The Half Moon Shania, VAULT Festival

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By Joanna Trainor

Jill, Lola and Ketamine Kerry are on the precipice of greatness. Tonight will change their lives forever; a representative from Diamond Records is coming to see the G Stringz play at the Half Moon pub. If he likes them the band will be signed on the spot. That’s a lot of pressure for 18-year-olds, but these kick-ass women have got it covered. They will not apologise for the space they take up, and their songs are feminist anthems, surely they’ve got this in the bag.

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Elephant and Castle, Camden People’s Theatre

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by Jack Solloway

Elephant and Castle is a strange and precariously funny gig-theatre show about the lives of Lillian Henley, a musician and silent film pianist, and her teeth-grinding somnambulist husband, Tom Adams. Whilst this may sound a little far-fetched, the play is very much rooted in the performers’ own experiences. Acting out their relationship, using live music and verbatim sleep recordings, Elephant and Castle dramatizes the bizarre reality of Tom’s slow-wave sleep parasomnia and his relationship with Lillian.

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Poet in da Corner, Royal Court

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by Laura Kressly

At the start of the millennium, Deborah is a teenager living on the edge of East London with her silent father and zealous Mormon mother. She feels suffocated by religion when she starts secondary school. But as she gets stuck into this new world, she meets Vyper and discovers Dizzee Rascal. Once her mind and her talent are unlocked by these two forces, her life is irrevocably changed for better and worse.

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2nd Coming. Again., Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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by Laura Kressly

Carl and Jason, like many millennials, are special. Or rather, they’ve been told they are in their formative years. The two have grown up clinging to that knowledge as the world has bombarded them with rubbish. When they each receive a mysterious leaflet telling them they’re the chosen one, they both buy it without question.

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The Lost Boy Peter Pan, Pleasance Theatre

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Think of your favourite stories as a young child. What did they have in common? Adventure. Youth. Fantasy. Foreign lands. Probably at least one good fight. Stories like Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island and Peter Pan are still popular, and for good reason. They’re compelling, well told stories.

But as a proud killjoy feminist, returning to these childhood favourites as an adult has proved troublesome. Action to the Word’s fairly solid reinvention of Peter Pan for seven actor-musicians is a fun, inventive adventure story that stays close to the original.

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Snow White and Rose Red, Battersea Arts Centre

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Battersea Arts Centre’s family Christmas show for people aged 5 and up is far from the Disney version of Snow White. The children’s show by RashDash, creators of naked, feminist, Edinburgh hit Two Man Show, is also far from conventional kids’ theatre. Combining their woman-led, political ethos with the use of live music, the company reclaims femininity and appropriates the traditionally patriarchal adventure of fairytales in this spirited show for all ages.

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KlangHaus: 800 Breaths, Southbank Centre

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by guest critic Archie Whyld

A dozen or so of us were led to the roof of the Royal Festival Hall where we were told to expect: ‘A multi-sensory encounter of shifting sound, colour and light, which reinvents the gig-going experience as a site-responsive close-up standing performance.’ Whatever that is.

The roof space of the building has a boiler room, pipes and generators claustrophobic submarine feel and we were gently led through it by the actor, performer, musicians The Neutrinos and visual artist Sal Pitman. The guitarist checked his pulse, and then he checked mine, and then he gave me a nod of reassurance.

What was going on? The live music alternated between industrial electronic noise jazz and hypnotic acoustic, haunting lullabies. The projections and colour-scape, provided at points by an old fashioned slide projector, combined with the music and submarine architecture, to create a dreamlike and otherworldly experience. There was no narrative to speak of, other than the mention of breaths – 800 of them. Is this the number of breaths we take in an hour, the length of the performance?

Proceedings culminated with a projection of a cloudscape on the ceiling and the audience being led outside on to the roof of the building to be exposed to the air and the beautiful summer London skies. This is a beautiful moment. Is it theatre, though?

Depends on your definition. Post-dramatic theatre probably, in that there were no discernible characters, nor was there an apparent plot. It favoured feeling and mood rather than action, and in this respect it was hugely successful.

KlangHause: 800 Breaths runs through 23 July.

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