When one of their friends died, theatre company Ugly Bucket navigated their grief the only way they knew how – by making a show. Using clowning and physical comedy, an ensemble of five flit between a dying man and his family, an afterlife of jagged pink gravestones where they playact a life cycle, various ways people die and depictions of people dealing with death. It’s both funny and immensely sad, as well as a sophisticated reflection on how we process loss and our own mortality.
As writer and performer Kim Scopes points out, bisexual representation on our stages and screens is limited. When a bisexual character appears at all, they are usually defined by their sexual activity and reduced to shallow, biphobic stereotypes. So a whole show about being attracted to more than one gender, made by a bisexual/queer person, is hugely exciting. Unfortunately, despite many great ideas and individual moments of excellent execution, this production feels like a disjointed work-in-progress with sections that only tenuously connect to each other.
It’s third time lucky for this performance piece at the Pleasance Theatre, having been previously programmed and then postponed twice due to the UK’s two lockdowns. It very much turns out to be worth the wait however, as this is a fascinating and thought provoking show.
This is the first preview performance of a one-man show following Jacob, a young man trying to turn over a new leaf away from his previous life as a hard-living and loving party animal. He’s doing this through Jesus and focusing on his education. He is, however, finding this difficult due to constant interruptions from his friends and ex-girlfriends whilst he is trying to finish an assignment.
Expert storyteller Osama Al Azza conducts a tour of his home, Palestine’s smallest refugee camp Al Azza, within the city of Bethlehem. A short, sharp, site-specific show which imaginatively blends fun into a personal tale about the brutal reality of living under military occupation.
I love an illuminated umbrella. All shows could be improved by a light-up umbrella.
Somewhere beyond the sea, Emma waits on the shoreline by the Golden Gate Bridge, and PJ looks out from some of England’s slightly less famous white cliff faces. At face value this is a story about a long-distance relationship and the struggles you face when you’re in one. But more than that it’s about isolation, dependence and the ties we have to other people. There are sections that are a little obscure, and the performance takes a while to warm up, but the underlying theme will always pull you back in.
This is a new two-hander from Clown Funeral, a West Midlands based company who are also associates artists of the New Diorama Theatre, a hotbed for new work. It tells a slightly twisted tale of two strangers who meet, fight, and then form a friendship. This companionship is one based on a connection which neither quite seems to be able to express into words, but rather by attacking each other.
The Art of Cuddling and Other Things might more aptly be named the art of subversion, as Circ Motif delight in carefully building a set-up before delivering a delightfully twisted punch line. The die is cast with the opening sequence. Lights fade up on two men standing 10 feet away from each other, staring in blank silence. In the corner, a multi-instrumentalist solemnly creates an ambient soundscape (think Brian Eno when he still had long hair). The two men walk towards each other and – without uttering a word – they embrace. Ahh, the art of cuddling. How touching.
As I stand to leave, my foot lands on something soft as it squashes into the ground. I pick up my shoe to see a glistening, pink strawberry, now jam, on the floor. That’s a shame, I think to myself. I could have eaten that.
Hunchtheatre have a thing for re-inventing forgotten fiction. Their new production, The Legend of the Holy Drinker, provides a 2020 update to Joseph Roth’s 1939 novella of the same name. It mixes the time-honoured, moral fetishes of the original with the political milieu of our Brexit-addled times.