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Death becomes her: A Brief List Of Everyone Who Died @finborough

For a natural process, death is not a topic that comes up naturally for people. We ask how people are doing but expect the response to be “I’m great”, not “I’m not dead yet”. And so for the main character in A Brief List of Everyone Who Died, Graciela has a death issue. Starting with when she was five and found out only after the matter that her parents had her beloved dog euthanised. So Graciela decides that nobody she loves will die from then on. And so this piece becomes a fruitless attempt at how she spends her life trying to avoid death while it is all around her. It’s currently having its world premiere  at the Finborough Theatre . As the play title suggests, it is a brief list of life moments where death and life intervene for the main character, from the passing of relatives, cancer, suicides, accidents and the loss of parents. Playwright Jacob Marx Rice plots the critical moments of the lives of these characters through their passing or the passing of those around them. Howeve

Dangerous liaisons: The Wasp

The Wasp is the perfect antidote to all that Christmas cheer. A tense, psychological thriller with a story that keeps you guessing where it is going to head to next.

It is playing downstairs at the Trafalgar Studios for those who dare to see it.

Written by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, the story is about two women who were once school friends, but drifted apart. For good reason. Twenty years on Carla is living hand to mouth, raising four children with a fifth on its way. Heather has a successful career, a husband and a beautiful home. Heather has got in touch with Carla through social media, and with a wad of cash asks her to kill her husband.

And there begins the tale of schoolyard bullying, betrayal and revenge. What is fascinating about the piece is how your sympathies shift as each new piece of information is revealed. Humour also helps to release the tension.

The production gives subtle clues about where things are heading. At one point I found myself thinking that knife is way too big to be just cutting that madeira cake…

The performances by the two leads also add a touch of credibility (and a lot of class) to this piece. MyAnna Burning is Carla. She is a rough, chain smoking pregnant woman with a brutal past. Burning delivers a sympathetic performance of a woman who seems to have moved on from her darker days.

Laura Donnelly is Heather. She is the cold and unfeeling woman, bullied at school to the point of cruelty and delivers a mesmerising portrayal of  a person trapped in the past.

To give anything further away would be cruel. The intimate space of Trafalgar Studios downstairs, the subject matter, and an awful lot of chain smoking (this piece along with Hangmen must hold the current record for the most amount of onstage smoking), adds to the tension.

Social media also plays a key part in the story. As a tool to to stalk former classmates online, it may make you want to check just who you are friends with online when you get home from the theatre. Just in case…

The Wasp is playing at Trafalgar Studios through to 16 January. The production is part of the Hampstead Theatre at the Trafalgar Studios alongside Four Minutes Twelve Seconds by James Fritz. Don’t miss it.


Photo credits: Production photos by Ikin Yum

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