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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

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.

Panto variations on a beanstalk: Jack & The Beanstalk

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Jack & The Beanstalk currently playing at the Theatre Royal Stratford East is a fun off-beat panto that puts a bit of a modern twist on the story of young Jack, a boy who sells the family cow for a bunch of beans. Theatre Royal Stratford pantos tend to be offbeat with crazy ideas and original music. Some of these were confusing enough for me to be flipping through the programme to see if there was any background information on the traditional tale. But it was hard not to like the introduction of the "spider organ" character when he appeared towards the finale and wanted to fight Jack with his eight legs, musical instrument and enormous sac. It could have been the effects of the fine wine consumed at interval, but it felt like an amusing moment. While most pantomime productions are a mix of colourful costumes, elaborate sets and a selection of pop hits, the bar is set a little higher here as the production has original music written by Wayne Nunes and Perry Melius. Th

Sexual violence and perversity in SE1: Gutted

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It is a hard hitting foul-mouthed in your face night at the theatre watching Gutted, Ricky Beadle-Blair's new play at the Theatre Royal Stratford East . Set in Bermondsey , South East London, it tells the story of the Prospect family and the dark secrets that drive them. It is a place where grey tracksuits and white trainers are the clothing of choice. And football, violence, petty crimes and the frequent utterances of the word "cunt" abound. At times it is exhausting to watch (and listen to). The end result is shocking at times and probably not the sort of play you would take your mother to (unless she is from South London). But it still makes for a great night of theatre. The story focuses on four south London brothers, their relationships with each other, their girlfriends and their hard-as-nails Irish mother. When their father was alive, he subjected the eldest son, Matthew, to abuse. Their mother knew what was going on but ignored it. Matthew is good enough at foo

Musicals and random acts of bureaucracy: Glasgow Girls

Theatre Royal Stratford is often the home of raw and energetic productions. The Glasgow Girls which concludes its run here tonight keeps up this tradition. Set in a rough council block in Glasgow, it tells the story of what happens when the Home Office decides to relocate asylum seekers into the area while their applications are processed. While there might have been expected tensions between the locals and the new arrivals, five years on this didn't happen. Instead local and migrant girls bond and when their Kosovan schoolfriend disappears after a dawn raid, they lead the fight to campaign for the rights of the children of asylum seekers. The fight to see their schoolfriend returned leads them to discover the long drawn out processes that asylum seekers face and how the options for appealing decisions are limited and narrow. Any success is a based on perseverance and a legal team that can search for loopholes. The role the girls play in this is less about what they actually

Rough treatments: Dangerous Lady

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Dangerous Lady, Theatre Royal Stratford East's East's new stage adaption of Martina Cole's bestseller is a trashy, violent and funny production that will have you enjoying almost every minute of it.  There are wry observations about criminals, the police and class in this piece. Things are not black and white and what is right or wrong is not always easy to tell. It is a bloody tough life and it is the women who are the survivors and keep things together. The play opens with an unexpectedly frank depiction of childbirth. Later in the first half there is an intense scene depicting an abortion that had members of the audience so engaged they were screaming out in horror as if they were watching the backyard procedure really take place. There is nothing gruesome on stage, but the production manages to suggest just enough to have most audience-members squirming... or about to pass out... It is all part of the gritty depiction of the life and times of a London Irish gangl

Theatre Readings: Open Stage Angelic Tales

As part of its Open Stage programme this year, the Theatre Royal Stratford East is holding a series of readings of new plays this week, curated by Rikki Beadle-Blair . I caught The Miriam Gospel by Ben Fensome on Tuesday which is a surreal roller coaster ride into this history of homosexuality. Thanks to the internet, you don't need to read a review but can watch the performance below. If you're pressed for time, I would recommend skipping to the monologue by a leopard slug, which comes in at 1 hour 50 seconds. It describes in graphic slimy detail slug sex and is disgusting and not for the squeamish. And I loved it. This is a series to watch for potential future playwrights and performers. Readings run until Saturday for now but more are to come later this year... It is worth a look and make sure you stay for the post show discussions as they are wonderfully entertaining and insightful about how the actors and writers grappled with the material and got it into shape... T