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Off West End

Ah, the Off West End. For those not familiar with the term, this is where the real magic of the London theatre scene happens. Great shows are born here, in pubs, in 50-seat theatres, in tunnels. Recommended for the adventurous – we can’t get enough of it, and you’ll save a quid or two as well!

The Diana Tapes, Stockwell Playhouse – Review

Pros: The design is well polished. Cons: Everything else. In 1991, tabloid columnist Andrew Morton was approached by one of Princess Diana’s closest friends with a daunting request that he couldn’t refuse. He was asked to write her biography. Tired of suffering in silence, the wife of the heir to the British throne wanted to expose her husband’s wrongdoings and the devious scheming of the royal family and, to do so, she had chosen a journalist with a background as ...

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A Lesson from Auschwitz, New Wimbledon Theatre – Review

Pros: By honing in on Höss, Hyland’s play doesn’t choose the obvious Holocaust perpetrators (Hitler, Himmler, Mengele et al). Cons: Crescendos in Höss’ speech become distracting; likewise, proximity to the audience and prolonged emphasis of gestures can overkill the intensity. The term ‘political hygiene’ is a chilling one, especially when spoken by Rudolf Höss, commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a place he has just described as ‘the largest human slaughterhouse in history’. Hearing these words on a hot Saturday night in gentrified ...

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Sardines, Drayton Arms Theatre – Review

Pros: Sharp writing and good performances characterise this collection of scenes set in a tube train Cons: The lack of connection between the stories means we’re constantly having to get to know new characters “Make sure you take your belongings with you when you leave this life.” So runs the announcement that introduces this sharply observational piece set entirely on a tube train. The young cast each play multiple roles, as we eavesdrop on conversations and snatched exchanges between strangers; tight direction ...

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Misanthrope, Camden’s People Theatre – Review

Pros: Very entertaining and well acted performance which reminds us how relevant Molière’s plays still are today. Cons: The political point that Furlong tries to make is forced and doesn’t fit the play. In his preface to Tartuffe, Jean Poquelin, better known as Molière, wrote that “if the purpose of comedy is to correct men’s vices, I do not see why any group of men should have special privileges. If this were so, it would have a far more dangerous social consequence ...

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Olaf, Barons Court Theatre – Review

Pros: Good to see an early Ibsen being staged. Cons: Early Ibsen sags in the middle. Ottisdotter Productions bring their focus to lesser known and obscure plays that emphasise the role of women in society. Having last been presented at London’s Adelphi Theatre in 1911, Henrik Ibsen’s Olaf belongs amongst the Norwegian master’s lesser known works, falling outside the 12-play ‘Ibsen Cycle.’ The version presented at Barons Court Theatre is an adaptation by ottisdotter of Anders Orbeck’s translation of Ibsen’s Olaf ...

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Breaking Out Season: Kiss Chase & Guy, The Bunker – Review

Pros: The second show, Guy, is enough to make the whole evening worthwhile Cons: With such contrast between the two shows, a question mark has to be put over the decision to schedule these on the same evening The Bunker’s remit is new contemporary theatre, and with its short Breaking Out Season it is certainly meeting that. Six shows rotating over a month is a great introduction to these emerging theatre groups.  Two shows each night, with the chance to ...

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Machinal, Almeida Theatre – Review

Pros: A brilliantly constructed set is a visually stunning accompaniment to the play. Cons: The disappointingly clipped nine episode format slows the plot down far too often for its own good. The Almeida is one of my favourite theatres so I pounced on the opportunity to see Machinal, by Sophie Treadwell. Both play and author were unfamiliar to me; stylistically Treadwell has apparently been compared to Virginia Woolf and is viewed as a leading purveyor of expressionism. The play, written in 1928, ...

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Left My Desk, New Diorama Theatre – Review

Pros: Brilliant and politically sensitive script, fantastic cast and great direction Cons: Nothing to report A joint research report from Community Care and UNISON from 2016 found that social workers are suffering increasing emotional distress and verbal abuse in their routine work as a consequence of staff shortages and budget cuts. According to the paper the vast majority (80%) reported that during a typical working day they suffered emotional distress, while 40% also described being verbally abused. These numbers represented an increase on ...

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