Cruel Intentions: The Musical, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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by Meredith Jones Russell

Does the world need a musical version of 1999 American teen flick Cruel Intentions? Probably not, but by God it’s entertaining.

Packing out the Underbelly’s Palais du Variete, this is closer to rock concert than musical. The mainly millennial audience is practically word perfect on both the script, which has been cut for length but otherwise largely unaltered from the screenplay, and the ‘00s hits that are peppered through the plot, often with the flimsiest justification.

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The Canary and the Crow, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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by Meredith Jones Russell

In this semi-autobiographical tale of a working-class Black kid who gets in to a prestigious grammar school, writer and performer Daniel Ward is an insanely likeable and undeniably talented focus. His character, Bird, draws us immediately into his story with warmth and charm, accompanied by original grime and hip-hop tunes.

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Since U Been Gone, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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by Laura Kressly

Teddy Lamb, Jordan and Dom met in college in the ‘00s and quickly became best mates. Now, Teddy’s the only one left and they miss their old pals so much. Teddy’s life has changed a lot since then and they have so much they want to tell their old friends, like how they’ve since come out as trans femme. So they made a love letter of a show to those they’ve lost.

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Does My Bomb Look Big in This?, Soho Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

Aisha and Morgan have to go to school one day in August, like almost every other 16-year-old in the country, to collect their GCSE results. Their school is different from the rest of the country’s though – news teams are at the gates of Mitcham High reporting on the recent disappearance of Yasmin Sheikh, dubbed ‘terror baby’ by the Home Secretary. Frustrated with her best friend’s depiction in the media and the way she has been treated by the police after Yasmin left for Syria, Aisha is determined to tell the story of the girl behind the headlines and enlists Morgan’s help.

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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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Jam, Finborough Theatre

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by guest critic Simona Negretto

There is always something unsettling and creepy about our memories of school. Almost everyone had “that” teacher who tends to reappear as a projection of our fears during stormy nights all through our life. But on those nights, teachers might find students in their nightmares too.

Matt Parvin’s claustrophobic play, Jam, shows how it is when those incubi become real. In a countryside school on a Thursday evening, Bella’s plans to leave her classroom are changed by the arrival of Kane, an ex-pupil with ADHD who haunted her past and forced her to rebuild her life elsewhere. He comes seeking confrontation, and old wounds, never quite healed, are reopened.

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