Julius Caesar, The Bridge Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

Last summer, New York’s Shakespeare in the Park made international news with its production of Julius Caesar, updated to contemporary America with Caesar looking rather suspiciously like Trump. When the right wing press got wind of it, protests outside the theatre ensued.

Fortunately, this is much less likely at Nick Hytner’s similarly Trumpified Caesar. Unfortunately, his look at the devision between the ignorant, poor right and educated, middle class left is a simplistic and occasionally wildly inaccurate comparison to real life partisan policies.

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The Claim, Shoreditch Town Hall

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by Laura Kressly

The sickly, yellow lights of a featureless meeting room are making Serge thirsty. He just wants some water, to tell his story and get back home to Streatham. An unnamed woman and man try and fail to listen to him, but they’re more concerned with whether his story is the kind that would enable their Western, colonial notion of helping.

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The Tin Drum, Shoreditch Town Hall

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Oskar is a child of myth and legend. Or maybe he’s just bad-tempered and noisy. Either way, he comes into a fictional world of darkening shadows that’s clearly pre-WWII Europe. Born with a fully adult brain, he looks down on most people around him but has simple, childish request – that his mother buys him a tin drum.

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The Black Eye Club, Bread & Roses Theatre

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Zoe’s back at her commuter belt town’s refuge after her husband beat her up again. This time it’s because Palace lost. Last time, it was because she was nagging to much. She jokes about what will bring her here the next time with her new friend Dave, an anxious gay man who escaped through his bathroom window after his partner beat the shit out of him again. Dave’s not allowed in the refuge, but Zoe felt bad and snuck him in.

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The Listening Room, Stratford East

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Can violent criminals be rehabilitated, and can their victims ever forgive them? The Listening Room says yes.

This verbatim piece tells the stories of three violent crimes, primarily from the perspective of the perpetrators. Some character background sets the scene for climactic moments where they commit their offences, but at least half of each of the five characters’ stories spotlights the rehabilitation process and mediation between the assailants and their victims.

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Eyes Closed Ears Covered, Bunker Theatre

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by guest critic Liam Rees

Alex Gwyther’s Eyes Closed, Ears Covered is a slippery play that continuously raises questions. We’re immediately presented with Alyson Cummins’ concrete-grey, angular set, suggestive of a brutalist play park in a rundown housing estate. A recording of a distressed phone call to the police about a pair of young boys and a terrible act of violence adds tension. Gwyther’s script immediately has us hooked with the right amount of specific details to suggest what may have occurred whilst not to revealing too much.

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Monster, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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I didn’t have any particular expectations from Joe Sellman-Leava’s new play on male violence. But I am joyfully surprised by an opening montage of rapidly-delivered Shakespeare, ranging from Othello to Taming of the Shrew. Disarmingly vicious in its delivery, this scene snaps into an audition for a play, then a house in Exeter, then the video research material for Joe’s character, and back again.

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Palmyra, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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Two men glide around the floor on small wheeled platforms. Like children, belly down on skateboards, they relish the speed and inability to control their paths. There’s a sense of freedom and joy in their movements, but collisions soon turn happiness into hostility. The fights increase in aggression, and the audience is made complicit. No one is innocent here.

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Ponyboy Curtis vs., The Yard

by Laura Kressly

Trying to write about Chris Goode’s latest Ponyboy Curtis show vs. is like trying to fit a hurricane into a canning jar. The energy, love and freedom on the Yard’s stage is irrevocably alive and unrestrained, and trying to pin this one-of-a-kind butterfly onto a page kills it a little, or a lot. So take this review as a tiny sample of an extravagant banquet that can only be fully experienced directly.

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