The History of Everything in 60 Mins (more or less)

4 stars

When actor-comedian Ben Watson promises the history of everything, he really does mean exactly what he says.  His fast-paced, laugh-a-minute act opens with the Big Bang – then careers at breakneck pace through the whole of human history, culminating with a relatively comprehensive summary of the events of the last hundred years.  It’s a visually rich show, with a host of costumes and even a glitterball, but there’s clever wordplay and thoughtful comment too.  So at the end of 60 full-on minutes, I was a little shell-shocked, slightly better-educated… and most of all, thoroughly ent

Review by Richard Stamp published on Sunday 29 May | Read more

Apostrophe's

3 stars

Poetry readings were once the preserve of beatniks and students, and performance poetry often comes with the aura of being impenetrable, high-falutin’ and snobby. Apostrophe’s is nothing of the sort. Chris Parkinson has composed a series of poems over the years (apparently, most poets can only turn out about seven good ones per annum) that are fun and lively, political, absurd and amusing.

Review by Vivienne Egan published on Sunday 29 May | Read more

The Glamour of Yesteryear

3 stars

The five 'Chic Bon Bons' burst onto the stage to the sound of Christina Aguilera’s song Express, in a display of stockings and burlesque dance. At once, it’s clear that they’ve all got some moves – and it’s great to see some real women on stage, full of Marilyn Monroe curves, unafraid to flaunt their sexuality (or their fabulous selection of underwear).  They’ve made good choices of music to accompany the dances, as well; I especially liked the version of Fever sung in French.

Review by Tig Land published on Saturday 28 May | Read more

Save Me A Balloon

2 stars

When I read the programme listing for this piece of physical theatre, I was immediately reminded of one of my favourite films of all time, Up. Surely, I thought, they wouldn't be so unwise as to mimic something so iconic. But they were, and they did. Even to the point of using the soundtrack from the movie.

Review by Tig Land published on Saturday 28 May | Read more

Hercules

3 stars

This is an ambitious project from Bard and Troubadour’s Joshua Crisp: telling the complete myth of the Labours of Hercules, together with a fair chunk of the convoluted back-story, all on his own and within the space of an hour.  Time checks from the tech box keep the mission on track, as Crisp gallops through the famed Ancient Greek legend – ticking off Hercules’ impossible feats with engaging humour and, more often than not, an ironic laugh.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Saturday 28 May | Read more

Blood Will Have Blood

4 stars

In an old prison cell deep beneath the Town Hall, Blood Will Have Blood offers an unusual and spellbinding experience: the chance to write yourself into the story of Macbeth.  You’ll play a character familiar from Shakespeare’s tale – though exactly who you are is at first unclear – in a country that’s struggling to come to terms with the aftermath of the tyrant king’s rule.  Together with a small group, you’ll enact a well-thought-through and genuinely chilling short play, guided all the time by an immersive narrative relayed to you through headphones.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Saturday 28 May | Read more

The Cunning Mr Lingus

2 stars

Martin Lingus is there to meet us, as we file into the theatre; smiling, dispensing programmes, singing tunelessly along to the music in the background.  When the music stops and he begins to speak, we soon realise he has a particular eye for more mature ladies – and that he’s the type of man who’s only after one thing.  But not that thing.  Mr Lingus’s one true passion is architecture… and his near-erotic delight over period cornicing forms the cornerstone joke of this self-described “dark comedy”.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Thursday 26 May | Read more

Rosie Wilby: The Conscious Uncoupling

3 stars

If you have ever struggled to let go and move on at the end of a relationship, you may enjoy Rosie Wilby’s one-woman, one-act show. It takes the form of a light-hearted correspondence between two female actors, one in London and the other based in Edinburgh; and the story is very accessible, because the themes of love and loss are universal. As though to prove that point, only one member of the audience I was in had never been dumped.

Review by Roz Scott published on Thursday 26 May | Read more

Blackbird

4 stars

Blackbird is a controversial play, that exposes a cocktail of emotions – triggered when Una confronts the much older Ray, 15 years after he abandoned her at the age of 12 in a seaside hotel room.  As the story unfolds, we hear about the aftermath of this illicit liaison. Ray was imprisoned for having sex with a minor; Una had to remain in the community where they both lived, facing the everyday disapproval of friends, their families and neighbours. The bad news spread like a forest fire, however much her parents tried to protect her.

Review by Roz Scott published on Thursday 26 May | Read more

A Good Jew

3 stars

What does it mean to be “a good Jew”?  What does it mean to be a Jew at all?  Those questions are thrown into sharp focus by this meaty new play, set in Germany and Czechoslovakia in the dark days of the Second World War.  Sol is Jewish, but doesn’t really feel it; Hilda, his non-Jewish sweetheart, has a Nazi ideologue for a dad.  Through a combination of bad choices and simple dramatic irony, they each end up concealing their true identity – and Hilda finds herself interned in a concentration camp which Sol helps to run.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Thursday 26 May | Read more

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