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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

Immigrants getting the job done: Carmen @KingsHeadThtr

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Carmen can survive being messed about. After all she’s wearing a gorilla suit at the Royal Opera's current production . Here she’s an immigrant working in a bar,selling NHS drugs on the side and picking up footballers to make ends meet. It’s a grittier, funnier take on Bizet’s opera complete with some fine singing. And it’s currently playing at the Kings Head Theatre . This version by Mary Franklin and Ashley Pearson is like La Tragédie de Carmen , adapted by Peter Brook in the early 1980s. Both dispense with a large ensemble to focus on the love triangle. But in this English version there’s more laughs. Albeit against a grim backdrop of low paid jobs, living out of cars and footballers looking for cheap thrills. You’re never quite sure if you should be laughing or recoiling from the comedy-drama unfolding as the vocals are soaring. But then again comedy is tragedy plus time... The role of Carmen is shared. I saw it played by American Mezzo Soprano Jane Monari. Her Carmen i