Billed as an examination of gentrification, Kerry Jackson at the National Theatre has disappointingly little to say about this subject. Its main characters have clichéd opinions and stereotypical attributes, and De Angelis spends a lot of time getting them to tell us who they are, what they think and how they feel.
How many plays pass the Bechdel Test? Originally featured in a comic strip, and popularised in film criticism, it simply states that to pass this test your story has to have: 1) at least two women in it; 2) who talk to each other; 3) about something other than a man. Well, one of the brilliant things about Irish writer Margaret Perry’s new dark comedy, Paradise Now! is that it passes this test with an A Plus grade.
In his award-winning play, which premiered in Boston in 2011, American playwright Stephen Karam examines the issues in a thoroughly original, brilliantly constructed and thematically compelling way. Now getting its belated European premiere at the Hampstead Theatre, Sons of the Prophet is an enthralling experience, both intellectually and emotionally.
Julia Pascal is a resourceful theatre-maker who is unafraid of controversy. Her interest in the relationship between the personal and the political, and sympathy with both the victims of the Nazis and those of Israeli expansionism, means that her work is often provocative, and always unsentimental. She has also been active in bringing some less known episodes of Jewish history to public attention. In her latest play, 12:37, she explores the relationship between a couple of Irish Jews and the fight to create a Jewish state in 1940s Palestine, where the main colonial power was Britain.
In his latest, Blackout Songs, a powerful 95-minute two-hander, Joe White uses a flexible structure to represent some excruciating emotional material, and the result gives an almost overwhelmingly sense of the horrible realities of addiction, both to alcohol and to people.
At best Baghdaddy at the Royal Court Theatre is a surreal trip into traumatic memory, at its worst it’s a self-indulgent mess. If you think that American crime are worse than Saddam’s you’ll love this show; if you like playwrights wagging their finger at you, you’ll love this show; if you believe that parental trauma can be inherited and then self-consciously joked about, you’ll love this show.
Nica Burns’ choice of an opening production for @sohoplace is Marvellous, a celebratory bio-drama about Newcastle-under-Lyme’s local legend, the irrepressible Neil “Nello” Baldwin, whose amazing career proves that disability can be overcome — a heartwarming message in these turbulent times.
Therapy is inherently dramatic. After all, it’s all about character – and it has the aim of producing a recognisable change. But who is most affected by the process: client or therapist? Georgina Burns, a graduate of Hampstead Theatre’s Inspire course for emerging playwrights, examines the issues in her debut play, Ravenscourt.
If you accept the documentary verbatim style of Jews. In Their Own Words at the Royal Court, and don’t mind the lack of any real drama, this is an intelligently crafted and committed piece of political theatre that tackles an issue too often swept under the carpet. But I’d love to see a proper play about the subject.
Identity is the sum of the stories we tell ourselves. Some of these are personal, and some political. Sometimes they blend, sometimes clash. In Aaron Kilercioglu and Bilal Hasna’s excellently staged and thought-provoking For a Palestinian, the performer and co-author Hasna tells two stories: one about himself and his new love for Palestine, and the other about the Palestinian activist and translator Wa’el Zuaiter, and his love affair with Australian-born painter Janet Venn-Brown. Her 2006 book, For a Palestinian, tells the story of Zuaiter and his assassination in Rome in 1972 by Mossad.
Britain is a divided nation, but one of the divisions that we don’t hear that much about is that between Pakistani gay men. Written by Waleed Akhtar (who also stars in this impressively heartfelt two-hander), The P Word is about the differences in life experiences between one asylum seeker and one Londoner, and comes to the Bush Theatre in a production which has been supported by Micro Rainbow, the first safe house in the UK for LGBTQ asylum seekers and refugees. So what’s it all about?
In Silence at the Donmar Warehouse four British playwrights have adapted Kavita Puri’s book Partition Voices: Untold British Stories in a joint production between Donmar Warehouse and Tara Theatre.
In developing The Trials, the Donmar worked with more than 1,300 young people plus a further 200 in workshops at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and National Youth Theatre. Director Natalie Abrahami, helped by designer Georgia Lowe and video maker Nina Dunn, has created a compelling production, with more than half the cast making their stage debuts.
If the plotting is predictable, and the story arc unremarkable, the image of life represented is both strongly compassionate and often very pleasurable. In true welfare state style, comedian Francesca Martinez’s debut play All of Us at the National Theatre not only informs and educates, but also entertains.
With its energetic arguments, moments of great charm, gritty humour, and mix of filth and idealism, Sonali Bhattacharyya’s Chasing Hares at the Young Vic is both relevant and contemporary.
With Windrush Day being 22 June, last week was originally going to be the opening night of Roy Williams’ new Hampstead Theatre play, The Fellowship, until plans had to be changed because Lucy Vandi, who was to play the main character, fell sick and performances were postponed. Cherrelle Skeete bravely takes on this major role and her dynamic stage presence, partly with script in hand on press night, is one of the evening’s highlights.
Bangers at the Soho Theatre has a fine buzz of the contemporary and a real sympathy for sexual confusion and other experiences such as the loss of a parent.
if you buy a ticket you will not see That Is Not Who I Am by Dave Davidson (who doesn’t exist), but instead you will experience Rapture by Lucy Kirkwood, who is an established playwright. It’s a kind of postmodern, post-truth gimmick. But does it work?
Beru Tessema’s drama House of Ife, about an Ethiopian-British family facing a tragic loss, is deeply felt and emotional and marks a good start to this venue’s 50th anniversary season.
Satinder Chohan’s Lotus Beauty at the Hampstead Theatre, a loving portrait of a Punjabi family-run beauty parlour in west London’s Southall, is an uneasy mix of comedy and tragedy.