The presence of South Asian characters in British theatre is not the extreme rarity it once was. Whilst South Asians and people of colour more widely are still hugely underrepresented in theatre – as actors, writers, directors and in storylines – there has undoubtedly been some progress in recent years. What remains less visible, however, is South Asian characters engaging in rich discussions of history in all its complexity, from a questioning, left-wing perspective. If this is not for you, you should probably avoid playwright and Momentum activist Sonali Bhattacharyya’s Two Billion Beats, showing now at London’s Orange Tree Theatre.
The Suitcase Storytelling Company are magicians. There is no other way to describe them. On a recent wet and mizzly Sunday afternoon my partner and I took his eight-year-old daughter to a nearby community theatre, expecting to fidget our way through being mildly entertained, but hoping his daughter would enjoy the show. The set consisted of a screen painted with a rudimentary set of train tracks set against mountains in the background. In the foreground, a painted electronic sign indicated we would be transported onto a railway station platform as soon as the show began. A tannoy announcement repeatedly announced that the train was delayed, before politely asking passengers to keep their umbrellas next to them and report any sightings of dragons to train staff.
by Ewa Giera
“You’re a socialist, how can you hate people?!”
The line is directed towards Marion, the genderqueer activist, café worker and counterpart to Robin Good.
The audience laughs goodheartedly at the oxymoron. Taken aback, I find myself laughing along. Soon after, Marion decides to run in the election to oust the Tory-coded Sheriff of Norwich, alongside Robin, and their drag queen father, Stratton Strawless.
January 2021 saw the start of the Living Record Festival, which featured over forty artists and theatre companies showcasing digital work, from spoken word audio pieces to mini-web series. It has garnered many four-star and five-star reviews. In the second part of this two-part series, Carmina Masoliver discusses her remaining picks of the festival’s most interesting shows. You can read part one here.
January 2021 saw the start of the Living Record Festival, which featured over forty artists and theatre companies showcasing digital work, from spoken word audio pieces to mini-web series. It has garnered many four-star and five-star reviews. In this two-part series, Carmina Masoliver discusses her picks of the festival’s most interesting shows. You can read part two here.
By Toby Skelton
There is an elephant in the room with Amie Marie’s mischievous comedy The Play About Theresa May: why publish a satire on May’s bungled and mayhemic term in government in 2021? When placed beside the burning wreckage of policies created by her etonian man-child of a successor, there is a risk of the text losing its relevance before you’ve even passed the cover. Marie navigates this hurdle gracefully, however; its name-sake target has been out of office nearly two years, but The Play About Theresa May is still an extremely timely exploration of political engagement in 21st Century Britain.
by Bernard Rorke
On the Wednesday evening of the 2nd of September, in a narrow street in Budapest’s eighth district, a large crowd gathered in solidarity with the students who have staged an occupation of Hungary’s University of Theatre and Film Arts (SZFE). The students had sealed the entrances to the building with red and white tape in protest against the latest power grab by the far-right government of Victor Orbán.
From the first-floor balconies, students stood silently in yellow face masks with clenched fists, while below, leading figures from Hungary’s cultural and literary scene recited apposite verses from the country’s rich reserve of defiant, liberty-loving poetry. The students closed the event with a folk song and the crowd joined in defiant chants of ‘Szabad Ország, Szabad Egyetem! (Free Country, Free University!)’.
Edinburgh Fringe festival seems to get bigger and bigger each year; there are hundreds of shows to choose from and the densely-packed programme can be difficult to decipher. Here we have briefly reviewed three distinct shows from the 2019 edition, dealing with the mind, the body, sexuality, relationships and gender.
A tall hill of turquoise, gendered cooing and guffawing, chainmail crop tops, and dance-fights with mops, performed to the sound of nineties nostalgia: Lizzy Shakespeare and Michelle Madsen, together known as Bait Theatre, effectively wield experimental drama to tear through the fanciful tropes of traditional fairy-tale femininity.
Vault Festival, consisting of eight weeks of London-based arts and entertainment shows, had opened again last week and this year I’ve decided to go all out. I’ve got a spreadsheet of the seventeen shows I’ve narrowed it down to seeing after scouring the programme, and a membership card to get discounts on the food and drink I’ll undoubtedly be consuming throughout the next few months. So far, I have seen two shows and tried the ‘Spanish’ dish from the EU-inspired menu – deliciously sweet yet spicy chorizo. I’d recommend both the food and the shows: Isa Bonachera’s The Great Emptiness; a one-woman comedy about her love of space, and Snapper Theatre’s Thomas; a play centered around two cousins and ideas of masculinity and neurodivergence. As the festival kicks off, I’m going to focus here on five of my top feminist picks that I’m looking forward to seeing.