Kickass Divas, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Romy Foster

This new musical showcases the lives of five fabulous, historical women through the framework of two young people experiencing an interactive museum. The show is filled with catchy, original numbers and engaging choreography with prominent musical motifs that thread through the performance.

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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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Man of 100 Faces, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

The disaffected son of a clergyman, Sir Paul Dukes, ran away to Russia to work as a musician. While there, the Russian Revolution started and British intelligence recruited him to work as a secret agent. He was to smuggle prominent people and useful materials across the border to Finland, and otherwise do what spies do without getting himself killed. Reportedly a master of disguise, the so-called ‘man of a 100 faces’ is portrayed by the versatile and energetic Saul Boyer, though the story is so dense and frenetically told that it is difficult to keep track of the various subplots and characters.

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The Darkest Part of the Night, Kiln Theatre

by Lewis Wood

Autism isn’t a subject that theatre shies away from. Portraying Autism onstage can be difficult, but plays such as Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime have done an effective job of not only showing different ways that autistic people interpret the world, but also the difficulties resulting from neurotypical people’s reactions to Autism. A crucial factor of other prominent shows with autism, however? A white protagonist.

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Moment of Grace, Hope Theatre

by Diana Miranda

Moment of Grace by Bren Gosling narrates Princess Diana’s visit to Britain’s first HIV/AIDS unit at the end of the eighties. It’s a personal and moving show that addresses people’s misconceptions that kept AIDS a taboo, driven by anger and fear. The show is produced by Backstory Ensemble Productions in association with The National HIV Story Trust (NHST), a charity set up to ensure the history of the 80’s and 90’s HIV/AIDS pandemic is not forgotten.

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Feature | Building (Hi)stories: Ladyfriends in Rehearsals

by Diana Miranda

Period dramas have become the ultimate weekend watch according to trending British media. And while Ladyfriends, written and directed by Clodagh Chapman, is pretty much suffragettes Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney’s story, this isn’t one of those dramas. Ladyfriends starts from the premise that Annie and Christabel are dating. Though historians dispute this based on ‘lack of scholastic rigour’, Chapman’s take doesn’t engage in these controversies and sees Chris and Annies’ dating as a fact. To her, a more exciting endeavour is to explore how people relate to history, and what lays behind re-visiting it and pursuing new readings.

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The Glow, The Royal Court

The Glow, Royal Court review – bizarre, beautiful and breathtaking

by Laura Kressly

Though a master of testing the theatrical limits of space and time, the first half of Alistair McDowall’s latest play unfolds like a straightforward Gothic thriller. In a largely recognisable style and form, an unnamed young woman is rescued from a Victorian asylum by a medium needing a new assistant, but her unanticipated power has frightening consequences for the household. Though an interesting enough consideration of spiritualism and class, the second half of the show is far more expansive and unpredictable. Like McDowall’s previous plays X and Pomona, dramaturgical conventions are so distended that the world in Act I seems alien. The real world we live in does, too.

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Tokyo Rose, Curve Leicester

Curve Theatre / Tokyo Rose

by Olivia Rose Deane

Burnt Lemon have taken their acclaimed 2019 Edinburgh Fringe hit Tokyo Rose on the road with a retooled cast, score and book and a good deal of anticipation. The bones of this new version of the show remain the same, telling the story of Iva Toguri, a Japanese-American radio journalist wrongly convicted of treason in 1945. As in the original, themes include xenophobia, cultural identity, and scapegoating, all with a six-strong female cast. The show opens with the high-energy and undeniably catchy “Hello America” – attention well and truly grabbed. Unfortunately, the number also represents the pinnacle of what is otherwise a flat, one-note production. The book (by Baldwin and Yoon) is generally good, retaining some of the smart, self-referential moxie that made the show charming in 2019, but is let down by the weakness of the score.

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A Place for We, Park Theatre

Review: A Place for We at Park Theatre, London – 'Absorbing, nuanced  performances'

by Romy Foster

Let ‘spirit tek yuh’ through a cycle of life and death in this time-warp through Brixton from the 1970’s to present day.
Through the decades, three families try to navigate their way through an ever-changing environment. With gentrification and protests on the rise, trying to maintain dying family businesses proves difficult when they are all resistant to change.

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