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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!

After the Rainfall, Watford Palace Theatre

Presented by Curious DirectiveDirected by Jack Lowe★★★ Pros: Brilliantly intelligent theatre delivered with tremendous style and magnificent production values. Cons: Slightly unclear and dry content which didn’t engage me throughout. Our Verdict: 5 stars for the performance and the physical elements of the show, 3 stars for the content which lets it down. A magnificent company nonetheless; we’re very excited to see more of them. Courtesy of Murdo Macleod for The Guardian There are two things I’d like to get ...

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Grey Matters: A Play for Six Brains/Curricula Vitae, Chelsea Theatre

Presented by Head of a Woman★★★ Pros: Both acts present concepts that are easily identifiable. They delve deep into exploring how our society works without ostracising the audience through overly complicated notions. Cons: The concepts could have been pushed further; by adding extra dimensions they could have kept the agreeable timings whilst speeding the shows up. Overall: A heroic attempt to produce performances that encourage the audience to reconsider themselves and the society that has formed them. While all concepts ...

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Threesome, Etcetera Theatre

Lisa GiffordDirected by Paul Linghorn ★★★★  Pros: An interesting look at sexual politics with some really lovely acting thrown in. A decent Paul Daniels/Debbie McGee gag in there too. Cons: Some parts of the performance lacked clear choices; nothing too off-putting though. Our Verdict: A humorous and enjoyable evening though probably best not to bring your mum to this one! Courtesy of Capital City Theatre It is interesting to consider the images and occasionally the prejudices we conjure up when ...

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Staffroom, Tristan Bates Theatre

Presented by Time2Shine ProductionsWritten & Directed by Rachel Creeger★★★ Pros: Great audience interaction, some good individual performances and impeccable production values. Cons: Feels a little low on energy and pace, missing the spark that would make it great. Our Verdict: A good show which may well become great as the run progresses. Courtesy of Time2Shine Productions The Tristan Bates never ceases to surprise me, if nothing else, by its very existence. Tucked away between Covent Garden and Cambridge Circus, it ...

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Barrow Hill, Finborough Theatre

Jane WainwrightDirected by Abbey Wright★★★ Pros: Short, sharp and packs a modest punch. Cons: A little bit slow and not quite engaging enough to deliver a real emotional hammer-blow. Our Verdict: Perhaps not the best from the Finborough, but it’s still a slick and well-presented show which says a lot! Courtesy of the Finborough Theatre The Finborough is fast becoming one of my top London theatres. These days I’m just as excited to visit this friendly wine bar theatre as ...

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This Was Your Life, Etcetera Theatre

Created by Quite Nice TheatreDirected by Thom Sellwood★★★ Pros: There is a strong possibility this show will put you in a very good mood. Lots of laughs. It is touching and wonderfully philosophical at times. Cons: Some weak singing voices and a few sloppy bits here and there. Our Verdict: A fun evening with lots of clever comedy, energetic performances and beautifully crafted songs. Courtesy of Quite Nice Theatre The Etcetera Theatre in Camden is one of the central venues ...

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Full Stage Splash: A Comic Look at the Comic Book, Etcetera Theatre

Written & Directed by Michael EckettPresented by The Sigil Club★★★ Pros: Comic book history is actually really interesting! With some laugh-out-loud comedic insights, this timeline of the life of the comic book is an enjoyable laugh and a learning experience. Cons: While the history of the comic book is condensed, written and presented reasonably well, it is literally delivered at the speed of light and is a lot to absorb in an hour. Our Verdict: A clever idea and impressive ...

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Cornelius, Finborough Theatre

J. B. PriestleyDirected by Sam Yates★★★★ Pros: The great cast and tight stage direction gives unexpected energy to this very English drama. The air conditioning and the well stocked wine bar downstairs are a bonus! Cons: There could be a little more depth to the feelings of sadness and despair in Act III. Our Verdict: Very enjoyable – a high quality, vibrant production of this almost forgotten play. Courtesy of the Finborough I have to admit I was a little ...

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The War of the Waleses, The Pirate Castle

Sarah Heenan, Alan Maddrell and Andy MarchantDirected by Sarah Heenan★★★★ Pros: Terrific impressions of both John Major and Tony Blair. A polished performance throughout. Cons: Doesn’t go that extra mile, drags a little towards the end. Our Verdict: Impressively refined and interesting theatre from this amateur company. Courtesy of KDC Theatre What is interesting about fringe theatre is the expectations that people come in with. Many a time an audience isn’t really expecting a whole lot from the humble companies ...

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Forwards and Backwards, Camden People’s Theatre

Presented by Square Peg Theatre★★★★  Pros: Minimalist design, a show where strong performances create the scene. Cons: Few to speak of; perhaps the chemistry between the two leads could be tweaked, but not by much! Our Verdict: Don’t miss this well-planned, well-written and well-acted show. It’s what fringe theatre is all about. Courtesy of Camden People’s Theare The greatest thing about fringe theatre festivals is the experience of walking into a small auditorium where the set is composed of a ...

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