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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After Edward, Shakespeare’s Globe

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by Laura Kressly

A man who may or may not be King Edward II finds himself on a stage, with an audience watching and waiting to see what happens next. He has no idea where he is or how he got there, but he’s in good company. Gertrude Stein, Quentin Crisp and Harvey Milk are locked in with him, and they’re none the wiser as well. They all want to get out, but something sinister wants to get in and they can’t to escape until they determine why they’re there in the first place.

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