“They Call Me, “Woman!’’ (written by Ayo Jaiyesimi and presented by Thespian Family Theatre & Productions, Nigeria) is a set of five monologues spotlighting some of the issues confronting the African woman. Whilst there’s strong advocacy for gender recognition, equality and equity all over the world, the struggles of African women, educated or illiterate, young, or old, modern, or traditional, need to be felt in order to be understood. This is our spotlight.”
Mates blogger: Louise Penn
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The latest from Louise on MyTheatreMates
‘There’s gold here, but blink & you might miss it’: BERLUSCONI: A NEW MUSICAL – Southwark Playhouse
“It’s not a f***ing musical. it’s an opera you c**t!” This statement, from the lips of Silvio Berlusconi as imagined in this uneven but technically inventive show packed with pulsating rock rhythms, gives you a feel for this world premiere Berlusconi – A New Musical, by Ricky Simmonds and Simon Vaughan.
‘Shiny, colourful & entertaining’: WINNIE THE POOH: THE MUSICAL – Riverside Studios ★★★★
Deep in the Hundred Acre Wood, just off the Hammersmith Bridge, Pooh Bear goes on search of some ‘hunny’ and has a host of adventures with his friends in Winnie the Pooh: The Musical at Riverside Studios. Heading across the pond for a musical extravaganza created by Jonathan Rockefeller, we follow Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit and Owl in a technically-slick show for little ones.
‘You expect conflict & get it. You expect banter & enjoy it’: SLEEPOVA – Bush Theatre ★★★★
This lively and vital new play, Sleepova, by Matilda Feyiṣayọ Ibini, focuses on four Black teens as they approach their 16th birthdays. It balances the pull of parental pressure and tradition with the hopes and dreams of sweet sixteen. I really enjoyed this new play and feel that even in a familiar space of friendship quartets, it has much to offer.
‘The technical side is amazing’: Idiots Assemble: Spitting Image Saves the World – Birmingham
Idiots Assemble: Spitting Image Saves the World at Birmingham Rep may lack the satirical bite of the original series, but that could be because everyone is so unredeemingly awful without having to be made worse.
‘Clever, funny, thoughtful & playful’: NO LIMITS – Turbine Theatre
A quartet of performers brings to life the new song cycle by Sam Thomas, No Limits at the Turbine Theatre, which looks at friends, families, and relationships within a group of younger millennials/older Gen Zs.
‘Intriguing & tightly written’: ALL BY MYSELF – Vault Festival
The question All By Myself at the Vault Festival leaves you asking is would you still be curating your personal life for just one online click if it was the end of the world? Co-writers Charlotte Blandford (who also performs the piece) and Jessica Bickel-Barlow (who directs) have created an intriguing piece that shows that Part of the Main continue to explore the boundaries which drive fringe theatre.
‘Never flags or becomes condescending’: THE TRIAL OF JOSIE K – Unicorn Theatre
Based loosely on the Kafka play The Trial, the Unicorn Theatre’s production of The Trial of Josie K – now a 12-year-old girl played by Nkhanise Phiri – retains the surrealism of the original but gives it a setting suitable for children aged 9-13.
‘I left rather impressed’: 2.22 A GHOST STORY – Lyric Theatre ★★★★
One of the London stage hits of the immediate post-pandemic period, 2.22 A Ghost Story opened with a big gala night in its new home. The big attraction on this occasion is the West End debut of Cheryl (her name now a simple mononym rather than the Tweedy she once was as one-fifth of pop band Girls Aloud).
‘Lively writing, physical comedy & audience interaction’: AROUND THE WORLD WITH NELLIE BLY – Vault Festival ★★★★
Nellie Bly (1864-1922, played by writer/performer Katie Overstall) is set for an adventure, and she doesn’t want to be stuck writing on her newspaper’s gossip column.
Inspired by the novel Around The World In 80 Days by Jules Verne, she plans to bea…
‘Exhilarating & exciting’: OTHELLO – Lyric Hammersmith ★★★★
This vibrant, vicious, violent, and vivacious two-hour adaptation by Scott Graham and Simon Hoggett for Frantic Assembly at the Lyric Hammersmith places Othello in a land of gangs, drugs, and booze.
‘A sad tale given a new spin’: IPHIGENIA – Hope Theatre
Ultimately, Iphigenia at the Hope Theatre is a fascinating piece which has lots of ideas about how women are treated, and where their choices lie, but it stops just short of being as emotionally engaging as it should be.
‘An ambitious debut production’: Dots & Dashes: A Bletchley Park Musical – The Space (Online review)
In Dots and Dashes: A Bletchley Park Musical, which comes to London from the Edinburgh Fringe, the women of Bletchley Park are centre stage, clever mathematicians, linguists, and navigators who were selected to serve their country.
‘Ratcliffe’s writing is strong, energetic & honest’: WRECKAGE – Turbine Theatre
Wreckage, Tom Ratcliffe’s latest play to reach London (he also performs as Sam) is an ambitious and emotional powerhouse about love, loss, and regret at the Turbine Theatre.
‘A double whammy of wickedness’: A NIGHT AT THE MUSICALS: 90 YEARS OF DRAG – Soho Theatre ★★★★
With a setlist that covers different moods, a striptease, some audience participation, a fair sprinkling of upstaging, and a large dollop of nostalgia through a prism of parody, A Night At The Musicals is fun all the way.
‘Entertaining & educational’: TALKING HANDS – Deafinitely Theatre (Online Review) ★★★★★
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Deafinitely Theatre, Talking Hands has been created in partnership with Paines Plough, allowing five deaf writers to share their stories of lockdown.
‘Full of atmosphere, foreboding and storytelling’: WICKIES – Park Theatre
It’s misty and cold in the Park Theatre’s main auditorium. An oppressive half-light frames the stage where the tale of the lost lighthouse keepers (the ‘wickies’) of Eilean Mor will soon unfold. Based on a real mystery from 1900, Paul Morrissey’s play Wickies is full of atmosphere, foreboding and storytelling.
‘Moves along at a cracking pace’: MOTHER GOOSE – Hackney Empire
Mother Goose at the Hackney Empire moves along at a cracking pace. Even with a short salute to the 120 years of the Hackney(wood) Empire, Mother Goose is one of the best options available this year, with fabulous costumes, a sparkling script with room for a bit of improv, and some amusing bits of slapstick.
‘Continues to sparkle’: THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW – Touring ★★★★★
The Rocky Horror Show started as a tiny fringe production upstairs at the Royal Court, nearly 50 years ago. Over time it has grown and developed, but still retains the connection with fans with the constant breaking of the fourth wall, and encouraged callbacks (example: when Janet is first mentioned, you shout “Slut!”).
‘Cleverly done & beautifully portrayed’: A SHERLOCK CAROL – Marylebone Theatre ★★★★
What happens when you cross A Christmas Carol with Sherlock Holmes in The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle and add a murder mystery and a love interest (Rosie Armstrong) from the past? It’s A Sherlock Carol at Marylebone Theatre.
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