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Keeping up appearances: The House of Bernarda Alba @SpanishTheatreC

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You’re never in doubt with this production of The House of Bernarda Alba that the heat and the attitudes are oppressive in this small Spanish town.

A thin veneer of respectability and status barely conceals the urges and desires lurking beneath. And women, as second class citizens have only gossip, traditions and the church to cling to.

This passionate, topical and emotional production is currently playing at the Cervantes Theatre near Southwark, in both English and Spanish.

Mixed race privilege: White @ovalhouse

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I always knew what I was. I was mixed race. I was... And so begins Koko Brown’s monologue White. It’s about being mixed race and being an outsider and growing up in modern Britain dealing with labels when sometimes none really fit.

It’s currently playing at the Ovalhouse Theatre as part of its Autumn Series of shows.

Koko Brown uses spoken word, live vocal looping and multimedia to create a powerful and compelling statement on how we view people.

Distant and remote: The Dark Room @theatre503

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Angela Betzien’s hard-hitting play The Dark Room at Theatre 503 explores the underbelly of neglect and violence in outback Australia. Or the Northern Territory to be precise. But this isn’t the Northern Territory famous for its obscure newspaper headlines. This is a much darker, isolated place where the people meant to protect vulnerable people mistreat them instead.

It’s billed as a disturbing psychological thriller but the resemblance to real events makes it feel more like a horror show. Betzien wrote the play after witnessing first-hand the shortage of accommodation for children in care in these communities. In the end you leave the theatre feeling shocked and numb from what you’ve seen.

Set in a run-down motel room, a series of characters come together to tell the story of stretched resources, limited patience and a tyranny of distance. Time moves forward and back as this bleak plywood motel room as each character recalls another.



It opens with youth worker Anni (Katy Brittain) b…

Stuck on you: Quaint Honour @Finborough

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It’s a boys life in Quaint Honour. It’s currently having a sold-out run at the Finborough Theatre. It’s set in a boarding school in 1950s England. Where among the study, cricket and Shakespearian productions, homosexual activity is rampant.

It’s not encouraged, but its seen as something to pass the time between all that study and sport. And there’s enough ambiguity about these relationships for the house master to turn a blind eye.
The premise is that Tully (Harley Viveash), a prefect, accepts a challenge to seduce younger pupil Hamilton (Jack Archer). It’s all meant to be harmless fun but the pair develop stronger feelings for each other.

And even as the play reaches its predictable conclusions, you can’t help but enjoy the time you spent with these characters.

Rubbing the wrong way: The Red Lion @Trafstudios

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Patrick Marber commented that his play The Red Lion dramatises something about England. One part is about community and belonging, and the other part is about business. But it also could be about not being terribly good at the sport, either in playing it or managing it unless you're importing it. It's currently playing downstairs at Trafalgar Studios.

It's a locker room comedy-drama set in a semi-professional football club in the north. Kidd (Stephen Tompkinson) as manager has spotted Jordan's (Dean Bone) potential and puts him on as a reserve. But his real plan is to transfer him to another team. With a transfer, he and the club stands to gain financially.

Victims of circumstance: Mother Courage And Her Children @swkplay

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War is hell. War is a bitch. But everyone has to scrape by and make a living. Tony Kushner's translation of Mother Courage And Her Children was given an epic staging at the National Theatre in 2009. Here in the more intimate surroundings of Southwark Playhouse, there's less spectacle. But it's still worth a look. Particularly if you're sitting on the right side of the traverse.

Brecht's piece should make you feel uncomfortable with sharp observations about capitalism, war and religion. This production just makes you feel uncomfortable. If you're sitting on the wrong side you will have to make do with either stretching your neck or imaging what's going on behind you.

Smirking out loud: The Diary of a Nobody @KingsHeadThtr

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The Diary of A Nobody returns to the Kings Head Theatre for a short run over the next few weeks. Rough Haired Pointer’s reimagining of the classic Victorian lower middle class tale was a hit a few years back. First at the White Bear Theatre and then at the Kings Head. But something seems amiss this time around. The comedy seems strained and the pacing a little slow. At best it elicits smirks out loud rather than belly laughs.I recalled it being it funnier and full of energy, allowing you to overlook some of the more curious interpretations of the source material. This includes the decision to have an all-male cast play a range of female roles.