Sugar Coat, VAULT Festival

by Ali Wright

by Zahid Fayyaz

As the audience enters the venue, a band is onstage waiting. The five-piece, all-woman band stays there the whole time, playing punk rock in between performing the play’s scenes. They tell the story of eight years from a girl’s life spent growing up, falling in love, making a mistake, and her life falling apart due to horrific things happening to her. She then attempts the long road to recovery, with the help of her mother and therapist.

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Omelette, VAULT Festival

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by Lizzie Jackson

In the dark and atmospheric Cavern at the Vaults, theatre company Long Distance present us with their first play, Omelette. It explores many of the important questions on the climate crisis. How far should we go to save the planet? How far is too far? Does it make a difference? Should we give up coffee forever?

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Be Longing, VAULT Festival

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by Dora Bodrogi

What if two women could make a baby without any sperm donors?

This is the central question of this play by Lauren Gibson. It sounds like the premise of a Black Mirror episode – and it would make a great one if based on this play – in which we explore the moral and emotional dilemmas of an equally promising and dystopian scientific advancement could cause.

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Once, Fairfield Halls

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by Laura Kressly

Made for a mere €112,000, Once is an award-winning, hit indie film. It’s easy to see why in the stage adaptation that has been running regularly around the world since 2011. The melancholic, Irish music performed by actor-musicians and the almost-love story set this show apart from the bold, brash showiness of musicals that stick more closely to traditional forms. It’s appeal lies in the story’s delicate balance of tapping into that tender part of the heart that sadly knows happily-ever-afters aren’t real, and the unrequited celebration of music’s power to bring people together.

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A Kind of People, Royal Court

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by Laura Kressly

Pretty much anyone that isn’t rich is never far away from losing everything no matter how aspirational they might be. A decade of austerity measures mean that anything going wrong, like losing a job or a relationship breaks down, can lead to ruin within a matter of months, particularly for those who are already marginalised by Britain’s systemic inequality. At the start of Mark’s birthday party, it’s a possibility doesn’t occur to anyone. By the end, racism from one of the party guests catalyses a series of events that shows just how vulnerable people of colour and the working class are, and how desperation can make all of us do things that are ethically and morally questionable, even to our friends and families.

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I Wanna Be Yours, Bush Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

Ella works three jobs whilst trying to forge a career as an actor in London, but misses the slower pace of her hometown of Hebden Bridge. Haseeb is a Muslim factory worker and writer from Cricklewood who is tired of the whiteness in the poetry scene. Though the two meet in a drama workshop that Ella’s, time passes and their love grows. Yet, it’s not enough to compensate for their differences in privilege. This ever-growing elephant in the room becomes harder and harder for the couple to ignore.

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Midnight Movie, Royal Court

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by Laura Kressly

Night can be a time of rest and escape, or mystery and danger where anything can happen. For people with chronic illnesses, vampires lurk in the darkness whilst those around you sleep. In the wee hours of the morning, playwright Eve Leigh seeks refuge online from her pain and corporeal limitations. Whilst it’s all too easy to condemn the downsides of an extremely online lifestyle, Leigh celebrates its ability to fly her around the world when her body lets her down. This millennial fever-dream of memories, horror stories and conspiracy theories blur the real and the internet’s dark corners as two actor/avatars and colour-soaked design convey the realities of a life punctuated by an uncooperative body.

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Big: The Musical, Dominion Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

It initially seems like a harmless premise – after a tween boy in early 90s New Jersey is embarrassed in front of the girl he has a crush on, he makes a wish that he was bigger on a fortune telling game at the carnival passing through town. On waking up the next morning, he discovers he’s still 12 years old, but in the body of a grown man. Though his mum chases him out of the house, his best friend Billy offers to help him track down the machine and reverse the spell.

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Eigengrau, Waterloo East Theatre

Katie Buchholz and Callum Sharp in Eigengrau at the Waterloo East Theatre

by Laura Kressly

Penelope Skinner’s 2010 play feels like it’s bursting at the seams with damaged – and damaging – people, but there’s only four of them. Cassie works for a feminist charity and can barely contain her rage against the patriarchy. Her flatmate Rose believes in fairies, numerology and fate but is less concerned with holding down a job and paying rent. Mark owns a flat in Chiswick, works in marketing and is capable of extraordinarily disgusting misogyny and casual homophobia. Then there’s his flatmate Tim, a uni mate who wants to be a carer and is grieving the recent death of his grandmother. The combination of these four personalities could easily lend itself to sitcom-type comedy, but instead they create a perfect storm of dramatic chaos after Rose and Mark start sleeping together.

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