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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!

Tea with Mamgu, The London Welsh Centre

Written and directed by David J. Evans ★★★ Pros: An interesting approach to the very difficult subject of succumbing to dementia. Funny at times and moving at others. Enjoyable elements of Welsh culture and some very good acting.Cons: Slightly static direction with lengthy dialogue and lack of movement on stage. Mamgu was a tad too youthful for her age, detracting from an otherwise well written play.Our Verdict: An enjoyable play about the terrible reality of a dementia sufferer. A play ...

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Ocelot: Resurrection, The Last Refuge

The Brothers KaufmanDirected by Jonathan Kaufman★★★ Pros: Hilarious short pieces and a wildly funny, engaged cast. Cons: Inclusion of light and set design would have bumped the presentation up a notch. Our Verdict: Though it could have been easier on the eyes, Ocelet: Resurrection is a hidden comic gem that will crack you up and make you think! Courtesy of The Last Refuge This month, Spontaneous Productions presents Ocelot: Resurrection, their fourth series of short plays and sketches since 2009. ...

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The Seagull, Watford Palace Theatre

Anton Chekhov, in a new version by John Donnelly Directed by Blanche McIntyre  ★★★★  Pros: A modern script that pulls Chekhov into the 21st century, with some fantastic, natural performances and a great set.  Cons: Still a little hard to follow for those unversed in Chekhov. Takes a little while to get going.  Our Verdict: An enjoyable show and a great one to see if you want a digestible introduction to Chekhov. Courtesy of Tristam Kenton for Headlong  Those of you ...

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Britain’s Got Talons, Hen and Chickens Theatre

James Morton Directed by James Morton and Chris Lawson ★★★ Pros: A topical and fresh idea which will appeal to a young audience.  Cons: The play (and its audience) would benefit enormously from an interval. In its current format, it is difficult to give the play your full attention, especially towards the end.  Our Verdict: An interesting idea for a play, but an older audience may struggle with the concept. The play needs an interval and the length of some ...

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Singin’ I’m No a Billy He’s a Tim, The Cockpit

Written and directed by Des Dillon ★★★ Pros: A great script. Funny and poignant with strong themes, cleverly delivered in a very credible setting. The cast are fantastic and deliver wonderful comic timing.  Cons: Although pacey and energetic, it is a little drawn out. The early encounters lack the blind anger that could be present when staunch rivals meet in such circumstances. The context outside of Scotland may not relate to all audiences.  Our Verdict: Des Dillon is a very ...

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Around the House, Ovalhouse Theatre

Presented by the Ovalhouse Theatre Part of 33% London  ★★ Pros: An ideal platform for showcasing young talent.  Cons: The site specific setup was clumsy and contributed little to the production.  Our Verdict: A good idea for a production, but one which needed more engaging performances and more appropriate spaces to work to its full potential.  Courtesy of the Ovalhouse Having seen two fantastic youth performances at the Ovalhouse Theatre, I was happy to return in the long-awaited sunshine to ...

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Publius Horatius, White Bear Theatre

Presented as part of the AXIS Emerging Artists Festival alongside Vesta Created and directed by Menelaos Karantzas ★★ Pros: A clever set for a black box venue with some lovely direction and staging.  Cons: Quite slow which made it hard to follow and I was unsure if all the pauses were necessary.  Our Verdict: A worthy subject to explore, bringing ancient stories into the modern world and contrasting them with much more current geo-political events. Sadly I was left unaware of ...

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Vesta, White Bear Theatre

Presented as part of the AXIS Emerging Artists Festival alongside Publius Horatius  Devised by Fighetta ★★★ Pros: A group of versatile female performances not restrained by stereotyping. Cons: It was very abstract with no real plot. I find it hard to get into a show with no real fictional purpose or characters that I can relate to. Our Verdict: Some real talent on stage, and while I recognise that it is pushing the somewhat fixed boundaries of theatre and performance ...

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Hamlet, Dalstan Bunker (site-specific)

William Shakespeare  Directed by Andrew Shepherd ★★ Pros: Great idea, good choice of location.  Cons: No depth of character or context.  Our Verdict: A great idea, but sadly full of missed opportunities which needed no expensive resources, just better use of what was already there.  Courtesy of Stern Alarum Upon entering the darkness of a disused Dalstan bunker, the thick air, musty smell, the echoes and the cold are all pregnant with expectation, lending an eerie, claustrophobic lingering as you ...

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Ondisting, Ovalhouse Theatre

Reuben Massiah Directed by Josh Azouz  ★★★★ Pros: Top class performances and a very sweet story.  Cons: Nothing worth mentioning.  Our Verdict: An exciting production with good writing and a brilliant central performance from Seraphina Beh.  Courtesy of the Ovalhouse There have been plenty of shows about the riots in the past year which have explored stories on both sides of the coin. Some of them were hard-hitting, while others were sympathetic to the rioters. This production at the Ovalhouse ...

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