Feature | Favourite Theatre Moments of 2019

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by Laura Kressly

Determining a Top 10 has become increasingly troublesome what with the amount of work reviewed by guest critics and the even larger amount that we get invited to but aren’t able to see. So, rather than a more traditional ‘best-of’ list, here’s a totally subjective list of a few of my favourite things – in no particular order – from theatre and performance in 2019.

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A Kind of People, Royal Court

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by Laura Kressly

Pretty much anyone that isn’t rich is never far away from losing everything no matter how aspirational they might be. A decade of austerity measures mean that anything going wrong, like losing a job or a relationship breaks down, can lead to ruin within a matter of months, particularly for those who are already marginalised by Britain’s systemic inequality. At the start of Mark’s birthday party, it’s a possibility doesn’t occur to anyone. By the end, racism from one of the party guests catalyses a series of events that shows just how vulnerable people of colour and the working class are, and how desperation can make all of us do things that are ethically and morally questionable, even to our friends and families.

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Kneehigh’s Ubu!: A Singalong Satire, Shoreditch Town Hall

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By Laura Kressly

It’s election day in Lovelyville, a place that lives up to its name and is the exact opposite of Britain at the moment. Its citizens are friendly, cheerful and compassionate, and when Nick Dallas is reelected president, things should keep ticking on quietly as usual. Of course, people can’t leave well enough alone and good things never last forever – Mr and Mrs Ubu have just arrived in town with sinister ambitions. 

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Mephisto [A Rhapsody], Gate Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

Aymeric has been working at the Balbek Theatre, in a small town miles away from the nation’s capital, its culture and politics, for five years. He longs for fame, excitement and to leave the relentless monotony of provincial life behind him and will do anything to achieve these goals. Along with his discontent, right-wing sentiment grows across the country. In the capital, the ‘liberal elite’ make great art, drink champagne and argue over how, as state-funded artists, they should respond to the rising fascism – or if they can at all.

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Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp., Royal Court

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by Laura Kressly

A new Caryl Churchill play is a special occasion, but four at once is a treat. Radically different in tone and theme, this collection ranges from pleasantly surreal to shocking and strange. Though they stand alone as short plays, as a whole they take on an array of society’s ills – but the pronounced concepts that Churchill is known for occasionally stale here, despite regular moments of brilliance.

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Pizza Shop Heroes, Tara Arts

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by Laura Kressly

In an unassuming takeaway pizza place somewhere in London, four men answer the phones and process orders. They also reminisce about the journeys that led them there. From Afghanistan, Albania and Eritrea, they made their ways through war zones, deserts and detainment centres on their own, as children. Now they’re adults with hopes and dreams like anyone, but they are irrevocably shaped by their experienced as children seeking safety in a country that’s doing its best to deter them, and others like them, from living safe and peaceful lives. It’s time for us to listen to what they have to say.

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