Edward II, Shakespeare’s Globe

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by Laura Kressly

Though King Edward II’s sexuality and the history surrounding his death are disputed by historians, Nick Bagnall takes a definitive stance in Marlowe’s history play. Here, the king is unquestionably gay and unashamed of his love for Piers Gaveston, one of his courtiers. It’s this unwavering love and devotion that gives ammunition to his enemies – a group of powerful barons, Scottish and French rulers, and even his wife – causing his violent and tragic downfall.

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Tobacco Road, Vault Festival

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by Romy Foster

First things first – finding the Network Theatre at The Vault Festival feels like going on a secret mission. Coincidentally or not, the venue perfectly suits a play about post-war, underground organised crime in South London.

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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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