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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!

Lysistrata, Riverside Studios

Aristophanes, adapted by Theatre Lab Company Directed by Anastasia Revi ★★★★ Pros: An explosively relevant and hilarious adaptation, with clean design, a multi-talented cast, and great original music. Cons: Elements of the re-imagining seemed slightly out of place, and some moments of the play appeared far more polished than others. Our Verdict: An exciting and impassioned update that provides no shortage of laughs during its quest to make a political and economic appeal. Courtesy of Theatre Lab Company Last March, ...

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Hot Dog, The Last Refuge

Sarah KosarDirected by Faye Merralls ★★★ Pros: Simultaneously funny and thought provoking, this show will stay with you long into the evening. Cons: The venue was freezing, the performance space in particular. This did distract a lot of attention from the play itself. Our Verdict: Hot Dog is a striking piece of new writing which skilfully tackles questions of ageing, illness and humanity with consistently dark but on-the-mark humour.  Courtesy of Descent Theatre Sarah Kosar’s Hot Dog gets you asking ...

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Never Rains but it Pours, Theatre 503

Alison CarrDirected by Tom Latter★★★★ Pros: Three excellent performances from a very talented cast. Cons: It would have been nice to see a better resolution to the story – an additional ten minutes would have only pushed the show over the hour mark. Our Verdict: A strongly written script supported by three fantastic actors who portray the characters’ complicated lives with a good balance of sensibility. Courtesy of Theatre 503 Alison Carr’s script is very British in the sense that it’s ...

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Globaleyes 2013, Chickenshed Theatre

Presented by the Chickenshed Theatre Directed by Christine Niering ★★★★ Pros: A very committed group of performers put on a great spectacle of dance and movement. There were many disturbing facts about the effects of globalisation. Cons: At times it was hard to see how the choreography represented these facts. Our Verdict: Jump on the next tube and go see this show. Courtesy of the Chickenshed Theatre It was a bit of a trek to Globaleyes 2013, which is located ...

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Nights of Enchantment, Etcetera Theatre

Gillian Pencavel (based on 1001 Arabian Nights)Directed by Alice Sillett★★★★ Pros: Impressively passionate and physical with excellent use of masks and puppets. Fun and moving at the same time. Cons: The use of several characters per actor without clear signposting is confusing at times. Our Verdict: A very enjoyable play, with brilliant dance, physical theatre, voice, puppets and masks. Courtesy of Tree Folk Theatre The story may have been told endless times and performed in all shapes and forms in theatres all ...

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A Time to Reap, Royal Court

Anna WakulikDirected by Caroline Steinbeis★★★★ Pros: This is a sensitive, honest story about a woman, her friend, his father and the impact of the changing political landscape of Poland through the nineties. Cons: The play deals with issues involving Catholicism and abortion which some may find difficult to remain impassive about. It gets tough towards the end and left me feeling exhausted.Our Verdict: Wakulik possesses a special quality in her writing and this play has an ingenuous beauty that humanises a controversial and complex topic. This ...

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Making Dickie Happy, Tristan Bates Theatre

Jeremy KingstonDirected by Robert Gillespie★★★★ Pros: Some fantastic performances and a sharp, witty script. Cons: The beginning of the second act lagged a bit but got back on track by the end. Our Verdict: A really excellent new work with a cast and script which work together to provide an entertaining and interesting insight into the private lives of some great storytellers.  Courtesy of Tristan Bates The last time I visited the Tristan Bates, the space was grunged up and ...

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In the Kingdom of the Blind, Network Theatre

Brian McMahon, Charlie Howitt and Kit Spink. Directed by Andrea Brooks, Tracy Collier, Steve Hudson, Zois Pigadas, Jason Warren★★ Pros: Strong performance by Kit Spink who delivers an absorbing monologue during the play. Cons: The play jumps around from main plot to subplot, without any structure. It is not clear why the three characters have shunned modern life to sit shivering in a tent with a small ration of jaffa cakes.Our Verdict: Lack of clear purpose lets the play down. ...

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I’m Just Like Magda Goebbels, Camden People’s Theatre

Sara Kewly Directed by Jane Packman ★★★ Pros: A most fascinating subject matter presented by a charming performer. Cons: Considering I didn’t know much about this fascinating subject, I would have liked a bit more information than what this show provides. Our Verdict: In terms of interesting women in history, you can’t get much better than this – a true story about a beautiful Nazi supporter who murders her own children in Hitler’s bunker. Courtesy of Wonder Arts Company It is interesting ...

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Mydidae, Trafalgar Studios

Jack Thorne Directed by Vicky Jones ★★★★ Pros: An insightful, funny and real look at a couple’s relationship and intimacy. Brilliantly honest performances from the two actors. Cons: The darker aspects of the relationship were less convincing. In particular, the action two-thirds of the way through and the characters’ reactions to it felt misjudged. Our Verdict: A play that went from moments of genius to moments that didn’t really work, but I’m still thinking about it. Credit: Simon Annand Before coming to ...

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