Coriolanus, Rose Playhouse

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by guest critic Gregory Forrest

The Rose is a unique venue: part studio theatre, part archaeological dig. Taking your seat to begin the performance, you are met with a cool breeze of black. Some sense of space exists around you, yet is imperceptible. Then, as the play begins, you are suddenly met with lights and depth and a sheer drop to a still underground lake. For this moment alone, The Rose is worth a look.

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Monster, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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I didn’t have any particular expectations from Joe Sellman-Leava’s new play on male violence. But I am joyfully surprised by an opening montage of rapidly-delivered Shakespeare, ranging from Othello to Taming of the Shrew. Disarmingly vicious in its delivery, this scene snaps into an audition for a play, then a house in Exeter, then the video research material for Joe’s character, and back again.

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Changelings, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Mowgli, a ferocious boy-child raised by wolves in the jungle, has been kicked out of the pack. He’s trying to figure out what to do next when he meets a mysterious creature from another world – or rather, another story. Puck has been watching Mowgli with unusually keen interest, so the two might be able to help each other out.

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Hamlet, Harold Pinter Theatre

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Hamlet may or may not be Shakespeare’s magnum opus, but the Dane is unquestionably one of the greatest roles in the English language. Theatre’s pop star Robert Icke, what with his reputation for hot takes on the classics, no doubt found the play’s allure irresistible. This Hamlet, freshly transferred to the West End from the Almeida, is a slick, beast of a production surpassing three hours. Undeniably contemporary, it does its best to smash the restrictions of the proscenium arch with a celebrity cast and achingly cool, Scandi/corporate design. His casting of Andrew Scott in the title role and subsequent character choices makes this a Hamlet for cool young people on the hunt for profundity, depth of meaning and instagrammable aesthetics.

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Hamlet Fool, Lion & Unicorn Theatre

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A lesson: always read press releases in full. Why? Because you might turn up to a show and discover it’s performed in Russian (when you don’t speak Russian). At least in this instance knowing the source material for Hamlet Fool, a one-woman street performance style retelling Shakespeare’s classic, provides a base knowledge.

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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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