For Chronic Insanity’s latest piece entitled Snowflakes the company has partnered up with Dissident Theatre in a production at London’s Park Theatre. It’s a dystopian alternative reality comedy drama – more the latter than the former – which doesn’t exactly break new ground content wise for the group or more generally.
‘Each element benefits from the presence of the other’: GENERATION GAMES – White Bear Theatre
A good double bill of one act plays can be a bit of a rarity. It might consist of pieces with radically different themes by diverse writers who adopt varying tones forming an unsatisfactory pairing. Or it might just gel as a cohesive evening where each element benefits from the presence of the other and enhances the overall experience. Fortunately Generation Games, currently playing at the White Bear Theatre, falls into the latter category with both plays examining intergenerational gay relationships.
‘You have to admire Jameson’s chutzpah’: TEN DAYS – The Space (Online show)
Taking as his central text American journalist John Reed’s seminal book Ten Days That Shook The World, Matthew Jameson’s “labour of love” project Ten Days (it has taken a mere 10 years or so to get this work finished) provides a convoluted history lesson which sets out the main events in some detail and introduces a whole gallery of historical figures who played their part in the process.
‘The cast is clearly having a (disco) ball’: THE WAY OLD FRIENDS DO – Touring
Expertly directed by the ever dependable Mark Gatiss, The Way Old Friends Do at the Park Theatre is a surprising delight which does what it says on the tin, and then a bit more.
‘Absorbing audio drama’: BENNY & HITCH – BBC Sounds (Online show)
Benny And Hitch concentrates on the turbulent relationship between the director and his often first choice composer, Bernard Herrmann. They worked together on an unbroken stretch of eight films from 1955 to 1964 and the composer also contributed to the TV shows made concurrently.
‘Often finds the sweet spot between the comedy & tragedy’: THE WALWORTH FARCE – Southwark Playhouse Elephant
Writer John Mortimer once said “Farce is tragedy played at a thousand revolutions per minute”, a notion which Enda Walsh seems to have taken to heart in his 2006 play The Walworth Farce at the Southwark Playhouse Elephant, featuring, as it does, distinct elements of both to provide a fascinating hybrid.
‘The plot veers from the ridiculous to the outrageous’: WINDFALL – Southwark Playhouse
Although Windfall at the Southwark Playhouse purports to be a farcical comedy, I only found myself intermittently chuckling; the rest of the time I sat with my metaphorical head in my metaphorical hands.
‘It is in the scripting that proceedings stumble’: WINNER’S CURSE – Park Theatre
The latest piece to grace the stage of the Park Theatre is a curious beast, and no mistake. Taking the form of a (fictional) lecture with illustrative acted examples, a healthy dose of audience focused exercises and with a generally high level of comic content, Winner’s Curse never quite makes up its mind what it wants to be or is trying to do.
‘Chilling & contemporary’: NOTRE DAME – The Space (Online review)
Ever since Covid’s early days pioneering company Threedumb Theatre has developed and sustained the idea of the one shot livestream; this is unedited and raw but captures much of the spontaneity and edge which comes with live performance. Their latest, Notre Dame, is probably their most ambitious.
‘Can leave the listener wanting & needing more’: OUR VOICES – Small Truth Theatre (Online show)
Small Truth Theatre has commissioned a series of micro plays recorded as part of its Digital Caravan space (their original mini theatre on wheels being decommissioned because of the need for social distancing). About a month ago they put out a new set of material under the umbrella title of Our Voices consisting of four short pieces inspired by interacting with young people in and around the company’s north Kensington home.
‘Will ring more than a few bells’: Interdimensional Phishing Scam/Penumbra – Chronic Insanity (Online review)
It’s been an absolute age (well, about a year anyway) since I visited those innovative people at Chronic Insanity. They are well known for pushing boundaries of the possible in both live and digital situations. And that’s not to mention the sheer amount of work they produce; the aim is 12 pieces of drama every year.
‘An engagingly intimate production’: SALT-WATER MOON – Finborough Theatre
If you want to see a couple of young actors bringing truth and sincerity to a well structured piece of dialogue and elevate it towards the stars which provide a backdrop to this piece, then head for the Finborough for Salt-Water Moon.
‘Excellent characterisation’: GREY MAN – Online Review
It’s that time of year when days get shorter, nights get longer and tale telling revolves around the supernatural. Just a couple of days ago the last thing I saw on stage, Here, was (partly) a modern day take on the ghost story. Now for good measure comes Grey Man, a piece of digital theatre written by Lulu Raczka, which investigates similar spooky territory. The piece has been subtitled “A Stage And Screen Experiment” which, as it turns out, is exactly what it is.
‘Contains some remarkable writing’: HERE – Southwark Playhouse
When individual members of a family are facing a variety of problems, can looking back at their collective past help to resolve matters or does that simply serve to make things worse? This is the premise behind Here by debut playwright Clive Judd, the 2022 winner of the Papatango Prize for new writing currently in production on Southwark Playhouse’s main stage
‘The central performance is phenomenal’: THE POLTERGEIST – Arcola Theatre
Philip Ridley’s The Poltergeist is an irresistibly restless creation which emulates the troublesome violent spirit conjured up by the title. The firework cracking solo piece has had a checkered history. It was first produced at Southwark Playhouse where its run was stymied by Covid lockdown but played out in a deserted auditorium to broadcasting cameras for a criminally brief three performances; it blew away the competition to scoop the Off West End OnComm award for a live streamed piece. It then became an on demand video which has haunted the recesses of the internet ever since and been spoken of with increasing admiration for those of us who saw its glorious beginnings.
‘Hauntingly different & mostly in a very good way’: THE DARKFIELD TRILOGY – Canary Wharf
Darkfield promoted site specific theatre even when we couldn’t actually go anywhere. Their neat answer was to get you using spaces in your own home or in permitted public places such as a park bench. Now they’ve gone back to an idea which they used prior to the great lockdown with a trio of short pieces taking place in converted shipping containers currently located in Canary Wharf in London’s Docklands.
’An impression of these literary figures at the height of their powers’: STUMPED – Original Theatre (Online show)
Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett meet in a cricket pavilion and end up as trapped as some of the characters in their plays
‘Experience it if you can’: ROSE – Park Theatre
September 2020 and the pandemic was quietly raging. So too was Maureen Lipman in Hope Mill Theatre’s online production of Martin Sherman’s intense monologue Rose; her performance was routinely recognised as a tour de force. The piece won many plaudits including an Off West End Offie and featured as one of my 20 For 2020. Since then it has been restreamed more than once and also appeared on Sky Arts – indeed it is still available on their catch up channel Now TV. But for the real undisputed deal, and if you’re near enough, head to the Park Theatre in Islington where the production is playing until mid-October.
‘Comic invented history which entertains & informs’: Three Women & Shakespeare’s Will / Mrs Pack (Online Show)
Three Women & Shakespeare’s Will comes from the pen of Joan Greening who has made something of a speciality of writing about historical figures connected to the arts, albeit in imaginary settings/situations. Thus in recent years she has given us the relationship dynamics of three literary sisters in At Home With The Brontës and a trio of Rosetti’s Women and their influence on the titular painter.
‘Out of the ordinary’: ODDS ON – Touring (Online Show)
So, it was with a sense of keen anticipation that I approached Dante Or Die’s latest piece entitled Odds On which is currently on a “digital tour”. It’s a piece about the world of online gambling and its effects on an individual who gets sucked into a vortex and only narrowly avoids disaster. Having revelled in their earlier piece, and noting that Tim Crouch was on board as the project’s dramaturgist, I expected it to be out of the ordinary – and it was.