Women’s anger is often expected to be suppressed or contained rather than be unleashed on the world. Otherwise, we risk being labelled ‘crazy’ or ‘a bitch’, no matter what injustice we experience. But Femi can’t hold it in anymore. The night before the group of white men who killed her killed her brother Seun on Margate’s beach face charges of manslaughter, his ghost visits her to share the truth of his death. Initially baffled by her dead brother’s appearance, she is transformed into an embodied fury that cannot and will not stop until she gets revenge.
In the middle of a dark room, I am ushered into what looks like a largish, stand-alone cupboard. With a spotlight above a single chair facing a perspex sheet covered with a window blind, there is an immediate sense of the audience becoming the performer. Given that the four mini-plays making up this event are semi-improvised character pieces relying on audience interaction, this feeling is apt. As much the playlets are highly theatrical and often disarming, they are also intimate and conversational. In a time where many of us are learning how to just be in the same space as another person, unmediated by a computer screen, Theatre for Two is comforting and familiar as well as challenging what has become normal disconnect from people and the world we live in.
It’s third time lucky for this performance piece at the Pleasance Theatre, having been previously programmed and then postponed twice due to the UK’s two lockdowns. It very much turns out to be worth the wait however, as this is a fascinating and thought provoking show.
Audience members don’t always appreciate the time and effort that goes into making a West End or Broadway performance. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work. The months spent learning lines, choreography and music, lengthy rehearsals, techs and previews are only a small part of it.
Something I had been looking forward to for a while now was the return of cabaret to the stage after lockdown’s easing. This event is an excellent way to restart this particular art form live and in-person. The wonderful evening at the Pleasance was curated by Newcastle’s Ginger Johnson, an associate artist at the theatre and member of Sink the Pink, an LGBTQ+ collective and club night.
Established in a Saxon burial ground near Hampstead during a thunderstorm, Mediæval Bæbes have been – suitably – taking crowds by storm for 25 years. For their anniversary performance they have come to the beautiful Actor’s Church in Covent Garden.
The lights dangling over the audience in the intimate pub garden theatre look rather like anal beads. It’s a great choice by lighting designer Richard Lambert because they suit the joyously raunchy tone of this adult panto in Vauxhall, or rather, the charming mountain village Vaüxhallen. The town’s residents we meet over the two hour-long show are all out for some action and adventure – in every sense of the word.
Emily Jane Rooney longs for a world that doles out praise for being happy rather than being skinny, and where people can comfortably be their true selves. On the other hand, she wants the posh kid she works with to just fuck off. This clever use of contrast – switching from warm and vulnerable, to biting and sharp, and back again – keeps this one-woman show consistently engaging and fun despite a few underdeveloped moments that don’t fully cohere with the rest of the narrative.
The first pub theatre reopening after 5 months of COVID-19 closure feels like a celebration of survival. Given the governmental neglect of the theatre industry has faced since lockdown started, and the number of job losses this has caused across the industry, a tiny space in Clapham being able to stage its first socially-distanced, indoor production is huge. However, this unassuming new play by Michael Dunbar is more of a tangled character study that, though largely well-performed, consists of under-developed subplots and good intentions that aren’t effectively conveyed.
About four and a half months since seeing last seeing live, in-person performance, I’m in a park 20 minutes away from my flat, about to watch a one-person, outdoor show. It feels slightly surreal given the times we live in, but Bard in the Yard embraces that, and truly lifts a mirror up to pandemic life today.