FringeReview UK

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FringeReview UK 2024

1979

Political history told in Mamet-fast satire, imagined conversations and accurate stats. What could be more thrilling? 82 minutes later you won’t ask why this three-hander is like curing New Year’s hangover with Red Bull, ice, something illegal and a vodka chaser.


Afterglow

It’s conquered both sides of the pond. Stunning, heartwarming, heartbreaking. We need this.


Algorithms

A bisexual Fleabag for 2024? It’s more than that


Alma Mater

Kendall Feaver’s very integrity might not satisfy those who enjoy outcomes dispelled in light. But that’s the point.


Banging Denmark

This production’s 100 minutes are so absorbing you’re not quite sure if the time’s stopped, or just your preconceptions. Stunning, a must see.


Before After

A pristine, heartwarming Valentine of a musical, it fully deserves its revival


Bindweed

Laura Hanna is outstanding in a play that ought to establish itself and playwright Martha Loader; and should enjoy a much longer run.


Blood On Your Hands

A potentially terrific play


Boy In Da Korma

A necessary, engaging, original variation on finding your voice: and a theatrical coup. Acting, writing, directing, video, lighting and tech support, indeed singing are first class. A gem.


Boys From the Blackstuff

More a prophesy than history in this stunning production.


Boys on the Verge of Tears

It’s an exciting, fragile world Sam Grabiner’s promised us in the future.


Captain Amazing

Simon Stephens commented “If I could get all your numbers I would ring you all up individually and urge you to see Captain Amazing.” That can’t be improved on. It’s a must-see.


Casserole

One of the finest small-scale plays to come out of Arcola’s Studio 2 recently. Do see this.


Cold Water

Still in her twenties but vastly experienced, it’s going to be exciting to see where Lawford breaks out to next.


Cowbois

Cranford’s gone Wild West, via the Court and RSC. Cowbois is of course daft. But it’s magnificent in its silliness, contains wonderful – and truthful – moments. Deadly serious can have you rolling in the aisles and still jump up for the revolution.


Dear Octopus

Two hours 45 starts slowly but you feel Smith’s arc move with its casual, supremely naturalist conversation to moments where time stands still. Outstanding revival.


Don’t Destroy Me

This brilliantly nervous, unresolved play of at least seven lives seeking balance is an astonishing feat, uniquely chronicling the lives of refugees only three months after Osborne’s equally rent-infused Look Back in Anger: and with the same unsettling refusal to closure. A must-see.


Dream of a Ridiculous Man

A definitive telling of that rarest thing, an uplifting Dostoevsky tale. It’s unlikely to be rendered better than this.


Dugsi Dayz

Thrillingly promising, and ground-breaking work.


ECHO

Ultimately, the most telling line ”We are all immigrants across time” defines what remains an extraordinary experience


Frozen

Frozen is far more than a thriller: it’s an interrogation into the limits of what evil-doing is, what redemption and some capacity to forgive might be, and its consequences: and above all it ends in a thaw cracking like a Russian spring.


Good-Bye

Wholly absorbing, wholly other, it’s a gem of the Coronet’s dedication to world theatre.


Heart’s Desire/L’Amore Del Cuore

Anyone admiring Churchill, ferocious comedy or excited by a rare UK foray into Italian theatre must see this.


Hide and Seek

An absorbing two-hander with as unexpected an ending as Lauren Gunderson’s I and You


In and Out of Chekhov’s Shorts

Outstanding. After this, there’s no other way to tell Chekhov dramatically that he’s not already nailed down in a play himself. Chekhov would have loved it.


Jab

Highly recommended, it’s also essential.


Just For One Day

Despite history’s caveats, O’Farrell’s core message isn’t about white saviours or pop stars but how ordinary people unite to change things.


King Lear

This smouldering production – fast-talking or timeless - fully engages with the play. It makes almost perfect sense: and two families’ DNA ring true as rarely before.


Laughing Boy

Stephen Unwin directs his own play as a sweep of storytelling, laughter and devastation.


Leaves of Glass

This is possibly Ridley’s masterpiece. Always exercised by the spectral presence of something just out of eyeshot, he never lets that intrude. Scorching and necessary, Leaves of Glass delves into family toxicity, ceaselessly dragging us back into the past.


Lie Low

An outstanding production.


Life With Oscar

Nick Cohen’s exceptional powers as writer and performer are mesmerising


London Tide

It compels, and nothing in its three hours 15 seems superfluous.


London Zoo

A masterly play in the making. It goes where very few dare, and in an environment we think we know. Very highly recommended.


Machinal

This triumphant revival by Ustinov Studios and the Old Vic might finally encourage exploration. You must see this.


Mnemonic

Mnemonic is treasurable, eloquent, a rare passport. It remembers what hope, connectedness and peace smelt like. It’s worth remembering that.


Much Ado About Nothing

A triumph of tone, of textual intercourse and tight-reined spirits. Beatrice’s star is dancing. It’ll stay fresh as the feelgood Shakespeare this summer.


Northanger Abbey

We should fall in love right here. A joyous must-see.


Othello

With institutional racism and trauma compounded in a feedback loop, this Othello’s a timely, and timeless broadside on everything toxic we inhale and expel as venom.


Richard III

In a female-led cast led by the eponymous Richard III (Michelle Terry) it’s striking that the trio of cursing women is this production’s highlight


Sappho

A bit of theatrical democracy invoking pre-democracy crafts an exquisite irony for a rainy afternoon. Do see it.


Sniff

Riveting.


Some Demon

A superbly uncomfortable edge-of-seat revelation. Groundbreaking, it’s also definitive on something we often see far too dimly.


Suite in Three Keys

A once-in-a-generation masterpiece of revival. This is what we’ve been missing.


Surrender

The writing will snare you, Phoebe Ladenburg will hold you, and you’ll lean over the fourth wall.


Testmatch

A superbly witty interrogation of identity, abuses many histories deep, asking questions it sets up in not too sober a fashion. Testmatch is a lightning-conductor.


The Beautiful Future is Coming

Beautiful Future engages throughout though the near future is where it beats quickest. Flora Wilson Brown’s play makes you wonder what life, not just the playwright, might do with her characters. Urgently recommended.


The Beckett Trilogy

It’s reading Beckett in flashes of lightning and laughter. Conor Lovett stuns in this cut-down stand-up Beckett-novels-for-beginners-and-enders three-hour whistlestop. A tour de force as well as a tour de farce of Beckett’s genius.


The Bible in Early Modern Drama: Robert Owen The History of Purgatory

Dr Will Tosh leads a discussion The Bible in Early Modern Drama. Absorbing.


The Bleeding Tree

A blood-dark gem.


The Bounds

As it stands, this is a play with greatness seeded in it.


The Caretaker

Three remarkable performances edge The Caretaker to new ground. Justin Audibert’s directorial debut at Chichester proves both thrilling and prescient.


The Cherry Orchard

In this production, it’s Chekhov who shines.


The Children’s Inquiry

Worth two-and-a-half hours of anyone’s time.


The Comeuppance

Might prove the most lasting American drama about. emerging to a different world.


The Duchess of Malfi

There’s so much to admire here that it’s a happy duty to urge you to see it, if you can, any way you can.


The English Moor

Richard Brome’s 1637 The English Moor marks a new departure for Read Not Dead. You might say with this play it’s Read to be Dead.


The EU Killed My Dad

Do see this, preferably alongside its sometime co-runner The Beautiful Future is Coming. A dizzying theatrical gem.


The Good John Proctor

A valuable corrective to anticipate both real events and Arthur Miller’s take on Abigail Williams


The Hills of California

For nearly any other playwright, this would count as something of a masterpiece.


The House Party

A thrilling must-see.


The Lonely Londoners

An outstanding production.


The Marilyn Conspiracy

A first-rate revival of a first-rate conundrum.


The Motive and the Cue

An extraordinary production. Thorne’s vision is capped by a riveting performance by Gatiss, who glows with the still, sad music of Gielgud’s humanity.


The Other Boleyn Girl

Mike Poulton’s text gleams and snaps. Lucy Bailey’s production of it thrills and occasionally overwhelms, dazzling in its maze of missteps. A must-see.


The Promise

With a first-rate cast and team it’s a groundbreaking work.


The Pursuit of Joy

A playful, slight but absolutely authentic slice of travel living.


The Tailor of Inverness

A gem of a piece, that only brightens.


The Trumpeter

Verging on expressionism it’s extraordinary.


The Valley of Fear

Blackeyed have kept their telling as lean as Holmes’ hawk-like face, and it pounces. If you admire 221b at all, see it this week.


The Voice of the Turtle

An exquisitely-faceted gem.


Till the Stars Come Down

Even this early, it’s safe to predict we’ll look back at the end of 2024 and proclaim it as one of the year’s finest.


Turning the Screw

This six-hander is a 90-minute announcement of a major talent. An almost flawless play.


Uncle Vanya

Hilarious, devastating, outstanding.


Vanya

This is the greatest one-man performance I’ve seen, said a Chekhov-immersed director of 45 years’ experience next to me. Yes.