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Just giving and taking away: Charity Case @draytonarmsSW5

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I've often wondered if when someone dies after undertaking some impossible feat for a charity (like running the London Marathon), the charity exclaims, "Yes! We're going to make payroll!" Well, going by Charity Case, Jeff Page's look at the sector, they might do. Nobody dies in this brief look at the charity sector, but it's a hard graft constantly looking for money to survive while providing an essential service outsourced by the government. It's currently playing at Drayton Arms Theatre for this week.  The focus here is on a fictitious charity called Number 93. Funds are down, and expenses are up. The race is on to find some emergency funding. But is it an expensive overhead with high paying charity executives draining the money, or is it impossible demands by the government to deliver essential services for vulnerable children and adults?  Ahead of a deadline to confirm funds as a going concern, there are meetings with ministers, rock stars, cold-calli

The sweet smell of progress: The Sugar House @finborough

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Watching The Sugar House at the Finborough Theatre reminded me of the comment made by journalist  Evan Whitton that Sydney was the most corrupt city in the world. Except, of course, after Newark, New Jersey and Brisbane Queensland. But corrupt cops and underworld figures of the Sydney scene are only part of this epic family story that spans three generations of a working-class Sydney family. It's currently playing at the Finborough  Theatre. The story opens with Narelle (Jessica Zerlina Leafe) looking over a new conversion property on the former site of a sugar refinery in Sydney. It was near where she grew up. She's a lawyer now and could afford to buy one of these bland modern conversions. But all she can see are memories of the place where she grew up with her mother and grandparents.  What unfolds next focuses on the harsher side of the lucky country. Where jobs were precarious and poverty, poor health and crime were not too far away. The police were a force to be feared.

Short silences: Footfalls & Rockaby @JSTheatre

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Going to the theatre is just one of the things we can do to pass the time by as we slowly die, so here you can make an evening of it. Two short works by Samuel Beckett make a haunting and reflective double bill at the Jermyn Street Theatre and give you enough time to have dinner after. Alone with your thoughts (and surrounded by mostly masked theatregoers), mortality, regrets and endless pondering may not be everyone’s idea of a night out at the theatre. But it’s certainly provocative.  Theatre doesn’t have to be three hours long to linger with you. The themes about age, the passing of time, and death seem apt after the last two years. The pieces stir up memories of those who have left us or who remained close to those that did. First up is Footfalls. A woman paces up and down a small stage. Her footsteps are audible at every step on the wooden platform, which is like a platform. There’s a bell that tolls too as she walks and reacts to her mother’s voice. Motherhood, religious isolati

Thinking out loud: 10 Nights @Bushtheatre

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.  Shahid Iqbal Kahn's 10 Nights, currently playing at the studio space of the Bush Theatre , is about what happens when a young, carefree British Muslim man spends the last ten nights of Ramadan in a mosque. But it isn't a story about religion or radicalisation. It is a more straightforward journey. Yasser (Zaqi Ismail) gets around in a tracksuit and sandals. He likes a drink, and he loves chips. A reluctant participant in the i'tikaf, he did it for his father and to honour his friend who died in a car accident. The reasons for the accident become more evident as the story progresses. Left alone for long periods between prayers and fasting, it becomes the inner monologue of Yasser. And as the days progress with only his thoughts and a few smug fellow worshippers to keep him company, he realises he has to face up to a few things. What it may lack in drama is made up in the detailed characterisations by Ismail of his father and friends at the mosque. There are also enough ex

Man not about town: Foxes @theatre503

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Upbringing, identity and family are at the heart of  Foxes , by Dexter Flanders, currently at Theatre 503. It’s a powerful and often funny piece, sensitively portrayed by the ensemble cast with a lively soundtrack. Daniel (Michael Fatogun) is a young black man trying to keep up with a life that is quickly racing away from him. He’s got study to do, he’s got his girlfriend, Meera (July Namir), pregnant, and he has a best friend, Leon (Anyebe Godwin), who wants to play more than just black ops with him. The foxes in Dexter Flander’s play aren’t the ones running about tearing apart rubbish bags on the street. They’re the men hiding in the shadows, fearing rejection and fearing ridicule. There’s too much at stake for them to be who they are, and so they hide behind alpha male stereotypes, family and religion to pretend to be something they are not.  I What makes this work so well is how it quickly immerses you into the world of the lives of this black B ritish family, creating a detailed p

Lost at sea: Lately @proforcatheatre

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What happens when two childhood sweethearts escape from each other's orbit? Well, no prizes for guessing it doesn't end well, but James Lewis's Lately tries to piece together the fragments of two young lives from the roads taken and not taken. But it may not be everyone's cup of tea, and the theatre offers up resources for those troubled by how it ends. Still, it's a delicate exploration of conflicting stories, priorities and young people navigating a confusing and messy world.  Callum and Alison seemed like they would be together forever. They had a lot in common. Most of it was crap. They both have a crap family life and live in a crap part of England. The only things that aren't crap are the endless waves from the nearby sea, the occasional trip to the fairgrounds. And a few fireworks that go off when it's Alison's birthday. It's a monotonous and grim life. But while Alison wanted to escape, Callum remained firmly planted where he was.  When Aliso

Some mothers do have them: Small Change @omnibustheatre

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With time often comes perspective, but in Peter Gill's memory play Small Change, time is less kind. The march of time has left behind a hazy recollection of events, missed opportunities and cues. Nothing seems to be what it is or was. For the audience, if you're lost trying to follow what's happening or unfolding, it shouldn't matter. And not just because if you’re like me it has been a while since seeing something at the theatre in person. The characters are most likely lost too. Its currently playing at the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham. The story takes place on the east side of Cardiff in both the 1950s and 1970s (time is a bit relative here). In the later period, Gerard (Andy Rush) is trying to find the moments in his life that made him who he is —growing up Catholic in the 1950s in Cardiff with his stern talking mother,  Mrs Harte (Sioned Jones). But his relationship with his neighbour and best friend Vincent (Toby Gordon) causes the most moments of reflection. From l

Beauty fades: Dorian A Rock Musical

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Usually, rock stars either die young or fade into obscurity as they become old and weathered. If they’re lucky, they will get tour with their greatest hits or get on some celebrity television show. But when it's a rock star by the name of Dorian, you know that he's going to be a baby-faced singer with a few skeletons in the attic. Or at least a portrait that's a bit suspect. Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, serves as the inspiration for this story of an eternally young rock star who wants to discover love. The electro-pop soundtrack makes it more like a nineteen-nineties pop musical than a rock musical. But it's melodramatic enough to hold interest as this Dorian takes off with both song and his heart. Although I was hoping that fate would befall Dorian like other nineties stars once he destroys the painting. Such as morphing into resembling a cab driver and  shouting about conspiracy theories . In this case, however it’s a faithful rendition of Wilde’s story.