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Trolling: A Very, Very, Very Dark Matter @_BridgeTheatre

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Trolling, the art of making random, unfounded and controversial comments to provoke an immediate emotional reaction is the backbone of today’s social media. But in A Very, Very, Very Dark Matter, Martin McDonagh has decided to extend it to the theatre. Daring you to walk out in disgust with his twist on the lives of Charles Dickens and Hans Christian Andersen. He’s out to knock these men off their pedestals. Just in time for Christmas. But the show does what it says on the tin. Those who can stomach this grim stuff might walk away with something to think about. It’s having its world premiere at The Bridge Theatre. The premise is that Hans Christian Andersen has been keeping a captured Pygmy woman he calls Marjory from the Congo in his attic. She writes his stories. He isn’t particularly talented in his own right. Hans as played by Jim Broadbent also comes across as a Jimmy Saville-like entertainer. With only a passing interest in humanity. Marjory‘s played by Johnetta Eula’Mae Ackles.…

This empty world: Yerma @CervantesTheatr

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There’s a hint of melancholy from the outset with Yerma. She’s been married for a while and without a child. While all those around her have children. But it still doesn’t prepare you for what lies ahead in this emotional reinterpretation that shifts the action to pre-revolution Cuba.Federico García Lorca’s tragic poem is currently playing at the Cervantes Theatre. Performed in both English and Spanish. The English translation is by Carmen Zapata and Michael Dewell.As Yerma, Leila Damiola inhabits the role and is astounding. She moves from hope and optimism to despair as the years go by without the child she craves. As each scene concludes its as if she is suffering a new heartbreak as she gradually realises she’s trapped in a loveless and barren marriage. Opposite her is Tom Whitlock as Juan, her cold and detached husband. He is often out all evening working the farm, and so he enlists his sister to watch Yerma. So people don’t talk. But they’ll talk anyway.Coco Mbassi is also a stand…

Long term relationships: Chutney @BunkerTheatreUK

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The central message from Chutney, is that anyone you date at University is not worth staying in a long term relationship with. You get bored with your smug post-university life and soon you’ll be wanting to murder the neighbour’s cat. Or their parrot. Or a few hedgehogs. It’s currently playing at The Bunker.We’re introduced to Claire (Isabel Della-Porta) and Gregg (Will Adolphy) after something terrible has happened. They’ve just been dog-sitting for some friends and then a fox came and ripped the dogs head off. Or was it a homeless man. Or did they do it?There’s a middle class kitchen complete with John Lewis kitchen appliances. It sets the scene where boredom meets murderous thoughts and actions. It’s American Psycho meets Croydon Cat Killer. Without the moral panic. There’s plenty of gross, stomach churning dialogue. But playwright Reece Connolly has some sharp observations about the lives of millennials. Not old enough to have positions of power. Not young enough to have carefree …

Billy don’t be a hero: Billy Bishop Goes To War @Jstheatre

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On the centennial anniversary of the end of the First World War, Proud Haddock and the Jermyn Street Theatre gives us Billy Bishop Goes To War. A story about an unlikely Canadian layabout who becomes a star pilot and legend of the Great War. In this atmospheric production with great performances you‘ll find yourself swept away in the adventure. And the horror. Billy Bishop was a Canadian fighter pilot who was credited with 72 victories. But from the outset it wasn’t obvious he’d be feted as a hero. He was about to be thrown out of military school when war was declared. He escaped the trenches and the mud by becoming an observer in the newly formed Air Force. And thanks to a wealthy patron, Lady St Helier, he managed to rise the ranks. Being from the colonies he was a second class citizen. But something funny happened during the war. And out of necessity perceptions of things start to change. Afterall, he was invaluable keeping up morale in the colonies. The piece is a two hander and d…

Alone in this world: Jericho’s Rose @thehopetheatre

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A loss of identity and being between two worlds lies at the heart of Jericho’s Rose. It’s Lilac Yosiphon’s account of a theatre maker who is trying to stay in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile her grandfather is in Tel Aviv suffering from Alzheimer’s. It’s currently playing at The Hope Theatre.The last time I was at The Hope Theatre it was to catch the excellent Cockamamy, about an absent-minded Spam-hoarding grandmother. This time around it’s about a grandfather trying to remember who he was. It’s as if the venue is becoming the Dementia Theatre.But this tale is also more abstract. Live music by Sam Elwin, sound loops and evocative projections weave a tale of confusion and isolation. Music, movement and background projections by Will Monk underscore the unsettling environment. For both grandfather and granddaughter. Both are struggling to find a place in the world. Both are in a state of flux. This is a minimalist piece. Part of it’s intent is to repeat in trying to remember the past and…

Depression and abuse: The Distance You Have Come @Cockpittheatre

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Scott Alan’s song cycle The Distance You Have Come gets a star quality injection with it’s lineup of West End performers. If only the material could match them. Entering the theatre you’re warned you’re about to see a show with “adult themes pertaining to depression and abuse”. But that’s only part of the problem. Still, it’s great to see some of the best performers on the West End up close in the intimate surrounds of the Cockpit Theatre.There’s Andy Coxon and Adrian Hansel play two lovers who after a brief relationship get a dog gayby. There’s Emma Hatton and Dean John-Wilson who seem to have a Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman Eyes Wide Shut-style of relationship. And there’s Jodie Jacobs and Alexia Khadime who are best friends until a close encounter of the same sex kind complicates everything. Cue the depression, abuse and extended self reflection. And a curious scene involving hooded people wearing masks, stripping Dean John-Wilson down to his boxers.It can be challenging to have a song …

Dying: A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the (etc etc) @Finborough

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Halley Feiffer’s A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre of New York City explores the fine line between laughter and grief. It’s having its European premiere at the Finborough Theatre.In this case it is facing grief, cancer and death in a pink hospital room. Complete with wall art that’s evocative as much as it’s hideous. You have to laugh that even facing death stereotypes persist. But it could be a hospital anywhere. These waiting rooms for those between life and death with their safety signs, equipment all look the same. And for anyone that’s had to visit someone in such a room, there is something funny about that. Even if you aren’t working on a stand up routine. Feiffer, who dramatised a dysfunctional playwright and his actor daughter in I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard, explores the funny side of death here. It opens with Karla (Cariad Lloyd), a stand up comedian trying out jokes on her mother, Marcie (Kristin M…