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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!

The Maids, Lion and Unicorn Theatre

Jean GenetDirected by Paul Linghorn★★★ Pros: Some powerful moments in the second half and a superb performance from Chris Stevenson. Cons: A weak first half, and it feels like the team hasn’t completely ‘got to know’ the script yet, meaning that it lacks definition in some places. Our Verdict: An ambitious and positive show from a young company (feats which should be applauded), but it needs more work in places to make it a true success. Courtesy of Pandemonium Performance ...

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Spring Awakening, Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

Frank Wedekind, translated by F.J. ZieglerDirected by John Fricker★★★★ Pros: A well-designed and well-performed production of a show with a strong message. Cons: A little long at 2 hours 30 mins. Our Verdict: A great show from a young theatre company; we hope to see more of them soon. Courtesy of OutFox Productions Spring Awakening – a title which many will remember from the short-lived, but ultimately well-received Rock Musical which swooped into the West End in 2009. It can ...

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Why is John Lennon wearing a Skirt?, Tristan Bates Theatre

Claire DowieDirected by Lauren Bracewell★★★★ Pros: A brilliant script and a superb performance from Joanna Griffin. Cons: Not necessarily ground-breaking, but who cares when it’s just very good theatre?! Our Verdict: A top show, certainly advisable that you get your tickets for their next performances! Courtesy of Local Girl Productions I must confess to not being particularly familiar to Claire Dowie’s work, much to the annoyance of one of my fellow bloggers! Our latest outing to the Tristan Bates was ...

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The Coming Storm, Battersea Arts Centre

Conceived and devised by Forced EntertainmentDirected by Tim Etchells★★★ Pros: A good concept and a magnificent venue. Cons: The execution leaves something to be desired, and makes for a rather dull show. Our Verdict: Not the best we’ve seen, but an interesting idea worth developing into something more interesting. Courtesy of Hugo Glendinning Another guilty secret of ours is that, until last week, we had never visited the famous Battersea Arts Centre, described by Lyn Gardner as being ‘one of ...

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The Enlightenment Cafe, Old Vic Tunnels

Produced by LAStheatre★★★★ Pros: Great science and a great cast make for an enjoyable evening. Cons: Drunken, unfunny hecklers…who needs them? Our Verdict: Definitely worth doing if you’re a science enthusiast or just love a night doing something out of the ordinary. Remember to listen to our blogcast interview with LAStheatre’s Barra Collins and Andy Franzkowiak. The Enlightenment Cafe from LAStheatre It was a fairly average day in the week for me yesterday. But then I went underground to The ...

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The Beloved, Bush Theatre

Written and Directed by Amir Nizar ZuabiA ShiberHur, Young Vic production co-produced with the Bush Theatre and KVS Brussels, part of World Stages London★★★★ Pros: Original, engaging, thought-provoking. Cons: Bit weird and very uncomfortable in a couple of places. Our Verdict: A great venue if you’ve never been before. Go if you want to really be challenged by something. Courtesy of Spoonfed When I sat down in the auditorium and read ‘young lamb’ in the cast list I was a ...

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REDfest, Old Red Lion Theatre

New writing festival, various writers and directors★★★★ Pros: Great idea overall, very engaging and easy to watch and some very good pieces of new writing. Cons: Risky, there are some pieces that aren’t so good, and the theatre was too full when we were there! Our Verdict: A great evening of new writing at a charming venue, well worth a trip for the final week! Courtesy of the Old Red Lion Theatre The last time we went to Islington’s favourite pub ...

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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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