A blend of Orwell’s 1984 and the American Horror Story TV series, The Messiah Complex is a dystopian thriller that explores the extremes of conflicting belief systems. It takes place in a society where religion is banned and treated as a mental illness, and those who oppose scientific dogma are prosecuted without scruples. Sethian, a prophet who grapples with inner conflict, is held captive in a complex where a scientist – someone really between a nurse and a political propagandist – attempts to correct his behaviour. If Sethian fails to cooperate, the complex’s ‘administrators’ threaten to erase his memory of Sophia, his partner and fellow leader in a revolutionary movement.
This is certainly an eye-opening show that’s a great ending to this year’s festival. The second show from director, writer and actor Adam Scott-Rowley, this follow-up to his critically acclaimed show THIS IS NOT CULTURALLY SIGNIFICANT has a lot of buzz around it.
This is a debut, solo performance looking at the attempts by the titular Ace to woo the object of her school affections, Sasha. The show is mainly set in a nightclub, epitomised by Ace (played excellently by Tiffany Marina Pearmund) walking amongst the crowd and with nightclub music playing over the speakers.
Written by Nimrod Danishman, Borders explores the relationship of two young men who meet on Grindr, one is in Israel, and the other in Lebanon. Although deeply affected by political circumstances, their digital relationship strengthens against all odds. I spent an afternoon in a rehearsal ahead of the run at VAULT Festival 2023, after looking at the show from the sidelines for some years now.
Many of us crave the escape from mundane routine that a holiday abroad gives us. Sun, sand, great food and immersion in different cultures are all wonderful experiences – usually. There absolutely can be downsides. Using clowning and mime, David Hoskin presents the annoying (sunburn and fellow travellers), the uncertain (whether or not a dubious-looking meal will hurt you), and the down-right strange and terrible (getting stranded in the woods and threatened by wild animals). Hoskin’s physical performance is exceptional, though the narrative’s shift into the surreal is less effectively conveyed than other parts of the story.
Marnie promised herself she would never go for a poo in the school toilets, but her bowels have had other ideas lately. As she’s dealing with this embarrassment and worrying about her health, we get insight into her innards, where white blood cells are waging war on her colon. This is conveyed by an audio narration focusing on a brand-new cell getting to grips with their job, guiding listeners through the human anatomy and what happens when the body attacks itself.
Rose and Ruby are best friends and flatmates who met at Piper’s, one of the few spaces for queer women and femmes left in the city. Piper’s has announced they have to close so the pair are scheming about how to raise money for the venue. Turning to tarot and astrology as well as their own lives, queer joy ultimately emerges from the characters’ struggles as well as from the actors who play them.
This is a new, box fresh new musical, with a LGBTQ+ focus. Set in a Catholic school, it features four young student musicians trying to play their music, which shows their queer identities. Since it’s 1994, the school is not happy about it and tries to shut them down. However, the students in question are not going to give up without a fight.
Fresh from a month’s run at the Edinburgh Fringe and then Soho Theatre, Fanboy is a one-man show written and acted by Joe Sellman-Leava. It is seemingly autobiographical, looking at changes in society through the lens of the Star Wars fandom. Using videos and props to develop the story of the piece, it’s certainly not static, which can often be an issue with one-person shows.
This is a one-woman show with an accompanying musician, three chairs and a suitcase that tells the story of a British South Asian student, focusing on the beginning of her relationship with Jay at university. However, in between the descriptions of university life, there is a looming sense of dread and violence due to her family not approving of her match and what happened to her friend who went against her family’s wishes.