This is not a conventional play. Part artist manifesto, part PowerPoint presentation, this incredibly creative show explores the life and work of artist Chris Dobrowlski. The setting for this show couldn’t be more perfect. Nestled between model train tracks and vintage toys, Chris’ performance takes place inside Brighton’s Toy Museum (which, funnily enough, is also below Brighton’s train station).
RAH is a play written and performed by Laila Latifa. Set in the bedroom of Manal, a half-Moroccan, half-British woman in her early twenties, the play bravely depicts a history of belonging. Structured as a monologue, the script explores Manal’s internal ramblings, exposing the truth about her family, her feelings of inadequacy at university, and her difficulties navigating her sex life within the context of an overtly religious family.
This is a one-woman show with an accompanying musician, three chairs and a suitcase that tells the story of a British South Asian student, focusing on the beginning of her relationship with Jay at university. However, in between the descriptions of university life, there is a looming sense of dread and violence due to her family not approving of her match and what happened to her friend who went against her family’s wishes.
This three-character play deals with the aftermath and grief following the disappearance of Gavin, Phoeb’s husband. She returns to the farm she grew up on, where her half-sister Jude and Jude’s husband Brian are trying to eek out a living, despite not being suited to being farmers. To cope with her grief, Phoeb believes Gavin has returned as a hummingbird, and starts building wings to join him in flight. However, the tensions between the trio soon begin to bubble to the surface.
In the most supportive of circumstances, grief can feel insurmountable. It’s even harder for a young queer Londoner whose family is in Zimbabwe. How does Takura ensure her Mbuya is mourned properly and what is her relationship to her ancestors, anyway? In a space somewhere between clubbing, Co-star, quantum physics and ancient rituals, she improvises building a bridge to the ancestral plane. A vulnerable and exposing struggle with borders and contrasting cultural norms, this is a considered reflection on how we deal with a loved one’s death.
In each of the three unrelated scenes that make up this triptych, a different Emily and an Emile tackle big ideas. Two flatmates argue about class privilege, a pair of flight attendants mull over love and confronting fears, and grief dominates the conversation between a man and his dead boyfriend’s sister. Each scene has some strong moments and the issues are prescient, but the writing quality varies and it’s unclear why these particular stories are produced together.
Nina, an achingly cool yet awkward young Londoner, wasn’t expecting to meet Gabriel at a BBQ in Tooting, but she does. Their burgeoning relationship seems perfect. Descriptions of dates, parties, meeting each others’ families and moving in together feel natural and healthy, until things start to deteriorate. Moments that were previously joyful become tense, and physical affection is now forceful. As much as this is a monologue about falling in love, it’s also a piece about its deterioration into abuse and finding a way out.
Sara is in her mid-30s and feeling lost. Newly single after a transformational yet difficult relationship, she looks to her friends for support and inspiration about how not to live her life. They’re all mired in a cishet lifestyle filled with husbands, kids, and yoga. Sara, still desperately missing her ex, knows she doesn’t want these things but somehow has to move on and find a life that’s a perfect fit.
Taking the cam-girl to a whole new level, Sad-Vents follows Eleanor Hill as she broadcasts her life journey to her Instagram followers from her messy bedroom. Surrounded by girly paraphernalia (condom wrappers, pregnancy tests, magazines, and the sweaters of her exes), Eleanor takes us on a 75-minute long monologue which explores topics such as abuse, loss, toxic relationships and sexuality through the lens of dark comedy. The title is entirely adequate; imitating the self-indulgent and voyeuristic nature of online venting, the play invites us to reflect on the consequences, trivialities and dangers of online commodification.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the theatre industry interrogated rehearsal room dynamics and called for them to become ‘safe spaces’ where people are free from abuse. Whether or not productive change has actually occurred is up for debate, but this show proclaims that the concept of a safe rehearsal is highly subjective – what is safe for one person may not be for another. In this energetic and highly sensorial piece, actor/writer Rhys Hastings considers how growing up in an abusive home impacts all aspects of his life, including his acting work.