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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J’ouvert, Theatre503

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By Laura Kressly

Over the August bank holiday weekend, people of West Indian heritage have been celebrating their history and culture in the face of racial oppression since the 1960s. Bright colours, elaborate costumes, loud music, dancing, and lashings of rum mark the Carnival that’s now one of the largest in the world. In her female-led, debut play taking place over a day at Notting Hill Carnival, Yasmin Joseph pays homage to the people, young and old, that make up the event’s vibrant landscape and give it its soul.

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Dead Dog in a Suitcase, Lyric Hammersmith

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by Laura Kressly

John Gay wrote The Beggar’s Opera in 1728 to reflect a London ridden with corrupt and dangerous politicians, inequality and violence. Not much has changed in those nearly 200 years, then. Kneehigh updates the story to a rundown coastal town where all the citizens resort to cold-hearted ruthlessness in the name of survival, resulting in an extravaganza of murder, betrayal and spectacle.

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Does My Bomb Look Big in This?, Soho Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

Aisha and Morgan have to go to school one day in August, like almost every other 16-year-old in the country, to collect their GCSE results. Their school is different from the rest of the country’s though – news teams are at the gates of Mitcham High reporting on the recent disappearance of Yasmin Sheikh, dubbed ‘terror baby’ by the Home Secretary. Frustrated with her best friend’s depiction in the media and the way she has been treated by the police after Yasmin left for Syria, Aisha is determined to tell the story of the girl behind the headlines and enlists Morgan’s help.

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Pah-La, Royal Court

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by Marc Hayes

Meaning ‘father’, the word Pah-La is also inflected with a term of respect; ‘La’ is a sign of formality, and becomes more like ‘Dear Father’ in a crude translation. It is a richly ironic title then. Pah-La takes aim at the social and emotional structures of patriarchal revenge, and explores a radically non-violent alternative.

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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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