The Paines Plough Roundabout is the most reliable, new writing venues at the fringe. With a collection of work that represents the width and breadth of the UK both geographically and thematically, this year’s offerings are universally strong.
Who knew one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies could be funny? Director and composer Claire van Kampen has tapped into a rare rhythm that sees Iago as a weaselly, clownish man lacking power and finesse, yet still manages to twist Othello into knots
This pro-immigration, hip-hop reinvention of the all-American musical about a country gaining independence from a distant, tyrannical overlord resonates rather differently in Brexit Britain than it does in America. Forget the NHS bus – could Hamilton be the new symbol of the Leave campaign?
France 1944. A young French girl Elodike runs to meet her lover, a German soldier Otto. Their love is innocent and pure, the exact opposite of the world around them.
In Nanette, Gadsby breaks down this joke structure as she expertly plays the audience, slowly lengthening the time delay between tension and release.
Mexican company Los Colochos Teatro not only knows how to utilize Shakespeare’s Scottish Play in order to tell a story of the here and now, but also uses human imagination in a simple, yet creative and immersive way. Their Mendoza, based on Macbeth, is one of the best Shakespeare productions I have seen.
Frankie Meredith’s script has a solid, viable core, but the short, episodic scenes spanning a long time period make for a skeletal whole that feels like the first act of a longer play.
Some time in the past, there is an island of disparate peoples happily carrying on with their lives. Each group has its own rules, traditions and customs.
This Hamlet, freshly transferred to the West End from the Almeida, is a slick, beast of a production surpassing three hours. Undeniably contemporary, it does its best to smash the restrictions of the proscenium arch with a celebrity cast and achingly cool, Scandi/corporate design.
Anastasia Zinovieva is a motley clown who wants to reenact Hamlet, but it’s a big story to take on herself. She enlists seven people from the audience to fill the major roles and instructs them as they go – similar to Hamlet’s treatment of the players.
Paying homage to Shakespeare’s genius but not slavishly binding themselves to it, Golem! sticks up two fingers at Shakespeare purists who, with quivering voices, clutch their pearls and gasp, “But the text!”
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.
Ex-IRA member Quinn Carney and his family have gathered to bring in the harvest. The celebration stretches back centuries and brings the extended family together, so Quinn’s house is crowded. Along with his wife Mary and their 7 children, his brother Seamus’ wife Caitlin and her son Oisin have lived with them for the past 10 years since Seamus disappeared.
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.
Epitomising opposing political viewpoints, the war between practical and aesthetic, emotional versus intellectual, and the disparity between social classes, the two characters each represent huge forces clashing within a coming-of-age story and a myth of the Taj’s history.
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.
Rhoda is the picture-perfect 1950s American child. Obedient, clever and helpful, she is a dream for any parent. But after the death of a classmate who won the penmanship medal Rhoda coveted, mum Christine’s investigations into past “accident” uncover a dark secret from her own childhood that means Rhoda isn’t all that seems.
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.
Rob and Paul are best mates, albeit total polar opposites. They share a cozy bachelor pad where they engage in typical mid-20s, male behaviour – drinking, weight lifting, discussing women in graphic detail and fighting off zombies.
The premise of an airliner exploding over Fulham after being hit with a Russian man-portable infrared surface-to- air missile, or as intense Londoner, Graham, who was caught up in the aftermath puts it, ‘it looks you know, like a bazooka…’, in a terrorist attack is extremely compelling. Compelling, because it could happen.
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