Cafe Society Swing, Theatre Royal Stratford East

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by an anonymous guest critic

An evening of spectacular performances depict the true story of New York’s first jazz club, Cafe Society, run by immigrants and allowed black and white audiences to integrate. The club’s audiences watched the most talented performers of their time, including Billie Holiday, who gave her first performance of harrowingly beautiful lynching song ‘Strange Fruit’ there.

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Faust, Theatertreffen

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by guest critic Maeve Campbell

On entering a seven-hour long production one might ask the following questions: will I understand the plot, will I be able to sit through it for the duration and will it be worth the plane journey, holiday costs and copious amounts of pilsner consumed over the weekend? The answers are no and no but, to the last question, a resounding yes. Directed by the controversial Frank Castorf, famously ousted as leader of the Volksbühne theatre after nearly fifteen years of service, this production is his swan-song. Castorf’s previous work has been described as ‘deliberately incoherent’, and this Faust does not disappoint.

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Mad as Hell, Jermyn Street Theatre

by guest critic Kudzanayi Chiwawa

This is the story of little known Eletha Barrett (Vanessa Donovan), a Jamaican woman who was married to film star Peter Finch (Stephen Hogan), for his final twelve years. It begins shortly after Jamaica’s independence, and highlights the personal and public struggle of the interracial couple against the backdrop of 60’s and 70’s politics.

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Othello, Unicorn Theatre

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by guest critic Hailey Bachrach

Ignace Cornelissen’s Henry the Fifth, which was at the Unicorn Theatre in 2015, remains one of my favourite versions of that play ever. Setting King Henry’s French wars in a sandbox, Cornelissen simplified without dumbing-down the central themes of Shakespeare’s play.

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