A Complicite show is event theatre. Previous works such as A Disappearing Number, An Encounter and The Master and Margarita are locked in a pantheon of the great works of my lifetime. So, it’s no surprise to learn that I admired their latest work Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of The Dead immeasurably. What I didn’t do, was fall for it.
‘An exquisitely paced production’: REVEALED – Bristol ★★★★
Daniel J Carver’s Revealed at Bristol’s Tobacco Factory has been heralded as the most important work the space has ever presented. Perhaps the pitch pushes this conceit a little far, but what is presented is a cracking three-hander that explores what it means to be a black man in contemporary Britain.
‘A rip-roaringly entertaining first show back’: WINNERS – Bristol ★★★★
Taking aim at capitalism, The Wardrobe Ensemble’s Winners rushes through the history of man, big ideas and systems designed to make the ‘special ones’ rich at the expense of all others and the good of the world at large.
‘Brings clarity to a towering American masterpiece’: WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF – Bristol ★★★★
David Mercatali’s production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf though long finds layer after layer in the lashings of marital discord.
‘Feels like no other venue enriches its audiences so much’: THE REALISTIC JONESES – Bath ★★★★
There is a sadness behind the sitcom-like deadpan of Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses that keeps its audience gripped while still holding it one step removed.
‘Fascinating exploration of solitary lives’: WILD GOOSE DREAMS – Bath ★★★
An always fascinating piece, Wild Goose Dreams detours constantly down different alleys to tell its story and gets overwhelmed by all the work’s devices.
‘Their richest show yet’: THE ODYSSEY – Touring ★★★★
In tackling Homer’s The Odyssey, Bristol favourites Living Spit, known for their anarchic, slapstick takes on history’s great and infamous figures, ascend to the next level of ambition.
‘A mighty fine piece of work’: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING – Bristol ★★★★
Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory’s Much Ado About Nothing hits a higher level of excellence again, producing a work that will appeals to both Bard newbies and connoisseurs.
‘Lays down its comedy with a thud’: CYRANO – Bristol ★★★
It’s only when the location moves to the battlefield and the production is allowed to breathe and the poetry to sing that this production of Cyrano finally begins to come into its own.
‘It’s impossible to not be won over’: PRIDE & PREJUDICE* (*SORT OF) – Bristol ★★★★
Much like Six, that pushes King Henry to the sidelines to place the spotlight on his long-suffering wives, here the Bennett sisters get to take complete ownership of the stage and the story they tell in Pride and Prejudice* (*Sort Of).
‘Awash with beautifully heightened language’: UNICORNS, ALMOST – Bristol ★★★
It may not be a piece that shakes you, but in bringing the words of Keith Douglas to its audience, Sheers has proved a willing literary executor.
‘Probably the best climax to any show seen this year’: FISHBOWL – Edinburgh Fringe ★★★★★
A sold-out Pleasance Grand suggests that Fishbowl may be one of the hits of the summer.
‘Impressive melodies delivered with impeccable brio’: LIMBO: CITY OF DREAMS – Edinburgh Fringe
You can’t accuse upcoming composer Finn Anderson of resting on his laurels. His fingerprints are all over this year’s Fringe, from the buzz-worthy Islanders over at Summerhall, to this, Limbo: City Of Dreams.
‘Jet black comedy mixed with just a dash of Dali’: CROCODILE FEVER – Edinburgh Fringe ★★★★
Who needs that double espresso shot when shows like Meghan Tyler’s Crocodile Fever exist?
‘You’re guaranteed a good night out’: CRUEL INTENTIONS: The ’90s Musical – Edinburgh Fringe ★★★
Cruel Intentions: The ’90s Musical is unlikely to go down as a musical theatre classic but you’re guaranteed a good night out, even if you can’t quite believe what you’re watching.
‘It knows what its audience wants’: VET. DETECTIVE. – Bristol ★★★★
It may not be the company hitting their absolute heights, but it knows what its audience wants having been versed over the past few years and plays all the hits. Like your favourite festival and a week by the pool, I’d expect it to become a summer institution.
‘Everett’s artistry grows ever richer’: UNCLE VANYA – Bath ★★★
Rupert Everett’s fascinating performance hides some of the deficiencies inherent in this production of Uncle Vanya which never gets to the heart of this transcendent play.
‘Charming but old-fashioned’: MALORY TOWERS – Touring ★★★
The Malory Towers company deserves great plaudits for putting their all into such a high-intensity show; it’s a charming piece but one that undoubtedly feels like minor-key Rice.
Best of the Blogs: The Mates give their verdicts on The Night of the Iguana, Shit-Faced Shakespeare, The Falcon’s Malteser & more
A large percentage of the theatre community may be heading up to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the next week or so but our editor Lisa Martland’s Top Picks from the last week’s productions in the West End, London Fringe or beyond prove there’s plenty of diverse work to enjoy elsewhere.
‘Just doesn’t ever take off’: VIENNA 1934-MUNICH 1938 – Bath
What may have worked as a leisurely memoir, consumed over a period of a few weeks, fails to ignite in Vanessa Redgrave’s Vienna 1934-Munich 1938.