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Bear with me: Stitches @TheHopeTheatre

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What if your teddy bear could talk? My ten-year-old self would think that to be excellent. My more recent self would think it was a high-concept buddy movie with Mark Wahlberg. But in Stictches, Jonathan Blakeley's monologue, which he has written and performed, traces the life of his beloved Chloe, from when she was first given to him by her grandmother, wrapped with a red ribbon. It becomes a story not just about a cute bear (or maybe that should be rough, shaggy-looking bear given the performer’s appearance) observing life but an exploration of life and all of its stages. It's currently playing at the Hope Theatre .  The bear is not warm and fuzzy; he is a bit of a character and tough-talking, but also a bit anxious about being accepted and then discarded as nothing. But he is there to bear witness as she navigates the complicated facets of growing up and having a life. Ultimately, the bear has to deal with being consigned to a box with her other memories until circumstances

Disorder in the house: This House

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This House by James Graham, back for return season at The National Theatre , is a political drama (and comedy) that manages to capture the excitement and the insanity of its time. It covers the period between 1974 to 1979 which was the last time there was a minority government running the country. With a wafer-thin majority the government was not expected to survive and it was the role of the whips , who enforce party unity in voting, to ensure its survival or bring it down. While it is full of some of the spectacle set pieces of the time such as a near riot in the Commons and Big Ben breaking down, what is more remarkable is how it sheds some light on the relationships that developed in the period both within the parties and across party lines. It is part epic drama with a booming soundtrack supplied by a supporting band, and part series of small scale personal dramas from people passionate about something.

Theatre: Every Good Boy Deserves Favour

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Maybe it was the fact that it was an 8.45pm start, or that I had a rather hearty meal just before seeing it, but I found it hard to stay awake watching Every Good Boy Deserves Favour at the Olivier Theatre. The premise of a man hearing an orchestra in his head was interesting enough, but this work by Tom Stoppard and André Previn feels like three separate stories in one. The first story was the crazy guy with the triangle who hears the orchestra, the second being the one of the dissident, and the third being the perspective of his son. Throwing all three together, the play just didn't work. Judging by the audience's muted applause at the end, I don't think I was alone with that view. Still, there is the novelty factor of seeing an orchestra and play combined. And Toby Jones is a treat in the lead role. The odd moments of insanity seemed to suggest this could have been something better. But for the most part it just felt so dated. Like something that would have been stag

Theatre: August: Osage County

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On the afternoon of new years eve I found myself at the National Theatre watching this production alone. It is a good idea not to invite people who have to cook dinner for six to a matinee that lasts for three hours. This play has been a sell out however so I didn't have trouble getting rid of the spare ticket. However I was worried about how much of an effort it would be to sit through this production. It turned out that this breathless production is so fast-paced, so gripping and thrilling that the time whizzed by. This production, from the Steppenwolf Company in Chicago won the Tony this year for best play (among others) and it is easy to see why. The premise in this dark, dark comedy is that the Weston family is reunited in the family home in Oklahoma after their father disappears. This sets the scene for a series of disturbing revelations. The play has been marketed here as a view into a dysfunctional American family. The humour in Tracy Letts script however, is less derive

Theatre: The Year Of Magical Thinking

Saturday night I finally caught up with The Year of Magical Thinking which has been playing since April at the National Theatre. Featuring Vanessa Redgrave on a chair, it tells the story of American author Joan Didion and how over a year she lost both her husband and her daughter and the process she went through in dealing with it (or more to the point not dealing with it). The play is based on her book however it exapnds the story to include the loss of her daughter as well. There is such a frank honesty to this story that even with the subject matter you can't help but be drawn into it. Perhaps it is the way it constantly asks the audience to reflect on this story as it will happen to all of us: the details will be different but the end result is the same. It was certainly was a novel way of reminding us all about our own mortality and how dealing with it is part of life. Perhaps the subject matter (people die), the fact that it was the bank holiday weekend and people may not