Burnt Lemon have taken their acclaimed 2019 Edinburgh Fringe hit Tokyo Rose on the road with a retooled cast, score and book and a good deal of anticipation. The bones of this new version of the show remain the same, telling the story of Iva Toguri, a Japanese-American radio journalist wrongly convicted of treason in 1945. As in the original, themes include xenophobia, cultural identity, and scapegoating, all with a six-strong female cast. The show opens with the high-energy and undeniably catchy “Hello America” – attention well and truly grabbed. Unfortunately, the number also represents the pinnacle of what is otherwise a flat, one-note production. The book (by Baldwin and Yoon) is generally good, retaining some of the smart, self-referential moxie that made the show charming in 2019, but is let down by the weakness of the score.
High school and a pregnant teenager – Doll (Georgie Halford) lays out what it means to face judgmental peers and an indifferent mother. She finds support in her new friend, Ted (Roel Fox), but this unlikely friendship will face challenges he didn’t bargain for. They talk directly to the audience, overtly assuming the role of storytellers in what starts as Doll’s story. However, as the show moves forward, they begin to disagree on how much truth they share and how they’ll deal with the recollection of events. Doll, arrogant and stubborn, is resolved to move away from the truth. Ted starts by playing along, humble with a big smile, and assumes the role of a sidekick/assistant as they embark on the recreation of the rise and fall of their friendship. Eventually, however, he breaks out from Doll’s solo attempt as he grows determined to bring the truth to light.
Rainer isn’t fussed about the sort of day job she does, as long as it gives her the opportunity to meet people. Currently working as a bike courier for Angel Deliveries, the young writer narrates the trips that take her all over London delivering food. Her story is punctuated with anecdotes of getting too involved with customers, as well as escapades with her flatmate, sessions with her therapist, and aching odes to London. Her bicycle, named Jean, takes her on these adventures as well as gives her the means to outride her demons, but ultimately they are quicker than her.
What does dating mean for someone who grew up when cassettes were a thing and fell in love before the era of dating apps? Rachel has just separated from her husband and is back at her mum’s, surrounded by boxes containing memorabilia from the nineties. Among those treasures, she re-discovers Sugar magazine, the ultimate guide to tackling dating. However, being single some twenty years later – when Bumble replaces phone calls – poses a few challenges.
At the heart of Canary Wharf’s Jubilee Park, The Greenhouse lets go of theatre productions’ bells and whistles to become a zero-waste venue that works only with recycled materials. The little wooden cottage and its in-the-round staging give the audience a feeling of gathering around a fire for a storytelling session, and the tales it offers are set in natural environments that frame, or even shape, the characters’ fortunes.
The downstairs venue has a combo treat this weekend – an indie-rock gig, a spoken word poetry slam and a solo show. All of that is under the single name of head/lining, a gripping play written and performed by Charlie Heptinstall.
A brand new venue has opened up in West London, the Wonderground Earls Court, from ubiquitous producers the Udderbelly. With a fairground, beach, bars and an upside down purple cow as a venue space, it is certainly an interesting and different place to see a show.
As her latest show further proves, Lucy McCormick is a queen of pop culture critique. Embodying her alter ego Lucy Muck, she debuts as a pop star but not one with the spit and polish of a music video. Instead she embraces an aesthetics of failure in both her design and dramaturgy. DIY costumes, gunge and water combine with her character’s emotional vulnerability to interrogate the high shine of celebrity and expectations of a music icon in this absurd and often poignant gig.
This is certainly a different one: a whirlwind, 75 minute-long tour through Gilbert and Sullivan’s most popular operas, with three actors and a pianist in tow to run through all the songs they can fit into that limited time period. Charles Court Opera, a talented and experienced company, do a great job with the songs, with the solo numbers being a particularly wonderful part of the show.