Monkeys Blood, Vault Festival

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by Laura Kressly

There’s a world of difference between London and the impoverished estates in Britain’s small towns. Mickey grew up on one in Hartlepool, a place famous for its historic execution of a monkey mistaken for a Frenchman, the more recent fraud case committed by John ‘Canoe Man’ Darwin, and not much else. Some of the town’s citizens maintain its xenophobic, monkey-slaughtering legacy in the form of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant protests, even though they’ve never met anyone off the estate. Micky escaped these attitudes through a successful career as a children’s entertainer – or so he thought.

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Drenched, Vault Festival

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by Christina Bulford

A long raincoat and a tricorn adorning a nearly-sea-green hat stand set a scene of Cornish domestic bliss. The walls of The Pit drip, and the trains overhead roar like an angry sea. Daniel Drench, Cornwall’s most “prolific and unstable” storyteller invites us to breathe in and forget our busy days – but it’s a false and temporary lulling of our senses before he wakes us up, like a splash of cold sea water to the face.

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Guys and Dolls, the Mill at Sonning

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by Meredith Jones Russell

This is a real Christmas treat. Following a delicious festive feed at the Mill’s onsite restaurant before the show (included in the ticket price), settle back to watch a talented cast of dodgy gamblers, Salvation Army missionaries and showgirls perform such classics as ‘Luck Be a Lady,’ ‘The Oldest Established’ and ‘Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat.’

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The Oresteia, Progress Theatre

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By Louis Train

“Things evolve,” writes Rhys Lawton, director of this youth production of The Oresteia. “The same topics for examination that were needed then [in Ancient Greece] are not needed now, so instead we have to look at the parts of society that haven’t managed to evolve; the treatment of women, the questioning of authority and the fear of the other.”

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War with the Newts, Bunker Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

In post-Brexit Britain, the oyster industry struggles. Work is hard and profits are low. But when oyster harvester Captain von Toch sees mysterious images on the ship’s sonar and discovers a new creature that can quickly be taught fine motor skills, he revitalises his business and changes the course of the human race’s destiny.

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The Unexpected Guest, Mill at Sonning

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by guest critic Meredith Jones Russell

Arriving at the Mill at Sonning you might as well be stepping in to an Agatha Christie novel before Brian Blessed’s revival of The Unexpected Guest even begins. A country retreat where the whole audience dines together before the show, this is an ideal setting for witnessing the rum old business of a classic whodunnit. And The Unexpected Guest does not disappoint.

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Day One at Buzzcut Festival

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Actually, it’s the second day of the live art festival at the Pearce Institute in Glasgow but due to work, I couldn’t make the opening day. So in order to save travel time, I lost by Megabus Gold virginity and took the overnight sleeper coach. Unceremoniously dumped in Buchanan bus station at 6:30 am after an intermittent night’s sleep, I chugged a coffee (after being laughed at for attempting to order a flat white) in the station caf before heading to my digs, then navigating an unfamiliar city’s public transport across town to the Pearce Institute.

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