All Quiet On The Western Front, VAULT Festival

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By Zahid Fayyaz

First put on in 2015, this is a welcome return for Incognito Theatre’s adaptation of the novel and film of the life and trials of five German friends on the front during World War One. Fitting it all into an hour-long show is a tough task, but the five talented actors do extremely well to succeed in doing so. With minimal props and using the power of dialogue, they move from initial recruitment to punishing an overly arrogant corporal, to fighting on the front and being forced to reside in a military hospital.

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Aamira and Gad, VAULT Festival

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by Zahid Fayyaz

A site-specific play with a slight immersive element for the audience, this is the latest
production from new company Bee in my Beanie. They establish a framing sequence consisting of the Archivist Society looking at a ‘story’, with the head archivist portrayed as a magnificent, giant puppet. This is mainly the story of Aamira and Gad, two children on opposite sides of a border conflict, forced to come together following a sudden loss.

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Notch, VAULT Festival

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by Dora Bodrogi

CW: war, migration, mental health, homelessness

How do you cope when the promise of the West turns out to be a city in the midst of a housing crisis, and you’re only one pay check away from homelessness? A.A. (Danaja Wass) doesn’t really know.

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Antigone, New Diorama

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by Laura Kressly

In 2018, Lulu Raczka’s A Girl in School Uniform (Walks into a Bar) showed her talent for writing compelling, teenage girl characters. In a world that’s so keen to criticise and dismiss young women and their interests and emotions, Raczka’s writing legitimises them. By putting them in life-or-death scenarios, she shows they are empathetic and capable of making huge decisions that shouldn’t be made by anyone other than those much older than them, but they can still like boys and partying. This two-person take on Antigone zooms in on young sisters Ismene and Antigone, social outcasts due to actions by others in their family and who are forced to grow up much too quickly.

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World’s End, King’s Head Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

It’s 1998, 19-year-old Ben and his mum Viv are moving house again. This time, they’re cramming all their belongings into a one-bedroom ex-council flat in World’s End, Chelsea. They quickly make friends with their neighbours, Ylli and his son Besnik, who are Albanian refugees. The aspirational Viv is unfazed by the move but quiet and high-strung Ben can’t cope. He’s determined to shut himself away with his Nintendo, but the charming and confident Besnik has other ideas.

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The Time of Our Lies, Park Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

When Howard Zinn was a bombardier in WWII, his plane was too high up to see the damage caused by the bombs he dropped. As a young academic after the war, he visited some of these places, rebuilt but with civilian trauma still fresh in survivors’ minds. These experiences cemented a life-long opposition to war and social injustice, manifested in activism, writing and scholarship. He believed that learning about history was the best way to avoid repeating it, and that listening to the stories from anyone other than the victors is crucial to that learning process.

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Pizza Shop Heroes, Tara Arts

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by Laura Kressly

In an unassuming takeaway pizza place somewhere in London, four men answer the phones and process orders. They also reminisce about the journeys that led them there. From Afghanistan, Albania and Eritrea, they made their ways through war zones, deserts and detainment centres on their own, as children. Now they’re adults with hopes and dreams like anyone, but they are irrevocably shaped by their experienced as children seeking safety in a country that’s doing its best to deter them, and others like them, from living safe and peaceful lives. It’s time for us to listen to what they have to say.

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Edward II, Shakespeare’s Globe

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by Laura Kressly

Though King Edward II’s sexuality and the history surrounding his death are disputed by historians, Nick Bagnall takes a definitive stance in Marlowe’s history play. Here, the king is unquestionably gay and unashamed of his love for Piers Gaveston, one of his courtiers. It’s this unwavering love and devotion that gives ammunition to his enemies – a group of powerful barons, Scottish and French rulers, and even his wife – causing his violent and tragic downfall.

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Forgotten, Arcola Theatre

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By Laura Kressly

Old Six and his wife Second Moon are poor but have a new baby. Eunich Lin is constantly ridiculed for his lack of balls and family’s poor timing. Big Dog doesn’t know his real name and loves smoking a bit too much. Apart from the love of performing Chinese opera to their friends and families, there’s little else that brings joy to this rural village in Shandong Province. But when the villagers hear that the British and French are recruiting men to work in labour camps to support the WWI troops, this could be a way to change their fortunes.

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