Period dramas have become the ultimate weekend watch according to trending British media. And while Ladyfriends, written and directed by Clodagh Chapman, is pretty much suffragettes Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney’s story, this isn’t one of those dramas. Ladyfriends starts from the premise that Annie and Christabel are dating. Though historians dispute this based on ‘lack of scholastic rigour’, Chapman’s take doesn’t engage in these controversies and sees Chris and Annies’ dating as a fact. To her, a more exciting endeavour is to explore how people relate to history, and what lays behind re-visiting it and pursuing new readings.
As part of The Housemates Festival, City Lighthouse Theatre Company presents CONCHA, a one-person show (written and performed by Carly Fernandez) telling a semi-autobiographical story about intersectionality of queer and immigrant experiences in the UK. After the protagonist finds out they’ve contracted an STD, they navigate past and current relationships interacting with multiple characters through voice-overs.
Frank Ocean fills the air, and audience members tap their feet and nod their heads in time. I jokingly ask my mum if she recognises the song as I recall how I wailed and begged about 10 years ago for her to download his album onto her iPod. Indulging in Frank Ocean’s music is like a Black right of passage. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t adore his range, and if you don’t – you’re lying.
Toxic masculinity is entrenched in contemporary life, from wider political and social systems to the minutiae of our daily interactions. It doesn’t just harm women; it also broadly shapes men and boys’ relationships with each other. One way this manifests is through displays of overt heterosexuality and other stereotypically masculine behaviour particularly in places like schools, where teenage boys constantly scuffle for power and try to fit in. Any new students need to quickly find their place in the hierarchy, preferably near the top. However, those who are already there sense their position is precarious so they bully anyone that could be perceived as a threat. Darren is one such lad who senses weakness in the quiet and bookish Mark who just joined their year 10 cohort, but Darren also senses something in himself that he believes must be kept in check.
Arnold Rubek (Øystein Røger), a once great sculptor whose creative blaze now resembles little more than an ember, arrives in Norway with his young wife Maia (Andrea Bræin Hovig). He had once promised to take her to the top of a mountain and show her all that the world has. He never did. And so, she – young, frustrated – and he – despondent, lifeless – are stale and drifting apart. Along come Irene (Ragnhild Margrethe Gudbrandsen), Arnold’s long forgotten muse and former model and Ulfhejm (James Browne), a rugged bear-hunter – to tempt each into their separate awakenings.
The NHS estimates that postpartum psychosis affects around 1 in 500 mothers shortly after giving birth. Zena Forster’s explosive new dark comedy after birth looks at this, whilst being a real crowd-pleaser. Brutally honest and equally tender and tough, mother-of-two Ann (played by Sally Tatum) and her new-born are trapped in a mother and baby unit after Ann was sectioned for displaying postpartum psychosis symptoms shortly after giving birth.
Henry (Henry Madd) has always found it easier to tell other people’s stories rather than his own. So that’s what he does in The Land of Lost Content where he turns the Pleasance Downstairs into his hometown Dulowl. As part of the Vault Festival transfer season, the show lays out the growing pains in the hearts and bodies of a group of mates that grew up in this little village that happens to rhyme with ‘dull’. Harry’s old friend Jake (Darragh Hand), who now sees him as a somewhat disloyal outsider, welcomes him at the local pub. Pint after pint, they engage with vivid memories from the old days before Henry moved away. As he tells us, their real-world adventures come nowhere close to the coming-of-age glory promised by movies.
This is a triumphant return of Queens of Sheba after a successful run at Soho Theatre in 2021 and Edinburgh Fringe in 2018. Expertly directed, these ladies burst onto the stage with such energy and so many vibes it it’s infectious and everyone in the audience feels it.
She shoots, she scores with this one. Waiting for her friends to arrive so they can watch Coventry FC live, we join teenager Lizzie as she takes us on a nostalgic stroll down memory lane to the mid-90s. The show is packed with classic tracks and brand references from the era you may have tried to erase from your memory whilst reminiscing about all the bad outfit choices we made as teens. It’s also full of committed dance moves, chants and audience participation.
Over the latter part of the previous decade, a particular demographic raved about the relateability of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag on both stage and screen. This show voiced the sexually liberated, highly educated, white, middle-class millennial women who, though not lacking in representation, felt their plight was previously ignored. Brought up on the mantra that success is theirs to be had, neoliberal capitalism means they now angrily navigate a world that isn’t as easy as expected. Yet despite the difficulties of adulting, their privilege rightly invites critique. Liz Kingsman’s satire of one-woman shows does just that, along with taking aim at the tropes that many one-woman shows rely on. She eviscerates them wholeheartedly using comedy and metatheatre to hilarious effect.