The Manifestation of Trim Tab Jim

3 stars

This campaigning rock opera is a tricky show to review – in fact, it's a tricky show to get your head around. It's overflowing with big concepts, from the possibility that we're all living inside a computer simulation to a sinister suggestion of deep-state interference in political life. It's built around some fascinating ideas, and features some strident, provocative songs; but it's also a tangle of thoughts and themes, from which it's hard to pull out any specific message.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Wednesday 30 May | Read more

On the Tracks

4 stars

Part psychological thriller, part social commentary, On The Tracks is a gripping two-hander exploring the secrets we do and don't choose to share. It's set in the break-room of an anonymous railway station; two shunters, Robert and Ted, are about to start their shift. If you don't know what a shunter does, then all will be explained. But this isn't really about the railways; it's about how little we truly know the people we see every day, and how unspoken forces can quietly buckle a mind.

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

Creation Song Norse Myths Storytelling

3 stars

Storyteller Alison Williams-Bailey cuts an impressive figure as she parades into the room, her hair tumbling over the shoulders of her robe, an antler-topped staff clutched in her hand. She's here to share tales of Norse gods and legends – from Yggdrasil, the tree of life, to Ragnarök, the apocalyptic final battle. Her show divides into two parts; the first lives up to the spectacle of her entrance, the second sadly less so.

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

Dee Myself and I

5 stars

Dee, Myself and I is about a young woman called Thea, and her alter ego. “Today is going to be a good day,” she tells herself – but is it a good day? What does Thea do on a bad day? What do you do? Skyers Productions' play is the best exploration of depression I have yet seen, book-ended by lyrical narration and staged as a battle between good and evil.

Review by Roz Scott published on Monday 28 May | Read more

The War of the Worlds

4 stars

Let's get one thing straight to begin with: this comic canter through The War Of The Worlds has nothing to do with Jeff Wayne. There's music, yes, performed live on stage, and a nod or two to lines of dialogue made famous by the iconic rock-opera. But this is actually a surprisingly faithful treatment of HG Wells' original novel, in a show which balances high-spirited playfulness with a sincere and often sensitive story.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Sunday 27 May | Read more

A Serious Play About World War II

3 stars

It's a staple concept for a Fringe parody. A group of self-important thespians stage a Very Important Play – which promptly descends into comedic farce, as their all-too-evident shortcomings are revealed. In this new show, comic duo Willis and Vere run with this basic idea as far as they can possibly carry it, aiming to subvert the most serious story imaginable with the most farcical events they can.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Sunday 27 May | Read more

Morning is Red

2 stars

First World War drama Morning is Red holds a lot of promise. For one thing, it's staged in the evocative subterranean setting of the Town Hall's Old Police Cells – which ably represent a spartan, run-down, front-line hospital. And the set-up is poignant: an eager young soldier, wounded on his very first day of battle, shares a ward with a jaded army officer who's seen more than enough of war.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Sunday 27 May | Read more

She Wolf

4 stars

"The history plays are super-boring," complains Queen Margaret of Anjou. And she should know: Shakespeare wrote her into four of them, including one scene – in Richard III – set when the real Margaret was dead. This quick-witted, irreverent one-woman shows aims to reclaim her true life story, and uses it to make adroit and important points about women's experiences in our own day.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Friday 25 May | Read more

POST

3 stars

Post is a piece of innovative, interactive theatre, set around a Portuguese dinner table and hosted by Xavier de Sousa. His parents are among "the returned": migrants who had made their home in other countries for a generation or two, but are then returned to Portugal, a land unknown to them. He poses a variety of questions about national identity and invites his guests to answer them. From the moment we set foot in the theatre, de Sousa effortlessly puts us at ease, with a kind word for each guest or a question by means of introduction.

Review by Roz Scott published on Thursday 24 May | Read more

Are Strings Attached?

4 stars

On paper, it sounds like Are String Attached? tackles an impossible mish-mash of themes: graffiti spraying, professional tennis, and time at drama school. But we learn soon enough that these disparate forms of self-expression fulfil a common need – to be seen, to be respected, to be top dog. Billed as a "fictional autobiography", Simon Lovat's one-man play is both a gentle reflection on what matters in life, and a fascinating insight into what drives certain people to do the things they do.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Thursday 24 May | Read more

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