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Horse Play: Equus @Trafstudios #EquusWestEnd

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Peter Shaffer's play Equus is given a slick and stylised turn in this English Touring Company production that's currently playing on the West End at Trafalgar Studios. With everything stripped back to the bare essentials, all that's left is a white curtain, muscles and guilt. And the occasion flash or scream. If you missed it earlier this year at Theatre Royal Stratford East, see it now as it's a fresh look at this psychological thriller.

The premise of the piece is that seventeen-year-old Alan (played by Ethan Kai with moody intensity), has blinded six horses in a stable he worked in on weekends. Rather than go to jail, he's sent to a psychiatric hospital for treatment.  And where Dysart (Zubin Varla) has to uncover the motive for this madness.

Even if it was inspired by a real-life crime, it's rather clever of Schaffer to focus on cruelty to horses in England. Nothing surely can be more shocking in a country that worships the very ground the equine beast tro…

Donkeys have fun too: My Son Pinocchio Jr @SWKPlay

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The British Theatre Academy, which provides theatre training and performance opportunities for young people is back at the Southwark Playhouse for the summer for a series of shows, including My Son Pinocchio Jr. It’s a condensed version of the 2006 musical, My Son Pinocchio: Geppetto’s Musical Tale. This was based on a television movie musical Geppetto.
The show is a retelling of the Pinocchio but from Geppetto’s perspective. It opens with the ever cheery Blue Fairy telling everyone that she is going to celebrate the story of one of her wishes that came out perfectly lovely. Only for Geppetto to appear and say he wants her to take him back. 


It turns out that Pinocchio wasn’t all that lovely after all. And not what he expected. Mainly because he did boy things like ask the wrong questions, gets in a fight at school and then runs away to a puppet show. Which is fair enough, but then again Geppetto was forcing Pinocchio to be a toy-maker rather than a train driver. The story in its shorte…

A room with a song: The View Upstairs @Sohotheatre

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The View Upstairs imagines a dialogue between the trailblazers of the LGBT+ community and today's self-absorbed gender-fluid Millennials. The dialogue is through a series of songs by Max Vernon that veer from soft rock, disco and glam. It has some wry observations about what has and hasn't improved for the community since the 1970s. So the conversation becomes more like a musical theatre bitch slap to anyone who takes for granted the right to be themselves. It's currently playing at Soho Theatre.

Set in 2017, internet influencer and conflicted fashion designer Wes (Tyrone Huntley) has fled New York for New Orleans. He's bought a building intending to show off his work. But he's either mixed his citalopram with his cocaine or trapped in a time warp as he found himself back in 1973. And the building he bought was the site of a largely forgotten arson attack on the gay bar Upstairs Lounge that killed 32 people. This had been the deadliest attack on the LGBT+ communit…

Hello young lovers: Games for Lovers @TheVaultsUK

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Love in the age of #metoo, career goals, money worries and online dating can be a bit random and to chance. It's all part of life in London. That and the need for a flat close to the tube. It's all explored in Games for Lovers, a new piece by Ryan Craig that's currently playing at The Vaults.

There's Martha (Evanna Lynch) who is secretly in love with her best friend Logan (Calum Callaghan). But Logan's got a girlfriend, Jenny (Tessie  Orange-Turner), although he has trouble with intimacy. When Darren (Billy Postlethwaite), an old college mate of Logan's, has a room to rent, Matha takes it since it has excellent tube links. Even if Darren's a bit odd.

Through a series of flashbacks and addresses to the audience, we get a sense of who they are. But things really get interesting when Darren decides to give Martha lessons in the art of seduction. Lynch and Postlethwaite together are hilarious with their unexpected outbursts and comic timing. And Orange-Turner …

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 …