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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!

Bottleneck, Watford Palace Theatre

Luke BarnesDirected by Steven Atkinson★★★★ Pros: An incredibly powerful script delivered by a dynamic and talented performer. Cons: A lacklustre epilogue was a disappointing close to an otherwise completely engaging production. Our Verdict: A great piece of new writing and a shining example of what solo performances should strive for. Courtesy of Watford Palace Theatre Bottleneck, a product of HighTide Fesitval Theatre, wrapped up in London last week with a one-off performance at the Watford Palace Theatre after a brief ...

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Boy in a Dress, Battersea Arts Centre

La JohnJoseph Directed by Sarah Chew ★★★★★ Pros: A fun riot of a show with an intelligent core and an impressive insight into an unusual life. Cons: If you’re not interested in 20th Century philosophy, this may not be for you. Our Verdict: An emboldening story which grabs the audience attention and refuses to let it go. Courtesy of Battersea Arts Centre Boy in a Dress is both entertaining and fun which is quite remarkable considering it is a story ...

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GamePlan, Hen and Chickens Theatre

Alan Ayckbourn Directed by Lucy Bull ★★ Pros: A really enjoyable performance by Nicola Bland brings life to this performance of Ayckbourn’s black comedy. There is some clever use of the simple set. Cons: There is a lack of comic timing, the laughs are sporadic and the action can be a little forced. Some weak performances leave the production feeling flat. Our Verdict: Black comedy relies on crisp delivery of one liners, puns and visual humour to bring enjoyable laughs ...

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School for Wives, White Bear Theatre

Jean-Baptiste PoquelinTranslated by Neil Bartlett Directed by Jenny Eastop ★★★★ Pros: A wonderfully entertaining and witty adaptation of Moliere’s famous play. Tom Barratt’s indefatigable performance is not to be missed. Cons: Too few to mention. Our Verdict: A simply wonderful version of a classic French farce. Nothing is lost in translation in this production. 80 minutes of pure entertainment. Courtesy of Mercurius Theatre Company Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (better known by his stage name Moliere) was a master of comedy in 17th ...

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Ring, Battersea Arts Centre

Glen NeathDirected by David Rosenberg ★★★★ Pros: A profoundly creative, unique and deeply immersive show which will have you on the edge of your seat. Cons: I got a bit spooked a few times but as long as you don’t mind feeling insecure in the dark, this can’t really be described as a con. Our Verdict: This is new writing at its absolute best. I am still baffled by how cleverly this show comes together. Courtesy of Fuel Theatre The ...

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Lysistrata, Riverside Studios

Aristophanes, adapted by Theatre Lab Company Directed by Anastasia Revi ★★★★ Pros: An explosively relevant and hilarious adaptation, with clean design, a multi-talented cast, and great original music. Cons: Elements of the re-imagining seemed slightly out of place, and some moments of the play appeared far more polished than others. Our Verdict: An exciting and impassioned update that provides no shortage of laughs during its quest to make a political and economic appeal. Courtesy of Theatre Lab Company Last March, ...

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Hot Dog, The Last Refuge

Sarah KosarDirected by Faye Merralls ★★★ Pros: Simultaneously funny and thought provoking, this show will stay with you long into the evening. Cons: The venue was freezing, the performance space in particular. This did distract a lot of attention from the play itself. Our Verdict: Hot Dog is a striking piece of new writing which skilfully tackles questions of ageing, illness and humanity with consistently dark but on-the-mark humour.  Courtesy of Descent Theatre Sarah Kosar’s Hot Dog gets you asking ...

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Never Rains but it Pours, Theatre 503

Alison CarrDirected by Tom Latter★★★★ Pros: Three excellent performances from a very talented cast. Cons: It would have been nice to see a better resolution to the story – an additional ten minutes would have only pushed the show over the hour mark. Our Verdict: A strongly written script supported by three fantastic actors who portray the characters’ complicated lives with a good balance of sensibility. Courtesy of Theatre 503 Alison Carr’s script is very British in the sense that it’s ...

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Globaleyes 2013, Chickenshed Theatre

Presented by the Chickenshed Theatre Directed by Christine Niering ★★★★ Pros: A very committed group of performers put on a great spectacle of dance and movement. There were many disturbing facts about the effects of globalisation. Cons: At times it was hard to see how the choreography represented these facts. Our Verdict: Jump on the next tube and go see this show. Courtesy of the Chickenshed Theatre It was a bit of a trek to Globaleyes 2013, which is located ...

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Nights of Enchantment, Etcetera Theatre

Gillian Pencavel (based on 1001 Arabian Nights)Directed by Alice Sillett★★★★ Pros: Impressively passionate and physical with excellent use of masks and puppets. Fun and moving at the same time. Cons: The use of several characters per actor without clear signposting is confusing at times. Our Verdict: A very enjoyable play, with brilliant dance, physical theatre, voice, puppets and masks. Courtesy of Tree Folk Theatre The story may have been told endless times and performed in all shapes and forms in theatres all ...

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