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Hull on earth: Starved @TheHopeTheatre

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It’s a game of survival of the fittest in Starved. A desperate world set in a bedsit on a rough estate in Hull in northern England. Two characters circle each other like wild animals as their circumstances and choices strip them of their dignity. And any creature comforts. It’s a short and provocative piece that’s currently at The Hope Theatre in Islington.

Money may not be able to buy you happiness, but it gives you options. Here the two young characters, Lad and Lass, have nothing. They’re on the run and hiding out, having dropped out of society. But they’re running out of luck too, trying to get by living on a diet of cup-a-soups and whatever they can steal.

Writer Michael Black (who also plays Lad) lures you into moments of comedy before quickly shifting gear into much darker territory.  Imprisoned by their circumstances, they retreat into a world of hunger, scraps, sexual favours and addiction until they hit the point of no return. But it’s such a natural progression that the po…

Space for reflection: Dark Sublime @Trafstudios

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Cult eighties television is the launch pad for looking back on a life sort-of lived in Dark Sublime. A long but rewarding look at how trivial and inconsequential things can end up being so much more. In this case, a crap science fiction show alters the space-time continuum with enduring rewards, and a chance to reflect on a life well lived so far. It’s currently at Trafalgar Studios.
Marianne (Marina Sirtis) is a serious actress who reached fame with a London Television science fiction show, Dark Sublime. Full of cheap effects and overacting, it was a minor hit when it aired in the eighties and since developed a cult following.
Her television work gave her fame and paid for the mortgage. Nowadays, she makes ends meet with random jobs that pay for her penchant for cheap wine at Tesco. But a young man with a childhood obsession for Dark Sublime (Kwaku Mills), tracks her down for his fan website. Their meeting leads to a moment of reflection of where she is in her life, and her relationshi…

Have a good day: Grey @Ovalhouse theatre

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Koko Brown is a strong, independent, Black woman. She’s written one show, and she now has another called Grey playing at Ovalhouse Theatre. A fantastic performer who uses spoken word, live vocal looping and multimedia to tell her stories, she has so many exciting and fabulous thing in her life. What could be wrong? But she’s also a little sad. And this starts the story and journey exploring in mental illness and having an elusive good day.

Similar to the exploration of labels and names explored in her first work, White, Brown uses Grey to tell a story about mental health and discovering who she is and as a black woman in modern Britain.


Candid, honest and provocative. It's also funny. And it’s moving how Brown, as the character Woman, depicts her journey as she struggles to cope with everyday life before seeking help. Then after help the unexpected side effects and consequences of drugs on her body, while still trying to be everything everyone expects her to be. Alongside her is …

Swatting: The Flies @BunkerTheatreUK

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The Flies at The Bunker theatre is a chance for production company Exchange Theatre - which specialises in translating plays for English audiences - to return to the piece that put them on the map. With live music, video and eye-catching design, it’s an ambitious piece. But it seemed to miss any sense of drama. And it’s star actor Meena Rayann was off too.

Jean Paul Satre’s take on the Oresteia and the Electra myth, was written during the Nazi occupation of France. Fast forward seventy years, it's tempting to equate today’s new nationalists with yesterdays fascists. But it's a lazy comparison given the grand themes under exploration here. It feels more like an apparent dig at Nazi occupation, organised religion or group think over fake news, immigrant bashing and economic hardship.


It opens where two travellers approach Argos, a town where everyone is in mourning. One is Orestes in disguise. The city has become a dark place cursed with flies as punishment from the Gods since …

Fantasies: Afterglow @Swkplay

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Nowadays no self-respecting gay play can be staged without full frontal nudity of some kind. It feels like the default response for the modern gay play now that gay rights are no longer an issue. Afterglow, currently playing at Southwark Playhouse, serves it up in spades. From the beginning, three men are in a bed, naked. There’s what appears to be a very brief exhalation of ecstasy, before the obligatory rush to the shower. But the gratuitous nudity and excellent performances can’t conceal this is a pretty conventional and predictable story about a fantasy couple. 
The three men in the simultaneous orgasm at the start of the piece are Josh, Alex and Darius. Josh and Alex seem to live in a New York world where they can afford a rooftop apartment in Manhattan while holding jobs as a theatre director and a grad student in chemistry. As writer S. Asher Gelman based it on his own experiences, perhaps gay plays with full frontal nudity are the way to achieve financial security and great real…

Age of innocence: Country Music @Omnibus_Theatre

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The latest instalment of the Up series landed this week. It tracks the lives of a bunch of unrepresentative British people every seven years. Fascinating in its ordinariness and irritating by director Michael Apted's random and pompous commentary, it was on my mind as I was watching Country Music. It's a much more subtle exploration on how people change over time. Or at least your perception of them. And how your life can be shaped from your early years in ways you can never appreciate. It's currently playing at the Omnibus Theatre.

Jamie (Cary Cranson) and his girl from school, Lynsey (Rebecca Stone) are in a car Jamie has stolen. Along with a large bag of crisps. It's 1983, and they're just out of school. They talk about getting away and the benefits of different flavours of crisps. But beneath the surface, something isn't quite right. Jamie has a short fuse. There's talk about a mighty fight. And soon, Lynsey is scared.


Things jump forward a few years, …

Bit of a scuffle: Custody @ovalhouse

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Custody has returned to the Ovalhouse Theatre following an earlier run there. Seemingly taken from the headlines, it follows the fallout from after black man in south London was arrested and then dies in police custody.  “There was a bit of a scuffle, and I’m sorry to say he passed away,” Informs the police officer arriving at the home.

And then his family and his lover are left behind to pick up the pieces and pull together the strands of information about what happened. It’s a powerful piece inspired by creator Urban Wolf’s experience with the police and written in collaboration with Tom Wainwright.


Part poetry, dreams, reality and anger, a series of short scenes come together to paint a picture of how the system is against people from the start if they don’t look or act the right way. Written at the time of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (which has since been replaced by the Independent Office for Police Conduct), it details the petty bureaucracy and general ineffective…

Partying on: J’Ouvert @Theatre503

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The shadow of Grenfell looms large in J’Ouvert, It fills Theatre 503 with the colour and flavour of the Notting Hill carnival. It’s an epic and personal experience of three women during one day at the event. With its intricate storylines and sharp observations about life in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, it’s an impressive debut from writer Yasmin Joseph. Even with what appears to have been a difficult journey to bring it to the stage.

In the piece, three women play a range of characters. Two are best friends and locals who have been going to the carnival forever. Another girl has joined them for reasons that become clear later. As they spend the day trying to get a drink and a dance. And some overpriced food, the characters that make up the event come to the fore. What becomes clear is a slice of life of the need to party, the need to be angry and the need to get on with their lives, without harassment or violence looming large.


There are the old timers who have seen i…