J’ouvert, Theatre503

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By Laura Kressly

Over the August bank holiday weekend, people of West Indian heritage have been celebrating their history and culture in the face of racial oppression since the 1960s. Bright colours, elaborate costumes, loud music, dancing, and lashings of rum mark the Carnival that’s now one of the largest in the world. In her female-led, debut play taking place over a day at Notting Hill Carnival, Yasmin Joseph pays homage to the people, young and old, that make up the event’s vibrant landscape and give it its soul.

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Dead Dog in a Suitcase, Lyric Hammersmith

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by Laura Kressly

John Gay wrote The Beggar’s Opera in 1728 to reflect a London ridden with corrupt and dangerous politicians, inequality and violence. Not much has changed in those nearly 200 years, then. Kneehigh updates the story to a rundown coastal town where all the citizens resort to cold-hearted ruthlessness in the name of survival, resulting in an extravaganza of murder, betrayal and spectacle.

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Pah-La, Royal Court

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by Marc Hayes

Meaning ‘father’, the word Pah-La is also inflected with a term of respect; ‘La’ is a sign of formality, and becomes more like ‘Dear Father’ in a crude translation. It is a richly ironic title then. Pah-La takes aim at the social and emotional structures of patriarchal revenge, and explores a radically non-violent alternative.

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WOW EVERYTHING IS AMAZING, Battersea Arts Centre

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by Laura Kressly

As the world feels more and more like a dystopian nightmare that could explode at any moment from greed and relentless late capitalism, it’s unsurprising that young people are worried about their future. Sounds Like Chaos are a soothing balm for them, though. The associate company at the Albany supports referred and self-referred 12-21 year olds with training, employment opportunities and opportunities to make theatre, treating them with respect and valuing their ideas. Their latest ensemble work is set in the near future, using music, projections and ritual to critique online culture.

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Oral, Camden People’s Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

CW: sexual abuse

I don’t think much about my mouth. I’m not a fan of the dentist – who is? – but I quite love filling it with food. In any case, I don’t really put any thought into my relationship with it. Theatremaker and mental health activist Viv Gordon, on the other hand, relives a childhood scarred by oral abuse every time she gets her teeth checked. Brushing them makes her gag. Yet her experiences are often dismissed, ignored or patronised, making her feel invisible. She’s had more than enough of that, so she made a show that demands awareness of the survivor’s plight.

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Wolfie, Theatre503

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by Laura Kressly

Britain is a nasty, hostile landscape of bureaucracy for children in care. Their lives are at the mercy of under-resourced local councils, overworked social workers and teachers, and a hegemonic class system that sees them as unwelcome, sub-human burdens. The Sharky twins, the heroes of Ross Willis’ “some sort of fairytale”, fight to defy the government’s disregard for the hardship they endure and their odds of survival in this genre-bending, complex critique of the county’s failings to look after those who need it most.

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Going Through, Bush Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

At the start of what seems to be a fairytale, we meet Nour and Yumna in their tiny house. They have just enough space for the two of them and all the things they need. Though Yumna’s ears don’t work, she’s teaching her language to the little girl she’s raising on behalf of her best friend whose gone to make a new life in a faraway land. They are happy, want for nothing, and their days are full of light, love and stories. But the bombs are getting closer, the men with guns are ever more threatening, and Nour’s mother could send for her at any point.

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