J’ouvert, Theatre503

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By Laura Kressly

Over the August bank holiday weekend, people of West Indian heritage have been celebrating their history and culture in the face of racial oppression since the 1960s. Bright colours, elaborate costumes, loud music, dancing, and lashings of rum mark the Carnival that’s now one of the largest in the world. In her female-led, debut play taking place over a day at Notting Hill Carnival, Yasmin Joseph pays homage to the people, young and old, that make up the event’s vibrant landscape and give it its soul.

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Equus, Theatre Royal Stratford East

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by Laura Kressly

Sex and power rule the world – or at least they do in the 1970s, little England hospital where Peter Shaffer’s play unfolds. A child psychologist, known for his successful rehabilitation of troubled children, is questioning the value and morals of his work. At the same time, he reluctantly takes on a new patient, a young man who inexplicably committed a horrific crime that has rocked the local community. As the pair spar their way through the lad’s therapy sessions, both reveal secrets they are ashamed to keep.

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Digging Deep, Vault Festival

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by Laura Kressly

CW: suicide and self-harm

Mossy is only 22 but he’s tired of life. He can’t shake the feeling that there’s nothing more than this, so the best option is to call it a day and kill himself. His only concern is that his mum won’t be able to afford his funeral, so he convinces his reluctant mates to launch a fundraising campaign before he goes. Touching on toxic masculinity, male friendship, euthanasia and voyeuristic media consumption, this new script has some clumsy writing but the themes that propel the action forward to a surprising end smartly support the story of friendship.

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Velvet, Vault Festival

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by Gregory Forrest

A red velvet chaise-lounge is a telling symbol. Positioned in the middle of the stage, the piece of furniture manages to evokes tacky luxury, softcore porn, and casting couch culture all at once. It is just one example of how smart Tom Ratcliffe’s one man show Velvet is.

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The Orchestra, Clapham Omnibus

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by Laura Kressly

Decked in their finest formal wear, a chamber orchestra entertains the punters in a post-war Parisian cafe. During their songs, they are a picture of beautiful unity. In between? Not so much. The absurd and darkly comic backstabbing and in-fighting builds to a crescendo that ends in tragedy, but the production is ultimately unsatisfying.

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Isaac Came Home From the Mountain, Theatre503

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by Laura Kressly

Bobby’s a bright, enterprising young man, so when his dad demands he get a job and do something with his life other than get stoned, he does. Desperate to impress his elders but with little sense for his actions’ consequences, Bobby’s series of bad decisions leads to catastrophe. But this new play, laden with thematic complexity, cuts the story short before it has the chance to fully resonate.

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Worth a Flutter, Hope Theatre

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by an anonymous guest critic

Worth A Flutter written by Michael Head and directed by Jonathan Carr is a simple story of love and its complications that sadly misses the mark. Set in a greasy spoon in Southwark, we see a week in the life of two men and how their affections for one woman changed them forever. While the energy and commitment from all the actors is high, the piece lacks the depth it is trying to convey. Instead, it spends most of its time on odd, offensive and tasteless humour.

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