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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Armadillo, Yard Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

America’s gun epidemic is easy to criticise and ridicule from afar. But Americans, even those who oppose gun ownership, know that the firearms debate stems from deeply entrenched cultural mores and politics, and is also intertwined with class, regionalisms, race, money, and so on. In Sarah Kosar’s latest play, gun-obsessed Sam and her husband John are trying to quit their gun addictions when a local girl disappears, threatening their new, anti-weapon convictions. Cinematic lighting and sparse design heightens the nuanced script, and compelling performances support the story of one of many reasons why someone may want to own a gun.

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Exceptional Promise, Bush Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

1. What is ‘Exceptional Promise’?
a. Another name for a UK Tier 1 visa
b. An interactive game show-slash-performance piece
c. A critique of the cesspit that is London’s housing market
d. All of the above

If you answered ‘D’, then you win! You’re one step closer to getting the keys to your dream house. But first – you need to survive the rest of the rounds and beat your other two opponents, otherwise you’re doomed to dodgy landlords and housemates forever.

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The Flies – Les Mouches, Bunker Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

Jean-Paul Sartre wrote this in 1943, at the height of Nazi occupation of Europe. The adaptation of the Orestes myth centres on the city of Argos, ruled by King Aegisthus, who deposed and killed the previous ruler Agamemnon 15 years previously. Aegisthus then married Agamemnon’s wife Clytemnestra, enslaved their daughter Electra, and sent the young Orestes out into the woods to die. Since then, the city has been plagued by giant flies and the civilians must lead sombre and mournful lives – but Orestes has now returned to exact his revenge. This update is well-staged with a clear aesthetic, but the pace is often too slow for the high-stakes story.

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The Crucible, Yard Theatre

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by Meredith Jones Russell

Chairs set out with the name of each character written on the back suggest at first glance that the Yard’s staging of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible will be stripped-back and basic. As the cast enters, reciting the full text including stage directions in their own clothes and accents, it feels like a reading. Only the stackable, institutional chairs themselves hint at what is to come; this could be a committee meeting at a small town village hall where members of a tight-knit community meet to air their concerns and dole out justice. 

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