Brawn, King’s Head Theatre

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by Louis Train

What makes some people obsess over fitness? That’s the question at the heart of Brawn, a new play written and performed by Christopher Wollaton under the direction of Matt Staite. At a lean 60-minute run time, Wollaton, alone on stage save a pair of dumbbells, tells the story of how his character, Ryan, came to be the impressive physical specimen he is today, and what he has had to give up to reach it. Part confessional, part social insight, part torture, Brawn is a wise, shocking look into the mind of one man who wants to get bigger.

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The Show in Which Hopefully Nothing Happens, Unicorn Theatre

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By Laura Kressly

For a show in which hopefully nothing happens, there are plenty of weird and wonderful things that unfold, of course. Because a children’s show – or one for adults for that matter – would be incredibly dull indeed if nothing happened, but that’s absolutely not a worry here. 

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Richard III, Alexandra Palace

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by Louis Train

There’s an annoying trend among artists to draw explicit parallels between historical texts and the present day, tossing around words like ‘prescient’ and ‘timely’, and finding hints of Brexit in Arthur Miller plays like religious fanatics spotting the face of Jesus on toast. That’s not to say, however, that we can’t find broad reflections of our world in old stories: people are still people, just as interesting, lovely, and ugly as they ever have been.

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Monkeys Blood, Vault Festival

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by Laura Kressly

There’s a world of difference between London and the impoverished estates in Britain’s small towns. Mickey grew up on one in Hartlepool, a place famous for its historic execution of a monkey mistaken for a Frenchman, the more recent fraud case committed by John ‘Canoe Man’ Darwin, and not much else. Some of the town’s citizens maintain its xenophobic, monkey-slaughtering legacy in the form of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant protests, even though they’ve never met anyone off the estate. Micky escaped these attitudes through a successful career as a children’s entertainer – or so he thought.

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Fagin’s Twist, The Place

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By Laura Kressly

Charles Dickens’ story of the orphan boy who nicely asked for more dinner in an orphanage before training to become a pickpocket is here refocused on the older ringleader of Victorian London’s underworld, Fagin. In the musical and film, little is shared of Fagin’s backstory.  But it is the beginning of this contemporary dance piece in two acts.

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