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Travelin' Through: Broken Toys @CervantesTheatr

Things are a bit different at the Cervantes Theatre when you see Broken Toys. You enter through the upstairs dressing rooms and go down to the theatre. It is a circuitous route, much like the story of Marion. You end up in the same place but have taken a different journey. And like what the old prostitute said. It's not the work but the stairs. And there before you is the theatre, but not entirely as I recall it. It feels like an intimate cabaret venue with tables and a shiny stage. And there we are introduced to Marion. Marion grew up in a small town during the Franco regime. A place where looking a bit different could make you the subject of gossip and a threat to your life. And despite being assigned male at birth and the attempts of family and father figures, she was an outsider in her town.  And so Marion sets off on a journey to the city. And in the shadows, she finds a place to hide. But with guidance from drag performer Dorian Delacroix begins to find her voice. Her journe

Mother and son: The Busy World Is Hushed @Finborough

Family and faith is at the forefront of The Busy World Is Hushed by Keith Bunin. The characters here have their faith tested, gained and lost over the course of the piece. It's having its European Premiere at the Finborough Theatre.

There's Hanna (Kazia Pelka), a widowed minister and bible scholar. She's received a recently discovered gospel and engages the help of writer Brandt (Mateo Oxley), to help her turn her research into a publication.

As they start work her only son Thomas (Michael James) returns home from a trip out in the wilderness. And Brandt and Thomas take an almost-instant liking to each other.

But Brandt has just discovered his father has a brain tumour. And Thomas is still searching for reasons why his father died before he was born.

So against a religious backdrop, the scene is set for a family drama. Hannah can offer wise words to Brandt, but can barely manage her relationship with her son Thomas. Brandt who has questioned his faith and facing the loss of his father, is looking for a safe space. While Thomas argues that his carefree approach to life is all part of God’s plan.

James and Oxley form a believable bond as the unlikely lovers of the piece. As Hanna, Pelka is a calm and thoughtful presence over the chaos of the men in the story.

Max Dorey’s design of the small study with stained glass windows adds to the intimacy of the piece.

The title of play comes from a line in a prayer by John Henry Newman. It's a prayer for rest at the end of the day. There’s enough drama going on to need a prayer for rest, but it’s a thoughtful and reflective piece.

Directed by Paul Higgins, The Busy World Is Hushed is at the Finborough Theatre until 25 November.


Photos by Scott Rylander

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