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Romance and other theatrics: Love all @JSTheatre

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As part of its Temptation Season, Jermyn Street Theatre serves up a civilised and biting farce with Love All. Full of incisive observations about the roles and expectations for women at the time while managing to be a fun and silly romp spanning Venice and London, it is a both a guilty pleasure and a lost gem currently playing at the Jermyn Street Theatre .  Written by Dorothy L Sayers, better known for her detective novels, there is an obsessive attention to detail in the piece. You could miss something crucial to the plot or a laugh later on if you're not paying attention.  The premise is that Lydia Hillington (Emily Barber), a famous London stage actress, has given up the stage to elope with a famous novelist Godfrey Daybrook (Alan Cox). But after eighteen months of living in a hotel on the Grand Canal, all is not well. A chance meeting with a producer inspires her to escape to London to audition for a role an exciting new playwright is casting (Leah Whitaker). Meanwhile, Daybro

Swimming upstream: Hero & Leander, Or, I Love You, But Everything's Underwater @southbankcentre

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Jack Dean & Company landed at the Southbank Centre's Purcell Room for one day with their gig-theatre retelling of the Greek myth Hero & Leander. Songs that mix folk, country, electronica and the odd sea shanty tell the story of the tragedy of Hero and Leander.  In this version of the tale, Hero and Leander are from two towns but meet at a dance and continue to see each other. But their towns are separated by a narrow strait, and when the ships stop sailing between the towns due to a conflict, Leander swims across the strait to meet Hero, guided by the light of the lighthouse where she lives. And being a tragedy, this doesn't end well.   The staging is simple, with just the musicians on stage. Jack Dean and Siân Keen are engaging as the ill-fated lovers and various other characters in the story. It's incredibly inventive and evocative with its fusion of musical styles and sensibilities.  The storytelling is brisk and sometimes feels like it could benefit from expans

On matters of love and debt: The Bear / The Lady With The Dog @TheUniontheatre @ART_THEATRE_LDN

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Summer means that attention for all things theatrical (and fringey) usually drifts north to Edinburgh. But over at the Union Theatre , a Chekhov double bill by new production company Art Theatre is there to remind us that London can still surprise us with exciting fringe theatre any time of the year.  There are two short comedies by Anton Chekhov and directed by Dmitrij Turchaninov, an alumnus of Studio Chekhov: Moscow Art Theatre School – which first performed  Chekhov’s plays. And with a simple staging and engaging performances, the works come to life.  First up is the Lady With The Dog, which is about a cynical married man who, while holidaying in Yalta, falls in love with another married woman who happens to go everywhere with a little dog. Based on a short story of Chekhov’s, it’s more storytelling than a play, but with its simple projections and props, you feel like you are on holiday at the turn of the last century.  After the interval is The Bear, a story about a retired office

My night with mum and me sisters: Straight and Narrow @abovethestag

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Update: since posting, Above the Stag has announced its permanent closure Above the Stag Theatre is going all retro with a revival of Jimmie Chinn's Straight and Narrow. Before the show begins, clips from television programmes and commercials are playing from the period to get you in the mood. In case you need to know (or be reminded) about what living in the eighties was like. And while time may not have been too kind to this piece with its views on women and foreigners, this production manages to create a vivid portrait of family dynamics in Manchester. Set in the 1980s in Manchester, Bob (Lewis Allcock) and Jeff (Todd Von Joel) are long-term boyfriends who also have a successful business installing kitchens. But spending years together doing the same thing every day, they seem stuck in a rut. A trip to Malta is an opportunity to do something differently. But the trip didn't go as either of them was expecting. Things get a bit explosive and emotional on the return. And Bob

Insane in the membrane: Yeast Nation, The Triumph of Life @swkplay

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A musical about yeast conjures up all sorts of things about what it could be. Is it about a nation's obsession with home baking during a lockdown? Or is it the latest infection outbreak? No, it's neither of these. Instead, it is a rock musical about the unicellular organisms living in the primordial soup. Purporting to be the oldest story of all time (as it’s probably hard to go back further than single-cell organisms), It's part rock musical, part history lesson, part Greek chorus and part bonkers. And it's currently playing at the Southwark Playhouse . Narrated by Jan, the unnamed, it tells the tale of a series of salt-eating yeasts (all called Jan) at the bottom of the primordial soup/sea. They are in stasis, following careful strictures, so they don't reproduce or change. They sing a catchy tune called stasis is the membrane and live a balanced life with the soup around them.  But not all yeasts are satisfied with stasis. And when some yeasts rise to the top to

Les seins et les culs: Jean Paul Gaultier Fashion Freak Show @RoundhouseLDN

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Is it a fashion show? Is it a cabaret? Is it a celebration of Jean Paul Gaultier’s work? Does it matter? Well, it’s a little bit of all of the above. Music, fashion, video projections, and dance collide in this slick and sexy profile of the world of Jean Paul Gaultier over the past five decades. With over 400 costumes, acrobats, singers, dancers, projections and a throbbing soundtrack, it’s a world where beauty is everywhere. And excess, raunchiness and a little bit of breast and buttock are de rigueur.  It even smelled like him. His fragrances wafted throughout the Roundhouse on the gala press night earlier this week, with the various reviewers, influencers and fashionistas grabbing the free samples in the toilets and spritzing them about so that you were living and breathing Jean Paul Gaultier.  First presented at the Folies Bergère in Paris in 2019, it has made it to London with a few updates, such as a catwalk. Lights, music and digital projections overwhelm the senses that sometim

Crime and pedagogy: The Lesson @Swkplay

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There's a moment in the Lesson when the Professor is giving his eager pupil tutoring in mathematics. She has excelled with additions to this point and can multiply infinitely. But the whole concept of subtraction baffles her. The Professor's disappointment is palpable, and his anger grows every time she says seven when trying to subtract three from four. Thus begins a descent into absurdity and madness in this briskly paced piece that appears to be about nothing and everything. It’s currently playing at the Southwark Playhouse . The Lesson is an early play by playwright Eugene Ionesco and is an excellent introduction to the theatre of the absurd. The premise is that a relatively mild-mannered professor provides an enthusiastic young lady tutoring so she can get her doctorates in everything. Well, if knowledge is power, why not learn everything? It made perfect sense to me. She is bursting with excitement to learn at first. But each time she struggles to comprehend and get it ri

Busted flush: The Throne @CharingCrossThr

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There appears to be a fascination with the bathroom habits of the Royal Family. In Melbourne, Australia, you can visit the royal bathroom at the Arts Centre in Victoria that the Princess of Wales refused to use . Or there is the toilet at the V&A in South Kensington built for Queen Victoria. Perhaps it is the great leveller. After all, everyone has to do it… And with that in mind, we are presented with The Throne by John Goldsmith, currently playing at Charing Cross Theatre .  The premise is that the Queen is locked in a bathroom with a republican. Two hours watching the Queen in a lavatory might not be everyone’s idea of a night out at the theatre. But it sounds like it could be funny. But this is a gentle comedy that has the purpose to put a republican and the monarch on a debate over British history.  The prominence of the bathroom is slightly jarring when you enter the Charing Cross Theatre, and audiences should be prepared to be looking at a urinal for the whole evening. Fort