FringeReview UK 2018
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.
A completely absorbing experience packed into a pulsing interior. Don’t miss it.
everything – set, actors, script – come mesmerizingly and painfully together.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A superb revival of Bartlett’s warmest, most ground-breaking, perhaps most enduring play so far.
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.
Superb and horribly timely, as we crest the next crash.
This really is the one-stop Dracula we need.
This is outstanding. See it.
Listen for our commonality, don’t look for difference. Here’s a memorable place to start.
We need such risk-taking theatre back. This outstanding production of Exit the King might just remind us how to get it.
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.
Original, raw, brilliantly funny and devastating. This production is Fleabag neat. Its harrowing streak of genius burns like a healing scar torn.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wow drama, the original Greek tragoidia. It invokes the same powers, almost the same gods.
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.
More than an enchanting diversion Sarah McDonald’s play does ask just how quickly we need to grow up, even when we have.
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.
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.
A revelatory Julie for our time.
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.
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.
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.
A slow-burn wonder. We need the Print Room.
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.
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’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.
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.
Bott asks serious questions. How can a terrorist redeem themselves, and how do individuals negotiate this? Can art play any part in rehabilitation?
‘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.
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 makes me want to see a lot more of Nathan Ellis.
Not Talking is a superb, affirmative debut play, up there with Bartlett’s finest, prophetic of much later work.
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.
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.
A sensitive, potentially important addition to plays about distress.
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.
Exemplary, thrilling, adrenalin-shot and shout-worthy. There has to be a part two, and it ought to be soon.
Do see why this un-preciously funny, inherently angsty play deepens.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
The imaginative force, language and unique serenity of this work demands another run.
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.
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.
Where else in Brighton can you see two new acclaimed plays so swiftly?
Laughter’s the best start to killing ignorance. See it.
Ravenhill’s apparently muted play works exceptionally well.
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.
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.
One of the most riveting few minutes of contemporary theatre I’ve seen all year.
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.
This breaks rules as it makes them. See it.
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.
As theatre it Catherine-wheels with anger. As an unsentimental education this takes some beating. Don’t miss it.
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.
A small masterpiece.
Of this play's witness and power there can be no doubt whatsoever. Compelling and unmissable.
This is necessary, exciting, playful, and still unsettling, not just because of what it asks but the manner of narration. It’s also seminal.
The most radical piece of American theatre I’ve seen, and certainly the bravest. See it.
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.
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.
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.