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I know what you did last summer: Last Orders @ORLTheatre

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The Old Red Lion Theatre during the summer months is hot and oppressive at the best of times. But theatre troupe The Knock Knock Club decided to hold a seance and a ghost hunt at the venue to see if there was any truth the number of hauntings that people have reported.

There's been a pub on the site of the Old Red Lion since 1415. Over the years, there's been reported sightings of spirits of the non-alcoholic kind.  There are enough witness accounts of a ghost on every floor of the venue. There's the ghost who likes the drama (but not lost Arthur Miller plays) on the theatre floor. There's the ghost at the bar level that wants to fling glassware and frighted the resident dog. And below the bar at cellar level, there's something like the gateway to the underworld that freaks everyone out.

The show is part documentary about what the troupe did over the summer and part unearthing bizarre facts about the Old Red Lion. It's funny and intriguing as the team uncover …

Racing with the clock: Tick, Tick... Boom! @BHTse20

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Watching Tick, Tick... Boom at the Bridge House Theatre, a play about young thirty-somethings in 1990 makes you realise that if they were alive today, they would be becoming sexagenarians. The passing of time and the struggles of being creative in New York are at the heart of this piece. Now it's over to a new generation to sing about about Jonathan Larson's anxieties about creativity, composition and getting older.

It's made all the more bittersweet given the composer (and lead character Jon), Jonathan Larson died in 1996, six years after this piece is set. His death was also just before his show, Rent would open and become a big success.

Tick, Tick... Boom!  was initially conceived as a solo work for Larson after his struggles to mount a show he was developing. After his death, it was reworked into a three-hander which is the version that we see today.

While there are many musical theatre references, particularly to Sondheim, what’s interesting about the show is how it …

Little rocks: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes @TheUnionTheatre

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Two ladies looking for wealthy men to marry might seem like an unusual musical for revival in this #metoo era. But with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the Union Theatre transforms into a bubbling 1920s escapist fantasy. Amongst the froth, there are also some shrewd observations about harassment and survival in a man’s world. And with a terrific cast, exhilarating dance numbers and a fabulous set and costumes, it has to be one of the best things to see on the fringe right now.

The tale of blonde gold-digger from Little Rock may be forever associated with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell. Walking into the Union Theatre with its red stage feels like a reminder this is the show where Marilyn performs Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend. But the musical, which dates from an earlier, more risque time has a lot more to say than the film. Unwanted advances, criminal charges and a revolutionary device that will change the face of fashion. It’s all here among some exuberant musical numbers.

The mood is…

Gone to the dogs: The Border @TCLive

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You know things have really gone to the dogs when four-legged friends are being rounded up and used as collateral. The dogs are used by migrants to pay to escape to a better life in East Oolia. Such is the slightly absurd but strangely familiar tale called The Border by Afsaneh Gray. It’s just finished playing at the Peckham Theatre but continues touring other sites and schools.

It opens with a young girl from the fictitious town of East Oolia called Julia. She’s just lost her dog as a border wall went up to divide East and West Oolia, and he ended up on the wrong side of the fence. The mayor did it to deliver on an election promise and to stop those West Oolians taking jobs from the East Oolians (or something like that). As Julia embarks on a quest to find her dog, she stumbles into a divided country. Her own family is divided, and immigration and crime (in the form of dog theft), is spiralling out of control.

Things get really interesting towards the end when the actors break the f…

Last orders: We Anchor In Hope @BunkerTheatreUK

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The only thing missing when you walk into The Bunker and see it transformed into a working pub is the smell. That unmistakable smell of stale beer that permeates those old places is missing. But everything else is there. The worn carpet, the pool table, the tat on the walls. It's a terrific way to set the scene for the next two hours of comedy and drama that is Anna Jordan's We Anchor In Hope.

Set on the last night of the Anchor, a pub trapped in the eighties when it's 2016 and located somewhere around Pimlico in London. The pub's been sold and about to be redeveloped into luxury flats (or perhaps a Tesco Express). The night before it was packed for the formal closing. But on the final night, a couple of regulars, the bar staff and landlord get together for one last time. But as the bar slowly runs dry and everything is cleared out (even the Aperol), things take a darker turn. And what's revealed is less of a community than a series of frustrations and unrealised …

Previews: Danelaw @ORLTheatre

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Written fifteen years ago as an absurdist comedy, a portrayal of an attempt by a far-right group to set up a white-supremacist state in East Anglia could today be seen more like a documentary of today’s troubling times. But there is nothing like a funny and timely reminder of the deadly threat that far-right groups still pose to this country.
Partially inspired by the neo-Nazi group Combat 18’s attempts to set up such a homeland in the 1990s, it follows an MI6 agent’s attempt to infiltrate the group. 
But a funny thing happens on the way to set up a white-supremacist enclave as a gruesome murder is committed on some waste ground in Harlow.

Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day either. But Peter Hamilton’s play, Danelaw is currently playing at the Old Red Lion Theatre until 5 October. See it and laugh nervously...

I see a river: The Fishermen @Trafstudios

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A Booker-Prize nominated novel by Chigozie Obioma about families, vengeance and fate, is adapted into a two-hander play and currently playing at the downstairs space at Trafalgar Studios. It’s an intense, haunting and brisk adaptation by Gbolahan Obisesan of two men reunited after a tragedy.

A prophecy of foreboding trouble haunts four brothers living in a small Nigerian town. Two brothers, Ben (David Alade) and Obembe (Valentine Olukoga), secretly fish at a forbidden river along with their two older brothers. They risk both their lives and angering their father by fishing there. Until one day, they come across a madman who changes their lives permanently.

It opens with the two brothers meeting on either side of a riverbank. Some time has passed, and their reunion at first brings joy. And then takes a darker turn as family relationships, guilt and superstitions are remembered.

As the two storytellers, Alade and Olukoga bring humour and warmth to their roles as they portray a variety …

Fluffing it: Rouge @Underbellyfest

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It's not enough for a circus act nowadays to offer a series of acrobatic feats. Nowadays, they are pushing all sorts of conventions. There's the all-male, the all-female, the all minimalist. Rouge is the all gender fluid pan-sexual circus for grown-ups who like a bit of everything. But only if that everything includes a little bit of nudity and a bit of mild titillation. 
The men wear eyeliner, the pairings are male-female, male-male and female-female.Strong female types abound throughout. It's a unique concept that's marred by its own timidity. It's currently playing at the Underbelly Festival on the Southbank.
The performers are interesting enough. There's the aerial trapeze, the ring, and the strap. All are deftly executed. There's a terrific flame swallowing routine which seems all the more intense in the confines of the Spiegeltent.
An inventive sequence happens where the performer is wearing a lampshade and combines hula hoops with a frantic strip dance …