Coconut, Ovalhouse

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by guest critic Joanna Trainor

Rumi (Kuran Dohil) is a Muslim atheist, having to hide huge chunks of her life from her family. Including her new, white, non-Muslim boyfriend, Simon. What could possibly go wrong?

Coconut is one of those plays where each person who watches it will take away or resonate with something different, for me it was the role religion plays in our lives.

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Instructions for Correct Assembly, Royal Court

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by Laura Kressly

I reckon you can find any kind of furniture you’d like flatpacked. You can even buy flatpack houses. But would you purchase a build-your-own family member that’s totally programme to fit your idea of a perfect person?

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Reared, Theatre503

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by guest critic Joanna Trainor

“You look like a fucking idiot.” There was so much love in this insult, that with all the crap this family have to deal with you knew they’d muddle through it together.

For a play just short of 100 minutes, Reared addresses a lot of hefty issues in quite quick succession. Dementia, post-natal depression, losing your virginity, money problems, coming out – the first few scenes are a bit of a whirlwind. But overall writer John Fitzpatrick gives most of them the time they deserve so the story doesn’t feel gimmicky.

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Pericles Prince de Tyr, Barbican

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by Laura Kressly

Flawless royal blue walls reminiscent of the sea surround an unresponsive, middle aged man lying in a hospital bed. Nurses and a doctor flit in an out, efficiently checking vitals and holding quick, whispered conversations with waiting family. This is Pericles, physically and mentally buffeted by a life of grief and tragedy, but this is not quite the story of Pericles that Shakespeare and Wilkins co-wrote. Translated into French and then adapted, Cheek by Jowl here present a man in poor physical and mental health trapped inside his head, in a world composed either of memories or the figments of his imagination.

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Old Fools, Southwark Playhouse

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by guest critic Joanna Trainor

“Why have you stopped eating?” Viv asks Tom at the nursing home. “Why have you developed an entirely different accent in your old age?” Tom could reasonably respond.

This is a slightly harsh opener; Old Fools is one of those productions that has a few things to pick at but is redeemed by its ending. From their first meeting to a cold garden in a nursing room, this is the story of Tim and Viv and Alzheimer’s.

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A Hundred Words for Snow, VAULT Festival

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by Laura Kressly

Rory’s taking her dad on his dream trip to the North Pole. The Geography teacher has always wanted to be a proper explorer, and Rory grew up hearing stories about historical adventurers setting out into the great unknown to discover the world.

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