Burnt Lemon have taken their acclaimed 2019 Edinburgh Fringe hit Tokyo Rose on the road with a retooled cast, score and book and a good deal of anticipation. The bones of this new version of the show remain the same, telling the story of Iva Toguri, a Japanese-American radio journalist wrongly convicted of treason in 1945. As in the original, themes include xenophobia, cultural identity, and scapegoating, all with a six-strong female cast. The show opens with the high-energy and undeniably catchy “Hello America” – attention well and truly grabbed. Unfortunately, the number also represents the pinnacle of what is otherwise a flat, one-note production. The book (by Baldwin and Yoon) is generally good, retaining some of the smart, self-referential moxie that made the show charming in 2019, but is let down by the weakness of the score.
This was a big hit at the (limited) Edinburgh Fringe this year, and comes down to north London’s Pleasance Theatre for only two performances. It tells the story of the Aurora, Colorado cinema shooting during the Dark Knight Returns movie premiere, when a shooter killed 13 people during a midnight screening. This is a serious subject for a show, and Piccolo Theatre Company put forward the story using the method of verbatim theatre, with the script constructed from interviews with four survivors of the shooting, some of whom lost someone during the attack.
This luxurious, multimedia production about magical worlds, the ability to access them, and how society as a whole regards magic is a sensory feast and provokes reflection on the status quo. However, it has a troubling heart. In the programme notes for Mythosphere, director, writer and producer Inna Dulerayn explains how she was inspired by Leonora Carrington, a surrealist artist and activist. Dulerayn writes, “reading about her experience in a mental asylum made me look deep into the nature of mental disorders, discovering their similarities with states of spiritual enlightenment and the phenomenon of extrasensory abilities”. This comment, and the show’s story, make it clear that underlying the production’s beautiful exterior there are dangerous ideas about mental health that could have scary repercussions.
Both Barrels Theatre’s revival of Peter Gill’s 1976 Small Changes looks back to postwar Cardiff through the eyes of two Catholic, working-class families. Gill’s narrative provides a layer of evocative lyricism scattered throughout the memories of two men, giving a poetic undertone to a realistic play.
How do you earn the spotlight for a musical thriller about spy kids facing deathly traps at an indoor trampoline park? Producers, take note of the title: Jump into death: the bounce back. It might be too specific a niche, but worry not, the solution is simple. Call Watch This Improv Troupe.
A group of friends gets ready for the party of a lifetime once their exams are over. The occasion calls for the opportunity to dress up, drink up, and get carried away by summer plans as the stepping stone for the future. The party scales up, and they end up breaking into their school. Blackout. Not the theatre kind. The drunk kind.
Maybe You Like It Productions has just finished a run at the Camden Fringe premiering their comedy Pleading Stupidity, a show written and directed by Caleb Barron and inspired by the real case of the ‘Dumb and Dumber bandits’, as the media called them. The show tells the story of two Aussies who robbed a local bank during their gap year in a Colorado ski town, whilst wearing name tags from their jobs and making no attempt to hide their accents. The crime was solved in eight minutes.
The Royal Shakespeare Company flung open their locked playhouse doors with a new project that engaged audiences in a socially distanced but immersive manner: they put the making process of a play online for anyone to watch. From 1- 13 June, audiences (or rather Vimeo viewers) could join the cast and creatives of Henry VI Part One every weekday for live streams of the company’s morning physical and voice warm-ups, lunchtime rehearsals, and evening green rooms that answered audience questions and allowed the team to expand on their crafts, normally kept behind the scenes. All the live streams were available to watch until 25 June. If uncovering a rehearsal process doesn’t sound unconventional enough, the show did not hit the stage boards. Instead, the final performance consisted of a live-streamed, rehearsal room run-through from the RSC’s Ashcroft Room on 23 June.
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.
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.