V + 15, VAULT Festival

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by Lizzie Jackson

The particularly dark and damp Cavern is a perfect location for V+15 what with its references to the trains passing overhead, as well as the mysterious, dystopian theme that runs throughout the play. Jo Sutherland’s writing is philosophical, political and fast-paced with twists and turns at every corner, and the direction from Sara Reimers is naturalistic and engaging, but a bit lacking in its ability to bring out the characters’ emotions. Whether this is down to the actors, the direction, or the script, it is hard to tell. It could be a combination of all three.

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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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What the Dolls Saw, VAULT Festival

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by Laura Kressly

A master doll-maker has died, leaving behind a fractious and fragmented family. His widow is a nostalgic former actor, his eldest daughter Christine is a lesbian true-crime podcaster from his first marriage, middle daughter Zara is a petty criminal living in the US, and his youngest, Meg, is a children’s book author. As they gather for the funeral, Christine reminds them of their long-missing Aunt Lily, mum’s twin. Now that their tyrannical father is dead, it’s the perfect time to get to the bottom of her disappearance.

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Foul Pages, Hope Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

1603. Queen Elizabeth is dead, and James I is in power. Sir Walter Raleigh is imprisoned in the Tower for conspiring against the new king. His lover Mary pines for him in her stately home in Wiltshire, so she and her handmaid plot to secure the king’s favour by putting on a new play just for him, by Shakespeare’s company of players.

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The Nassim Plays, Bush Theatre

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An actor stands on stage. They are handed a script they have never read before. A frank look at suicide, choice and learned behaviour unfolds after a menagerie of animal impressions.

An actor stands on stage. They are handed a script they have never read before. An hour of hilarious and revealing Mad Libs ensues.

An actor stands on stage. They are handed a script they have never read before. It’s a recipe that the actor must prepare whilst reflecting on the cultural importance and ritual of food.

An actor stands on stage. On the screen behind them, a script is projected they have never read before. Then there’s a live feed, a language lesson and a tender reflection on the meaning of home.

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Blondel, Union Theatre

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I am often impressed with theatre’s ability to transform the most serious of topics into bouncy, chirpy musicals. Tim Rice and Tom Williams looked to the Crusades for their comedic tale of Richard I’s court musician, Blondel, but discarded much of the history. This 1983 show has some great numbers, but its frivolity and insubstantial book focusing on a personal journey rather than the larger political landscape is diminutive rather than powerfully sweeping. This is no Les Mis or Miss Saigon; it is instead an under-developed documentation of a rise to fame – but it still has its moments of fun.

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