Brown Boys Swim, Soho Theatre

by Laura Kressly

Little can get in the way of teenagers’ hormones. In Kash and Mohsen’s case, the fact they can’t swim isn’t going to stop them going to the biggest event of the year, Jess Denver’s pool party. They’ll simply learn how so they don’t embarrass themselves in front of their entire year group. After all, Kash needs to flaunt his gains in front of the girls, and Mohsen will provide reluctant moral support. With a whole month to go, surely they can figure it out. Swimming’s not that hard, right?

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Peaceophobia, Greenwich & Docklands International Festival

By Luisa De la Concha Montes

Peaceophobia, co-produced by Speaker’s Corner Collective, Common Wealth Theatre and Fuel Productions was conceived in Bradford in 2018. After four years in the making, and multiple delays caused by COVID-19, it made it to GDIF 2022, demonstrating that it is possible to turn community-led theatre into headlining events.

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The Cherry Orchard, The Yard

by Laura Kressly

Through his most recent play An Adventure, writer Vinay Patel proved he can masterfully sustain family dramas grappling with big themes. By sticking close to Chekhov’s original story, this adaptation of The Cherry Orchard set in the distant future does similar. A spaceship replaces the estate, but the strict social stratification with a stark disparity in privilege mirror early-1900s Russia. It’s a smart adaptation that works well in surprising ways, though the heavy use of Chekhovian, reflective dialogue and a lack of high conflict mean the story is often slow and baggy.

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Age Is a Feeling, Soho Theatre

by Laura Kressly

We have time, and life is short. It’s ok to make mistakes, and every choice has a consequence. Self-care is important and so is hitting milestones. These conflicting truisms living within us inform small decisions and big ones. As actor/writer Hayley McGee demonstrates, they are often the root of our greatest pleasures and most suffocating griefs. Her monologue narrating an unnamed person’s life, from age 25 through the years after the they die, hones in on key episodes that irrevocably define them and their future, as well as drawing attention to death’s inevitability. As sombre as this piece is, it also adeptly encapsulates moments of joy. As a whole, it’s deeply human and beautifully performed.

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100% Cotton: In a Spin, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Diana Miranda

Song-based storytelling with cheeky humour at its core, 100% Cotton: In a Spin captures snapshots of Liz Cotton’s life as an empty nester in a small village. The solo show unravels within a kaleidoscope of acoustic music, video delights, and storytelling sequences that smoothly interweave as she glorifies her lovely cat and parodies lockdown life with a suffocating husband.

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All’s Well That Ends Well, Royal Shakespeare Theatre

by Michaela Clement-Hayes

Although often deemed a ‘problem play’, All’s Well That Ends Well can also be said to be progressive. Our heroine gets a lot of stage time, soliloquies and – for want of a better word – sass.

And yet, some of the characters are lacking. We may never know why Shakespeare chose to write them as he did, but (and perhaps because we are not 100% sure of the final play) the idea that Helen and Bertram live ‘happily ever after’ because she’s carrying his child is a bit ridiculous.

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Breathless, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

Sophie has started a new life back home in Plymouth after years of living in London. She finally has her own place, and things are going well with the woman she’s dating. However, something looms over her life that she can’t bear to let go of – the vast collection of designer clothes that takes up every spare inch of her new flat. The urge to hold onto these items that she sees as an extension of herself is all-consuming, but she also really wants to invite her new girlfriend over.

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Good Grief, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

When one of their friends died, theatre company Ugly Bucket navigated their grief the only way they knew how – by making a show. Using clowning and physical comedy, an ensemble of five flit between a dying man and his family, an afterlife of jagged pink gravestones where they playact a life cycle, various ways people die and depictions of people dealing with death. It’s both funny and immensely sad, as well as a sophisticated reflection on how we process loss and our own mortality.

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This is Not a Show About Hong Kong, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

At the start of this piece that is definitely not about Hong Kong, we are asked not to take photographs. This is because the performers, who are absolutely not from Hong Kong, could face persecutions under China’s National Security Bill if they were caught making a show about Hong Kong. But this is all hypothetical, because this physical theatre show is not about Hong Kong.

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Boy, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

In 1965, a Canadian couple give birth to identical twin boys, Brian and Bruce. When Bruce’s circumcision is botched and he is left without a penis, a doctor convinces his parents that the best way forward is to raise him as a girl. He thinks that with hormones and clear gender roles, Bruce – now Brenda – will be able to lead a normal life. The desperate parents eventually agree. This true story, dramatised by two adult performers and a zoo of soft toys, emphasises how enforcing strictly-defined gender binaries and stereotypes can have far-reaching, tragic consequences.

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