Our Fathers, Traverse Theatre

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by guest critic Liam Rees

Think about your parents, or a parental figure. How have they impacted who you are now? Whether positive or negative some mark will inevitably and irrevocably remain.

Now consider the effect of growing up in a religious home, specifically as the child of a minister. The stereotypes that come to mind are either that they’ll dutifully keep the faith, join the ministry or violently rebel, like Nietzsche proclaiming ‘God is dead’ or worse, put those oratory skills to use in the theatre. Performers, and children of reverends, Rob Drummond and Nicholas Bone seem to exist somewhere in between the stereotypes.

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The End of Hope, Soho Theatre

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a co-production with the Orange Tree Theatre

You only find round beds with pink satin sheets in particular places or owned by particular people. But it’s safe to say that a woman wearing a full, fur-suited mouse costume complete with face/head mask is not one of these.

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Jane Eyre, National Theatre

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One of the unfortunate side effects from my time as a secondary school Drama teacher is that Brechtian staging has been ruined for me forever. Brecht is particularly beloved by Drama teachers what with his trademark styles that work particularly well with low production budgets and the diverse abilities of most Drama classes. He is also part of GCSE and A-level syllabuses, and as such, I’ve imparted his techniques to young people entirely too frequently over my short time at the chalkface. His work will long be associated with devised exam productions and low-budget school plays, so anything similar on a professional stage is burdened by those memories.

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Submission and Sarah, Sky and Seven Other Guys, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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A British Pakistani Muslim tries to reconcile his faith and family with his love of men and clubbing.

A gay guy and his straight female bff share a flat, a mutual adoration for classic films and the occasional man.

Liver & Lung Productions’ two new plays, whilst needing further development, look at two issues that queer men of colour face. Submission is the stronger of the two works, though Sarah, Sky and Seven Other Guys includes a mix of serious and light-hearted material.

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Girl From the North Country, Old Vic

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In Duluth, Minnesota, ships, trains and buses come and go under a sweeping midwestern sky heavy with snow. It’s 1934, the height of the Great Depression. A desperate, drifting populace chase the shadows of their debtors and rumours of work in and out of the port city.

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Blondel, Union Theatre

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I am often impressed with theatre’s ability to transform the most serious of topics into bouncy, chirpy musicals. Tim Rice and Tom Williams looked to the Crusades for their comedic tale of Richard I’s court musician, Blondel, but discarded much of the history. This 1983 show has some great numbers, but its frivolity and insubstantial book focusing on a personal journey rather than the larger political landscape is diminutive rather than powerfully sweeping. This is no Les Mis or Miss Saigon; it is instead an under-developed documentation of a rise to fame – but it still has its moments of fun.

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I Know You of Old, Hope Theatre

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Hero’s coffin lies in a candlelit chapel of rest, draped in lace, overlooked by a portrait of the virgin Mary. Her cousin Beatrice and her lover Claudio quietly mourn the young woman, but their friend Benedick disrupts their grief. The characters are from Much Ado About Nothing of course, but this is not Much Ado About Nothing. David Fairs rips apart Shakespeare’s script to create a totally new story with Shakespeare’s verse and characters, I Know You of Old.

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