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.


A Chat With Adonai

Jacob Kay and Helen Baird are both exemplary and funny – there’s explosions of laughter. At 40 minutes there’s much matter hurled at the speed of dark. See it if you can, and check out the other Bitesize plays at Riverside.


Afterglow

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


Before After

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


Bette and Joan

Outstanding performances, an outstanding set too. As one director said, this production’s more compelling than the original 2011-12 seen touring at Brighton in 2012. The very intimacy of the space, with pitch-perfect acting, makes this an even finer vehicle for the play.


Blonde Poison

An outstanding production.


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.


Casserole

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


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.


F**king Men

A must-see.


Fire Embers Ash

The Night Witches ride !


Foam

Scorching script, outstanding acting, particularly by Richards, a must-see.


Good-Bye

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


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.


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.


Life With Oscar

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


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.


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.


Rika’s Rooms

Emma Wilkinson Wright manages the narrative as an odyssey punctuated by screams. It’s a pretty phenomenal performance and the actor is so wholly immersed in Rika you know you’re in the presence of something remarkable.


Stitches

The end’s both poignant and visionary. A show to remember long after the Bear’s imagined batteries run down.


Storming!

Stands alone, a wholly original twist to a growing alarm-bell of ethics.


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 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 EU Killed My Dad

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


The Girl in the Green Jumper

A first-rate production, with West-End values. A must-see.


The Good John Proctor

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


The Human Body

The work’s best at its quietest, where intimacy doesn’t need shouting. It’s still an intriguing development, as Kirkwood, as in her magnificent The Welkin, interrogates the condescensions of history.


The Lonely Londoners

An outstanding production.


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 Pursuit of Joy

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


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.


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.