It’s the 1940s. Olivia Brown awaits the return of her 18-year-old son Michael, whom she has not seen for four years. Whilst he’s been away, his father has died and Olivia has found love with a successful arms manufacturer, Sir John Fletcher.
Shirley’s script, with its echoes of Hamlet, Othello and The Spanish Tragedy, is less philosophical and more action. Whilst this makes it easy to follow and immediately engaging, the characters are more generally more limited in their scope for interpretation.
In Dominoes, History teacher Leila and her fiancé Andy share the same last name – McKinnon. Andy’s white and Scottish, Leila’s half black-Caribbean. When curiosity gets the better of her in the run up to their half term wedding, she makes a discovery that pits family and friends against each other and threatens to destroy her big day.
The Courtyard’s revival of Roy Mitchell’s Care, last produced in 1983 at the Royal Court Upstairs and now presented by the Angus McKay Foundation, interrogates a fraught young couple living in Birmingham in the 1970s. Childlike in their domestic play – bouncing between football, music, comic books and sex – each lover attempts to survive the other’s presence over a long Easter weekend.
Becoming Mohammed, in its story of a young white man’s conversion to Islam and the subsequent familial negotiations of his journey, not only adds to the diversity on the London fringe but reframes the stigma against white, western Christians converting to Islam, and the inherently peaceful nature of the religion.
Louise Orwin is asking big questions about female sexuality and desire, but she doesn’t have the answers. There are no definitive answers anyway, just individual experiences. To make Oh Yes Oh No, she interviewed dozens of women around the country and found some disturbing patterns.
What with the prominent use of music in Twelfth Night, an actor-muso production is certainly a reasonable concept. Original Impact also sets the play in modern-day summertime, playing up the drunken frivolity at the forefront of the story.
A self-described modern rep company, Merely Theatre is addressing Shakespeare’s gender problem with 50/50 casting. Five male/female pairs each learn a set of characters in two plays, then on the night it’s decided who will perform.
Compagnie XY live and work together, sharing each other’s rhythms and routines. The work they make as a collective captures this ebb and flow of human energy and emotion within a larger group rather than the individual, reflecting their chosen lifestyle.
With the glorious sunshine and packed building, it’s a great day to see some of the outdoor work. Sexcentenary, a collective of older women addressing issues around gender, feminism and ageing are performing around Govan.
Sam and Clara live the ordinary, domestic life of a young professional couple, until Sam’s sister Sophie turns up unannounced. The playful, carefree young woman eventually chameleons into someone much more sinister.
You can be who you want to be, right? Rob, a driving instructor in modern day Romford, believes himself to be an 8th century Chinese poet from the Tang Dynasty.
How do we cope when we don’t get what we want? How do we beat a system that is set up to make you fail? Custody asks just these questions, as we are taken on a two-year journey of a family’s struggle for justice for their loved one, twenty-nine year old Brian, who died whilst in police custody.
Equally devastating and hilarious, Hwang makes his characters vibrant and alive rather than fully relying on stereotypes and shallow humour to generate laughs. Though the script is over-convoluted with too many layers of deception, it’s a fantastic vehicle for diversity, smartly written and great fun.
Andrea isn’t very well. In solitary confinement at some sort of secure facility, she has no one to talk to other than those who briefly visit and those who live in her head.
There are loads of jokes and stereotypes about life within a heterosexual relationship – women talk too much, men don’t understand the difficulties of pregnancy, LTRs feel like a burden, and so forth. Of course each relationship has its unique aspects, but there are common elements that often make generalisations about love ring true.
Laura and Dave are hosting a housewarming party at their newly-bought fixer-upper in Peckham. The young couple invite the audience in groups assigned to a character, facilitating a quick entrance and a steady flow around the house.
Families separated by war and conflict have kept in touch one way or another for time immemorial. Recently giving way to skype, texts and emails, letter writing is now largely neglected – but surviving relics betray heartache, fear and longing.
Katie is a fairly average eighteen-year-old living a life busy with A-levels, uni applications and her older boyfriend, Abe. She’s not sure what she wants to do with the rest of her life, but she’s enjoying the here and now of Luton in the springtime.
You could easily classify this production as “the one with the robot” but there is more to Spillikin, currently on tour throughout the UK. Despite the high level of artificial intelligence on show, this is a human story depicting the world of a woman going through Alzheimer’s.