Time is Love/Tiempo es Amor, Finborough Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

There’s so much humanity in the seedy underbellies of cities that’s easily sneered at by the white middle classes. Yet sex workers and drug dealers, corrupt cops and pterodactyls in Che Walker’s LA from becoming a sterile, corporate hell occupied solely by the rich.

Yes, pterodactyls.

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Bury the Dead, Finborourgh Theatre

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by Lara Alier

The very first thing we see onstage is a dead body covered with a cloth. Is it a real person? I scrutinise its limbs and every part of its shape. That is the great thing about intimate theatre, that each member of the audience can really focus on small details and have a totally different experience.

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A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Gynaecologic Oncology Unit At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Of New York City, Finborough Theatre

Image result for finborough, A Funny thing happened On the Way to the Gynaecologic Oncology Unit At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Of New York City

by Amy Toledano

Although this show has an incredibly long title, it is the only thing about it that feels drawn out. This comedy about a cancer ward in New York city is a touching tale of unlikely friendship and the broken relationships and the ways in which we forgive in the face of tragedy.

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Finishing the Picture, Finborough Theatre

by an anonymous guest critic

An insight into the stark realities of the film industry, the Finborough Theatre’s production of Finishing the Picture is a perfect mix of grit and comedy. Loosely based on Arthur Miller’s then-wife Marilyn Monroe’s experience filming The Misfits  in 1961, this is the play’s first European premiere and is harrowingly apt in a era of #MeToo allegations.

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Jam, Finborough Theatre

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by guest critic Simona Negretto

There is always something unsettling and creepy about our memories of school. Almost everyone had “that” teacher who tends to reappear as a projection of our fears during stormy nights all through our life. But on those nights, teachers might find students in their nightmares too.

Matt Parvin’s claustrophobic play, Jam, shows how it is when those incubi become real. In a countryside school on a Thursday evening, Bella’s plans to leave her classroom are changed by the arrival of Kane, an ex-pupil with ADHD who haunted her past and forced her to rebuild her life elsewhere. He comes seeking confrontation, and old wounds, never quite healed, are reopened.

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The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus, Finborough Theatre

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In the first part of Tony Harrison’s The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus, Victorian archaeologist Grenfell struts and frets around a group of silent Egyptians sifting through scraps of papyrus. He maniacally monologues on his quest to find Sophocles’ lost plays and works himself into such a frenzy that he begins to hallucinate. This triggers an inexplicable leap to ancient Greece where a satyr play is acted out and cloth phalluses abound, then another transition to a modern day street populated by homeless men.

Though there is some thematic consistency, the three stories are otherwise unrelated by plot and style. What initially appears to be a play-within-a-play turns out to be a disjointed and disappointing triptych, much like the fragments of papyrus that litter the stage.

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Maggie and Pierre, Finborough Theatre

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It’s easy to see why Justin Trudeau is one of the darlings of world politics these days. This charming former teacher, actor and advocate, turning to politics after his father’s death, identifies as a feminist, wants to legalise marijuana, is pro-choice, gay friendly and committed to the rights of the First Nations and other minorities. Canada’s liberal prime minister attracts groups of screaming fans wherever he goes both nationally and internationally, like any pop star. But where did these attributes come from?

His parents. Maggie and Pierre Trudeau, who met whilst holidaying in Tahiti in the ‘60s when she was a mere 18 years old, were THE Canadian celebrity couple of the 1970s. Pierre was, like his son after him, the prime minister of Canada. Their relationship was flawed, though. Maggie, young, free-spirited and bipolar, soon felt trapped by family life as her intellectual husband busied himself with work. The press’s constant presence also took its toll on their relationship, which the public then poured over in microscopic detail. In 1979, Linda Griffiths’ and Paul Thompson’s Maggie and Pierre premiers, a solo performance tribute to this enigmatic couple. It runs off and on for many subsequent years, a testament to the pair’s appeal.

The script feels quite contemporary, but other than for the purpose of historical documentary, its purpose isn’t clear all these years later. Though the two meet, fall in love and navigate their relationship, life in the spotlight, and the press, there’s no overriding message. It’s unclear why this story needs to be told. It’s a solid narrative over many years with moving insight into these historical figures, but the social and political commentary are limited to brief reflection on their relationship with the press. Perhaps this play would be more satisfying to Canadians or those that already know of the Trudeaus, but for audiences that have never before heard of this couple, there is little impact. It reads like an autobiography. Outstandingly performed by Kelly Burke and worth seeing for her intricate work alone, there’s the feeling that without her, the play would be disappointing.

Burke plays Pierre, Maggie and journalist Henry whose career has hinged on his reporting of their every move. Even though director Eduard Lewis incorporates numerous costume changes to signify a character change, Burke’s physical and vocal mannerisms completely transform into each respective character. It’s a wholly compelling process, a masterclass in performance. Her energy and commitment never falters and her presence is magnetic.

Designer Sarah Booth’s set is simple, but a confusing mix of abstract and functional elements. A huge, bright red quilt with Pierre’s slogan takes up half the stage and is only referred to once, near the end. Its visual dominance is impossible to ignore but it has hardly any bearing on the story. However, Booth’s creation of a bed that’s revealed from a nondescript cupboard is a great device. Philip Matejtschuk’s composition and sound design adds further depth, emotion and context that the set avoids, giving the show a more rounded, polished feel.

As a documentary artefact, Maggie and Pierre is no doubt a learning experience. The couple’s history is an interesting one and the love story is universally relatable. Kelly Burke’s performance is a wondrous thing to experience though, and more than redeems any of the production’s inadequacies.

Maggie and Pierre runs through 5 July.

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