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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!

Machines for Living, Battersea Arts Centre

Originally devised by Let Slip TheatreRedeveloped by Crank Theatre ★★★★ Pros: Clever, quirky, visually striking, fun, and thought-provoking. Cons: A few bits were hard to follow, and a fuller conclusion would have been welcome. Our Verdict: A great first piece for Crank Theatre; lots of fun and very smart! Courtesy of Battersea Arts Centre Crank Theatre and their inaugural production of Machines for Living at the Battersea Arts Centre this week were born from Let Slip’s original production of the ...

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Rémy, Arcola Theatre

Created and Performed by Claire Gaydon★★★ Pros: A very enjoyable performance from a charming young actress and some lovely, magical storytelling. Cons: The story seemed to contain quite a bit of filler and sitting in the Arcola Tent in December can be a fairly uncomfortable experience. Our Verdict: Not a particularly energetic or engaging story but it is brimming with warm-hearted, feel-good cheer and an uplifting performance that is both refreshingly minimalistic and natural. Be sure to wear your thermals ...

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Fulfil Me Fully, Phil, The Space

Written and directed by Sebastian Rex★★★ Pros: Interesting concept, with a great performance by the eponymous Phil. Cons: Some of the characters can come across as overly simplistic. Our Verdict: A good night out, if you have the energy to travel to the venue! Courtesy of The Space Even after a quite a few years in the London theatre scene, I must say that I wasn’t aware of The Space, which is a great shame. The charming venue, admittedly, is ...

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Pack, Finborough Theatre

Louise MonaghanDirected by Louise Hill★★★ Pros: An absolutely amazing all-female cast and a passionate, intense, and unique story. Cons: A bit of a jumpy script – coherency sometimes took a backseat to valuable but heavy-handed morals. Our Verdict: A polished and fiercely performed show that was powerful but in the end maybe a bit too overpowering. Courtesy of the Finborough Theatre I didn’t go into the Finborough’s new play about race and politics expecting the setting to be a bridge ...

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Defrag_, Camden People’s Theatre

Written and performed by Tom LyallDirected by Wendy Hubbard ★★★★★ Pros: A tremendous one man science fiction epic the likes of which you will have never seen on stage. Brilliantly performed by Tom Lyall. Cons: The auditorium at the CPT is a veritable ice-box. I had to leave my gloves on for the whole show. Luckily, I was swept up in the play pretty quickly and forgot all about it. Our Verdict: This is a triumph both in scriptwriting and ...

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Blue Elephant Theatre

William ShakespeareDirected by Ricky Dukes★★★ Pros: A nice, wintery feel to a traditional summer tale (who doesn’t love a good snow machine?). Smooth and creative scene changes, a terrific performance from Bottom and quite a few very funny moments (though mostly thanks to Bottom). Cons: Some of the performances require toning down and sadly the show never quite comes together fully. Our Verdict: A promising production which still requires a lot of improvements to make it work really well. The ...

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The Fantasy Terrorist Variations, Baron’s Court Theatre

Written by Robert Crighton★★★ Pros: A thought-provoking series of three plays which are interesting in terms of content and also written in an intense and engaging manner. Enthusiastic performances which really connect with the audience. Cons: The subject matter, terrorism, is considerably weighty, yet the drama feels insubstantial, clichéd and a little flippant at times. There are several moments throughout when I feel the dialogue runs uncomfortably close to the bone. Our Verdict: The interesting concepts, solid performances and engaging ...

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Ghost Storyteller, Baron’s Court Theatre

Written and performed by Robert Crighton★★★ Pros: A well-crafted monologue delivered with energy, pace and humour. Crighton engages the audience from the outset and the discussion preceding the story builds anticipation and expectation. Cons: The poltergeist in the story is a hamster, which feels naive: there is nothing spooky or disturbing about the story which was a little disappointing after the build-up. Our Verdict: This is a very good yarn and is a perfect conversation starter if you are planning ...

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Blow Out!, Etcetera Theatre

Kaye ConwayDirected by Jennifer Tang★★ Pros: Some very dynamic performances and a handful of genuinely funny moments. Cons: The humour and drama of the piece failed to sync well together, so it felt segmented and was rather slow at points. Our Verdict: Blow Out! features some genuinely talented and enjoyable performers, but it is not a very cohesive or consistently entertaining production. Courtesy of FizzBang! Productions When the first thing that happens to you upon entering a theatre is an ...

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I Stand Corrected, Ovalhouse Theatre

Created and performed by Mojisola Adebayo and Mamela Nyamza★★★★★ Pros: An unforgettable love story beautifully told through music, dance, storytelling and stand-up. Cons: There are no cons. This is a must-see. Our Verdict: A brave and beautiful theatrical triumph starring two phenomenally talented young women. This is theatre as it should be. Courtesy of the Ovalhouse Gay rights remain a very serious and contentious issue throughout most of Africa today. It is estimated that approximately thirty-eight African countries continue to ...

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