The Brief Life and Mysterious Death of Boris III, King of Bulgaria: Part The First, VAULT Festival

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By Zahid Fayyaz

Here’s a slice of history from Out of the Forest Theatre, set during World War Two. It follows the story of King Boris the Third, who allied with Nazi Germany for geopolitical reasons, but wanted to keep Bulgaria out of the fighting and his Jewish citizens safe as much as possible. This story is told with the use of dramatic recreations of what we are told are true events, with Bulgarian Folk tunes peppered throughout the performance.

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Over My Dad’s Body, VAULT Festival

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by Isabel Becker

What starts off as a razzle-dazzle cabaret musical, full of mockery of his ever-so-gay charm, darling, and name-in-lights showbiz dreams, Simon David’s play soon becomes a deeply personal meditation on life, death and art, often jutting between extremes before we even know it.

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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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Paper Cinema’s Macbeth, Battersea Arts Centre

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By Laura Kressly

I’m a sucker for inventive adaptations of Shakespeare plays, so Paper Cinema’s Macbeth, a live-action, silent movie version, is hugely appealing. For 90 minutes a team of five use handheld cameras, desk lamps and hand-drawn illustrations to broadcast the story in visual form onto a large screen. Accompanied by a Celtic-inspired, cinematic score, this graphic novel/stop motion/object manipulation telling is enchanting – until I ask my companion, a Dutch woman who doesn’t know Macbeth, what she thought. 

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A Kettle of Fish, Yard Theatre

by Helen Murray

By Laura Kressly

Lisa is on a work trip with two colleagues. Things at home are a bit stressful and she normally isn’t included at this level of project management, but she’s fine. Not long into the flight, an attendant asks to have a word with her at the front of the plane. The devastating news she receives sets off a chain reaction of grief, anger and meltdowns. As Lisa tries to hold it together in front of the other passengers, reality slips from her grasp. 

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Othello, Shakespeare’s Globe

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By Laura Kressly

Who knew one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies could be funny? Director and composer Claire van Kampen has tapped into a rare rhythm that sees Iago as a weaselly, clownish man lacking power and finesse, yet still manages to twist Othello into knots. Played by Mark Rylance, one of the finest actors of his generation, his performance is the strongest feature of this production.

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As You Like It & Hamlet, Shakespeare’s Globe

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It would be so much fun to be part of Michelle Terry’s ensemble cast that performs both Hamlet and As You Like It to open this year’s season and her tenure as artistic director. They’re having a great time in what are something of a return to the Rylance era of the actor-manager, but uneven pacing and a smattering of interesting but disconnected choices lead to a lack of cohesion that indicates a lack directorial voice.

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Pericles Prince de Tyr, Barbican

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by Laura Kressly

Flawless royal blue walls reminiscent of the sea surround an unresponsive, middle aged man lying in a hospital bed. Nurses and a doctor flit in an out, efficiently checking vitals and holding quick, whispered conversations with waiting family. This is Pericles, physically and mentally buffeted by a life of grief and tragedy, but this is not quite the story of Pericles that Shakespeare and Wilkins co-wrote. Translated into French and then adapted, Cheek by Jowl here present a man in poor physical and mental health trapped inside his head, in a world composed either of memories or the figments of his imagination.

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Hamilton, Victoria Palace Theatre

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Let’s get this out of the way first – does Hamilton live up to the hype? Yes. It’s very good. Though the revolution in the plot doesn’t influence the dramaturgy, that doesn’t mean it’s not a fantastic show that musically updates the genre and skillfully triggers a spectrum of emotions. It’s simultaneously epic and intimate, staged surprisingly simply with striking, sculptural choreography and utterly engaging throughout.

But this pro-immigration, hip-hop reinvention of the all-American musical about a country gaining independence from a distant, tyrannical overlord resonates rather differently in Brexit Britain than it does in America. Forget the NHS bus – could Hamilton be the new symbol of the Leave campaign?

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