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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!

Autobiographer, Toynbee Studios

Written and directed by Melanie Wilson★★★  Pros: An enchanting lighting design and equally great sound for such a modest venue. Offers a compelling perspective on the important issue of dementia. Cons: A little wordy and lengthy in places, didn’t quite hold my attention throughout. Not suitable for those who don’t like ‘artsy’ drama. Our Verdict: If you’re looking for serious fringe theatre, look no further. To be honest, you should go just for the pleasure of the lighting design alone!  ...

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The Dark Room, New Diorama Theatre

Written & Directed by David Byrne ★★★★ Pros: An excellent adaptation, some great performances and fantastic direction make this a cohesive and slick piece of work. Cons: Slightly variable individual performances in places, but this is a minor gripe. Our Verdict: A fantastic show from a superb creative team. Definitely worth seeking out, better than many things on the West End and cheaper by miles. Courtesy of Richard Davenport After the success of our last outing to the New Diorama ...

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A Lady of Substance, Tristan Bates Theatre

Jon CooperDirected by Samantha German ★★★ Pros: Fantastic performances, great performance venue and good to see daring pieces of writing being aired. Cons: The script is rather indulgent and it’s a bit too long.  Our Verdict: A very good production of a script that needs a bit more work. Courtesy of Sheer Drop Theatre Company Over the last few months we’ve started to properly branch out into the world of fringe theatre. As a result we’ve discovered some absolute gems, ...

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The Death of Norman Tortilla, Tristan Bates Theatre

Charlotte CoatesDirected by Tom Latter★★★ Pros: Some great performances, and some interesting situations. Will not leave you bored.  Cons: Tries to be too many things at once. Endearing? Shocking? Leaves you wondering.  Our Verdict: Certainly not a boring production, but lacks focus.  Courtesy of Sheer Drop Theatre The Tristan Bates Theatre, just around the corner from the Cambridge Theatre and slap bang in the middle of Covent Garden, describes itself as ‘the thorn in the side of the West End’. It ...

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The Well & Badly Loved, Ovalhouse Theatre

Written and Directed by Ben Webb ★★★★ Pros: Strong stylistic staging, excellent movement sequences. Cons: Overly lengthy at times, contains its fair share of stereotypes. Our Verdict: Enjoyable for people of all walks of life – gay or straight, a piece worth seeing. Courtesy of Risking Enchantment The Ovalhouse is a theatrical space in south London which strives to host ‘theatre for people with something to say’, and this is particularly the case for their latest season, entitled if only… ...

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The London Spring, Etcetera Theatre

Francis Beckett Directed by Christine Kimberley ★★★★ Pros: A thought-provoking production with an intelligent and layered new script. Cons: The action comes across a little cliché at times. Our Verdict: Not for the politically apathetic. For anyone else, don’t miss out on this fascinating insight into recent world politics. Courtesy of Etcetera Theatre The Arab Spring was a movement which no-one expected. It all started with the self-immolation of a young, unemployed Tunisian graduate. Just 15 months later, no less ...

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Don Juan Comes Back from the War, Finborough Theatre

Ödön von Horváth, in a new version by Duncan MacmillanDirected by Andrea Ferran★★★ Pros: Great venue delivering another solid production and offering great value for money; some strong performances too. Cons: Felt it lagged ever so slightly in the middle. Our Verdict: Quite an interesting piece of new writing to check out, and as usual the Finborough worth a trip. Courtesy of the Finborough Theatre The legendary character of Don Juan made his first appearance in the 17th century and ...

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Scooter Thomas Makes it to the Top of the World, New Diorama Theatre

Peter ParnellDirected by Sam Miller★★★★★ Pros: Wonderful script and sublime performances, really London fringe theatre at its absolute best.  Cons: Slightly dragged at one point, but to be honest this is almost not worth mentioning. Our Verdict: Superb. Go and see it now, you haven’t got long! Courtesy of New Diorama Theatre Every now and again, you find a gem hidden away in the depths of London. This evening, I found two. Firstly, I discovered the New Diorama Theatre, tucked away ...

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The Oresteia, Riverside Studios

Aeschylus, translated by Ted HughesDirected by Anastasia Revi★★★ Pros: An engaging production of a Greek classic with some great imagery and stylisation. Will keep you entertained. Cons: Sometimes goes over the top and veers towards melodrama. Our Verdict: Worth the trip if your want to catch an entertaining version of a rarely-performed classic. Courtesy of Anna Soderblom A two and a half hour long production recounting the ins and outs of a three-generation-long family feud was never going to be ...

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God/Head, Ovalhouse Theatre

Chris GoodeDirected by Wendy Hubbard★★★★★ Pros: An incredibly intelligent and well-written show, excellently executed, genuinely fascinating and really makes you think.  Cons: Perhaps easy to zone out if one is in the wrong mindset, not for everyone. Our Verdict: If you want a thought-provoking show with a great script, then don’t miss this. Courtesy of Ovalhouse Theatre A discussion about the nature of God and the reality of religious experience isn’t necessarily my perfect idea of a Friday night out. ...

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