For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy, Royal Court

by Romy Foster

Frank Ocean fills the air, and audience members tap their feet and nod their heads in time. I jokingly ask my mum if she recognises the song as I recall how I wailed and begged about 10 years ago for her to download his album onto her iPod. Indulging in Frank Ocean’s music is like a Black right of passage. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t adore his range, and if you don’t – you’re lying.

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after birth, Omnibus Theatre

by Romy Iris Conroy

The NHS estimates that postpartum psychosis affects around 1 in 500 mothers shortly after giving birth. Zena Forster’s explosive new dark comedy after birth looks at this, whilst being a real crowd-pleaser. Brutally honest and equally tender and tough, mother-of-two Ann (played by Sally Tatum) and her new-born are trapped in a mother and baby unit after Ann was sectioned for displaying postpartum psychosis symptoms shortly after giving birth.

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Fear Eats Life, Cockpit

by Diana Miranda

“Today you can get rid of your fear”, Strangers Like Me Collective promises. As the audience arrives at Fears Eat Life, premiering at the Voila! Europe Festival, they find a sheet of paper on each seat inviting them to write down what they’re most afraid of and throw it on stage. And so, this interactive cabaret show, written and directed by Timna Krenn, begins before the lights go down. To throw one’s fears away to the power of theatrical catharsis seems meaningful enough, and the prospect of having performers enacting them back to us in a dark comedy improv seems like something to look forward to.  

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Mythosphere, Stone Nest

Mythosphere: Magical Russian-UK theatre production opens at Stone Nest |  Stage Chat

by Laura Kressly

This luxurious, multimedia production about magical worlds, the ability to access them, and how society as a whole regards magic is a sensory feast and provokes reflection on the status quo. However, it has a troubling heart. In the programme notes for Mythosphere, director, writer and producer Inna Dulerayn explains how she was inspired by Leonora Carrington, a surrealist artist and activist. Dulerayn writes, “reading about her experience in a mental asylum made me look deep into the nature of mental disorders, discovering their similarities with states of spiritual enlightenment and the phenomenon of extrasensory abilities”. This comment, and the show’s story, make it clear that underlying the production’s beautiful exterior there are dangerous ideas about mental health that could have scary repercussions.

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Resonate, VAULT Festival

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By Zahid Fayaz

This is the first preview performance of a one-man show following Jacob, a young man trying to turn over a new leaf away from his previous life as a hard-living and loving party animal. He’s doing this through Jesus and focusing on his education. He is, however, finding this difficult due to constant interruptions from his friends and ex-girlfriends whilst he is trying to finish an assignment.

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BIG, VAULT Festival

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by Emma Lamond

BIG is a fun, tongue-in-cheek look at society’s relationship with food, how we are perceived by others and our growing issues with mental health. This production seems to be in the early stages of its development, but with the correct support, has the potential to become a hilarious piece of theatre with a powerful commentary on dieting, wellbeing and celebrity culture – topics that are ever growing in importance and with impact on young people, and society more widely.

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Sticky Door, VAULT Festival

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by Joanna Trainor

Disclaimer: Good reviewing practice is not to put yourself into your article – your review is about the show, not the journalist. But I have such an emotional connection to Katie Arnstein’s work, that I struggle to write about her productions as ‘objectively’ as I perhaps should. It’s probably why it’s taken me so long to put pen to paper.

Rhubarb and custard sweets, a ukulele, placards, and a voiceover montage of misogynistic statements that make you oh so angry – all signs point to the final installment of Katie Arnstein’s It’s A Girl! trilogy.

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LOVE (Watching Madness), VAULT Festival

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By Hannah Kennedy

Mental illness isn’t portrayed often enough in theatre, especially discussion on how it effects those around it. LOVE (Watching Madness) is a beautifully apt title for this piece performed and written by Isabelle Kabban, and directed by Ruth Anna Phillips. It explores the history of Kabban’s relationship with her mother and, specifically, her mother’s Bipolar Disorder.

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Oddball, VAULT Festival

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By Grace Bouchard

“It’s a sexy song about eating.” Francesca Forrestal says to the front row, before Oddball begins. She’s referring to “Bon Appetite” by Katy Perry that plays on a pre-set loop. At the same time, she’s limbering up – swinging her arms, chatting nonchalantly with the audience, and building a familiar relationship she carries throughout the performance – when the show has begun and latecomers enter halfway through one of her speeches, she unflinchingly welcomes them and instantly settles back into the script as though nothing happened. The ease with which she captivates and holds the room is enchanting in itself.

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