‘Short, sharp stabs of real brilliance’: LIVING NEWSPAPER #6 – Royal Court Theatre (Online review)

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Originally planned as a six-edition run, the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper will actually be gaining a bonus seventh instalment with pieces written by writers aged 14-21. But Edition #6 is now live with its intention of  exploring “the strange and contradictory relationship between a closed theatre building and the world outside; asking questions about why we gather together and who we might have lost when we do so again”.

There are some short, sharp stabs of real brilliance here. Stacey Gregg picking through the minefield that is talking about Northern Ireland whether in English, ISL or BSL; Rory Mullarkey raking theatre critics over the coals in the highly amusing This Play (Louisa Harland, Sule Rimi and Millicent Wong clearly having lots of fun); Amy Bethan Evans’ scabrously funny take on the agony aunt in Neurodiverge-Aunt, delivered beautifully by Cian Binchy.

Elsewhere (and altogether really), there’s a rather scattershot approach to the brief that works against any thematic cohesiveness really emerging across the pieces. For me, Tim Crouch’s stream-of-consciousness-ish Horoscopes didn’t really do it for me, Rose Lewenstein’s Life Is Difficult and Then You Die hits the requisite darkly comic note but shorts like Rachael Young’s Pixels and Joe Ward Munrow’s Live News feel barely formed, too fleeting and ephemeral to really register.

And ranging from the tetchy family relationships of Molly DaviesAdventure Before Dementia to Kit Withington’s rather rose-tinted elegy to the pub in Our Moon Under Water to the dense prose of Belarusian Pavel Pryazhko’s Ribbons, translated here by Sasha Dugdale and presented as a text piece), I didn’t quite get the sense of cumulative force that have made previous editions so impactful.

Living Newspaper #6 is streaming via the Royal Court until 2 May 2021.

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Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."
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Ian Foster on FacebookIan Foster on RssIan Foster on Twitter
Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."

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