Everyday life isn’t often a particularly generative setting for compelling storytelling, but the many hospital dramas out there show that medicine is an exception. Though they aren’t part of most people’s daily routines, they are for the nurses who work in them. Long, exhausting shifts are dictated by the rhythms of their rounds, but these are punctuated by literal life-or-death crises. Amidst the moments of high drama, there are series of small, precise actions that keep patients safe and looked after. It’s in these little moments that this physical theatre collage excels.
This was certainly a rare treat in 2021: a packed-out West End show! Last year, the London Palladium was one of the venues to hold a pilot show when theatre was trying to work out the logistics of how to safely get audiences back. A year later, the stunning building hosts an extremely entertaining dance show in the West End after extensive touring in pre-Covid times.
The lights dangling over the audience in the intimate pub garden theatre look rather like anal beads. It’s a great choice by lighting designer Richard Lambert because they suit the joyously raunchy tone of this adult panto in Vauxhall, or rather, the charming mountain village Vaüxhallen. The town’s residents we meet over the two hour-long show are all out for some action and adventure – in every sense of the word.
Making a show political without feeling like a rant is a tough nut to crack; too much seriousness and you’re the news, not enough and you look misguided. The company Papergang Theatre make it look easy. They’ve incorporated just about every performance medium: dance poetry, lecture, video. This is proof that less is not always more.
Spies Like Us Theatre have returned for one week with their award-winning show from 2017’s Edinburgh Fringe. A five-person adaptation of the Graham Greene satirical novel, this one-hour show follows the story of a local vacuum cleaner salesman pushed into working as a spy for MI6 in Cuba, Havana.
Six young actors, maybe friends or maybe strangers, are stuck. They greet us when we enter and they are kind, but they do look a bit lost. They take turns to share important memories from their childhood, which sometimes fall out as fairytales or pop songs. Fragments of innocent childhoods which have slipped through fingers.
A piece called Naked is sure to bring a memorable experience. Dancer duo Luke Vincent and Paige-Marie Baker-Carroll’s piece does not disappoint. Theirs is a performance that mixes dance, cabaret, theatre, music, and unconventional movement with the aim of putting unapologetic, raw self-expression in the spotlight in a way that lingers long after the lights fade.
The Yard is at the forefront of innovative theatre and performance in London, and their NOW festival aims to share some of the most cutting-edge and relevant work being made, well, right now. Week Two presents Ultimate Dancer and Julie Cunningham’s fire bird, a double bill of striking visuals and classical music, with very different moods and styles.
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.
Oily Cart makes gently immersive, highly sensory performances for people under five years old, and people with complex needs. This winter-themed touring show for little ones takes them into a world of colourful lights, dark shadows and sparkly parcels that reveal an array of treasure, from reams of bubble wrap, to coloured lights to a magnificent puppet constructed out of cellophane. As lights dim and glow amidst the white drapes and shimmering cushions, children are invited to explore the tactile, etherial landscape that evokes the the wonder of unwrapping presents on a snowy Christmas morning.