Franz Kafka: Apparatus

5 stars

This taut and engrossing new play, an original adaptation of Franz Kafka's In The Penal Colony, sees a cosmopolitan traveller arrive on an isolated prison island. He's there as a guest – to learn about the eponymous "apparatus", a complex device overseen by a proud and protective officer. The officer speaks of the apparatus with reverential devotion, and she talks in the same tones about her now-dead mentor: the former commandant, the inventor of the apparatus, and the father of this authoritarian regime.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Thursday 10 May | Read more

Hymns for Robots

4 stars

Synthesised music is so commonplace these days, it's hard to imagine how wondrous – miraculous – it must at first have seemed. What was it like to experience a new sound, found nowhere in nature, which no living creature had ever heard before? Hymns for Robots, a loose biography of famous musician Delia Derbyshire, successfully captures that sense of awe and magic… and delivers plenty of humour too, in a quirky, offbeat and stylish production.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Wednesday 9 May | Read more

Metamorphosis

4 stars

You know Kafka's Metamorphosis, of course; the tale of a man called Gregor, who wakes up one morning to find he's become an insect. But do you really know the story? What about the other characters – do you know anything of their lives? This clever, free-handed, but ultimately faithful adaptation is narrated by Gregor's sister Grete… drawing parallels with her own metamorphosis from girl into woman, and offering an interesting interpretation of Gregor's transformation as well.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Tuesday 8 May | Read more

Myra

2 stars

Some murderers – even some serial killers – achieve redemption of a kind; admit their crimes, take responsibility for their choices, accept their punishment and commit to a better life. Myra Hindley was not one of those. In this well-acted but ultimately questionable play, we meet her in her prison cell, where she tells us – as the real Myra Hindley told everyone – that it's all the fault of her lover and co-conspirator, Ian Brady.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Tuesday 8 May | Read more

The Erebus Project

4 stars

The best concepts in science fiction aren't the showy ones, but the ones which serve as jumping-off points for a believable human story. So it is with The Erebus Project – which ostensibly is about a near-future technology for reading dying people's minds. But in reality, this quiet yet powerful four-hander is about the value of companionship; about how some losses needn't be forever, and how important it is to talk things through before it's time to say goodbye.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Monday 7 May | Read more

Mr D’s Tales of Myth and Legend

3 stars

Mr D doesn't fit my stereotyped idea of a storyteller. For a start, the outfit's all wrong: he comes with bright red shoes, a swirly-patterned shirt, and an equally irreverent attitude to the stories he's going to tell. Together with his right-hand woman, Ebony Nightshade – who should really have equal billing in the title, since she has an equal role in the performance – he tells a quick-fire collection of stories from around the UK and Ireland, in a rough-and-ready but entertaining show.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Monday 7 May | Read more

A Song of Plague

4 stars

On one side of the stage, an apothecary's surgery the size of a doll's house; on the other, a higgledy-piggledy stack of buildings. We're in London, it's 1665, and – the narrator tells us – a stranger has come from the sea. It's the plague, of course, and before the hour is out, a starburst of red crosses have appeared on the doors of the city. Tracing two characters, a doctor and his daughter, A Song Of Plague is a haunting piece of puppetry which successfully evokes a distant place and time.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Sunday 6 May | Read more

Gone

4 stars

In a world of fable, not all that different from our own, a family live in quiet harmony and feast on fruit from an exotic tree. But a storm comes; a malevolent storm, which turns neighbour against neighbour and forces them out of the land they call home. Told using puppets, this new show from Fringe regulars Box Tale Soup offers allegorical insight on the forces driving modern-day migration.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Sunday 6 May | Read more

Runny For Money

3 stars

Runny for Money: a weird name for an off-beat, shaky, but funny and rewarding show. A one-woman character piece from journalist-turned-actor Angela Yeoh, it takes the form of a seminar hosted by a "famous" Chinese businesswoman called Manyi – who appears on stage resplendent in fur coat, the very image of nouveau-riche consumerism. There's plenty of audience participation and a few economic lessons, as Manyi lurches from lecture to games to live-streamed TV show.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Sunday 6 May | Read more

What's Wrong with Monotony?

2 stars

There's a brief moment, near the start of this mixed-up production, when it looks like it's about to veer into Six Characters In Search Of An Author. In the end, it doesn't go there – but it's certainly a show in search of a theme. There are hints of absurdism, an in-joke-heavy analysis of the creative process, and then – right in the middle of it all – a big old dollop of traditional music-hall.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Saturday 5 May | Read more

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