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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I Am of Ireland, Old Red Lion Theatre

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by guest critic Meredith Jones Russell

A buoyant cast enters singing their hearts out to “Ireland’s Call”. They are dressed as a variety of Irish stereotypes: a man in a balaclava, a priest, Miss Ireland, an Orangeman, a rugby fan. Caricatures, certainly, but there’s a lot of energy, and the suggestion we might see some of these clichés unpacked and explored.

Then, suddenly, we seem to be in a completely different play. I Am of Ireland, an examination of the complexities and divisions of recent Irish history up to the present day, provides short monologues and scenes focusing on an entirely different set of characters, with a markedly different tone. Continue reading

Flutter, Soho Theatre

by guest critic Maeve Campbell

Heading home from the Soho Theatre after watching Justin Hopper’s Flutter, it was striking to see crowds of people, mainly men, congregate outside the huge Hippodrome Casino that faces Leicester Square station. The detailed interior of the Grosvenor betting shop, immaculately imagined in the Soho upstairs space, had impressed, but felt rather distant from the location of the playing space. Now facing these worshippers to the church of gambling, it seems such snobberies were ignorantly informed. The play’s press describes it as “a love-letter to the high street bookies”. This love is a dark one though, rapidly told in this hour and a half melodrama.

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The Unbuilt City, King’s Head Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

Claudia is a reclusive collector whiling away the time in her Brooklyn Heights townhouse overlooking the East River and lower Manhattan. Jonah is a young writer day jobbing for his old university’s academic archives. He’s been sent to see if Claudia has a priceless item, long thought lost, hidden away in her home. As her life approaches it’s midnight hour, she is desperate to cling to the last thing that gives her some power and Jonah is desperate to win this commission which would financially secure his immediate future.

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The End of History, St Giles in the Field

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Paul (Chris Polick) is a London property developer. He’s a smooth talker and wears impeccably cut, expensive looking suits. He goes to exclusive chillouts where he takes pills and fucks men he doesn’t know. He’s waiting for the clinic to phone.

Wendy’s (Sarah Malin) an art therapist for a few different charities. She’s a liberal activist, and works with homeless people when budgets allow. She and her boyfriend Dave have just split up so moved out and has no where to go. With luggage in tow and work in the morning, she’s reached the end of the line.

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San Domino, Tristan Bates Theatre

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by guest critic Gregory Forrest

I really wanted to love this.

A new musical about gay men under Mussolini (politically, if not physically) sounds so exciting. Silvio Berlusconi’s claim that ‘Mussolini never killed people, just sent them to holiday camps’ brushes off the dark reality of imprisonment, violence, and unrecorded deaths. Yet by clearing out the closet, government officials gave gay men in particular the freedom to live openly and form tentative relationships in their Mediterranean exile. It was a queerly liberating sea breeze.

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