Desert Bloom

3 stars

In a trailer park somewhere in backwater Nevada, a woman called Rosarita sits out in the heat, and quenches her thirst with whiskey sours.  “Real sour, to suit my mood,” she tells us.  But in truth, Rosarita seems happy to tell us her story: a tale of discovered identity, troubled upbringing… and Marilyn Monroe.  It’s a convincing performance from solo actor Rose Condo, and Clara-Nel Haddon’s script paints a vivid picture, of an ordinary life which both harbours and treasures an extraordinary secret.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Thursday 16 June | Read more

Dancing in the Dark

4 stars

In a real house somewhere in suburban Brighton, three grown-up siblings debate their futures and their past.  There’s Andrea, the cool and collected nymphomaniac; Peter, whose mother Lavinia has never accepted he’s gay; and Charles, who’s married to Jean, but seems to be having an affair.  The sexual tensions are obvious, but there are other pressures too – simmering arguments over money, memories of childhood unkindness – and so the stage is set for an entertaining, affecting and thoroughly believable drama, played out across several decades and throughout the rooms of the family home.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Thursday 16 June | Read more

Fool

3 stars

A man sits alone, singing a mournful song, and calling out to his beloved, trusted father.  We soon learn that this is the Fool, and he’s been foolish indeed; driving while distracted, he’s mown down an elderly man and fled from the scene.  We find him now in a shadowy parallel world – a place with its own rules, which are never quite explained – where he’s alternately harassed and aided by the Magician, who brandishes a set of magical objects inspired by the tarot deck.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Thursday 16 June | Read more

Rebel with a Puncture

3 stars

Part comedy, part theatre, part polemic, Rebel With A Puncture is an endearingly scattergun show – but it’s based around a clever and consistent premise. Desperate to make ends meet, performer Sam Quinn tells us that he’s embraced the capitalist society by selling the right to insert advertisements into his routine. And to Quinn’s apparent surprise, those adverts blare out at intervals… through a speaker which sits on a chair beside him.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Thursday 16 June | Read more

Hetty the King (and Other Women I Have Loved)

4 stars

Shrouded in darkness, two soldiers step onto the stage… then as the lights come up, it is clear that they are both women in drag. In true music-hall style, they sing to the audience about love, love and more love, and then we witness them back-stage as they put their act to bed and change back into their daily attire. They share with us the stories of the women that have inspired them in their lives, and influenced their decisions. One of them is Hetty King, a male impersonator whose career spanned both World Wars and was still entertaining the crowds in her late eighties.

Review by Tig Land published on Saturday 11 June | Read more

Mr Candela

3 stars

As a showcase for talent from East 15 Acting School, Mr Candela has much to recommend it. The six young actors of Rooted Moon company throw themselves into their performance with aplomb, showing off their talent for storytelling as well as an ability to ‘work individually and as part of a team’.  But regrettably the story itself is weak, and only shown up in the face of the performers’ enthusiasm.

Review by Catherine Meek published on Saturday 11 June | Read more

Torn Apart (Dissolution)

3 stars

Torn Apart is a play about relationships and endings, idealism contrasted with the hard knocks of life. We are invited to stand at the window and observe how each of three couples interacts. We see them at home, unaffected by the outside world – at least at first.

Review by Roz Scott published on Wednesday 8 June | Read more

Living Between Lies

3 stars

Living Between Lies follows four women whose lives are turned upside down by unexpected events. In each case, loss takes a familiar form: losing a job, a partner, your health or love in a marriage. How the characters respond to these universal themes is what defines this play.

Review by Roz Scott published on Wednesday 8 June | Read more

The Communist Threat

4 stars

Set in 1950, in the underground basement of a luxury Vienna hotel, this impressively-scripted play takes the form of a conversation between two secret service agents. The scene is set ostensibly for the “termination” (read murder), to be disguised as a suicide, of an unsuspecting guest in the hotel. But the tables turned when working class man Mr Nightingale, derided by his middle class associate Mr Kingfisher, launches an interrogation.

Review by Roz Scott published on Sunday 5 June | Read more

Noiseless and Patient

3 stars

The opening of Noiseless and Patient is both poignant and arresting: a seal suckles a human breast, and is then rejected by its mother who smells the human scent. The play is set on Prince Edward Island, Canada, in 1883 – where four young women from Britain embark on a journey into what they hope will be a brighter future. As they re-tell their stories, we witness love, loss, betrayal and hope.

Review by Roz Scott published on Sunday 5 June | Read more

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