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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!

Jekyll and Hyde, Maltings Arts Centre

Jonathan HollowayDirected by Jessica EdwardsPresented by Red Shift – Flipping the Bird★★★★ Pros: This is a dark and exciting twist on a classic tale. Excellent writing supported by neat yet dynamic staging, and strong performances from the cast give this production high quality impact for the £10 ticket price. Cons: There are some awkward moments with a couple of props and I felt that Dr Jekyll could have been a little stronger with more contrast. It has a 12+ rating but ...

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The Boat Factory, Kings Head Theatre

Dan GordonDirected by Philip Crawford★★★★ Pros: Clever staging and well-crafted writing. Cons: A bit formulaic in parts. Our Verdict: A thoroughly slick production with a superbly versatile cast. Courtesy of www.happenstancetheatre.co.uk I remember my very first job: working as a waiter in a pub. Everything was going fine until I was sacked for changing the name of the Soup of the Day: Mahogany-Steamed Trout Cheeks in a Balsamico-Nettle Reservoir sounded far more appealing than Pea and Ham. Unbelievably my bosses ...

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Hotbed Festival, Soho Theatre

Why Can’t We Live Together Steve WatersDirected by Paul Bourne Somniloquy Craig Baxter, in collaboration with Richard HornerDirected by Paul Bourne How To BeginHisham Matar, in collaboration with Devorah BaumDirected by Patrick Morris   ★★★★ Pros: New writing performed with intelligence and heart. Cons: You could argue the sets were basic, but they were fit for purpose and the writing wasn’t reliant on an ornate backdrop. Our Verdict: A set of new plays and monologues that are worth making the effort to ...

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Life in a Sketchbook, Top Secret Comedy Club

Emma MinihanDirected by Jonathan Woodhouse and Rachael Owens★★★ Pros: Well written and funny. It will have you smiling throughout and not just because it’s free. Cons: The vehicle for linking the sketches is a bit odd and not very effective. Some stories are stronger than others. Our Verdict: A fun hour that will have you wondering about the sanity of city living. Courtesy of ayoungertheatre.com This little venue is tucked away in the basement of the Africa Centre on King ...

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The Beginning, Battersea Arts Centre

Devised and performed by Michael Pinchbeck, Nicki Hobday and Ollie Smith★★★★ Pros: A fascinating concept, nicely performed with lovely music. Cons: This is an abstract piece, very in keeping with BAC’s ethos, but unless you are a fan of contemporary art and theatre, this may not be for you. Our Verdict: A clever, touching and often funny piece. Enjoyable and well worth a look. Courtesy of Julian Hughes and Michael Pinchbeck What is a performer? What does it mean to ...

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Forget Me Not, Tea House Theatre

Shane BurkeDirected by Sasha Roberts★★★ Pros: Interesting story about a well-known wartime poet, with some good performances. Cons: The short length meant some aspects of the play seemed hurried and the interaction between characters a bit unnatural. Out Verdict: An enjoyable and insightful show in a venue which was a joy to discover. The great thing about London’s theatre scene is that even if you have been seeing several shows a Courtesy of Tea House Theatre month for several years, ...

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Where the White Stops, Battersea Arts Centre

Devised by ANTLER ★★★ Pros: Playful physical storytelling in abundance. Different from anything else in London at the moment. Cons: It’s a shame that not all the dialogue was audible. Our Verdict: An imperfect, but enjoyable archetypal fable. As I write this review, it is in the middle of a heat wave. This being the case, it does seem a little strange to Courtesy of Antler Theatre write about a play that’s set in a land permanently under a blanket of ...

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Boohai, Union Theatre

Devised by GoforBroke Theatre Company in association with AXIS Arts.★★★ Pros: Funny and sometimes thought-provoking with good characterisation. Cons: Action a little laboured at times. Our Verdict: Solid debut for a new theatre group. Can we ever really know someone? Can we ever truly know how anyone’s mind works? If we can’t, is it Courtesy of The Union Theatre worth the risk? That’s what Go for Broke Theatre group provocatively ask their audience to consider. ‘Boohai’ is the debut production ...

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Russian Seasons of XXI Century, London Coliseum

Directed by Andris Liepa ★★ Pros: A nice evening for children with lovely dancing, bright costumes and panto characters. Cons: The whole night lacked coherence and some unfortunate technical hitches made everything a little stilted. Our Verdict: By no fault of the dancers, this company struggle to pull off a night of entertaining ballet. I didn’t really know what to expect when attending this performance. Courtesy of The London Coliseum There was a scant programme giving little away about the ...

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Our Friends, The Enemy, Theatre 503

Alex GwytherDirected by Tom O’Brien★★★★ Pros: A strong performance and script from Gwyther, even-handed direction from O’Brien, and a timeless, deeply human message. Cons: The diffusion of narrative focus devalues the stories of the two characters who underpin the text; several passages come close to being a cliché and the mild allusions to the architects of war might have carried more venom. Our Verdict: A combative one-man piece with a lot to offer. Our Friends, The Enemy enjoyed a successful run ...

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