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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!

To The Bone, Katzspace Studio – Review

Pros: The bleak honesty of Motherhood or Madness and Eoin McKenna’s top-notch comedic delivery in Specky Ginger C*nt. Cons: Motherhood or Madness could benefit from a more imaginative lighting design, whereas Specky Ginger C*nt plunges too deeply into hopeless drama. In a renewed climate of female emancipation, women are unafraid to address motherhood in dispassionate tones. No longer seen as a gift from god, nor a state of bliss, it is often considered a mere inconvenience, a life-changing event over ...

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Urinetown, Bridewell Theatre – Review

Pros: A talented and tuneful cast making the most of a limited performance area. Cons: A low key Act I suffers in comparison with a sparkling Act II which emits a genuine West End feel. Urinetown is hardly the most obvious title for a musical, but its purpose soon becomes apparent as an antidote to the sugar coated fayre common to the genre. The show made its debut off Broadway in 2001 and went on to win two Tonies and ...

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Love Lies Bleeding, Print Room at the Coronet – Review

Pros: An excellent cast of familiar faces give the play a much needed boost. Cons: A beautiful venue in serious need of refurbishment and a script requiring similar tender loving care. I feel quietly reassured when a Grade II listed building is purchased and restored to its original function. The Coronet in Notting Hill Gate is one such example. Designed by legendary theatre architect W.G.R. Sprague it opened with royal patronage in 1898 and hosted a variety of productions until ...

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Rendezvous in Bratislava, Battersea Arts Centre – Review

Pros: Rendezvous is inventive and immersive, with catchy songs and great performances.   Cons: The comic interludes can be frustrating, as they distract from an otherwise compelling story. Laughter is a powerful response to oppression. Comedy has a long history of speaking truth to power, and cabaret is no different. Czechoslovakia, a country that endured both Nazi and Soviet rule, had plenty of horrors to contend with, particularly for the Jewish population. But for one cabaret writer, plenty to laugh at as ...

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vessel, Battersea Arts Centre – Review

Pros: Let’s talk about an intriguing piece of abstract art Cons: Let’s talk about intense inscrutability Let’s talk about conceptual theatre. This is not a play in any conventional sense, jettisoning character and plot in favour of something almost entirely different. Let’s talk about four women sitting in a row on chairs within vivid yellow circles as though hemmed in by the whirls of an enormous highlighter pen. Let’s talk about reading and repeating lines that all begin “Let’s talk ...

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Bury the Dead, Finborough Theatre – Review

Pros: Irvin Shaw’s 1936 expressionist play about the futility of war is brilliantly brought to life by director Rafaella Marcus. Cons: This excellent staging does its best with a slightly uneven work, though the last third feels very much of its time. There’s always a lovely sense of expectation, going up the stairs to the Finborough Theatre. While the pub has recently been modernised and lost its old school atmosphere, the theatre remains unchanged and is as evocative as ever. ...

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Mirabel, Ovalhouse – Review

Pros: Mirabel is a highly original and emotionally affecting tale of loss and learning. Cons: The abstract narrative can be challenging and sometimes hard to follow. The end of the world has rarely been a cheerful affair. In films, television, novels, and of course, the Bible, the apocalyptic event has usually been described in terms of fiery chaos, fractured earth, and the horror of mass death. We are not short of inspiration for such imaginings, whether looking to the past, ...

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