Bubble, online

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by Euan Vincent

In 2002, Suzan-Lori Parks set herself the task of writing a play a day for 365 days. Parks
would eventually release the performing rights for $1 per play, sparking a continent-wide theatre festival that took Parks’ work, and theatre, to a host of new audiences and venues. Theatre Uncut follow a similar ethos.

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I Don’t Know What to Do, VAULT Festival

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by Isabel Becker

New artistic company Creative Destruction bring forward a pertinent interrogation of the hypocrisies behind the climate crisis movement in their entertaining and moving play. Despite the laziness of the production’s title, which sounds like a draft idea that never quite made it to review (the play is still a work in progress), Zoe Lafferty’s autobiographical story of the 2019 climate protests certainly takes ownership of the theatre as a powerful vehicle for social change.

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Rage But Hope, Streatham Space Project

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by Laura Kressly

An M&S-shopping grandmother. A year seven girl. A young, gay black man. An armed services vet. These are some of the Extinction Rebellion activists that playwright Stephanie Martin celebrates through this articulate and impassioned collection of monologues that advocate for people to commit to any level of action against climate change. However, the problematic aspects of the movement are largely glossed over in order to frame its collective impact as wholly positive.

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I Have a Mouth and I Will Scream, VAULT Festival

by guest critic Ava Davies

The raging influence of Alice Birch’s revolt. she said. revolt again. runs through this performance art/theatre piece by Abi Zakarian. The six-strong ensemble of women (not all white, which is good, but it could always be less white) are trying to discuss feminism. Is that even the right word anymore? It’s become bogged down in pop culture references, in mass-produced t-shirts, in discussions about depicting vaginas in art. I HAVE A MOUTH… occasionally feels like it drifts into white feminist territory, as much as it tries to unpick and dissect that movement.

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Parliament Square, Bush Theatre

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by guest critic Nastazja Somers

James Fritz’s Parliament Square, the winner of 2015 Bruntwood Prize Judges Award, is an
ambitious piece. It explores the human desire for change whilst posing important questions about the significance of protests and martyrdom. Dramaturgically, Fritz’s proves himself to be a vital voice yet this production does not hit its full potential.

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Electric Eden, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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Tommy Eden, a pensioner with a love for street performing since he retired, is dead. Local entrepreneur Alexander Sheldon’s security guards are responsible. Sheldon didn’t like Tommy performing outside his high end spa and leisure centre, but when the guards manhandled him off his patch, Tommy’s 87-year-old body couldn’t take it. Local young people, angry at the rapid gentrification of their town and the death of a local treasure, organise a protest/party in the abandoned club across the road, and everyone’s invited.

Not Too Tame’s Electric Eden doesn’t manage to deliver much of a party, though. Shouty political slogans and several under-developed subplots give a vague picture of a bigger problem, and staging choices fight against the attempted audience immersion. The concept promises a dynamic execution, but the delivery disappoints.

Seven characters at the party are featured, including organiser Greg (Andrew Butler) and Tommy Eden’s granddaughter, Grace (Louise Haggerty). Their stories, as well as those of the other five characters, are gradually presented through disconnected scenes in between dance numbers and party games. The audience are sometimes invited to join the dancing, other songs are tightly choreographed.

An exposition of protest rhetoric delivered down a mic, petition signing and ordering drinks from the bar is too long. Each of the characters’ individual stories only gets a couple of scenes, so they come across as generic snapshots of character types rather than real people.

The audience are provided with chairs so even though director Jimmy Fairhurst wants to create a party atmosphere, inevitably the majority of the audience end up sitting and watching for the entire performance. Choosing a club as a venue adds little with such a clear distinction between the actors and the audience, and the continuous reiteration that this is a party comes across as forced and false.

The performances are fine and there’s some tight choreography, though this also feels out of place with the attempts to create an anarchic/punk atmosphere. Electric Eden tries to be both a genuine party and a play, but the two aesthetics are so diametrically opposed that neither ends up working within the piece.

The whole experience is frustratingly flat, though it shows such promise on paper. With a script overhaul and a clear vision as to what Electric Eden wants to achieve, it would be a stronger piece. As is, it comes across as a confused and undeveloped piece.

Electric Eden runs through 29th August.

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