Babylon Beyond Borders, Bush Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

In the ancient city of Babylon, people lived peacefully. They were left to their own devices until, according to a biblical story, they built a tower that reached to the heavens. Then, a vengeful god destroyed it and scattered the citizens around the world bestowing them different languages so they could no longer communicate. For language and peace are power, and power threatens those in charge.

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Call Me Fury, Vault Festival

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by Christina Bulford

The Salem witch trials of late 17th century America are infamous. In just a little over a year, more than 200 people were accused in the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut alone. Nineteen of those were found guilty and executed by hanging, but more died in jail or under torture. The death rate could have been higher still but we’ll never know, most court records were destroyed or lost. It remains the deadliest witch hunt in US history.

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Monkeys Blood, Vault Festival

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by Laura Kressly

There’s a world of difference between London and the impoverished estates in Britain’s small towns. Mickey grew up on one in Hartlepool, a place famous for its historic execution of a monkey mistaken for a Frenchman, the more recent fraud case committed by John ‘Canoe Man’ Darwin, and not much else. Some of the town’s citizens maintain its xenophobic, monkey-slaughtering legacy in the form of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant protests, even though they’ve never met anyone off the estate. Micky escaped these attitudes through a successful career as a children’s entertainer – or so he thought.

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The War of the Worlds, New Diorama Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

Orson Welles’ 1938 broadcast of The War of Worlds caused widespread panic with its reports of an alien invasion in New Jersey. Or did it? Did the newspapers exaggerate the reaction to sell papers, the way websites now use clickbait for hits?

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Burke and Hare, Jermyn Street Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

A story of two men who murder people in order to sell their corpses to doctors in 1820s Edinburgh shouldn’t work as a dark character comedy with music. But largely work it does and this three-hander, though somewhat structurally clumsy, is a good alternative to more typical Christmas theatre.

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Plaid Tidings, Bridge House Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

A wholesome guy group from the 1950s with dreams of superstardom died in a bus crash before they could make it big. But for some inexplicable reasoning, a little-discussed deity gives them one more shot at fame. Plopped in front of an expectant audience seeking Christmas cheer, the Plaids muddle through their posthumous encore. Though the story is utterly baffling, the four performers have heaps of holiday charm.

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