multiple children stripped of their innocence; their cuddly toys adorned with sunflowers are thrown aside. They are thrust straight into marriage and working life. It seems like the fun is over all too quickly.
The stage is flooded in red light, ‘angry-chick’ music plays, and four women (Rachel Ferguson, Kirby Merner, Léonie Crawford and Chloe Pidhoreckyj) are eating what looks like chorizo slices with their faces pierced by disgust, fear, sadness, and anger. I feel like I might be watching the B+15 rated version of Pixars’ Inside Out, specifically the inside of an angry, feminist cannibal. Just when I wonder where Joy is, a frenzied character bursts in (Daisy Kelly, also the playwright), bringing some more food that the group rejects. We discover that it’s the flesh of a banker they’re eating, supposedly as a stand against capitalism. Violet, who kindled the revolutionary spark but is now sat silently, is forced to confess that it was not her rebellious spirit that inspired her but an episode of sexual harassment from the banker, also her former boss.
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.
Where can you go when you’re stuck in a dead end job? What do you do when you feel all hope is lost? Why is my boss an asshole? Current, meaningful and true to life, Godfrey will answer these questions and make you feel just about everything possible.
In 1930s St Louis, Missouri, housing laws ensured black people and white people lived in separate neighbourhoods. Racial inequality was rife and the city as a whole, like the rest of the US, was suffering the effects of the Great Depression. The Wingfield family are no different – living in a tenement apartment, Amanda and her grown children, Tom and Laura, struggle to make ends meet. Stress, worry and resentment drives wedges between them, creating a tension stoked by Tennessee William’s exquisite language. In this production directed by Femi Elufowoju Jr, the Wingfields are black, so their dreams and aspirations are all the more devastatingly unreachable when contexualised by the segregation of the day.
Growing global discontent has been the hallmark of 2018, and 2019 is looking even worse. The last few years have marked a rise of the far-right, but theatremakers in opposition are letting audiences know it from the stage. Some of the best shows of this year show anger, fear, uncertainty or simply let the world know that enough is enough – it’s time for a fairer, more peaceful society that pays homage to all of its people.
I contemplate a ratty t-shirt displayed on a podium alongside several other seemingly random items. I’m asked to write down how much I would pay for it. Determining it’s not something I’d wear or have any other use for, I wrote £0 on a slip of paper that I slid into a box behind it.
Over the last few years, Zoo has been quietly building its reputation as a venue, breaking the stranglehold that the Big Four and Summerhall have on high-quality work. With a loose focus on physical theatre and performance, they boast a programme varied in style, but also in quality.
Issac is returning home after a three-year stint as a US marine where his job was to pick up body parts after front line attacks. He longs for the peace and quiet of his nuclear family and the familiarity of middle America so he can make peace with the demons of war. But on opening the door of the house he grew up in, he discovers a revolution has taken place on the home front. After a stroke turned his father into a near vegetable, his mother is avenging years of abuse. His sister Maxine has transitioned to Max. Both mom and Max have rejected social conventions and are living in an anarchic mess of laundry, dishes and socio-political soundbites.
Does anyone really win under capitalism? Alexandra Badea’s The Pulverised doesn’t think so. Even though those near the top of the pyramid living jetsetting lifestyles and rolling in cash might live comfortable lives, they are still left feeling broken and hollow. The french play, here translated into English by Lucy Phelps, is a pacy account of four victims of globalisation on different levels of the supply chain.