Only an Octave Apart, Wilton’s Music Hall

by Zahid Fayyaz

This show comes straight from New York to one of the world’s oldest surviving music halls in East London. It is a very classy and entertaining tour de force. The concept is a simple one – that a cabaret artist and an opera performer, Justin Vivian Bond and Anthony Roth Costanzo, join forces to sing songs from their respective fields. The message is despite being from different disciplines they have a lot of similarities, except for being one octave apart.

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Dido’s Bar, Royal Docks

by Archie Whyld

It struck me that the journey to Dido’s Bar, through east London, past City Airport and to a warehouse adjacent to Tate and Lyle’s sugar refinery, allows us to imagine what it feels like to be a new arrival in a strange world. And this, Dido’s Bar, a reimagining and retelling of Virgil’s Aeneid, centres Dido’s narrative, namely her experience as a refugee in a foreign land.

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Brown Boys Swim, Soho Theatre

by Laura Kressly

Little can get in the way of teenagers’ hormones. In Kash and Mohsen’s case, the fact they can’t swim isn’t going to stop them going to the biggest event of the year, Jess Denver’s pool party. They’ll simply learn how so they don’t embarrass themselves in front of their entire year group. After all, Kash needs to flaunt his gains in front of the girls, and Mohsen will provide reluctant moral support. With a whole month to go, surely they can figure it out. Swimming’s not that hard, right?

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The P Word, Bush Theatre

by Zahid Fayyaz

This new play is a real treat. Written by and starring Waleed Akhtar, it is a duologue looking at the burgeoning love story between two Pakistani men. Played by Akhtar, Bilal is a young gay Muslim man who has responded to schoolyard bullying by hitting the gym and trawling Grindr for casual hook ups. There are hints of him of him wanting more, but he pushes it down every time
disappointment hits.

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Peaceophobia, Greenwich & Docklands International Festival

By Luisa De la Concha Montes

Peaceophobia, co-produced by Speaker’s Corner Collective, Common Wealth Theatre and Fuel Productions was conceived in Bradford in 2018. After four years in the making, and multiple delays caused by COVID-19, it made it to GDIF 2022, demonstrating that it is possible to turn community-led theatre into headlining events.

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The Cherry Orchard, The Yard

by Laura Kressly

Through his most recent play An Adventure, writer Vinay Patel proved he can masterfully sustain family dramas grappling with big themes. By sticking close to Chekhov’s original story, this adaptation of The Cherry Orchard set in the distant future does similar. A spaceship replaces the estate, but the strict social stratification with a stark disparity in privilege mirror early-1900s Russia. It’s a smart adaptation that works well in surprising ways, though the heavy use of Chekhovian, reflective dialogue and a lack of high conflict mean the story is often slow and baggy.

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Age Is a Feeling, Soho Theatre

by Laura Kressly

We have time, and life is short. It’s ok to make mistakes, and every choice has a consequence. Self-care is important and so is hitting milestones. These conflicting truisms living within us inform small decisions and big ones. As actor/writer Hayley McGee demonstrates, they are often the root of our greatest pleasures and most suffocating griefs. Her monologue narrating an unnamed person’s life, from age 25 through the years after the they die, hones in on key episodes that irrevocably define them and their future, as well as drawing attention to death’s inevitability. As sombre as this piece is, it also adeptly encapsulates moments of joy. As a whole, it’s deeply human and beautifully performed.

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100% Cotton: In a Spin, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Diana Miranda

Song-based storytelling with cheeky humour at its core, 100% Cotton: In a Spin captures snapshots of Liz Cotton’s life as an empty nester in a small village. The solo show unravels within a kaleidoscope of acoustic music, video delights, and storytelling sequences that smoothly interweave as she glorifies her lovely cat and parodies lockdown life with a suffocating husband.

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High Steaks, Theatre Deli

by Laura Kressly

Strips of raw steak hang in pairs around a clinical-looking platform covered in white plastic sheeting. They also dangle from a clothes peg pinching ELOINA’s vulva in a literal depiction of the crude term, ‘beef curtains’. She hated this part of her body when she was 10 years old. Since then she has come to understand this self-loathing, that can result in surgery to minimise and reshape a person’s labia, is the result of unrealistic genital depictions. Whilst there’s little she can do to change the porn, media and pop culture industries, ELOINA can raise awareness and foster self-acceptance.

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