Napoleon Disrobed, Arcola Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

What would happen if Napoleon didn’t die on Saint Helena? What if he managed to not be imprisoned at all? This amusing Monty Python-esque, revisionist history suggests that with his doppelganger in exile, Napoleon tries to regain power in Belgium but is thwarted by supporter disbelief, poverty and the love of a melon seller. The comedy is punchy but the story is sparse, making for a joyful but baffling show.

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Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho, VAULT Festival

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by guest critic Gregory Forrest

The night before Parliament votes on Section 28, an amendment to the Local Government Act which prevents schools or similar local authorities from promoting homosexuality, Magaret Thatcher finds herself in a Soho nightclub. This is the fabulous premise to the now iconic drag cabaret: Margaret Thatcher, Queen of Soho.

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Mary Stuart, Duke of York’s Theatre

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by guest critic Kudzanayi Chiwawa

Heads or tails – with the flip of a coin, on this evening, Juliet Stevenson is Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart is portrayed by Lia Williams.

The play opens with urgency, the stakes are high and the rhythm throughout doesn’t let up. It’s exhilarating. Williams commands the stage like a beautiful beast, burdened by captivity. We know how history reads for these two women, but the battle waged on stage, makes you wonder how will it end.

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Hamilton, Victoria Palace Theatre

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Let’s get this out of the way first – does Hamilton live up to the hype? Yes. It’s very good. Though the revolution in the plot doesn’t influence the dramaturgy, that doesn’t mean it’s not a fantastic show that musically updates the genre and skillfully triggers a spectrum of emotions. It’s simultaneously epic and intimate, staged surprisingly simply with striking, sculptural choreography and utterly engaging throughout.

But this pro-immigration, hip-hop reinvention of the all-American musical about a country gaining independence from a distant, tyrannical overlord resonates rather differently in Brexit Britain than it does in America. Forget the NHS bus – could Hamilton be the new symbol of the Leave campaign?

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Freddie, Ted, and the Death of Joe Orton, London Theatre Workshop

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Freddie and Ted are a couple in 1960’s Brighton. At the start of their relationship, homosexuality is illegal so the two pretend that young musician Ted is older Freddie’s lodger. As time passes, equality is recognised and Ted grows up. The progressive young man is idealistic and forward-thinking, whilst his partner is stuck in the past. As tension builds between them, rifts form that might be too deep to be repaired.

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