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The male gaze: Turning the screw

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It's been a while since trips to the theatre. I've been busy. But it's nice to see that it's the creative process that is at the heart of Kevin Kelly's Turning the Screw. And what gives rise to it. It's a dramatisation of the creative process leading up to composer Benjamin Britten's premiere of his opera, The Turning of the Screw. With deadlines approaching, Britten seems stuck over melodies and unsure about completing the piece for its summer premiere. But the selection of twelve-year-old choirboy David Hemmings in the leading role of Miles within the opera is the spark that motivates him to complete the piece. And his presence may stir other feelings, too. It's currently playing at the Kings Head Theatre .  Britten's fascination with young boys has been the subject of a detailed book, Britten's Children. The book suggests that Britten saw himself as a young boy of 13. It's almost as if he saw himself as Peter Pan, albeit if Peter Pan was a

Talking about an evolution: Darwin's Tortoise @SpanishTheatreC

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Just what would happen if a nearly two-hundred year old tortoise stood up and started walking around.  Bearing witness to the great events and catastrophe's of the twentieth century? Well naturally she would want an historian to recount it all. Or at least correct what he had already written. And thus is the central premise of Darwin's Tortoise by Juan Mayorga, with an English translation by David Johnson. It's currently playing at the Cervantes Theatre .

Last chance for something completely different: Karagula @wearepigdog

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In it’s final week in a disused bar in Tottenham is Philip Ridley’s Karagula . It’s an amibitious dystopian work that has been baffling audiences for the past month. There are various worlds coliding in the piece. Time and narrative shifts to tell a story of rebellion against totalitarian regimes.

Ladies day: Screwed @Theatre503

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Funny, vulgar and just a bit scary. Screwed at Theatre 503 really hits you with everything it can in this new work by Kathryn O'Reilly . It's another day at the factory. Charlene and Luce had just had a great night out and were still buzzing (or intoxicated) from the night before. They assemble bathroom fittings putting the female part onto the male part. But the job is just an excuse to talk about what male parts they put into their female parts. All the time they're popping pills or knocking back vodka miniatures.

Read the: Labels @stratfordeast

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Joe Sellman-Leava's one man show is a fascinating look at how the use of words out of curiosity, fear and hostility have impacts. His power is in his ability as a storyteller to hook you in on his argument and walk in his shoes. In roughly sixty minutes he hooks you in on his story and the story of his family. Sellman-Leava was born in Gloucestershire but his family has connections to Uganda and India. This background leads to constant inquiries about where he was from. And saying Gloucestershire is not the response people expect. This leads to an exploration about why we seek to label people.

The family way: The Etienne Sisters @stratfordeast

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A reunion with an estranged half-sister at their mother's funeral provides the backdrop for an unlikely musical subject in the Etienne Sisters at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. The sisters accompanied by jazz pianist Nikki Yeoh perform admirably in this sophisticated and slick show even if the music doesn't feel like a perfect match to its subject matter.

Live couples therapy: Tonight I’m Gonna Be The New Me @sohotheatre

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Tonight I’m Gonna Be The New Me , currently playing at the Soho Theatre is a theatrical endurance piece, both for the performers and the audience as it attempts to describe a relationship, or a relationship re imagined. It should be part of Soho Theatre’s programme of weird shit to see in the West End. It’s alienating, amusing and infuriating. So depending on your frame of mind you’re going to love it or think you are trapped. I suspect the intention is to feel both. Thankfully it only lasts a little over an hour.

The importance of being earnest: The Dreamers @St_JamesTheatre

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The Dreamers is more a semi-staged music piece than a piece of musical theatre, but once you get over that (and the feeling you are watching an important and earnest history lesson), it is a fascinating story about Capt Reggie Salomons, who died while trying to save his men at Gallipoli in 1915. With original words and music by Kent-based musicians James Beeny and Gina Georgio, this production which originated in Tunbridge Wells last year and is now at the St James Theatre .

Carrying on over the edge: Dante's Inferno @craftheatre

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Confronting your demons has never felt so exhausting or in your face as with Craft Theatre's physical and modern update of Dante's Inferno. You enter The Rag Factory in Shoreditch with the performers already running around with bamboo sticks, jumping and tumbling about. There is an assumption that you are probably sophisticated theatre-going folk so you know that this is part of the process of mental and physical exhaustion the company uses to get the actors in the right frame of mind for their performance. You will also observe that some of the performers have feet and wrists bandaged so perhaps the unexpected injury happens here as well. As most of the audience is sitting with a front row seat to the action, it can make you feel nervous as bodies fall and tumble rather close to you.

Wishful thinking: The Last Ever Musical

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Most new musicals these days are just a string of old songs cobbled together to make a not very good show. They are probably best enjoyed if you don't understand English too well so the flimsy plots and melodramas can be mistaken for something more profound. But of course nowadays most of the time the fun is really in going out to the theatre and having a night out rather than watching whats on stage... On the fringe scene, musicals are usually an opportunity to see a work that isn't going to get a commercial run, or something cheap to mount - like Jason Robert Brown's Last Five Years or I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change - and more fun to be in than watch... With this in mind it was intriguing to go and see the new piece, The Last Ever Musical at the White Bear Theatre in Kennington. It is a new piece by Simon James Collier and music by Richard Bates. It attempts to be a musical that's a tad offensive and vulgar and send up some of the London fringe theatre

New music, new voices: The Route to Happiness

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As part of the Landor Theatre 's season of new musical writing, this week it is playing The Route to Happiness by Alexander S Bermange . It is an enjoyable three-hander about life relationships and ambition in London... A sort of a boy meets girl meets another girl while trying to succeed in business without really trying story... It starts with the three characters down on their luck. The young and ambitious Marcus loses his job after getting caught out criticising his boss on social media, the ambitious but somewhat lacking in talent Trinity fails another audition, and writer Lorna who has been unlucky in love is again dumped. They all meet at a wedding and the three start up professional and personal relationships. Bermange has written for West End shows and the BBC and has a range of musical styles. Here the piece feels like a London take on shows like I Love You Because or I Love You, You're Perfect Now Change . There is no dialogue but instead the story is told thr

Grey Gardens meets Downton Europorn: People

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Alan Bennett's play People is packing in audiences at the National Theatre . While enjoyable for the performances, design and occasional flash of bare buttocks and thigh, you may find yourself wondering what is the point of it. It isn't funny enough to be a comedy and not insightful enough to satire. But I'm hoping that it is just not a particularly good play rather than a desperate grab at elitism . As surely what National Theatre audiences don't want to do is to look down and feel smug about people that visit places of interest across the country? If anything it is a very mild satire about a run down house that the National Trust is hoping to acquire from aristocrat Dorothy Stacpoole, played by Frances de la Tour. Dorothy was a former fashion model but now is walking around in a moth eaten coat and gym shoes. She sleeps on the floor in front of an electric heater and apart from her companion Iris, does not see many people. Her younger sister who is a respectable

In a damp warm spot: Mydidae

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A day in the life of a married couple, as set in a bathroom is the premise of Jack Thorne's sharp and funny play,  Mydidae , currently playing at the Soho Theatre. This classy little play on the top floor of the Soho Theatre features a fully plumbed bathroom, that  provides the backdrop for a full and frank exploration of a couple and their secrets. Actors Pheobe Waller-Bridge and Keir Charles undress, shave, lust after each other, wash and urinate in front of the audience. Strangely enough they don't fart in front of each other which was possibly a missed opportunity as there never seems to be a better place to do that than in a bathroom... Particularly if your partner is in it...  Of course once you get past the novelty of the full frontal nudity; the tweaking of the penis, the perky tits and vagina at eye level, it is amazing how it is the intensity of the performances and the intriguing story that holds your attention. The piece seems an innocent enough premise at

Somewhere out there in a parallel universe: Constellations

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Nick Payne's Constellations takes a quantum mechanics view of a love story. The basics of this is that in one universe the outcome is A and in another universe the outcome is B. And there begins a story about Marianne and Roland. They meet at a barbeque and develop a relationship. Or in a parallel world they don't as he is there with his wife. She is a scientist and he is a beekeeper in Tower Hamlets (somewhat inspired by London-based urban beekeeper Steve Benbow and there is Constellations honey available in the foyer). And thus begins a series of fragments of a relationship that together tell a story of a number of different possibilities that it could take. While the premise of this piece threatens to feel repetitive (or at least a bit like Groundhog Day meets Love Story), over its short but perfectly formed running length a range of scenarios play out that simply highlight some of the quirks and eccentricities of their relationship. Holding it all together is the won

Theatre and c-sections: Birthday

In Birthday , currently playing at the Royal Court , Stephen Mangan plays a man who is pregnant. While this unlikely scenario could lead to a rather dubious evening of entertainment (does anyone remember the film Junior?), Joe Penhall's play presents it in such a way that it all seems so plausible and understandable... And best of all it is hilarious. The audience on Wednesday night were in stitches throughout this show, including at some rather squeamish scenes of a medical nature that had some men in the audience wincing. As Ed, the expectant father, Stephen Mangan keeps the audience on side as a slightly loveable modern man while still being a rather disagreeable patient who hurls abuse at staff and his wife. And he has an impressive hairy belly and set of saggy tits. His wife, played by Lisa Dillon is a career woman who can't have another baby. While they wait for hospital staff who are busy with more important patients, the stage is set for some terrific banter. W

The night that was: At the theatre with Love Bites

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Sunday night was an opportunity to catch a series of short one act plays - or as @johnnyfoxlondon and I liked to call them in the Audioboo below, snatches - at the Southwark Playhouse called Love Bites . It was one night only which was a shame as it was a lot of fun could do with running over a few Sunday nights for when people are looking for something strange and interesting to do. The concept has been running for a few years and has produced over thirty new one-act plays. But this was my first Love Bites, which also was also a best of collection of the material so far. Some are self-contained stories, some are monologues and some could potentially be other stories. It is a great little concept that is simple and very entertaining. The writing was great and the works presented had something funny to say about the art of love. There were also a few surprises in store in some of the pieces. But best of all is the opportunity to see new work being tried out in a simple yet slick