FringeReview UK

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FringeReview UK 2016

A View From Islington North

Intermittently thrilling plays from the urgent left, two premieres and a couple of small gems roughened by the tumble of Westminster and the Corporates that really must be seen - unless you’re Gideon.


Blue Heart

A major Churchill season is long overdue, and her eightieth in 2018 shouldn’t be the only occasion of it. Orange Tree’s production is as good as it gets in Blue Heart.


Boy

A superbly bleached-out vision of a seventeen-year-old’s prospects on a stunning conveyer-belt set. Not a comfortable but necessary seventy minutes.


Comus

Spectacle costumes and use of machinery are outstanding, even by Wanamaker standards. Granted there’s a lower dramatic threshold in Comus, it doesn’t mask as it were the fact that this is the most outstanding production of Comus we’ll ever see.


Counting Stars

Gupta’s not too likely to pay the penalty for her spectacular 2009 debut aged twenty-one in What Fatima Did. This is her third full-length, a clear-headed warm-hearted play packing much story-telling into its sixty-five minutes, a convincing portrayal of exploited lovers in Woolwich now.


Elegy

Starring Barbara Flynn and Zoe Wannamaker, Nick Payne’s new play – a thrilling and devastating probe at our identity - picks up the threads of science, self and mortality from Constellations and The Art of Dying, marking his most ambitious play since the former.


First Love

Conor Lovett lightens his pitch Becket’s exploration of lust, sexual disgust and the intolerable consequences of generation.


Human Animals

A thrillingly compressed dystopia crossing The Birds, and Caryl Churchill with draconian government opportunism.


Joan, Babs & Sheila Too

A stunning traversal of Joan Littlewood’s life by Gemskii and Conscious Theatre. Without her, there would never have been A Taste of Honey, Oh What a Lovely War, or much of postwar British theatre.


Motherhood: (Un)speakable, (Un)spoken

Moments into this one-woman play, Joanna Rosenfeld - emerging in a poke of fingers from a cagoule of brown paper - over-voices herself giving witness to tens of verbatim experiences we hear. This tells us the baby’s a parasite, sucks all your nutrients, calcium from your teeth for instance, causes injury, often permanent, can kill. This is - literally - epic interior theatre.


Motherhood:(Un)speakable, (Un)spoken

Ninety seconds into this newly-revised one-woman play, Joanna Rosenfeld - emerging in a poke of fingers from a cagoule of brown paper - over-voices herself giving witness to tens of verbatim experiences we hear. This tells us the baby’s a parasite, sucks all your nutrients, calcium from your teeth for instance, causes injury, often permanent, can kill. This is - literally - epic interior theatre.


The Beckett Trilogy

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.


Torn

Adelle Leonce anchors protagonist Angel’s volatile unpredictability in a superb register of loss, calibrating her response to various family members at zig-zag stages of her life. Martello-White’s clever touching-in of few specifics allows this ninety-minute piece to amplify a wincing universality.


Whose Sari Now?

This is consummate storytelling, and Moorthy’s narrative variables attest to pitch and speed, a charactering that gifts all it can to the individual and in some cases real tales. There’s much here we cannot forget.