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Showing posts from February, 2023

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Eternal guilt: Dorian The Musical @SWKplay

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Dorian is a new musical that updates Oscar Wilde’s gothic novel from the uptight Victorian era to an undetermined period of gender fluidity and glam rock. On paper, musicalising the Picture of Dorian Gray to a period of glam rock, social media, and cheap shoes seems like a good idea. After all, Oscar Wilde’s gothic story is very adaptable. It has been the source of countless adaptations for the stage, television or movies. I was half expecting a trashy Dorian, similar to the early 1980s telemovie that shifted Dorian’s gender to a woman. This version falls into a so bad it’s good category with Anthony Perkins in a lead role, who as he ages under makeup starts to look like Andy Warhol.  And while it’s great to see a new show, a strong cast can’t compensate for such an earnest production with underpowered songs. There’s no sense of fun, and some curious staging and costume choices  -mismatched dresses, crocodile boots and furry suits - serve as a distraction. It’s currently playing at th

Life lessons even for vegetarians: The Winners Curse @parktheatre

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A play about the process of peace negotiations and negotiation theory might sound like a dreary way to spend the evening unless you’re already a student studying this stuff. But Daniel Taub’s play, The Winner’s Curse, has enough bad jokes and entertaining performances to give you some sense of the goings on, haggling and bargaining on the international stage. Whether it’s a play or an attempt at edutainment is another matter. It’s currently playing at Park Theatre . The title comes from the scenario where the winner ends up paying more than what the item they have won is worth. And in negotiations winning isn’t the most optimal outcome. And so, during the evening, we are given a demonstration of this against a fictional Eastern European peace negotiation process.  Clive Anderson, the former negotiator for a fictional country, is accepting an award and looking back on his career. Then we go back to his early days in understanding the process. Part dramatised with his younger self played

Crossfire: One Who Wants To Cross @finborough

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One Who Wants To Cross is having its UK premiere at the Finborough Theatre. It is a topical exploration of people on the move. There are no names or nationalities in the piece. After all, this is a story we only know about through statistics and angry news headlines.  By contrast, this story unfolds through the power of narration. The piece attempts to shed light on the ones who undertake informal or irregular migration, crossing borders by any means necessary. And the people and industries along the way helping them. For a price.  Irregular migration and small boat crossings conjure up the rhetoric about hostile environments and posturing about getting tough on illegal immigration. In 2018 there were 299 small boats detected crossing the Channel. By 2021 there were over 28,000, and the estimate for 2022 was 40,000 . Either the current policy is a failure, or there is no interest in changing the status quo. And while a flight may be cheaper and safer, travel rules conspire to prevent

Diplomatic banter: The Ballerina @khaoseurope

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One person's waterboarding is another person's banter in The Ballerina. It has a short but somewhat delayed run as part of the Vault Festival under the railway arches at Waterloo. It was due to appear in 2020, but the pandemic got in the way. Since then the world post George Floyd, post dumping of a slave trader statue in Bristol Harbour seems to have diminished the novelty of the piece. But you never quite know if it's all a bit of a mind game or some friendly banter. The Vaults is a dystopian theatre setting at the best of times. Damp, cold and with the constant rumbling of trains overhead. When you throw in a piece that includes mind games and the odd bit of torture, it certainly is a confronting piece of theatre. Although perhaps not for the intended reasons. While there are various trigger warnings about the content, perhaps the audience could have also done with a bit of reassurance that no actors were harmed in making the piece too.  Told over a series of short scen