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.


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.


Cock

A superb revival of Bartlett’s warmest, most ground-breaking, perhaps most enduring play so far.


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.


Dealing with Clair

Superb and horribly timely, as we crest the next crash.


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.


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.


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.


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.


How It Is

You’ll have to see this. It’s in no way a continuation of their previous Beckett. and it’s immersive, outstanding, unrepeatable and unimaginable anywhere else: Gare St Lazare, and in the UK, no-one but the Print Room it seems would dare to stage it.


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.


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.


Loves-Lies-Bleeding

A slow-burn wonder. We need the Print Room.


Lovesong

It remains a highlight of the season, a mostly wonderful celebration of this rare gift from Abi Morgan. Let’s have more drama like this.


Machinal

Only when we see the best of Sophie Treadwell’s other thirty-eight plays will Machinal’s lonely pinnacle be augmented. This triumphant revival by the Almeida could signal the start. You must see this.


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.


Medea Electronica

Like the recent Suppliants, in a very different way, Medea Electronica asks just what we mean by Greek tragedy, what our conceptions of drama without music are. An essential experience.


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.


Not Talking

Not Talking is a superb, affirmative debut play, up there with Bartlett’s finest, prophetic of much later work.


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.


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.


Precious Little Talent

Do see why this un-preciously funny, inherently angsty play deepens.


Private Peaceful

This is as good as a one-person show of this kind gets. Andy Daniel should be up there above his own rows of five-star ratings.


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.


random/generations

In a season featuring not before time several superb women dramatists – Enid Bagnold and Charlotte Jones follow – starting with tucker green is a proud moment for Chichester.


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.


Rita, Sue and Bob Too

A first-class revival of a timely, still-urgent play, from an untimely-ripped dramatist, this is a must-see for anyone who cares about British drama, British history, and its more thoroughly-beleaguered people.


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.


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.


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.


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 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 One

This breaks rules as it makes them. See it.


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 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 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 Trench

A small masterpiece.


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.


Underground Railroad Game

The most radical piece of American theatre I’ve seen, and certainly the bravest. See it.


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.


When the Wind Blows

BLT have produced in less than two weeks two outstandingly fine full-length productions. This latest offering confirms this theatre’s confidence in producing stark contrasts: an unfashionable yet horribly topical drop of silence into a bustling city.


Woman Before a Glass

Judy Rosenblatt’s reading irradiates Robertson’s and indeed Peggy Guggenheim’s rationale into a morphology, something felt along the gut. The appalled and occasionally appallingly purity of Peggy Guggenheim is laid bare. More widely, this work addresses the limits of patronage, of rescue, of greed and altruism, of comic high-Bohemianism and sexual affirmation before the sexual revolution. Which of course began in 1963.