The first pub theatre reopening after 5 months of COVID-19 closure feels like a celebration of survival. Given the governmental neglect of the theatre industry has faced since lockdown started, and the number of job losses this has caused across the industry, a tiny space in Clapham being able to stage its first socially-distanced, indoor production is huge. However, this unassuming new play by Michael Dunbar is more of a tangled character study that, though largely well-performed, consists of under-developed subplots and good intentions that aren’t effectively conveyed.
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.
We get it. We do. Angst about our mothers – their infuriating quirks, the emotional and psychological damage passed down to us as though encased in our very DNA – it’s an oasis of material. The complexities of the mother-child relationship hold such potential for theatrical exploration, as we have seen from classical tragic melodramas like Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex to modern commercial musicals like Hairspray.
A mixture of confessional monologues, recorded interviews, dance, music, and a hefty smattering of hardcore porn, Harry Clayton-Wright’s deliberately shocking, no-holds-barred, one-man show attempts to address how we learn about sex and how that education informs our wants, needs and desires for the rest of our lives.
Michael and his best mate Charlie are typical teenage boys – they just want to hang out and play Fifa and party. Michael’s patient girlfriend Liv is often at their side, his mum is there to fret and nag, and his half-brother Josh reliably winds him up. They’re 17 and life is good – until it isn’t.
CLASS, a play from Ireland co-written and directed by Iseult Golden and David Horan, is set around a teacher-parent meeting in a Dublin primary school. The teacher, Mr McAfferty (Will O’Connell), is a seemingly conscientious man who takes his job seriously. He invites the parents of one of his students, nine-year-old Jayden, to discuss his literacy learning difficulties.
The average baby born in Britain today will live for three billion seconds. They will be responsible for contributing approximately 58.6 tonnes of carbon to the environment. As such, climate scientists widely agree that not having children at all or having one less child than originally planned will have a significant effect on pollution levels. Climate change activists Daisy and Michael know this, and advocate for reducing the population in their environmentalism talks they give around the country – but what happens when they fall pregnant?