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.
‘Truly life-enhancing stuff’: SLEEPOVA – Bush Theatre ★★★★
In the week which saw the Bush Theatre pick up two out of a possible five nominations in the Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre award category in this year’s Oliviers, the excellent West London venue has further cause for celebration with the opening of this sassy delight. As refreshing and spicy as an ice cold ginger beer on a sunny day, and as warm and lovely as a hug from a treasured friend, Matilda Feyiṣayọ Ibini’s irresistible sugar rush of a play Sleepova already looks like a strong contender for feelgood show of 2023.
‘A tangy, ambitious, thoroughly engrossing piece’: PARADISE NOW! – Bush Theatre ★★★★
“It could be worse” observes Baby, one of the pair of Irish sisters who open and close Margaret Perry’s richly enjoyable new play Paradise Now! at the Bush Theatre, as she contemplates their less-than-ideal lives; that statement applies equally to the existences of the other four women whose frustrations, tragedies and eccentricities inform this delightful, unruly tragicomedy.
‘Live entertainment has come back with an encouraging roar’: Alun Hood celebrates his Top 20 new theatre shows of 2022
As somebody who loves a listicle plus a bandwagon to jump on, how could I NOT compile my list of my top 20 new (to me) shows of 2022? It’s been 12 months in which live entertainment has come back with an encouraging roar, although the impending cost of living crisis is inevitably, and understandably, causing anxiety in theatrical circles. Please do get out there, if you can, and support your local venue in 2023.
‘One of the more original plays of 2022’: PARADISE NOW! – Bush Theatre
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.
REVIEW ROUND-UP: Elephant at the Bush Theatre
Want to know whether Elephant at the Bush Theatre, written and performed by Anoushka Lucas, is worth seeing? We have rounded up the reviews for you here…
‘Excellent in its writing, staging & acting’: THE P WORD – Bush Theatre
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?
‘A thing of importance & carefully pointed simmering rage’: THE P WORD – Bush Theatre ★★★★★
Here’s something you don’t get to experience too often: a gritty piece of contemporary writing that gives theatrical voice to people largely unrepresented on stage, and does so with compassion and comedy; a new play that is at once delicately intimate yet epic in scope, and a cracking piece of storytelling that manages to indict it’s audience without ever feeling preachy or worthy. Waleed Akhtar’s The P Word is a plea for tolerance, a study of the power of friendship, a sort-of love story and ultimately a potent political act that grips like a thriller.
‘Has a vigour that is at times quite intoxicating’: FAVOUR – Bush Theatre
Ambreen Razia’s play Favour looks into the lives of a trio of women from the same family but of rather different generations. It does so with a vigour that is at times quite intoxicating and although it is 95 minutes straight through, the time fairly flies by.
‘Entertaining & thought-provoking family drama’: FAVOUR – Bush Theatre
Favour is another artistic success from the consistently-innovative Bush Theatre, set within a community and on subject matter rarely shown on stage. It is very well worth going out of the way to watch.
‘An excellent piece of deeply felt new writing’: HOUSE OF IFE – Bush Theatre
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.
‘In this buzzing show, no one stands still’: RED PITCH – Bush Theatre
Effortlessly and energetically entertaining: Tyrell Williams’ debut play about football and gentrification is pitch-perfect.
‘Dynamic, energetic & paced like an 800m race’: FAIR PLAY – Bush Theatre
Ella Road’s new two-hander is set in the world of track athletics, but the two characters, Ann (NicK King) and Sophie (Charlotte Beaumont) are not just any runners.
‘It envelops you into the landscape of serious athletics’: FAIR PLAY – Bush Theatre ★★★★
Fair Play is set in the world of female athletics. Ann joins a running club, meets Sophie, and the two bond over their love of running.
Five of my favourite theatre productions of 2021
We all know how we feel about 2021. What we need to do is celebrate what made it fabulous so here is my pick of what the year had to offer.
‘The performers ring true throughout’: FAIR PLAY – Bush Theatre
Sophie has been running competitively since she was nine. Now on the threshold of adulthood, she’s training hard with an unwavering focused on major international competitions.
‘Some moments are desperately moving, almost unbearably sad’: OLD BRIDGE – Bush Theatre
Powerful, poetic and profound: this well-deserved winner of the 2020 Papatango New Writing Prize now gets a cracking production on the main stage at the Bush Theatre.
REVIEW ROUND-UP: Old Bridge at the Bush Theatre
On LoveLondonLoveCulture, Emma Clarendon rounds up the reviews for Igor Memic’s 2020 Papatango New Writing Prize-winning play Old Bridge, now running at the London’s Theatre until 20 November 2021.
‘Perfectly captures how easy it is to slip into war’: OLD BRIDGE – Bush Theatre
A young woman listens to pop music on headphones. The people around her can’t hear it. We, the audience, can – a bit. But it’s a solitary experience; unshared. Something universal is also isolating.
‘Explores how belief can be a psychological & emotional journey’: 10 NIGHTS – Bush Theatre
This new coproduction between Graeae and Tamasha is not perfect, but it offers a moving insight into ritual and belief.