Directed by Lisa Millar and choreographed by Christopher Tendai, Wonderland in Alice is an original adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s tale that explores its themes and tropes through contemporary dance and music, trippy visuals and dynamic stage design.
Billed as a work-in-progress, this is a four-person play set in 17th century France, based on the true story of ‘La Voisin’, otherwise known as Catherine Montvoisin, a female poisoner who was said to have murdered thousands of people in Paris. The play centres around the concept of a police recreation of what happened when one of King Louis’s mistresses hires Montvoisin to make the king first fall in love with her, and then when that doesn’t work, to attempt to poison him. The four actors both act out the events of what was purported to happen during the time frame of the events in question, and in a metatheatrical twist, question the nature of the story being written and its validity.
Nina, an achingly cool yet awkward young Londoner, wasn’t expecting to meet Gabriel at a BBQ in Tooting, but she does. Their burgeoning relationship seems perfect. Descriptions of dates, parties, meeting each others’ families and moving in together feel natural and healthy, until things start to deteriorate. Moments that were previously joyful become tense, and physical affection is now forceful. As much as this is a monologue about falling in love, it’s also a piece about its deterioration into abuse and finding a way out.
Storytelling – the simple kind where a small group of people sit in the dark and simply share wild and wonderful tales – is an inherent part of being human. In this instance, combining this instinct with improvisation, and audience interaction results in a story following a group of friends trying to find their way out of a plane crash. The audience is the group of friends, and Joe Strickland quietly narrates the set-up. Soon, Strickland introduces a chose-your-own-adventure type of moment that leads to many more. The concept is fun and the audience enthusiastically engages, but the execution raises questions about audience autonomy and the limits of improv.
Sudha Buchar has had an extraordinary career as an actor, writer and producer. Other parts of her life are equally exciting – born in Tanzania to Indian parents, her early childhood was spent between East Africa and Asia before moving to the UK at age 11. Now 60 years old and long-settled in middle-class Wimbledon with a husband and two Gen-Z sons, she reflects on a vast range of topics in her stream-of-conscious monologue. Generational differences, race, feminism, and her neighbours are just a few of these that make up this chatty and reflective staged reading.
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.
James Rowland’s Songs of Friendship trilogy focuses on the equally hilarious and moving antics he got up to with his best mates Tom, Sarah and Sarah’s partner Emma over the years. These include stealing a friend’s remains and giving him a Viking funeral, and donating sperm to Sarah and Emma. This show is situated outside of that group of friends. Instead, it focuses on another mate who is far less conventional. Though Rowland’s work here is not as neat or as focused as his previous shows, his seemingly truthful delivery and comic timing are as engaging as ever.
Maybe You Like It Productions has just finished a run at the Camden Fringe premiering their comedy Pleading Stupidity, a show written and directed by Caleb Barron and inspired by the real case of the ‘Dumb and Dumber bandits’, as the media called them. The show tells the story of two Aussies who robbed a local bank during their gap year in a Colorado ski town, whilst wearing name tags from their jobs and making no attempt to hide their accents. The crime was solved in eight minutes.
The downstairs venue has a combo treat this weekend – an indie-rock gig, a spoken word poetry slam and a solo show. All of that is under the single name of head/lining, a gripping play written and performed by Charlie Heptinstall.
As reporters all over the country zip themselves into their waterproofs to stand in front of wheelie bins that have fallen over in the wake of Storm Jorge, down in the Vaults it’s Hurricane Jonas that is clogging up the airwaves. CNN are filming in the Cherokee Valley Zoo, and have picked the animal handler Bonnie (Lily Bevan) to guide them her day as she prepares the animals for a troubled night.