Sparks & Cry God for Harry, England and St George!, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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by Laura Kressly

Using the word ‘strong’ to describe women and girls is redundant. Putting up with all the trash that women have to deal with as a result of their gender, on top of everything else life throws at them, makes them strong by default. If they are queer, women of colour, disabled, working class, or fall in any other category that others them, this makes them even tougher because life is all the harder.

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Othello, Shakespeare’s Globe

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By Laura Kressly

Who knew one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies could be funny? Director and composer Claire van Kampen has tapped into a rare rhythm that sees Iago as a weaselly, clownish man lacking power and finesse, yet still manages to twist Othello into knots. Played by Mark Rylance, one of the finest actors of his generation, his performance is the strongest feature of this production.

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Exit the King, National Theatre

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By Laura Kressly

There’s little that’s exciting about watching a petulant, man-child of a king taking 90-odd minutes to die whilst his two wives, a housekeeper, a guard and a ‘doctor’ debate his legacy and the reported collapse of his kingdom. But the design, that climactically progresses along with the king’s death, in this new version by Patrick Marber is a fine reward for enduring the tedium of snarky melodrama that makes up most of the performance.

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War Plays, Tristan Bates Theatre

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by an anonymous guest critic

Kali Theatre, a company dedicated to providing exciting opportunities for female theatre directors and leading roles for South Asian actors, have produced a series of readings inspired by women’s experiences in conflict zones. This is a beautiful evening of moving and poignant works-in-progress depicting the atrocity of war crimes and the ongoing realities of their victims’ lives.

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Nine Night, National Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

A riotous party is heard offstage and the cheerfully vintage, open-plan kitchen we see is full of food and drink. But this London home isn’t hosting any old house party. It’s a customary Jamaican wake following Gloria’s death, and three generations of her family have gathered to mourn. As they wrestle with grief, tradition clashes with modern Britain in Natasha Gordon’s kitchen sink drama that bounces from hilarity to gravity and back again.

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All Boxed Up, VAULT Festival

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by guest critic Alex Dowding

You wake up every day, stumble bleary-eyed into the kitchen, pour yourself a bowl of cereal, gaze at that oh-so-cheery character on the box and wonder what the hell they could be so happy about. Sound familiar? Well, All Boxed Up is what happens when writer Sammy Kissin stares at the lifeless eyes on the box until they start staring back.

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Harold and Maude, Charing Cross Theatre

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by guest critic Maeve Campbell

Hal Asby’s 1971 film Harold and Maude is a masterpiece. Harold is nineteen and
obsessed with death. He meets Maude, a week off eighty, who lives her life to its fullest
and is constantly seeking new experiences. Opposites attract, and what plays out is one
of the most charming, unusual and sincere romances in celluloid history. Thom
Southerland’s Charing Cross Theatre revival is lovely but misses out on the sincerity
that helped garner the film’s cult classic status.

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Napoleon Disrobed, Arcola Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

What would happen if Napoleon didn’t die on Saint Helena? What if he managed to not be imprisoned at all? This amusing Monty Python-esque, revisionist history suggests that with his doppelganger in exile, Napoleon tries to regain power in Belgium but is thwarted by supporter disbelief, poverty and the love of a melon seller. The comedy is punchy but the story is sparse, making for a joyful but baffling show.

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