Suicide Notes… The spoken word of Christopher Brett Bailey, Shoreditch Town Hall

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by guest critic Joanna Trainor

“I wanted to be gentle when I blew his mind.”

Christopher Brett Bailey could read the Argos catalogue and have an audience hang on his every word. But his talent for storytelling is matched by his weird and wonderful writing, and so we get to take another trip down the rabbit hole of his inspired or insane work.

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For King and Country, The Colab Factory

by guest critic Meredith Jones Russell

The recent boom in so-called immersive theatre has seen a whole range of shows bill themselves using the term, when in reality their approach is anything but. However, it can’t be said that For King and Country is anything other than a genuinely immersive experience.

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The Gulf, Tristan Bates Theatre

by guest critic Meredith Jones Russell

All is not as tranquil as it seems on a quiet shallow of the Gulf of Mexico – Kendra and Betty sit on a boat one afternoon ostensibly to fish, but in reality to thrash out their relationship. As night sets in, they begin to wonder whether they can ever escape where they have ended up.

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Coconut, Ovalhouse

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by guest critic Joanna Trainor

Rumi (Kuran Dohil) is a Muslim atheist, having to hide huge chunks of her life from her family. Including her new, white, non-Muslim boyfriend, Simon. What could possibly go wrong?

Coconut is one of those plays where each person who watches it will take away or resonate with something different, for me it was the role religion plays in our lives.

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Mark Thomas: Showtime from the Frontline, Theatre Royal Stratford East

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by guest critic Joanna Trainor

Mark Thomas knows his audience. He starts the show with a dig at Quentin Lett’s racist review before calling audiences at the Royal Court “a bunch of Tory fuckers,” and the room’s already onside. It’s obvious that almost everyone at the Theatre Royal Stratford East has seen Thomas gig before. The whooping coming from the elderly gentleman sat next to me when he came on stage was particularly lovely.

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Reared, Theatre503

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by guest critic Joanna Trainor

“You look like a fucking idiot.” There was so much love in this insult, that with all the crap this family have to deal with you knew they’d muddle through it together.

For a play just short of 100 minutes, Reared addresses a lot of hefty issues in quite quick succession. Dementia, post-natal depression, losing your virginity, money problems, coming out – the first few scenes are a bit of a whirlwind. But overall writer John Fitzpatrick gives most of them the time they deserve so the story doesn’t feel gimmicky.

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Plastic, Old Red Lion Theatre

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by guest critic Joanna Trainor

“Think Columbine, think Virgina Tech, think Sandy Hook.”

Teenage Ben repeats this again and again in order to calm his nerves when he’s being mercilessly mocked by the football team. Less than two months after the Parkland shootings these words don’t sit right. In Ben’s mouth they sound blasé, and they’re not.

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