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Aug 24th

Shook up Shakespeare Present Holiday Humour at the Phoenix Artist Club

By Carolin Kopplin

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You sunburn'd sicklemen, of August weary / Come hither from the furrow and be merry. Make holiday!

Shook Up Shakespeare, known for creative reimaginings and explorations of Shakespeare's work and universe, present their Quad Centenary August Holiday production in memoriam of the Bard's demise four hundred years ago.

Featuring an all-female cast, Helen Watkinson's production is a mix of cabaret, pop songs, and Shakespearean verse. Led by Moll Cutpurse (Genevieve Berkeley-Steele), a dark mysterious presence resembling a deadly butterfly that emerged from Thomas Middleton's works, the multi-talented cast portray gender-bending Shakespearean women - Shylock's daughter Jessica (Lil Davis), Rosalind (Eboni Dixon), Imogen (Maisie Greenwood), Julia out of Two Gentlemen of Verona (Nell Hardy), Viola (Joanna Lucas), and Portia (Josie Paine).

Holiday Humour takes a closer look at the female cross-dressers in Shakespeare's work, pointing out that they quickly returned to wearing their women's weeds once their objectives were achived, being perfectly happy to be obedient wives ever after. The only exception being Middleton's Moll. Yet what is the difference between a man and a woman, or better put: What makes a man a man? Using Shakespearean verse, which is very beautifully spoken, and popular songs with updated lyrics, often sung a capella, accompanied by percussion or the odd ukulele or violin, Watkinson and the cast embark on a journey to get to to heart of the matter.

There is no actual storyline, and 40 minutes are not merely enough to solve all the mysteries, but Holiday Humour is a charming entertainment featuring several touching scenes from our favourite plays, dance numbers, beautiful songs and a cast that deserves to be seen in many future productions.

By Carolin Kopplin 

The run has now ended.

Running time: 40 minutes.

Aug 20th

National Youth Theatre: Bitches by Bola Agbaje at the Finborough Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Things are divided because you can't even see the problem of it!

The second world premiere presented by the National Youth Theatre at the Finborough is Bitches by Olivier award winning dramatist Bola Agbaje, a two-hander about two teenagers running a YouTube channel. Cleo and Funke have created quite a following with their vlog"Sons of Bitches" but their plan to become rich and famous by vlogging is severely threatened when a meme of Funke's mother goes viral.

At the beginning of the performance, hip hop and and sound bites featuring Donald Trump and others are blasting through the auditorium whilst Cleo and Funke take selfies and dance. The action takes place in Funke's room where the two friends are getting ready to film their latest vlog, which usually consists of role playing, music and comedy. For today's vlog, Funke is planning to make fun of an argument that she had with her mother because Funke has been boycotting a shop for political reasons. Their role-playing spoof does not work at all and after repeatedly pressing the pause-button, Cleo and Funke are having a major argument. Cleo is tired of doing the "white girl can't dance" routine and leaving the limelight to Funke, who is allowed to be cool whereas Cleo gets nasty comments from the black Twitter community. Funke denies the charges, stating that she gets her share of negative comments, most of them racially motivated. Soon their argument escalates into a bad row, which could mean the end of their friendship and "Sons of Bitches".

Bola Agbaje's play is very topical, discussing many current issues such as Brexit, reverse racism, police violence against African-Americans, and the dangers of the internet - trolls, the consequences of posting without thinking, and the idea that one can get reliable information from Twitter and Facebook.

Valentina Ceschi's production is fast-paced and fuelled by energetic performances by Tara Tijani and Katherine Humphrey. Funke is a strong character, self-assured, mature and firm in her views if somewhat defensive. Cleo, however, is drawn as a naive girl who seems younger than her actual age as she is still coming to terms with the fact that she is becoming a woman, referring to "downstairs"instead of using the actual terms. Funke is her first non-white friend. When Funke tells her how upset she was because Cleo did not show any sympathy for the victims of police brutality in America, Cleo cannot comprehend how events in the U. S. might possibly concern her friend who, after all, lives in the UK, which is quite different.

A compelling and vibrant production with a talented cast.

By Carolin Kopplin 

Until 20th August 2016

Finborough Theatre

Running time: 75 minutes

Aug 16th

First Major Revival of Caryl Churchill's Blue Heart - 19 Years after its Royal Court Premiere

By Carolin Kopplin

A Tobacco Factory Theatres and Orange Tree Theatre co-production
Blue Heart
BY CARYL CHURCHILL

Tobacco Factory Theatres and the Orange Tree Theatre are embarking on a new co-producing partnership to stage the first major revival of Caryl Churchill’s Blue Heart. Tobacco Factory Theatres and Orange Tree Theatre are thrilled to make the link between the two organisations as they each expand their individual in-house production portfolios. Blue Heart brings both organisations together to work again with key creatives David Mercatali and Angela Davies, who have worked on previous projects with both organisations.

Gillian Axtell, Alex Beckett, Amanda Boxer, Amelda Brown, Andy de la Tour, Maroussia Frank, Mona Goodwin, Janet Henfrey and Tracey Lee Sharples will appear in Caryl Churchill's two exhilarating one act plays, which have not been seen for nearly twenty years.

Heart’s Desire sees a family awaiting their daughter’s return from Australia, though in a series of alternative scenarios, the play collapses as it keeps veering off in unexpected and ridiculous directions.

Blue Kettle tells the story of conman Derek and the five women he misleads into believing he is their biological son. Try as he might, Derek’s plans are scuppered as the play is invaded by a virus.

In Churchill’s ever-inventive style, the plays pull apart language and structure in a way that is theatrically remarkable and fast paced, in a stirring yet truthful exploration of family and relationships.

Blue Heart was first produced by Out of Joint and the Royal Court Theatre at Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds on 14 August 1997.

Tobacco Factory Theatres produces and presents art in unique, intimate spaces at Tobacco Factory Theatres in Bristol, as well as off site in Bristol and in venues across the country. It presents a jam-packed programme of diverse and exciting shows, workshops and events, from classic and contemporary theatre, to theatre for families, comedy, dance, music, opera and puppetry. It also runs an expanding programme of engagement, learning and participation opportunities for audiences, young people and artists.

Blue Heart is supported by the Tobacco Factory Theatres Production Fund. A small group of individuals have generously supported this fund to help Tobacco Factory Theatres to produce more of its own work.

Website tobaccofactorytheatres.com | Email tickets@tobaccofactorytheatres.com 
Twitter 
@tftheatres | Facebook/Instagram Tobacco Factory Theatres

The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, South West London wants to change lives by telling remarkable stories from a wide variety of times and places, filtered through the singular imagination of our writers and the remarkable close-up presence of their actors. Over its forty-five-year history the Orange Tree has had an exceptional track record in discovering writers and promoting their early work, as well as rediscovering artists from the past whose work had either been disregarded or forgotten. In the last year alone, the OT has been recognised for its work with nine major industry awards, including 5 Offies (Off West End Awards), 2 UK Theatre Awards, the Alfred Fagon Audience Award and the Peter Brook Empty Space Award.

Website Orangetreetheatre.co.uk | Email box.office@orangetreetheatre.co.uk

Twitter @OrangeTreeThtr | Facebook/Instagram OrangeTreeTheatre 

Blue Heart

By Caryl Churchill

AGE RECOMMENDATION 12+

Tobacco Factory Theatres

Thu 22 September – Sat 01 October
8pm / Matinee Sat 2.30pm (No show Sun)

Tobacco Factory Theatres, Raleigh Road, Southville, Bristol, BS3 1TF

Box Office tobaccofactorytheatres.com | 0117 902 0344
Post-Show Talk Following the performance on Tue 27 September

Orange Tree Theatre

13 October - 19 November 2016

Orange Tree Theatre, 1 Clarence Street, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 2SA

Box Office orangetreetheatre.co.uk | 020 8940 3633 (open 10am to 6.30pm Mon-Sat).

Post-show talks Wed 26 Oct 7.30pm & Thu 10 Nov 2.30pm

Audio-described performances Wed 2 Nov 7.30pm & Sat 5 Nov 2.30pm

Aug 16th

Richmond Theatre Invites 8-16 Yr Olds for the Ultimate Musical Theatre Battle!

By Carolin Kopplin

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Calling all 8-16 year olds, this summer Richmond Theatre needs you! An almighty battle is brewing between which is best: the stage or the screen, theatre or movies and the theatre’s Creative Learning Department are inviting young performers to battle it out! 

From Monday 22nd August – Friday 26th August, the Richmond Theatre Summer School recruits will spilt into two age groups and prepare to do battle with their weapons of choice: acting, singing and dancing. The week will then culminate in a battle of musical theatre wills as they perform on the Richmond Theatre stage where the audience will decide the outcome! 

Nikki Ward, director of Let The Battle Commence: Stage v Screen! and Creative Learning Manager at Richmond Theatre said: “Our Summer Schools are always really popular and loads of fun. This year we are inviting 8-16 yr. olds to go to town on performing their favourite songs and dances from the theatre and from movies. They will perform scenes written by themselves and having the audience deciding the outcome of the show will be very exciting!” 

Places are strictly limited and available on a first come, first served basis. Therefore prompt booking is strongly recommended to be guaranteed a place.

 Booking information: 

Online: http://www.atgtickets.com/Movie-Madness-and-Magic-Summer-School-22nd-26th-August-2016-Tickets/45/17805/

Telephone: 020 8332 4524

In person: Richmond Theatre Box Office

Rehearsals: Monday 22nd August – Friday 26th August, 9.30 am – 4.30 pm

Performance on the Richmond Theatre stage: Friday 26th August at 5.15 pm

Photograph: © Alastair Hilton

Aug 15th

Steel Magnolias at the Hope Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

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Clairee (Lin Sagovsky), Shelby (Samantha Shellie) and Annelle (Ariel Harrison)

Why don’t we just focus on the joy of the situation?

Robert Harling's 1987 play about six southern women who meet up in the beauty parlour of a small town in Louisiana on four significant days over three years to have their hair done and exchange gossip, recipes, and beauty tips was made into a multi Oscar-nominated film with Dolly Parton, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Darryl Hannah, and Julia Roberts as the six women. This comedy-drama is based on Harling's own experiences with his sister Susan who suffered from Type 1 diabetes. It is a celebration of friendship in times of unfathomable grief - and it is also very funny.

Truvy's beauty parlour is the communication hub of Chonquapin, LA. Today is Shelby's wedding and Truvy is busier than usual. Her new stylist Annelle is not much help yet but Truvy - and her customers - see the funny side of her mistakes. When Shelby arrives, all in pink as this is her favourite colour, she insists on a Princess Grace hairdo although her mother M'Lynn would prefer her to try for Jaclyn Smith. Shelby wins, of course. Because of all the excitement Shelby has forgotten to eat and falls into a hypoglycemic state - she suffers from Type 1 diabetes. Her quick-thinking mother gets her back on her feet with a glass of juice. M'Lynn reveals that Shelby was recently informed by her doctor that she should never have children because of her illness. Jackson, her husband-to-be is fine with it but Shelby, being a children's nurse, loves children and longs to have one of her own. When the six women meet again Shelby is pregnant and M'Lynn is sick with worry. 

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Ouiser (Maggie Robson), Truvy (Jo Wickham) and Shelby (Samantha Shellie)

This is one of those rare plays with strong female characters, played by an equally strong cast in Matthew Parkers sensitive and touching production. Jo Wickham shines as Truvy, a down-to-earth, pragmatic businesswoman who immediately offers her new apprentice Annelle a place to stay when she finds herself with a horrible landlady. Samantha Shellie is excellent as the stylish Shelby who wants a child more than anything else in the world. After her baby is born she has her beautiful long hair cut short to get ready for the grown-up lifestyle she will now have to adopt for the sake of her little boy. Her mother M'Lynn, who works as a mental health professional, is an understated but deeply touching performance by Stephanie Beattie. Maggie Robson is hilarious as the cantankerous Ouiser who irritates everybody with her constant foul mood and tactless manner. Lin Sagosky plays Ouiser's friend Claree, the late mayor's widow, with sympathetic, witty authority. Ariel Harrison portrays Annelle who changes from a self-conscious, frightened girl to a self-confident young woman who is brave enough to design funky Christmas earrings for the whole town.

The traverse stage, which brings the audience very close to the action, features the necessities of a beauty salon, decorated with flowery wallpaper, changing posters of current festivities, and, my personal favourite, a telephone looking like two bright red lips (stage and costume design by Rachael Ryan).

This is a beautiful story about friendship and the strong bond between six women who support each other during the worst of times - Steel Magnolias.  

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 3rd September 2016

The Hope Theatre

Running time: 2 hours and 20 minutes including an interval

Photos provided by LHPhotoshots.

The Hope Theatre is working with Diabetes UK to raise awareness of the facts of the condition which features prominently in the play. A representative of Diabetes Islington visited the rehearsal room to give valuable medical input to the production.

A representative from Diabetes UK will speak briefly to audiences after the performances onTuesday 16 and Tuesday 30 Aug and a bucket collection will be held for the charity.

Aug 12th

National Youth Theatre: The Fall by James Fritz at the Finborough Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Imagine being him. Every day you wake up. You're tired. Your body doesn't work properly.  ... You said it - you'd kill yourself. 

As part of the celebrations of its 60th anniversary, the National Youth Theatre presents three new plays at the Finborough, starting off with the world premiere of James Fritz's The Fall. The play, consisting of three parts, is only one hour long but highly relevant, exploring the reality of an ageing population and the attitude of the young towards the very old as they are forced to pay for their care whilst struggling to raise their own families.

The performance starts off with an energetic dance by the whole cast, clad in uniform grey outfits (costume and set design by Chris Hone), which is repeated between the three different parts. The first part begins with two teenagers called Girl (LaTanya Peterkin) and Boy (Oliver Clayton) who are planning to make out in a flat, owned by a former solicitor in his 90s. The Girl has a key to the flat to clean and water the plants, which she does because she is a nice person - and also because she gets paid. The Boy immediately notices the disturbing “old man smell” in the place so he uses Mr Butler’s bed for a few push-ups to keep in shape. Amazed by his own beauty, the Boy could never imagine looking like a man in his 90s: “If my body looked like this, I’d end it.” After trying to impress the Girl with his rendition of a popular 1960s song, he is ready for action. Yet Mr Butler is actually at home – ill and lying on the floor, possibly dying. After their initial disgust at the wasted body, the teenagers discuss the best course of action – a pivotal moment in the play. Unfortunately, this scene resembles a rehearsed reading as it is lacking in action and emotion.

The second part features two teenagers, named One (James Morley) and Two (Katya Morrison) and their sped-up journey into middle-age. Whilst they discuss their current situation, they are making and remaking the bed that dominates the stage. One cannot get a decent job and Two is pregnant. When she gives birth to a boy, the need for a suitable home becomes more and more pressing. Yet they cannot get a mortgage and the rent is being raised again and again. One’s ageing mother owns a flat and he hopes to inherit it one day. Yet when One’s mother has a bad fall from which she does not recover, their hope is turned to dust. She will now need constant care, which means that the flat will have to be sold. Two takes a rather questionable decision to secure the future of their son.

The third part is the strongest and most disturbing of the evening. In a distant future that resembles an Orwellian state, four elderly people share a room in a care-home. Too many people need a place in a home, there is an endless waiting list, so conditions are a bit crammed. The characters are called A, B, C, D as gender is not important to the story. A (Hannah Farnhill) is the newby in the room, a quiet, unassuming widow. She is suspiciously observed by cranky loud D (Ben Butler) who cries out in the middle of the night, waking everyone. As they are reminiscing about videogames, it becomes clear that we are looking at the less than enviable future of today’s young generation. Meanwhile the Liaison (Katya Morrison), a brand new type of nurse, tries to convince everybody to sign up for their assisted death offer to make room for the many others, assuring them that their families will get compensation for their deaths. But remember, once you sign, there is no going back. C (Simeon Blake-Hall) has already decided to end it so his family is taken care of. Meanwhile A is falling in love with B (Matilda Doran-Cobham) and suggests to escape to live somewhere else. The eerie atmosphere of the sterile care-home is accentuated by Seth Rook Williams creative lighting design.

Matt Harrison’s production features a talented young cast, most of all Hannah Farnhill, who gives a subtle, understated performance as A, trying to cope with her new life, remembering fondly but without sentimentality her days as a sprinter. Matilda Doran-Cobham’s sensitive performance as A’s lover B also impressed as did Katya Morrison’s portrayal of the desperate mother Two and the coldly efficient Liaison.

The Fall is a sharply observed study of what we are capable of when we find ourselves in desperate situations. The most horrendous acts are committed in the name of compassion, which is sketched out in part one, culminating in the cold sterility of the future care-home that encourages people to agree to assisted killing so others can benefit from their deaths. A different kind of utilitarism.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 13 August 2016

Finborough Theatre

Box Office: 0844 847 1652

 Running time: 1 hour without an interval 

Aug 4th

Escape - Aerial Dance Performance at the Blue Elephant Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

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LCP Dance Theatre presents its new production at the Blue Elephant Theatre in Camberwell before taking it to Edinburgh. Fusing aerial performance and dance theatre, the show means to explore the social, political and psychological challenges a refugee faces when trying to live in a new society. Multimedia projections by Eran Tsafrir and an original musical score by Italian composer Steffano Guzetti add to the story-telling and atmosphere of the show.

In the beginning, a plastic curtain is drawn close with one the dancers lying behind it. As she raises her legs, film clips of running water are projected onto a big screen and it seems like the dancer puts her legs into the water. The screen dominates the back wall and a swing is located in front of it. After the curtains are drawn back by the two dancers, one of them begins exploring the swing, testing the fabric, playing with it, using it as a cocoon or a rope, performing stunning acrobatic feats on it. 

As one dancer is exploring the swing, the second dancer moves across the floor of the stage, crawling and stretching to explore the space, finally culminating in a headstand. The lighting changes the colour of the swing from purple to red and the swing is being shaped into a pulsating human heart with rhythmic drumming adding to the impression - a very strong image that stays with you.

As the story progresses, the two dancers (Joanna Puchala and JC Bailey) begin to interact with each other, first pushing and shoving, then offering support and warmth. Choreographed by Joanna Puchala, the dancers express the isolation and alienation of the stranger in a strange environment as well as the need for a feeling of security and human companionship of both characters.

The show concludes with eye witness reports of refugees who have crossed the Mediterranean, risking their lives to escape the horror of their homelands. Yet these reports are not really necessary because the message of the show already very clear and strong.

A compelling dance performance dealing with highly relevant issues.

 By Carolin Kopplin 

Until 6th August 2016

Running time: 50 minutes without an interval

Blue Elephant Theatre

Box office: 020 7701 0100

Jul 31st

Extravaganza Macabre by Little Bulb at Battersea Arts Centre

By Carolin Kopplin

(c) Alex Brenner, no use without credit, Little Bulb - Extravaganza Macabre @ Battersea Arts Centre (_DSC8051).jpg

Clare Beresford, Alexander Scott and Dominic Conway

Tonight we have a tale!

On Tuesday 26th July, Battersea Art Centre's new theatre and activity space - the Courtyard - was launched with Little Bulb's Theatre's latest work Extravaganza Macabre. Designed by Stirling Prize winning architects Haworth Tompkins, the Courtyard is an intimate 75 m² open-air space that allows for close contact between performers and audience. Part of the audience is seated on wooden benches downstairs, part has standing tickets on a balcony walkway upstairs with a convenient railing to lean on. The removable stage floor is equipped with trap doors, which are used to great effect during the performance.

Little Bulb Theatre inaugurates the new space with a highly entertaining spoof of Victorian melodrama complete with evil arch rogue Lord London, a fair-haired maiden named Elizabeth Pureheart, her valiant young beau Ernest, clairvoyant servant girl Bertha, and a clever street urchin with a birthmark shaped like London who is accompanied by his loyal companion Dog Dog.

(c) Alex Brenner, no use without credit, Little Bulb - Extravaganza Macabre @ Battersea Arts Centre (_DSC8084).jpg

Elizabeth (Clare Beresford) and Ernest (Dominic Conway) with the priest (Alexander Scott)

The performance begins with a brass trio and a song about "London - the Greatest City the World Has Ever Seen" before the theatre manager welcomes his audience to the theatre and introduces the lover, played by Hector, and his lady love, played by Nell. He himself will play the villain, Lord Octavius London, who will lead us into the depths of depravity.

The story follows two strings. The first involves a little orphan boy named Chipper who was found as a baby floating on a raft in the river Thames. Seven years later, in 1893, Elizabeth Pureheart and Ernest are going to be wed. But a terrible storm blows Ernest into the Thames never to reappear, leaving Elizabeth lonely and heartbroken. Trying to commute with Ernest's spirit world via her servant Bertha, Elizabeth receives ambivalent messages from her mother.

This highly imaginative and theatrical production is performed by three actors and several members of the audience who are selected to play the remaining parts. There is quite a bit of audience participation in this production and it is worth paying close attention to the story if you are (un)fortunate enough to be cast in a speaking role. It is all in good fun though and nobody is put on the spot. Being on the balcony, my only task was handing on a prop.

(c) Alex Brenner, no use without credit, Little Bulb - Extravaganza Macabre @ Battersea Arts Centre (_D3C6338).jpg

Elizabeth (Clare Beresford) and Bertha (Dominic Conway) braving the storm

Little Bulb presents original compositions including opera tunes, acapella, chimes and euphonium with the cast playing a variety of instruments. Using wooly fake beards and a multitude of cheesy props, this show is a lot of fun and is never meant to be taken too seriously. You have to release your inner child to get involved in this production and it is well worth it. The actors are doing a very fine job. And watching Dominic Conway, I still remember his outstanding Django Reinhardt in the unforgettable Little Bulb show Orpheus which was performed in the beautiful Grand Hall of the Battersea Arts Centre before it became a victim of the flames.

Come to see this show for a fun night out. During the interval penny pies and a selection of gins are available.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 26 August 2016

Battersea Arts Centre

bac.org.uk ¦ 020 7223 2223

Running Time: 100 minutes with one interval

All photos by Alex Brenner.

Jul 28th

Shadowlands at the Richmond Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Amanda Ryan as Joy Davidman and Stephen Boxer as C.S. Lewis in Shadowlands. Credit Jack Ladenburg - Copy.jpg

Joy Davidson (Amanda Ryan) and C.S. Lewis (Stephen Boxer)

Pain is God's megaphone to raise a deaf world.

William Nicholson's drama about religion, pain, and love tells the tender and understated love story of C.S. Lewis and the American poet Joy Davidson. The play began its life as a TV drama before it was adapted for the stage and later became an award-winning film with Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger in the leading roles.

C.S. Lewis, professor of medieval and renaissance literature, is a middle-aged bachelor who feels comfortable in his life at Oxford University, spending his spare time in the pub with his fellow academics, debating religion and philosophical questions. He is firm in his convictions about God and His plan for the world until the American Joy Gresham and her young son Douglas enter his life and challenge his beliefs and certainties.

Sharing a flat in Oxford, C.S.Lewis (Stephen Boxer), called Jack, and his brother Major W. H. Lewis (Denis Lill), called Warnie, live in quietude and dissheveled harmony. Oxford University is a male dominated world with a somewhat misogynist attitude: Men have intellect, women have soul. When Joy Gresham (Amanda Ryan), with whom Jack had corresponded for some time regarding his academic books, announces that she will be visiting Oxford and would like to meet Jack in person, he agrees but brings Warnie along. Their meeting is short and rather distant but when Joy returns with her son Douglas (Shannon Rewcroft) for Christmas, Jack invites them to celebrate Christmas with him and his brother. Joy Gresham, born Davidson, who turned from Judaism to Communism and then to Christianity, is an award winning poet and highly educated. She immediately butts heads with professor Christopher Riley (Simon Shackleton) who finds Joy headstrong, too outspoken and not to his liking. Yet Jack becomes quite fond of Joy.

Unknown to Jack, Joy is married to a serial philanderer and alcoholic. When her marriage breaks apart, she takes Douglas and moves to England and her friendship with Jack becomes even stronger. Facing deportation, Joy asks Jack to marry her so she and her son can remain in England. Jack agrees. They continue to live apart and insist on being just friends. Yet when Joy is diagnosed with bone cancer, everything changes. 

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Ensemble - Joy has a slight disagreement with Christopher Riley

Skilfully directed by Alastair Whatley, the slowly flowering love story of the reserved and comtemplative English professor and the independent, somewhat abrasive American is beautifully told with touching performances by Stephen Boxer and Amanda Ryan. Denis Lill convinces as the retired army man, a bit slow but well intentioned. Simon Shackleton is very good as the arrogant misogynist Christopher Riley.

The play has been criticized as being a soap opera for intellectuals yet this play is not a mere love story. Jack Lewis, who held the firm conviction that man has to earn God's love by experiencing pain, is forced to make the transition from the abstract to the personal. When the Rev. Harry Harrington (Jeffrey Harmer) tries to comfort Jack with the usual empty phrases that do little to ease the pain, one might reconsider the necessity for pain to win God's love.

A production that should not be missed.

Until 30th July 2016

Richmond Theatre

Little Green, Richmond TW9 1QJ

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes including one interval.

Tickets: http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx

Photos by Jack Ladenberg.

Jul 26th

Festival 46 @King's Head Theatre: Freud The Musical

By Carolin Kopplin

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I need a bit of the old scratch and sniff.

This one-woman show written, performed and composed by Natasha Sutton-Williams, might be contrary to your image of what Freud would have been like. Focussing on Freud's cocaine addiction, this hysterical comedy provides Freud with a split personality - the aloof psychiatrist and Oedipussy, a half-feline character who advises and supports "Siggi" in many different ways.

The humour of the show is often crass and very dark, making fun of Freud's cocaine habit and his theories which all seem to stem from wanting to have sex with either of your parents. His focus on sexuality was probably warranted considering that he lived in an era when the word "trousers" was not to be mentioned. Yet his misogynism and fixation on penis envy and the Oedipus complex is hilariously lampooned.

Directed by Dominic McHale, Natasha Sutton-Williams delivers a veritable tour-de-force and had many members of the audience in stitches although I found some of the humour hard to take, for example the song about sticking rats up your anus which was somewhat eleviated by the original rat glove. Yet this is a matter of personal taste and should not take away from the enjoyment of the show. The score features thirteen original tunes, played with esprit by pianist Phil Blandford.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 31st July 2016 at King's Head Theatre

Running time: 50 minutes without an interval.

Age recommendation: 12+, drug and sexual references

More info on Festival 46:

http://www.kingsheadtheatre.com/festival46-1