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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!

Mandrake, The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

Machiavelli, adapted by Howard Colyer Directed by Scott Le Crass ★★ Pros: A fun romp of a story. Cons: Limited depth of thought in this production. The script is played comically rather than as comedy. Verdict: Loosely enjoyable but ultimately not very satisfying. Courtesy of The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre When you enter the auditorium you see clever and elegantly designed dividing frames that suggest the creation of a vast array of locations and, in their sparseness, promise simple but ...

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Don’t Wake Me: The Ballad of Nihal Armstrong, The Cockpit

Rahila GuptaDirected by Guy Slater★★★★ Pros: The play gives the subject of caring for the disabled a personal dimension. Cons: The show may not sound like everyone’s cup of tea, but appearances are deceiving. Our Verdict: A one-woman show that taps into the fears and experiences of all parents. I don’t know about you, but when someone says, “Do you want to see a moving play about a parent with a Courtesy of the Cockpit disabled child?” it doesn’t necessarily ...

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LineUp, Greenwich Theatre

Vertical Line Theatre Company ★★★★ Pros: A very enjoyable series of short plays to both amuse and entertain. Provides us with glimpses into our current world issues. Cons: A bit short on the production value, with a few kinks to iron out here and there. Our Verdict: Some fantastic new work, great for a fun night out! Complete with that great feeling of knowing you’re supporting up-and-coming talent. Courtesy of Vertical Line Theatre Company Watching new writing line ups can ...

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Playing With Fire, Drayton Arms

Johan August StrindbergTranslated and Directed by Anna Ostergren★★★ Pros: The tension of the play is palpable throughout, making for exciting viewing. Cons: Some of the acting didn’t quite work for me. Our Verdict: A tense piece of work focusing closely and effectively on human relationships. While an hour isn’t necessarily long enough to engage with characters, Playing with Fire is a wonderfully tense production with extremely strong direction.  Tucked away just off of Gloucester Road, the Drayton Arms appears to ...

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In The Loop, LOST Theatre

Jennifer Sarah Dean Directed by Jennifer Sarah Dean ★★★ Pros: The production’s sense of urgency, its ambiguity, its use of space, its assured acting, and its daring treatment of some important issues (memory, truth, testimony, consequence) make for an absorbing half-hour.  Cons: The whole thing dashes past breathlessly. The audience might have benefitted from some opportunities to reflect on the intriguing scenario set before them.  Our Verdict: A bold piece that certainly commands attention and encourages later reflection on some ...

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Final Showcase, The Poor School

Presented by Graduates of The Poor School  ★★★★  Pros: Witnessing so much talent and potential makes for a thrilling evening. Cons: Nothing springs to mind. Our Verdict: A wonderful evening showcasing the talent of the school’s graduating students in a varied collection of repertoire. As the oldest of six children, I’m all too aware of what a school production traditionally entails. Having endured many nativities and small-scale musicals, I can’t say that my expectations for this showcase of The Poor School’s graduating students ...

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The Rules, Old Red Lion Theatre

Lila WhelanDirected by Lila Whelan★★★★ Pros: Dark, witty and with a strong cast, The Rules is a cross between a psychological thriller and an Elizabethan tragedy, with a couple of gags thrown in. Cons: Some of the delivery could be tightened and the lighting might benefit from some more subtlety, but these are minor criticisms in a very solid production. Our verdict: For fans of American Psycho, The Rules is a must-see. For everyone else, it is highly recommended. It ...

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Venus/Mars, Old Red Lion Theatre

Patrice EtienneDirected by Rikki Henry★★★★ Pros: A good mix of humour and emotion, with a truly accessible storyline. Cons: Parts of it were a little slow, not helped by a boiling hot auditorium! Our Verdict: A raw and energetic production, with neat and innovative staging. Courtesy of Martyna Przybsz  I love a lot of things. I love wearing skinny jeans. I love the feel of moss on my face. I also love lying. But being in love – that’s a ...

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City Shorts, Rosemary Branch Theatre

Presented by London Grey and Green Theatre Company ★★★ Pros: Four 15-minute pieces offer a snapshot of some interesting female writers. Cons: With the exception of one piece, the idea that women living in London lead different lives to women living in other parts of the UK was not considered in as great a depth as it could have been.  Our Verdict: A light evening that won’t challenge you intensely. Each separate show has its own style and message which ...

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Cymbeline, The Space

William Shakespeare Directed by Nathalie Adlam ★★★ Pros: An atmospheric production. Fine performances that bring Shakespeare’s language to life. Cons: The complex plot is difficult to follow; the play’s disparate elements don’t cohere. Our Verdict: A valiant attempt at a problematic play. Courtesy of The Space I had never seen or read Cymbeline prior to attending this production by Les Foules Theatre. Yet, because the play features a mishmash of so many Shakespearian tropes, it felt familiar. There’s a love ...

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