Three Sisters (Tour), RashDash/Royal Exchange Theatre @ The Yard

22 May – 9 June 2018
The Yard, Hackney

12 – 16 June, 2018
Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol

Turning classical theatre upside down in the most brilliant way.

RashDash - Three Sisters Production Photos (photographer credit The Other Richard) (3)

Feminist theatre company RashDash take on Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov and turn it into a modern version with a new perspective with a drum kit, electric guitars and a brilliant sense of daring and nerve.

This version was a wonderful example of taking a classical play, turning it on its head and adapting it to fit a young 2018 audience. There are lots of Theatre companies which try to adapt classical plays to fit a modern audience, most commonly to be set in a modern environment but the majority are all very similar to each other. However the RashDash adaptation was original, absurd and hilarious. It was an almost perfect example of a classical play adapted to fit a modern audience.

RashDash strip the male parts out of the play and focuses on the titular sisters and the relationship between them. Olga, Masha and Irena are played by Abbi Greenland, Helen Goelen and Becky Wilkie, who each are exceptional actors, whose on-stage relationships are wonderful and full of natural chemistry. The play explores what the three sisters would talk about if they lived in our current society, the dialogue was very relatable and funny. It was fantastic to see recognisable ‘normal’ modern woman represented on stage. I cried with laughter at points in the show. The music too is exceptional, and the two actor/musicians Chloe Rianna and Yoon-Ji Kim were very entertaining.

This show is really fun. It’s filled with bright lights, nudity, funny conversations and some cracking music. It’s not only a great piece of theatre but also a great night out. Go and see this show to experience Chekhov as you’ve never seen it before.

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Tickets

Unexploded Ordnances (UXO), Split Britches (Tour)

15 – 19 May, 2018 @ The Barbican

by Lois Weaver, Peggy Shaw, & Hannah Maxwell
Directed by Lois Weaver

More dates in Glasgow, Battersea and more – click here for details

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Photography by Theo Cote

 

 

American duo Split Britches bring their unique exploration of anxiety to our shores. UXO is a conversation about calamity, built heavily around the themes and imagery of Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964).

The production is not your usual theatre piece, but rather a public discussion using theatrical elements. Audience members are invited onto the stage to form a ‘Council of Elders’ in a perfectly designed Dr. Strangelove Situation Room.

It’s an interesting show. It’s a look at that feeling of inescapable dread that seems to permeate everything nowadays. Cleverly, it uses the metaphor of unexploded ordinances as both symbol of the hidden dread around us, and of unexplored desires waiting to burst forth. Doom and hope.

The characters, inspired by George C. Scott’s General Turgidson and Peter Sellers’ President Muffley, are hilariously performed. Played by Weaver and Shaw, the pair give worthy tribute to some of the film’s iconic moments. They are wonderfully comic performers.

Lois Weaver duels as the night’s MC and head panellist to the ‘Council of Elders’. She leads the discussion, talking to the Council about their desires and fears (with social media being the overwhelmingly main concern tonight. As a non-elder I can’t help but feel our generations receive our existential dreads from vastly different places, but I digress…)

They provoked some interesting discussion, but as the show relies on its Council for its content, it’s at the mercy of those audience members to provide the meat of the show. It’s the audience that ultimately provides the biggest laughs and the most moving moments.

One problem with this is that not every audience member is created equal in the oratory department, and though managed well, not every audience member necessarily opens the lid on an issue with the same nuance. It also means that the discussion lacks a single direction therefore can’t go particularly deep.

On the other hand, some of the anecdotes and human moments that were brought to the stage tonight were often funny and really touching, and the mission to discuss these fears; to have an open public sharing of anxieties and attempt to find creative solutions, is an important one.

So yes, an interesting and thought-provoking show, though not one that gets the heart pounding.

 

 

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Tickets / www.barbican.org.uk/

Mountains: The Dreams if Lily Kwok, Yellow Earth @ Stratford Circus Arts Centre

22 March – 2 June, 2018 (Tour)

by In-Sook Chappell
Directed by Jennifer Tang.

Full dates and locations of the tour can be found here

Mountains is a beautiful new play by In-Sook Chappell that highlights the importance of identity and asks important questions about choice.

As we open, the scenery design immediately invokes a true sense of the hustle, bustle and grit of Hong Kong. From the off we are spun a tale of three generations of women, with Grandmother Lily Kwok, taking Helen on a retelling of her life, and how she ended up living in Manchester.

Even just watching this play, you could feel the energy of something truly new and exciting being performed. The play insightfully and sensitively navigated the topic of colonialism and classism in British Hong Kong and Manchester at the time. Taboo ideas, such as Chinese problem-gambling, were highlighted in a stark but meaningful way. Director Jennifer Tang has done a fantastic job in highlighting these issues while never loosing sight of the story of family at the play’s core.

Sui-See Hung and Tina Chiang delight as the colourful Grandmother and Daughter and deserve the success this play is having. Their performances are insightful and evocative. Ruth Gibson also deserves a mention for her portrayal of Mrs Woodman. Her depiction of a colonial Brit in Hong Kong shows great humanity and subtlety to a role which could so easily have been used to lambaste a generation.

This play was a stand out from start to finish. If you are London-based, there are performances in Bury-St-Edmunds and Watford, and I strongly urge that you catch this play before it’s close.

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Tickets

 

Monster, Worklight Theatre @ The Vaults

24 – 28 January, 2018

Written & performed by Joe Sellman-Leavas
Directed by Yaz Al-Shaater

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Worklight Theatre are an internationally acclaimed theatre company formed in 2011 who focus on contemporary social issues. The company rose to success with there previous show Labels, a show exploring identity which won the VAULT Festival 2017 award.

Worklight’s latest show Monster explores violence and masculinity and questions what happens when the monster that lies within us escapes. Performed and written by Joe Sellman Leava and directed by Yaz Al-Shaanter.

Joe Sellman-Leava is a captivating performer, his intelligent energy is infectious. A very good storyteller, he has a unique style in the way which he tells emotional and personal stories. Sellman-Leava has incredible charisma, the audience like him and feel empathy for his character.

The performer multi-roled the different characters in the story, which created some funny moments. However, there wasn’t much physical change between the characters which would have added to the performance.

A unique show well-worth seeing at the VAULT Festival or catching on tour later this year. The audience left with the curious line: ‘some of the story is true and some of it isn’t and I’m not going to tell you which is which’, leaving us to questioning which is which.

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Tickets

The Claim (Tour) – Five stars!

22 November, 2017 – 2 February, 2018 (Tour)

by Tim Cowbur
Directed by Mark Maughan

16 – 26 January, 2018 (London)

https://www.theclaimshow.co.uk/

The Claim, UK Tour - Ncuti Gatwa and Nick Blakeley (courtesy of Paul Samuel White)

Photography by Paul Samuel White

 

This isn’t going to like my usual reviews because I don’t want to give ANYTHING away.

Don’t research the play. Don’t look it up. Just go and experience it blind.

Trust me.

I can’t bare being anything but vague at the moment. The play contains such a journey in tone and experience that I feel the best way to see it is to encounter every high and low as the protagonist does.

It’s important, relevant theatre; incredibly entertaining, wonderfully written, and impeccably acted.

WHAT MORE CAN YOU WANT!

Clever design and seamless direction.

Writer Tim Cowbur is a genius.

Ncuti Gatwa, Nick Blakeley, and Yusra Warsama shine.

It’s absurd. It’s heart-breaking. It’s hilarious.

It made me angry.

It’s the sort of play that I started reviewing plays to see.

 

Go book your tickets now, okay?

 

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TOUR DATES

Tickets (London)

Upcoming cities –
Canterbury | 29 Jan 2018
Glasgow | 31 Jan 2018

Newcastle upon Tyne | 2 Feb 2018