Words Words Words, VAULT Festival

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by guest critic Alex Dowding

Grief is a funny and very human experience, and we all inevitably go through it in one way or another. Writer and performer Lowri Amies here examines her grief around the death of loved ones by diving headfirst into another love – that of Shakespeare.

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Foul Pages, Hope Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

1603. Queen Elizabeth is dead, and James I is in power. Sir Walter Raleigh is imprisoned in the Tower for conspiring against the new king. His lover Mary pines for him in her stately home in Wiltshire, so she and her handmaid plot to secure the king’s favour by putting on a new play just for him, by Shakespeare’s company of players.

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Othello, Unicorn Theatre

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by guest critic Hailey Bachrach

Ignace Cornelissen’s Henry the Fifth, which was at the Unicorn Theatre in 2015, remains one of my favourite versions of that play ever. Setting King Henry’s French wars in a sandbox, Cornelissen simplified without dumbing-down the central themes of Shakespeare’s play.

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Julius Caesar, The Bridge Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

Last summer, New York’s Shakespeare in the Park made international news with its production of Julius Caesar, updated to contemporary America with Caesar looking rather suspiciously like Trump. When the right wing press got wind of it, protests outside the theatre ensued.

Fortunately, this is much less likely at Nick Hytner’s similarly Trumpified Caesar. Unfortunately, his look at the devision between the ignorant, poor right and educated, middle class left is a simplistic and occasionally wildly inaccurate comparison to real life partisan policies.

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Tomorrow Creeps, VAULT Festival

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by Laura Kressly

I’m a big fan of Golem!’s approach to theatrical storytelling, and they’re a big fan of my review of their last production – so much so that their primary pull quote is one I wrote. It tops their programme, their press release and their festival listing. So it saddens me to say that Tomorrow Creeps pales in comparison to their I Know You of Old on which I lavish heaps of praise.

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Curtain Call, White Bear Theatre

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The backstage comedy has been around for what feels like as long as theatre itself, and it’s difficult to improve upon or innovate it. Simon Bradbury’s attempted dark comedy Curtain Call takes a different direction, instead using the genre to look at ageing, failure and unrequited love. The overwritten script needs significant cutting and dramaturgical streamlining, but it has a dynamic premise that looks at an often-ignored demographic.

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Double Trouble, Intermission Youth Theatre

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It can be tough to get kids to engage with Shakespeare. Many of them see the foreign-sounding language and old-fashioned stories as irrelevant to the issues they battle as growing up today. Fortunately, Intermission Youth Theatre artistic director Darren Raymond focuses on exploring contemporary themes in Shakespeare’s work with the 16-25s that make up the theatre company and convinces them to love the Bard.

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