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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!

Stacy, New Diorama Theatre

Jack ThorneDirected by Sam Miller★★★★ Pros: Simple, effective, easy to ‘get’, thought-provoking, funny and stylishly executed. Cons: I needed clarification on the plot in some places (but I’m not that bright, so…) Our Verdict: Great stuff once again from this excellent young company. Worth every penny of the measly £10 cost. Courtesy of All The Pigs I know we’ve raved about All The Pigs before now: our review of Scooter Thomas was so gushy that I could understand people believing ...

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The Wordcatcher, Blue Elephant Theatre

Presented by Smoking Apples Theatre★★★ Pros: The show boasts lots of very interesting and original ideas. Cons: The actors overstretch their abilities making the show seem amateurish in places. Our Verdict: An interesting show with some great ideas. Credit: Jax Braithwaite Situated off Camberwell Road in South London, the Blue Elephant is a vibrant arts venue offering a variety of award-winning, multi-cultural performances from every genre imaginable. Founded in 1999, this hidden gem has staged a huge amount of successful, ...

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Lucy and the Hawk, Ovalhouse Theatre

Written and Directed by Phil OrmrodPerformed and co-devised by Tom Walton & Abigail Moffatt★★★★ Pros: Perfectly choreographed, great performances and nice design. Cons: Stream of consciousness monologues can make it a little hard to follow the plot in places. Our Verdict: Great! Another fun, engaging piece from the Ovalhouse. Courtesy of the Ovalhouse It’s been a while since we last ventured down to the Ovalhouse Theatre, March in fact. Since we’ve last been down, the theatre bar and restaurant area ...

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The Soft of Her Palm, Finborough Theatre

Chris DunkleyDirected by Ola Ince★★★★ Pros: The cast give a very strong performance of gritty subject matter and complex characters. The story is told in reverse which is a fantastic way to challenge the audience’s perception of the circumstances. It is particularly refreshing to be presented with an unconventional female lead. Cons: Domestic violence and abuse is confronted head on which some audiences may find unpalatable. Our Verdict: This is a powerful piece of drama, which resonates long after you ...

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Cross Purpose, King’s Head Theatre

Albert CamusDirected by Stephen Whitson ★★★ Pros: A sharp production with an extremely strong cast. Excellent lighting, costume and sound design that compliment the seedy and unnerving themes and (not so under) undertones perfectly. Cons: It’s bloody depressing. Our Verdict: This is an excellent all-round production of which the cast, creative and production teams should be extremely proud – pity about the writing. Courtesy of the King’s Head Theatre It is a brave turn to perform a play by Albert ...

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The President and the Pakistani, Waterloo East Theatre

Rashid RazaqDirected Tom Attenborough★★★ Pros: The characterisations of Barack Obama and Sal Maqbool are strong and compelling. Occasional lip-syncing dance breaks augment the storyline, setting and time period of the piece innovatively and provide a welcome flash of levity and a dash of brilliance. Cons: While an interesting and relevant story to tell, it is perhaps not as profound or insightful as one might hope. Our Verdict: A great idea; who doesn’t want an insider’s look into the American President’s ...

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A Life, Finborough Theatre

Hugh LeonardDirected by Eleanor Rhode★★★★ Pros: A remarkable script with a knock-out central performance. Cons: Not every actor can do the Irish accent convincingly which spoils the illusion at times. Our Verdict: A great revival of an underrated script. Courtesy of the Finborough Theatre A Life is a Tony award-nominated play from esteemed Irish playwright Hugh Leonard. The story centres around Desmond Drumm, an embittered civil servant, as he grimly faces his own mortality. Drumm also features as a minor ...

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Bookworm, Etcetera Theatre

Written and directed by Jessie Cave★★★★ Pros: A solid hour of fun, quirky humour, spiced with some educational tidbits and some always-satisfying Fifty Shades of Grey jokes. Cons: A few sketches dragged, and some humour may be unapproachable for audience members who wouldn’t consider themselves well read.Our Verdict: A dynamic and original production, and well-worth the small ticket fee. Suitable for bookworms as well as audiences just looking for a laugh. Courtesy of the Etcetera Theatre Jessie Cave may be ...

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The Collective Project, Camden People’s Theatre

Presented by The Pensive Federation★★★ Pros: The concept is fantastic and original. The acting is dynamic and there is lots of contrast from each of the plays. The more you think about what is going on, the more subtleties surface. Cons: There was some stereotyping and understandably after only twelve days it wasn’t entirely polished. It was a shame when it ended! Our Verdict: An innovative idea delivered by an up-and-coming group with bags of talent. Courtesy of The Pensive ...

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The Random Acts of Strangers, Etcetera Theatre

Anthony Bull★★★ Pros: A strong cast perform interesting monologues about modern life. Cons: Some parts of the play left me feeling a bit confused. Our Verdict: An enjoyable evening with some very impressive acting. Courtesy of Etcetera Theatre The Random Acts of Strangers is a series of monologues taken from seemingly unrelated modern-day nameless characters. The story begins with ‘Stranger 1’ – a beautiful, middle-class black girl who describes the difficulties she faces in her romantic relationship. She tells us ...

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