Inclusion and engagement are a core part of Zoo Co, a theatre company of disabled and non-disabled artists that intrinsically embeds access in their work. This does does the same thing, though Artistic Director Flo O’Mahony takes a different approach to accessibility in this production. Inspired by her learning disabled sister Rachel’s joy in telling people what to do, this show is just for Rachel.
As autumn turns into winter and Christmas approaches, the lonely toymaker Geppetto pleads with the blue moon gleaming over his village in the Italian alps, to make him a father. Luckily, the Blue Fairy hears him and brings to life the boy-sized puppet born from Geppetto’s despair. Her gift comes with a condition, however; The wooden child Pinocchio must learn how to be good by Christmas. If he doesn’t – and Geppetto fails at parenting – then he turns back into a toy. Like the iconic Disney film, many hair-raising adventures ensue, portrayed by the fantastic cast of five.
“This gig gets weird”, announces Bradán Theatre in their publicity blurb. And weird it gets as it tackles the climate crisis through an absurdist script infused with Irish mythology and folk music, presenting a majestic salmon as an icon of environmental awareness, and veering from metaphors to literal meaning in quite a jarring spin.
This show comes straight from New York to one of the world’s oldest surviving music halls in East London. It is a very classy and entertaining tour de force. The concept is a simple one – that a cabaret artist and an opera performer, Justin Vivian Bond and Anthony Roth Costanzo, join forces to sing songs from their respective fields. The message is despite being from different disciplines they have a lot of similarities, except for being one octave apart.
It struck me that the journey to Dido’s Bar, through east London, past City Airport and to a warehouse adjacent to Tate and Lyle’s sugar refinery, allows us to imagine what it feels like to be a new arrival in a strange world. And this, Dido’s Bar, a reimagining and retelling of Virgil’s Aeneid, centres Dido’s narrative, namely her experience as a refugee in a foreign land.
Song-based storytelling with cheeky humour at its core, 100% Cotton: In a Spin captures snapshots of Liz Cotton’s life as an empty nester in a small village. The solo show unravels within a kaleidoscope of acoustic music, video delights, and storytelling sequences that smoothly interweave as she glorifies her lovely cat and parodies lockdown life with a suffocating husband.
Outdoor summer touring Shakespeare shows are about as British as they come. This one by Bear in the Air, apart from this short stop at the Jack, is no exception. There’s no dominant production concept, but the cast of six zip through the trimmed down script with confidence and energy. The performances are consistently excellent though some of the directorial choices mean there are issues.
Northern Corner brings humour and mischief to this brand-new musical based in the fictional town of Rothersdale. It’s a quiet town where nothing ever happens, so when a local councellor is shot, the community unravels. A once peaceful town reveals all it’s dark secrets when the blame keeps shifting to nervous suspects in an attempt to find out who the murderer is.
This new musical showcases the lives of five fabulous, historical women through the framework of two young people experiencing an interactive museum. The show is filled with catchy, original numbers and engaging choreography with prominent musical motifs that thread through the performance.
When one of their friends died, theatre company Ugly Bucket navigated their grief the only way they knew how – by making a show. Using clowning and physical comedy, an ensemble of five flit between a dying man and his family, an afterlife of jagged pink gravestones where they playact a life cycle, various ways people die and depictions of people dealing with death. It’s both funny and immensely sad, as well as a sophisticated reflection on how we process loss and our own mortality.