“A man may break a word with you, sir, and words are but wind; Ay, and break it in your face, so he break it not behind.”
It is a brave author that uses the word ‘comedy’ in the title of a play. Expectations are high, humour is anticipated and disappointment likely. Happily, this is not the case with the RSC’s current production of William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors: a tale of mistaken identity and separation (of two pairs of twins) at birth.
A greater force does a good job of weaving together the lives of these lost Lǎowàis, causing many awkward, funny, and heartfelt moments to materialise. The term ‘Lǎowài’ means ‘foreigner’ or more literally ‘cold outsider’, which is telling of the reason that fate keeps bringing this bunch of misfits together.
Zara lives with Alice, her best friend from uni. They work for the same law firm and party with the same friends, but their similarities largely end there. Alice is white and from a wealthy family, whereas Zara’s parents are working class, Muslim refugees from the Middle East. The class and race differences between the two women add to the increasing pressure on Zara to live up to the opposing ideals of the two cultures she inhabits, making her feel out of place in both. But how long can she keep up this balancing act before the strain becomes too much to manage?
The English National Opera’s upcoming concert performance of Man of La Mancha, a musical inspired by the Spanish classic novel Don Quixote, takes place in Spain where, coincidentally, all of the characters are Spanish. However, this production seems to include no performers of Spanish or Latinx descent.
In the ancient city of Babylon, people lived peacefully. They were left to their own devices until, according to a biblical story, they built a tower that reached to the heavens. Then, a vengeful god destroyed it and scattered the citizens around the world bestowing them different languages so they could no longer communicate. For language and peace are power, and power threatens those in charge.
Decked in their finest formal wear, a chamber orchestra entertains the punters in a post-war Parisian cafe. During their songs, they are a picture of beautiful unity. In between? Not so much. The absurd and darkly comic backstabbing and in-fighting builds to a crescendo that ends in tragedy, but the production is ultimately unsatisfying.
If you were anything other than one of the popular kids, you probably hated school. Matthew’s in the process of coming out as nonbinary so they’re obviously having a bad time of it. Luckily, their best friend Binkie and his fairy godmother RuPaul have their back in this messy, glittery musical ode to being different.
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.
Ramps to the Moon’s Our Country’s Good delivers a production that seamlessly integrates actors with and without disabilities to produce excellent all round performances. Originally written by Timberlake Wertenbaker in 1988, it tells the extraordinary true story of a group of convicts in Australia, who in 1797 with the help of an officer, rehearse and perform a play despite the odds being stacked against them due to strong opposition from the other officers at the settlement.
Think of your favourite stories as a young child. What did they have in common? Adventure. Youth. Fantasy. Foreign lands. Probably at least one good fight. Stories like Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island and Peter Pan are still popular, and for good reason. They’re compelling, well told stories.
But as a proud killjoy feminist, returning to these childhood favourites as an adult has proved troublesome. Action to the Word’s fairly solid reinvention of Peter Pan for seven actor-musicians is a fun, inventive adventure story that stays close to the original.