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Kafka-ish: Kafka @Finborough

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In offering proof that Kafka is everything to everyone - writer-performer Jack Klaff plays various roles, including the man himself in what is a part tour, part immersion and part legend of Franz Kafka. He is a writer who achieved fame after his life was cut short due to succumbing to tuberculosis at the age of forty. He is probably better known for his reputation and the Kafkaesque style attributed to his writing than his life. But after this piece, you’re left curious to learn more about the man and his works. And that has to be the best theatrical tribute you could give a writer, even for a writer who stipulated that his works be destroyed upon his death. It’s currently playing at the Finborough Theatre . Franz Kafka was born in Prague in 1883. In 1901, he was admitted to a university and began studying law. While studying, he met Max Brod, who would become his best friend and eventual literary executor. Brod would posthumously publish many of his works and writings. Kafka’s life co

Bad girl: Boy Parts @sohotheatre

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In these angry times, an angry anti-heroine is a cathartic release, even if you’re not quite sure what the anger is about. This stylish adaptation of Eliza Clark's Boy Parts with a charismatic performance by Aimée Kelly makes it engaging. And while we don't see the gore, with each scene, there's a slight dread as to what gruesome turn of events s is going to happen next in this piece, which takes Fleabag and adds a touch of American Psycho nonchalance. It's currently playing at the Soho Theatre .  I was unfamiliar with the book's runaway success and the TikTok phenomenon, where people #booktok reviews of the piece under flattering lighting and a series of jump cuts. However, a quick cursory glance at the material shows the play has captured all the best bits in vivid detail, particularly in its descriptions of men. There's Ryan, the bar manager, with his "big thick neck and tiny pea head, thinning hair." But people may have mistaken some of these for c

Thanks for all the fish: An Evening Without Kate Bush @sohotheatre

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  A Kate Bush tribute for someone who isn't a Kate Bush fan might seem a daunting night at the theatre. Will the in-jokes fly over the head? Yes. Will the fear of being in a confined space of Kate Bush fans be overwhelming? Well, not if you brush up on a playlist beforehand. But An Evening Without Kate Bush is an initiation into the world of fandom and her music. Kate Bush, the phenomenon is equally revered and lovingly teased in this hour-long celebration of her music and cultural impact. It's currently playing downstairs at the Soho Theatre .  Presented by Sarah-Louise Young, you don't have to be a Kate Bush fan to appreciate her work. And you'll be soon joining in to howling along to the Hounds of Love and partaking in all sorts of participatory theatre (in as much as socially distant theatre allows). And along with the songs and trivia, you learn what it is to be a Kate Bush fan (or fish as they are known).  Young is an expert teacher in the crazy world of Kate Bush

Lock ‘em up, get ‘em out: The Special Relationship @sohotheatre

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You usually expect to see the phrase “special relationship” as part of an undemanding British news article about the imaginary special connection between Britain and the United States. But the focus of this piece by Hassan Adbulrazzak is the plight of foreign nationals being deported from America after serving prison sentences. It is a misleading title. And my initial thought was, why would anyone choose to live in America? The food is terrible, healthcare expensive and you only get two weeks holiday a year. But often the people in this piece had no choice. They were born there or moved there with their parents and started a life there. And what makes this interesting is how, through verbatim interviews, the complexity and messiness of life emerges. It’s currently running at Soho Theatre . An ensemble cast has been assembled to tell the stories of (mostly) British nationals who lived most of their lives in the United States. And how most of them through circumstances were convicte

Gay Gore: Sex/Crime @sohotheatre

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At a point early on in Sex / Crime, the lights go dark in a room covered in plastic with a rubber floor, and all you can hear are the screams. The mind is left to imagine just what pre-negotiated terror is unfolding. Until it becomes clear, nothing is happening, and we can all laugh. Part tease and part terror, the piece unfolds against a backdrop of gay fetishism and modern-day neuroses. It’s currently playing at the Soho Theatre upstairs. Written and performed by Alexis Gregory, he’s visiting a man with a specialism, who goes by the name of A (Jonny Woo). He provides a service of reenacting the works of famous gay serial killers for the right fee. Just the thing for a man who is bored with his life and searching for the next extra special thrill.  With the promise of experiencing what it was like to be a victim of one of these killers. Or as close as far as health and safety regulations allow. If gay serial killers and the people who fetishise them seems a queasy topic fo

A room with a song: The View Upstairs @Sohotheatre

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The View Upstairs imagines a dialogue between the trailblazers of the LGBT+ community and today's self-absorbed gender-fluid Millennials. The dialogue is through a series of songs by Max Vernon that veer from soft rock, disco and glam. It has some wry observations about what has and hasn't improved for the community since the 1970s. So the conversation becomes more like a musical theatre bitch slap to anyone who takes for granted the right to be themselves. It's currently playing at Soho Theatre . Set in 2017, internet influencer and conflicted fashion designer Wes (Tyrone Huntley) has fled New York for New Orleans. He's bought a building intending to show off his work. But he's either mixed his citalopram with his cocaine or trapped in a time warp as he found himself back in 1973. And the building he bought was the site of a largely forgotten arson attack on the gay bar Upstairs Lounge that killed 32 people. This had been the deadliest attack on the LGBT+ comm

Gay gore: Tumulus @Sohotheatre

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Something is unnerving about Tumulus. It isn't just that some audience members are asked if they want apple juice or Lucozade before the piece begins (although that's pretty weird too if you're unfamiliar with the subject matter). But it's that the show will leave you with the thought that in the London gay community there are a group of professional men who are perfectly happy to let you die. Just not in their own flats. So beware partying with anyone with easy access to Hampstead Heath. A short piece it's about respectable professional Anthony (Ciarán Owens). He has a stable job and a penchant for young boys and 36-hour chemsex parties. When his ex-lover is found dead on Hampstead Heath was it just another overdose that happens every week. Or was it something more sinister? The life of Anthony, his addictions and the people around him weave together like a gay gore whodunnit. But writer Christopher Williams creates a funny and playful account of life in L

Washing the red pills down with the kool aid: Angry Alan @sohotheatre

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There's a warning at the start of Angry Alan.  It's to alert you that some of the videos used in the production are available on Youtube. The ever-reliable platform for pop culture references, unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and hate speech. All three come together here to show how effective social media is at radicalising and over-amplifying the darkest corners of the internet. It's currently playing at the Soho Theatre . We meet Roger (Donald Sage Mackay). He was a high powered executive once. But now he's working at part time at a supermarket,  bothered by his ex wife.  and his girlfriend is studying feminism at community college. But one day while wasting time on the internet with click bait he finds a video that points out how awesome men are. Published by a man by the name of Angry Alan.  Soon he's going down the rabbit hole of the Men Going Their Own Way movement (or MGTOW). A movement which argues marriage fails in the cost benefit analysis . N

1975 and all that: Kieran Hodgson’s ‘75 @Sohotheatre

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Actor, comedian, storyteller Kieran Hodgson has picked a topic for his latest show that should serve him well for the rest of his life. '75 at the Soho Theatre covers Britain’s on-again off-again affair with the European Union. You’re left without a doubt that since Britain has been arguing over the past fifty years about its place in Europe. It’s fairly likely that we’re going to continue to argue about it for the next fifty years. It’s not so much that leave means leave but that leave means nothing of any consequence. It’s either an enduring relationship or one to be endured. This is not a rehash of the Brexit referendum. Even the chaos in parliament following last week’s votes gets little mention. But it doesn’t have to. Hodgson has his eye on the history books. How we got into Europe and how a referendum in 1975 was the way for a divided Labour Party to settle the issue. The referendum of 2016 wasn’t just history repeating itself. But it was a poor cover for the original

Chasing stars: Chasing Bono @Sohotheatre

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You’re never left doubting why Neil McCormick didn’t reach the mega stardom of his mate Bono from U2 in Chasing Bono. Bad luck and an endless search for that hit sound (rather than a unique one) seemed to mark his career. But in this contrived play you never really get the sense of his talent as a writer either. It’s current playing at Soho Theatre . The premise is that Neil (played by Niall McNamee) is kidnapped by a ganster Danny Machin (Denis Conway). Ganster Danny wants him to write some favourable stories, while being held on some remote Irish farm. While doing so he recounts in flashback his short life and how his quest for stardom led to failure. There’s not much insight into what makes a hit band here. Instead Neil comes across as a man obsessed by fame over anything else, including writing a decent song. Which makes it a bit difficult to care about the him or the story. And afterall if failure means you’re destined to become the chief music critic for a major national newspape

Fried chicken runs: Cuckoo @sohotheatre

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Everyo ne hates Iona. She talks too much. Her only friend is non-binary mate Pingu who doesn’t speak at all. So they decide to get the hell out of Crumlin on the next Ryanair flight. Afterall it is the part of Northe rn Ireland that has the Airport. But their decision to leave makes them a bit of a celebrity. Despite the enthusiastic cast, Lisa Carroll’s play Cuckoo doesn’t cover much. It’s currently playing at the Soho Theatre . It’s your typical young person wanting to break out of shitty town story. If you’re unfamiliar with Crumlin in Northern Ireland, you can only assume it’s pretty grim. Much of the action centres around a place called Texas Fried Chicken. We don’t get to know the characters well. As they fight and film each other for instagram stories they become less and less interesting. I was hoping at one point we would understand why the two central characters were friends. But in this ninety minute play dragged out to nearly two hours, we get one fight or dance routine aft

Urban renewal: Flesh & Bone @Sohotheatre

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From the beginning of Flesh & Bone, it’s a noisy in your face portrait of life on an East London council estate. It’s almost as if you expect them to punch any member of the audience checking their phone. Or leaving to go to the bathroom. They shout at the audience, they even pick one up so a baby can be delivered on their seat. It’s currently playing upstairs at The Soho Theatre . But amongst the loud mouths, drug dealers and geezers there’s a bunch of rough but loveable characters emerge. Even if you still remain unsure if want to share a pint with them. It could be considered a follow up to Berkoff’s East, given it’s reliance on verse and comedy. But it is less confronting. And the attempt to throw the threat of council eviction towards the end seems contrived. But it’s still a clever piece of writing. Aside from the fast-talking and fast paced action, it sets up a series of characters that have you wanting to know more about them.  There’s Terrence (Elliot Warren) and his bird