FringeReview UK

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FringeReview UK 2018

4.48 Psychosis

An outstandingly imaginative, fearless recreation of Kane’s testament in another medium. It triumphs and is easily the most remarkable, necessary opera to have been produced in years.


Act and Terminal 3

everything – set, actors, script – come mesmerizingly and painfully together.


Allelujah!

Bennett’s exhorting us to fight back with laughter and rage in this riveting, timely play. It’s a sad and angry consolation.


Bad Jews

This is a play supremely worth seeing: for its flayed comedy, acerbic wit, farce-dipped dynamics, monster roles, wincing and raw truths. It’s a triumph from all parties in the best NVT American vein. Don’t miss it.


Belleville

Poots and Norton achieve a quivering fright and tenderness that alone make this a must-see. but if a touch incredible in one choice, it shows Herzog’s ability to combine the new post-naturalism with a rare character-driven ride to apotheosis, recalling dramas more ancient and elemental.


Black Men Walking

There’s a resolution and a few late epiphanies. It’s an important work, satisfying in its refusal to over-imbue a situation which needs less plot-driven conflict than to lay open its stories like a knap of stone revealing the shine.


Black Mountain

Brad Birch has won awards recently, and in Black Mountain he shows in part how fine he can be. It’s in the speech by the partner of man who’s cheated on her. That’s the rich ore mined on this particular mountain. That, and an ear for dialogue that shows Birch will do even finer things.


Brighton Rock

Greene’s original will continue to tease with its unrelieved religious intensity. Otherwise for a secular age this adaptation, and this production, is as good as it gets.


Dance Nation

As an airborne metaphor for how you get to be grown-ups, what it does to you, Dance Nation takes as it were some beating.


Dracula

This really is the one-stop Dracula we need.


Dust

This is outstanding. See it.


ear for eye

Listen for our commonality, don’t look for difference. Here’s a memorable place to start.


Electra

As a gifted exploration of Electra’s themes and a transposition of them to 21st century values, this is as exhaustive, detailed and convincing as you’d wish.


Elephant’s Graveyard

It’s in NT’s best American vein. Forget Rehearsed Reading. It’s the real thing.


Emilia

This is a necessary, thrilling play, its energy and message spill straight into the audience.


Exit the King

We need such risk-taking theatre back. This outstanding production of Exit the King might just remind us how to get it.


Eyam

A ringing, tolling end to a pioneering season. This play must have a life – and already possesses a miraculous importunity.


Female Parts

Adult Orgasm Escapes from the Zoo. That title, from the 1983 version of one of the plays presented here summarises what you can expect. Sadly, subversion has to be rationed. Franca Rame and Dario Fo’s five short plays from 1977 Female Parts, get two outings – they’re joined in a similar bid for self-determination by OneNess Sankara’s The Immigrant, the first black woman in space. Go: it’s likely someone will vault over your head.


Fleabag

Original, raw, brilliantly funny and devastating. This production is Fleabag neat. Its harrowing streak of genius burns like a healing scar torn.


Flesh and Bone

Warren’s East London heritage is similar to other writers, and it’s his time to re-tell it now, with new notes and a love of language that muscles in and won’t let go.


For King and Country

Terrific immersive fun. If you want to know what might have happened in an alternative December 1940, this is as exciting, informative and perhaps as authentic experience as you could encounter.


Girls & Boys

When you hear an opening like: ‘I met my husband in the queue to board an easyJet flight and I have to say I took an instant dislike to the man’ you relax. Too soon. Thus the chippy wit of Carey Mulligan’s opening of Dennis Kelly’s monologue Girls & Boys at the Royal Court Theatre Downstairs, directed by Lyndsey Turner stretches ninety minutes into something else. Fourteen years after her debut on this stage, it confirms Mulligan as a great stage actor.


Grotty

Know the Dalston lesbian scene? Verbally and dramatically as well as breaking new ground, this sings. Do see Grotty at the Bunker and be illumined. It’s rare to see such brutal tenderness laugh itself to the lip of the balcony.


Gundog

This Theatre Upstairs production lends a striking suspension of time to the middle of a sheep nowhere. Simon Longman’s Royal Court debut Gundog exudes the kind of stark belonging his plays seem made of. With such faultless direction and acting, Longman’s reach is patent.


Hole

Wow drama, the original Greek tragoidia. It invokes the same powers, almost the same gods.


Home, I’m Darling

It’s a moment when rejoicing to concur with the general public, as Samuel Johnson once did over Gray’s Elegy, is the only thing to do.


How To Be a Kid

More than an enchanting diversion Sarah McDonald’s play does ask just how quickly we need to grow up, even when we have.


In the Night Time (Before the Sun Rises)

This production’s sheer inventiveness, the feral truth of the acting and fabulously exploding set surely reinvent something; and land this drama where it should be: in the bleak dark before a bleached-out dawn.


Instructions For Correct Assembly

As an ingenious commentary on everything from genetic manipulation to over-determining children’s achievements, Instructions For Correct Assembly is a necessary unforgettable object lesson, in all senses.


I’m Not Running

Compelling dissection of what hampers the mindset of our main progressive party.


John

After Annie Baker’s outstanding The Flick in 2016 also in the Dorfman, her 2015 play John written two years later, has raised expectations that punch the roof of this intimate space. Whatever the premise, her priorities remain: the aching possibility of love in bleak solitudes inside or out, of healing, of forgiveness for the past, recent or historic.


Julie

A revelatory Julie for our time.


Katie Johnstone

Most of all you take away the sheer bravura of Georgia May Hughes’ throwing everything up in the air. She carries the energy to a cheery bleakness. And you want to cheer.


Ken

Terry Johnson’s two-hander might seem a low-key hommage but his script’s brilliant. It’s a re-affirmation of Campbell’s comic epic theatre, and inspires you to look out for what his daughter Daisy might be bringing to us at the Brighton Festival.


Love Me Now

There’s an almost tragic power to the two endings, amidst glimpses of redemption. How difficult it seems to admit love, particularly for men in the toxicity of casual sex where people become apps and black voids to delete. Unmissable. Michelle Barnette’s next play will be worth waiting for.


Madagascar The Musical

Highly Recommended for monkeys and lemurs of all ages – quite apart from lions, zebras, hippos and giraffes.


Mayfly

Mayfly’s a play conscious of its deft artistry. Equally though it’s a work that despite its buzzing coincidences never loses the pulse of its profound ache. That’s why it’s so heartbreakingly funny, tender, even affirmative. A superb debut, the first it’s to be hoped of many others here. Joe White’s one to watch, and so is the magnificent Orange Tree, invariably staging a mighty reckoning in a little room.


Moormaid

Bott asks serious questions. How can a terrorist redeem themselves, and how do individuals negotiate this? Can art play any part in rehabilitation?


My Mum’s a Twat

‘Have you ever tried to sustain a relationship with a twat?’ Some debuts establish more than a new voice. Anoushka Warden’s My Mum's a Twat certainly revels in its compelling and sassy distinctiveness; but it nails to this a cause. Beyond this though is the thrill of a debut writer with the tang of their own voice stinging the air. As Warden says about something else: ‘You’ll have to take my word on that.’ So see it.


Nine Night

Natasha Gordon emerges as a playwright whose capacity to balance seven characters in profound ambivalence – and shuddering proximity - to each other is both thrilling and wholly assured. Anything Gordon does now must be eagerly anticipated.


No One is Coming to Save You

No One is Coming to Save You makes me want to see a lot more of Nathan Ellis.


Notes From the Field

What makes this harrowing selection work is how Smith varies, gradates and paces her interviews; and builds a climax. It renders the experience a memorial; it’s what such artistry’s for. You will experience nothing like this and leave reeling.


Old Fools

There’s truths to discover here. Indeed, to remember love, happiness and life vigorously to combat the oblivion surrounding it. It’s still a hidden gem of a piece, and you should see this brief hour-long odyssey, either to reflect from its early evening finish or if visiting, as a sweetly sad, perhaps wiser prelude to whatever you choose from the later lights.


One For Sorrow

Cordelia Lynn’s a compelling dramatist whose political imagining is swept into musical paragraphs, landing on rhythmic details, pitches of self-betrayal.


Out of Love

There’s much in this sweet, fleet and heart-breaking narrative of female friendship over thirty years that needs to be seen, including the poignant and unexpected epilogue. It’s a thumbnail classic.


Owls

A sensitive, potentially important addition to plays about distress.


Pity

Those receptive to those energies unleashed in the Ionesco, or more fitfully in Saint George and the Dragon will readily see Mullarkey’s almost unique position. What he writes next might define him.


Poet in da Corner

Exemplary, thrilling, adrenalin-shot and shout-worthy. There has to be a part two, and it ought to be soon.


Rambert

The theatre of Goat, its apotheosis into something else from its comedic opening, is stunning. It’s what the Rambert does; completely reinvent itself and the dance. this and the earlier ballet are outstanding in themselves. The Cunningham company are lucky to learn from them.


Random Selfies

This is sweet, fleet story-telling with just the right amount of pitch and yaw for anyone to take, without it becoming too dark or didactic. Ten-year-old Lola’s engaging, and in Natalia Hinds’ hands utterly believable, energetically inhabited with a sense of fun clearly relished by this revelatory actor.


Reared

Reared is above all forgivingly funny, John Fitzpatrick’s comedy exquisite in group dynamics but sometimes on a telling image also contains create one of the most gripping story-telling scenes in recent drama.


Sary

The imaginative force, language and unique serenity of this work demands another run.


Section 2

This is an urgent, compellingly written stunningly acted piece of naturalistic drama. It should be filmed for mental health awareness week, and acted wherever possible.


Sense and Sensibility

An adaptation to surprise and thrill you. Jessica Swale’s made Sense and Sensibility wholly hers, and quintessentially Austen at the same time. The cast render it a delight.


Son of a Preacher Man

Son of a Preacher man has real potential. It’s easily more than a cut above a jukebox musical, and Revel-Horwood’s work particularly coupled with Herbert’s musical arrangements is exemplary. As is the marvellous and marvellously hard-working ensemble.


Spun

The genius and universality of this play is that Hussain writes stingingly of what it’s like to be working-class as well as Asian.


Starfish

What does a home mean? What's it like to lose yours?


Stay Happy Keep Smiling, Fury

Where else in Brighton can you see two new acclaimed plays so swiftly?


Still No Idea

Laughter’s the best start to killing ignorance. See it.


Stories

Utterly compelling. Anything Nina Raine writes now is routinely expected to touch greatness. No pressure.


The Brighton Scratch Night

9 pieces of New Writing play across 3 nights for a place in The Brighton Fringe 2019


The Cane

Ravenhill’s apparently muted play works exceptionally well.


The Claim

Ultimately this is a play putting humanity and the limits of empathy on trial, the whole refugee crisis and bureaucracy’s way of distorting, dishonouring witness a corruptive glare that’s universal. It’s a vital, seminal work on how we misunderstand our humanity.


The Fall

It’s a play which for theme, formal handling and ingenuity would be highly recommendable alone. Coupled with the excitement of ten young actors getting the measure of this and themselves provides a thrilling reach into tomorrow, including the tomorrows we hope never come.


The Funeral Director

One of the most riveting few minutes of contemporary theatre I’ve seen all year.


The Great Wave

Turnly’s straightforward play treats of a history we’re unfamiliar with, and we need it straight. That’s more than enough to make it thoroughly absorbing, with far more questions than when we entered the space. Do see it.


The Gulf

Gould’s team have made this as authentic as some of U. S. casts who travelled over from The New York Public Theater for the Nelson plays. There’ll always be some who don’t get this kind of theatre, but there’s an increasing appetite for and understanding of it. When you do, like Kendra’s Betty, you’ll be hooked.


The Leading Man

Doyen has the kernel of something excellent, disturbing and playable.


The Lehman Trilogy

Almost stupefying, but outstanding.


The Meeting

Quieter than Humble Boy, The Meeting juggles ideas as adeptly, and heart more fully perhaps than any Jones play. There’s every reason to celebrate Jones’ return to the stage.


The Open House

It’s a wholly original drama, and if you like the super-naturalist verismo of Amy Herzog’s Belleville recently at the Donmar or Annie Baker’s John at the National, you’ll enjoy this sidling from that. It’s conceptually even more original. Do see this. It’s a masterly play - in a theatre famed for its dishevelled uniqueness.


The Outsider

Like so much from The Print Room, this feels like European theatre. And we need it more desperately than ever.


The Political History of Smack and Crack

As theatre it Catherine-wheels with anger. As an unsentimental education this takes some beating. Don’t miss it.


The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

It’s not shorter than before, but dare one say it, somehow Sparkier, conveying the author’s economy in a sinewy morality tale.


The Prudes

Neilson’s piece twists an unexpected root out of recent debates over power and sexual abuse the Royal Court has addressed so consistently. Uniquely Neilson’s made the faintly horrible full-on hilarious.


The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

The genius of this production is to keep hilarity airborne whilst slipping in something poisonous. You must see this.


The Sweet Science of Bruising

It’s incredibly helpful Troupe champion new writing as good as this. It should go to a prize-fight.


The Tell-Tale Heart

As an electric shock to schlock gothic, theatre doesn’t come much better than this.


The Wild Duck

You should be shocked.


The Woods

Of this play's witness and power there can be no doubt whatsoever. Compelling and unmissable.


The Writer

This is necessary, exciting, playful, and still unsettling, not just because of what it asks but the manner of narration. It’s also seminal.


There But For the Grace of God (Go I)

A rare instance of an actor knowing exactly how to direct himself. It’s a super-Fringe show well worth reviving, and Welsh clearly puts his life into it.


This Is Elvis

Inevitably this stands or falls by Steve Michaels, but it could only be outstanding if the whole production revs around it, and this one fires into life, never letting up. This Is Elvis. Elvis lives. End of.


This Restless State

If it comes near you – visit the website – do try and see this pungently-paced meditation on upheaval. This Restless State breathes across its zones as a play with real potential that simply needs a little more daring, a little less peeling back.


Trial By Laughter

You won’t see a finer comedy till well into the new year.


Utility

It’s a great phase of U. S. playwrighting, driven by women, and we’re lucky to be living in the middle of it. Schwend unleashes unexpected miracles and is one reason to see this hushed superlative of a play.


£¥€$ (Lies)

By the end of this you’ll know far more about the banking sector than even Robert Peston explains. Now go and play them for a fool.