PHOEBE GARTHWAITE reviews Hear Me Howl at VAULT Festival. Lydia Rynne’s Hear Me Howl, directed by Kay Michael, was a one-woman whirlwind of comedy and emotion jam-packed into an hour. Thirty-year-old Jess, played by Alice Pitt-Carter, finds herself unintentionally pregnant and begins to question the life she has and what she wants from the future. The pregnancy news sparks a new zest for life within Jess and she spontaneously joins a post-punk band (‘like punk, but they give even less of a shit’). Her hilarious inner rebellious youth shows itself. Pitt-Carter carried the piece with both vivacious energy and real vulnerability. At the beginning of the show when she finds out about her pregnancy, Jess wittily bats off her reaction to it. Looking for solace in audience laughs, there was a sense that she was performing to herself as well as the crowd, playing at being okay. Rynne’s incredibly relatable…Continue Reading

Hear Me Howl

SARAH SARAJ reviews Cuzco at Theatre503. Cuzco is a city renowned for its beautiful scenery and historic richness. Situated along the Peruvian Andes, it was once the capital of the Inca Empire before it was conquered by the Spaniards in the 16th century. Today, despite its poverty rate of 28.2%, Cuzco is one of the main tourist attractions in Peru and receives 1.5 million tourists a year. Two such tourists are She and He, a Spanish couple embarking on a last-ditch attempt to revitalise the carrion that is their relationship. However, as Cuzco unfolds it becomes clear that we are witnessing their final protracted moments together. Written by Víctor Sánchez Rodríguez and translated fluidly from the original Spanish by William Gregory, it is rare to see non-anglophone productions retain their cultural specificity. The play opens to a fight. She is reluctant to leave the hotel room, fatigued by altitude sickness, a…Continue Reading

Cuzco

THEA RICKARD reviews I’m Woman at Tristan Bates Theatre. Anybody acquainted with the one-woman show aired in Friends will understand my apprehensions before arriving at I’m Woman, written and performed by Ana Daud. Thankfully, my uneasiness about the format was quelled, as this engaging, emotionally effective play was nothing like that. The men in the audience were instructed to sit on the left, with the women on the right, highlighting the play’s exploration of the differences between men and women, and how we perceive one another. Initially the play was a biographical examination of Daud’s parents’ respective addictions and how they influenced her becoming an addict herself. The play asked whether we are responsible for our own actions, or whether our parents or environment are to blame, furthermore implicating God as culpable for her experience, raising the issue of accountability. Daud, through Dmitri Acrish’s direction, directly confronted the audience with this question, breaking the fourth…Continue Reading

I’m Woman

ANNA CHIPPENDALE reviews No Show at Soho Theatre. It all begins with a routine. Five women tumble across the stage, a dynamic landscape of high leg peaks and box splits troughs. Their innate spatial awareness and perfectly pointed toes speak of their expertise, but their faces tell another story. The physical routine is challenging, but its emotional counterpart is harder: the women force clenched smiles, executing shimmies and out-of-place dance moves that seem to belittle the astonishing athleticism demonstrated by the sequin-adorned performers. And that’s the point. In just sixty-five minutes, Ellie Dubois’ No Show efficiently dismantles the circus and highlights the blatant sexism sketching the definitive perimeters that establish a woman’s place within the Big Top. While the acts themselves are mesmerising, it’s the narrative accompanying the show that creates the greatest impact. As Camille Toyer, seemingly effortlessly, glides and twists across the stage on a Cyr wheel, Kate…Continue Reading

No Show

JOE KENELM reviews A Modest Little Man at The Bread and Roses Theatre. Given Clement Attlee’s passion for the sport, it is perhaps cruel that he was actually once likened to a cricket ball: the higher he rose, so it was said, the more elusive he became. This notion of the former PM is typically orthodox: a vision of Attlee as kind, reliable, and bland. Eclipsed by larger government personalities, uninspiring in leadership, and muted in speech-making. Hard-working in cabinet, hard work in conversation. In his brilliant biography Citizen Clem, John Bew argues for quite a different Attlee: ‘passionate, patriotic, ethical, and visionary.’ An MP for Limehouse during the party’s near annihilation in 1931, Attlee was a central figure in its gradual recovery. He was elected leader in 1935, brought the party into a war-time coalition with Churchill in Britain’s darkest hour and, in 1945, won an overwhelming mandate to…Continue Reading

A Modest Little Man

SOPHIE PARKER reviews Blue Departed at the VAULT Festival.  As part of the Vault Festival 2019, emerging playwright Serafina Cusack’s latest work Blue Departed explores the relationship between heroin addiction, lost love and fourteenth century Italian poetry. As the production illustrates, there are more crossovers between the three than may initially be imagined, but the piece also raises the question of where to draw the line between inspiration and adaptation in dramatic works. The play pulls Dante Alighieri (Mark Conway), most famous for his Divine Comedy, six hundred years into the future to our present day and gives him a heroin addiction. The now near-legendary object of Dante’s love, Beatrice (Rebecca Layoo), joins him in the modern world. Following a series of traumatic events, Beatrice is dead on the floor and Dante has retreated into a perpetual high, speaking to the rotting corpse in his kitchen and hearing her speak back. This is where the…Continue Reading

Blue Departed

CHLOE TYE reviews Anomaly at the Old Red Lion Theatre. ‘Anomaly is not about men like Harvey Weinstein. Anomaly is a war cry for the women who have been left to pick up the pieces.’ With a runtime of just 70 minutes, Anomaly certainly manages to pack a punch. Writer Liv Warden and director Adam Small have expertly crafted a story which manipulates the audience’s emotions, one moment a sardonic farce, the next a heart-wrenching tragedy, so that you are certain to leave the theatre shaken, challenged and quite possibly slightly nauseous. Inspired by a photo of Weinstein and Meryl Streep, with the words ‘She knew’ emblazoned across her face, Warden wrote this play as the #MeToo movement developed over the past year. Phillip Preston, ‘media mogul and film-industry powerhouse’, has been arrested for assaulting his wife. His three daughters are privileged women who, before this latest scandal, have benefited off and built their careers from…Continue Reading

Anomaly

SOPHIE PARKER reviews UCL Musical Theatre Society’s production of Edges at the Bloomsbury Studio. Edges, a piece of musical theatre written in 2005, is the earliest work from creators Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who would go on to write music for Dear Evan Hansen and The Greatest Showman, and ‘City of Stars’ for La La Land, for which they won a Best Original Song Academy Award, amongst other accolades. The show explores the trials of growing up at university, and rings true since Pasek and Paul were 19-year-old undergrads at the University of Michigan when they wrote it. The subject matter, along with the minimalist staging, and the cast of just four and two musicians (Louis Shaw on drums and Yutong Zhang on keys, and also the show’s Musical Director), meant the production could very easily have felt like a sixth-form recital. However, the charisma of these cast members (Dan…Continue Reading

Edges

SONIA CHUI reviews Dirty Laundry at Tristan Bates Theatre. The lights dim. A bell chimes. A single woman clothed in all black walks slowly into the room, ritualistically preparing an intimate space. The play begins with a prayer followed by a confession, with a booming voice from beyond the room not encouraging, but forcing the woman to confess her sins. Dirty Laundry, performed and written by Wallis Hamilton Felton, grapples with suffering and forgiveness. Weaving in traditional Irish songs, Hamilton Felton’s protagonist unearths the decades of abuse endured in the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, otherwise known as Magdalene’s asylums. Operating from the 18th to the late 20th centuries, these were predominantly Roman Catholic religious institutes for ‘fallen women’ who were forced to spend the remainder of their lives repenting. This term was gradually used to encompass not just prostitution but a huge number of perceived ‘sins.’ An estimated 30,000 women…Continue Reading

Dirty Laundry

SOPHIE PARKER reviews Clamour at the Roundhouse. Digital artists Simon Katan and Luke Fraser’s 2018 incarnation of their evolving show Clamour pitched itself as ‘an interactive, mixed media theatre piece’ which ‘wryly and reflexively interrogates how social media mediates and influences our knowledge, relationships and identities.’ This is a bold description, given the many intricacies these social issues entail in our modern world. Considering the production was only 45 minutes long, it perhaps tried to cover too much ground in its attempt to do each issue justice, but that in itself could reflect the shallow and transitory nature of life in the technological age. The production worked through a combination of a web app on audience smartphones, a projector and a vast soundscape. The only person on stage – a man in a black t-shirt typing on a MacBook throughout – dictated the content appearing on the audience’s phones in…Continue Reading

Clamour

IDO VOCK reviews Momma Golda at the King’s Head Theatre. Thelma Ruby is 93. As her new play Mamma Golda unfolds, it’s astounding to remember that the spritely figure on stage’s first job was entertaining British troops towards the end of the Second World War. Ruby’s stamina is more than impressive, not only for someone billed as the oldest actress currently performing in the UK. Ruby plays Golda Meir, the first female Prime Minister of Israel, as she faces her most serious crisis, which would eventually cost her the premiership. In 1973, on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, the armies of Syria and Egypt attacked Israel on two fronts. The play flits back and forth between Meir manoeuvring through this crisis and her memories of her earlier life, from her childhood in Kiev to her appointment as Israel’s first ambassador to the Soviet Union. Ruby’s Hebrew pronunciation is impeccable, no…Continue Reading

Momma Golda

ISABELLA JAKOBSEN reviews The Distance You Have Come at Cockpit Theatre. In The Distance You Have Come, the stories of six different people have been put together from a selection of Scott Alan’s songs to create a new musical. Each of these interlocking tales takes a unique lens to the collision of relationships and mental health, grappling with the subjects of depression, rape, surrogacy, homosexuality and bisexuality (a pleasant surprise given common bi-erasure in the general media). Although this is a collection of songs previously written by Alan, under his direction and with the musical direction of Scott Morgan, it also flourishes as its own work, and deserves to be viewed as a dramatic piece, not just a performance of Alan’s back catalogue. The set is strikingly beautiful, consisting of a park, featuring a bench and a swing intertwined with natural elements; on the stage floor there is a giant print…Continue Reading

There In Never Neverland