Paper Cinema’s Macbeth, Battersea Arts Centre

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By Laura Kressly

I’m a sucker for inventive adaptations of Shakespeare plays, so Paper Cinema’s Macbeth, a live-action, silent movie version, is hugely appealing. For 90 minutes a team of five use handheld cameras, desk lamps and hand-drawn illustrations to broadcast the story in visual form onto a large screen. Accompanied by a Celtic-inspired, cinematic score, this graphic novel/stop motion/object manipulation telling is enchanting – until I ask my companion, a Dutch woman who doesn’t know Macbeth, what she thought. 

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The Wider Earth, Natural History Museum

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by Laura Kressly

Newly-minted Cambridge graduate Charles Darwin wants to collect insects and rocks, but his father wants him to enter the clergy. When one of his lecturers recommends him for the positions of resident naturalist onboard Naval ship The Beagle, the 22-year-old jumps at the chance. Over the next five years he sails the world, collects specimens and constructs ideas that eventually become On the Origin of Species. He is also a part of an imperialist mission ridden with Christian colonial attitudes that, in this script, are disappointingly excused in favour of spectacular design.

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Arabian Nights, Hoxton Hall

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by Lara Alier

If you close your eyes and I mention ‘Arabian Nights’, what can you see? How does it feel, sound and smell? The description of Hoxton Hall will probably match what you imagine. Strong incense blends with warm lights and the sound of a little fountain adds ambience to the big Arabic arches.

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A herd of Zoo shows, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

Over the last few years, Zoo has been quietly building its reputation as a venue, breaking the stranglehold that the Big Four and Summerhall have on high-quality work. With a loose focus on physical theatre and performance, they boast a programme varied in style, but also in quality.

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The Tin Soldier, Festival Theatre Edinburgh

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by guest critic Liam Rees

Birds of Paradise Theatre Company’s The Tin Soldier is a charming and inclusive alternative to the traditional pantomime. As a company specialising in making work with disabled people, it makes sense for the company to have chosen to adapt Hans Christian Andersen’s story as it’s one of the few children’s stories to feature a disabled protagonist.

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The Tin Drum, Shoreditch Town Hall

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Oskar is a child of myth and legend. Or maybe he’s just bad-tempered and noisy. Either way, he comes into a fictional world of darkening shadows that’s clearly pre-WWII Europe. Born with a fully adult brain, he looks down on most people around him but has simple, childish request – that his mother buys him a tin drum.

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Laika, Unicorn Theatre

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Sami and his mum are preparing for her to go to Mars for years and years and years. Both obsessed with space, Sami’s proud of her but worried that he might never see her again. To help him come to terms with her imminent departure, mum buys him a book about Laika, the first dog to go to space.

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