Manic Street Creature, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

At Ria’s first gig after moving to London to work as a musician, she is captivated by an Irish bartender, Daniel. They soon develop an intensely unhealthy, co-dependent relationship where she wants to fix him and he struggles to survive a debilitating mental illness. Using music to document their relationship, her feelings towards her absent father and living down south, this soulful gig-theatre show conveys her all-consuming experience with gentleness and a big heart.

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A Sudden Violent Burst of Rain, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

Elif has come to a picturesque island nation as a child seeking a better life, and finds work as a shepherdess charged with minding a landowner’s flock of sheep. Though the tyrant landowner brazenly uses her power and Elif’s undocumented status to exploit her, she quietly gets on with her job and waits for the King’s administration to process her citizenship application. This simply-written fable by Sami Ibrahim depicts an old-fashioned, magical country with an immigration system that parallels Britain’s, with an aim to critique the hostile environment. Though there are some lovely individual moments, the story is slow and often stagnant, and the political commentary clumsy and heavy-handed.

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Sap, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

Bisexual women are rarely represented in theatre, particularly in a way that doesn’t brush them off as indecisive, slutty or secretly straight or gay. Rafaella Marcus’ unnamed protagonist (played by Jessica Clark) is none of these things. The charity worker genuinely fancies and can fall in love with both women and men. The violence and biphobia she encounters is real, too. Using symbolic imagery, narration and dialogue, the fully-realised character captures the authentic complexities of living and loving as a bi woman.

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Half-Empty Glasses, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

Toye is 16 and ready to change the world. But first, he has an audition for a music scholarship at a private school, all his coursework, his friends always want him to hang out, and his dad is ill. He also wants to while away the time reading up on the Black British people and history that’s left out of the inadequate school curriculum. In short, he’s very busy and trapped in a racist and inflexible education system that he wants to change but also exploit to his advantage, and the pressure is starting to get to him.

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Man of 100 Faces, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

The disaffected son of a clergyman, Sir Paul Dukes, ran away to Russia to work as a musician. While there, the Russian Revolution started and British intelligence recruited him to work as a secret agent. He was to smuggle prominent people and useful materials across the border to Finland, and otherwise do what spies do without getting himself killed. Reportedly a master of disguise, the so-called ‘man of a 100 faces’ is portrayed by the versatile and energetic Saul Boyer, though the story is so dense and frenetically told that it is difficult to keep track of the various subplots and characters.

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The Girl Who Was Very Good at Lying, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Bryony Rae Taylor

21-year-old Catriona is very good at lying. She knows she isn’t supposed to, but she just can’t help herself when a ‘not unhandsome’ American man comes into the pub where she works. Craving some exhilaration and a reprieve from her mother’s grilling about whether she is living an exciting life yet or not, Catriona takes American Man on a wild goose chase of tall tales around her small home town in Northern Ireland.

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This Is Paradise, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

Kate is a 30-something woman in Belfast expecting her first child with her husband, Brendy. At the same time, Northern Ireland and its political parties have announced that peace is finally coming. Though Kate and her country should be looking forward, she is troubled by recurring abdominal pain and memories from her past that threaten the peace she has made for herself.

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Happy Meal, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

Bette and Alex first meet as young teenagers in the early-00s on the kids’ online gaming platform, Club Penguin. As they grow up, they move to MySpace and Neopets, then Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. As much as older generations are quick to criticise young people being terminally online, the anonymity of these platforms allow them to safely be their authentic selves. In Alex’s case, he’s a closeted trans guy living as a lesbian. Bette, also trans, appears to be a gay boy. As their relationship develops and they navigate their transitions, the pressures of cisnormativity cause tension that risks the collapse of their long-term, online friendship.

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The Darkest Part of the Night, Kiln Theatre

by Lewis Wood

Autism isn’t a subject that theatre shies away from. Portraying Autism onstage can be difficult, but plays such as Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime have done an effective job of not only showing different ways that autistic people interpret the world, but also the difficulties resulting from neurotypical people’s reactions to Autism. A crucial factor of other prominent shows with autism, however? A white protagonist.

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I Can’t Hear You, Theatre503

by Laura Kressly

After Ash and Lucy hook up after work drinks, things quickly get serious between the two young call centre workers. Initially they can’t get enough of each other, but something shifts between them after a homophobic attack on a night out. Their different responses ultimately drive a wedge between them, though underneath this conflict there is genuine and joyful queer love.

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