Yes…Even More Theatre Picks Of 2016

Fringe is what I am about (well that and the brussel sprout and cheese bake I am eating right now). Giving new voices a voice and new work a platform. I confess due to my own personal creative endeavours, I have not seen as much theatre as I did in 2015. This means accordingly, I only feel it is fair to have a top 5 Fringe shows of 2016, rather than 10 ( as I did last year) to put in this post.

BU21 at Theatre503

Transferring to Trafalgar Studios in January 2017, after its triumph in 2016 at Theatre503, the play BU21 was the ultimate for me, a masterpiece. Stuart Slade has really created something really quite unique, soul stirring and heartbreaking, as well humourous in equal measure. Set around the aftermath of a fictious terrorist attack on six Londoners, the writing and performances were impeccable, with a dryly funny stand out performance from Alex Forsyth, who was also nominated for an Offie for Best Male. Thalissa Teixeira also shone as a greiving PR Executive.

Underexposed Old Red Lion Theatre 

I saw this evening of new writing in April and was very impressed by the theatrical works showcased. It was a real pleasure to see new works of such a high standard, varying from definitive drama to comedy, all in one production. The themes of the plays were underexposed stereotypes and these were certainly exposed brilliantly. Underexposed Theatre are a Theatre Company to keep an eye out for in 2017!

HERSTORY Festival at Theatre N16

Founded by the tour de force Nastazja Somers, the first HERSTORY Festival, that I was priveliged to attend back in August, has a big place on this list. An evening of honest theatre that transcends genre and boundaries, telling stories that need to be told, I was hooked. With an array of established and upcoming writers, it was a wonderful night of solidarity.

This Is Living Trafalgar Studios 

OK, perhaps not technically fringe, but the debut play of Liam Borrett was an absolute revelation. With it’s two leads Tamla Kari and Michael Socha playing a couple torn apart by death, I was spellbound from beginning to end. This really is a masterclasses in finding the human element in tragedy, without being over sentimental and being well, just real. Tamla Kari was just sensational, she literally broke your heart in her role.

Big Brother Blitzkreig at King’s Head Theatre

Controversial, thought provoking and laugh out loud this comedy-drama play has it all. Written and directed by Hew Rous Eyre and Max Elton, this look at the past never being too far separated with the present, has Adolf Hitler finding himself transported to Big Brother. Both Hitler and housemates are oblivious to who the other actually are. Intelligent, witty and fantastic performances, especially by Stephen Chance as Hitler.

​New Year, New You? Appreciate Who You Are 

As the end of another year approaches, the whole concept of a new year’s resolution, is something that we put upon ourselves. Especially in the Arts industry, we want to acheive so much, which is great for morale, but we can lose sight of all wethe have achieved already and who we are. This of course can be said for everyone, every year we say we will make that change, but do we? No. This really is because of self-imposed pressure, that is so unnecessary. Let’s stop, starting right now.

Here are some tips for alternative New Years resolutions, that will hopefully make you feel so much more content with yourself (and that is the main priority).

1. Look back at the last year, think of five things that you have achieved that have made you proud of yourself. Even just thinking of one, will bring a smile to your face. This will encourage you to build on this triumph in the year ahead.

2. Start thinking about what you want. What do YOU want from your life? Rather than worrying what others want from you, make sure you are getting what you want from life.

3. Enjoy the results of your years triumphs, if you got that role, then look forward to it. Work hard and revel in it, you deserve it!

4. Stop focusing on the negative, of course learn from mistakes but do not dwell. Dwelling never helps any situation.

5. Be kind. Always. This is to others as well as yourself. We are all in the Arts together and we need to support each other.

Silver Lining & Jacksons Lane: Throwback

Silver Lining & Jacksons Lane: Throwback 

Part of Jacksons Lane Spring Season

Jacksons Lane, 269a Archway Road, London N6 5AA 

Wednesday 1st – Saturday 4th February 2017

Following huge success at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe, Throwback returns to Jacksons Lane as part of the London International Mime Festival. With awe-inspiring aerial and acrobatic work, one of the UK’s most exciting young troupes teams up with West End director Paulette Randall and director Simon Pollard to tell stories that are honest, emotional and absorbing. 

With world-class hand-balancing, tension straps (a brand new circus skill invented by LJ Marles), Chinese pole, hula hooping, foot juggling and a fantastic hoop-diving sequence, the artists in Throwback balance, hang, sing, fly, catch, spin and throw their way through this fast-paced, feel- good explosion of physical skills and fun. The performers’ rapport as friends is evident from the start and the show relays honest stories about their own memories told with infectious energy.

Founding company member Thomas Ball, comments 

The main thing I’d like an audience member to come out of the show with is a feeling of happiness, of having seen something that actually made them feel good. So I look at what I can offer an audience and it’s a smile. In the uncertain times we live in maybe that is exactly what we all need. 

With #ThrowbackThursday now a weekly social media posting trend, memories are part of our zeitgeist. People love to get nostalgic about their childhood, old friends, relationships, pop culture, past trends and happy memories and this is exactly what Silver Lining love too and have harnessed here. 

…if there’s a warm heart to be found, it’s sitting right in the middle of Throwback. This gem of a show created at Jacksons Lane in London touches you in all the right places (The Scotsman).

A Christmas Carol-The Musical, At LOST Theatre

A Christmas Carol –The Musical

December 19th – 31st, 7.30pm

Press Night: December 21st 2016, 7.30pm

​Charles Dickens’ timeless classic gets the full Broadway treatment in LOST Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol – The Musical, by the Broadway team of Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid), Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime, Seussical) and Mike Ockrent (Crazy For You, Me and My Girl).

“innovative, entertaining and packed full of vibrant melodies” The Stage on A Christmas Carol – The Musical

Follow Scrooge on his journey with the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as he searches for the true meaning of Christmas in this classic transfixing journey. Suitable for all the family, this energetic and fun musical is the perfect feel good theatre show.

“It is done fluidly and — an Ockrent trademark — with considerable humor” Variety on A Christmas Carol – The Musical

This production is co-directed by Mark Magill & Martin John Bristow, and musical direction is by Randy Smartnick. Mark has worked on the London Fringe for 30 years, and during that time has run his own award winning company and worked for over twenty others in a variety of capacities. Since 1989 he has been running LOST, initially as its administrator, then from 2006 as its Artistic Director.

Martin studied at both the RSAMD in Glasgow & the Actors Studio Drama School in New York, and has worked on UK tours as company stage manager, stage manager, lighting designer and technician. Randy has directed & produced shows in London & Edinburgh, including Martin Pippin and the Apple Orchard (Edinburgh Fringe and Leicester Square Theatre), It’s A Bird…It’s A Plane…It’s Superman (Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre and Leicester Square Theatre transfer) and the award-winning Flora the Red Menace (Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre and Landor Theatre transfer).

“a wonderful performance that will fill you with jolly Christmas cheer” Everything Theatre on A Christmas Carol – The Musical

RedBellyBlack Theatre Presents A Year From Now At VAULT Festival

A Year From Now 

VAULT Festival, The Vaults, Leake Street, London SE1 7NN 
Wednesday 25th January – Sunday 29th January 2017 

Press Night: Thursday 26th January, 6.10pm 


This new production from RedBellyBlack Theatre is a fascinating combination of verbatim and physical theatre, using movement and audio narrative, that asks 14 people ‘where do you see yourself a year from now?’. 

Children, nonagenarians, new parents and trauma survivors talk to the audience about their perspective on the passing of time. Following a successful run at Tristan Bates Theatre, A Year From Now returns to the stage with new answers to some seemingly simple questions. What do you make time for? What has been the time of your life? Are you where you thought you’d be a year ago? 

From the four year-old who already knows that he is destined to be a racing car driver to the ninety-four year-old who is still driving, every story told in this show is moving, exciting, hilarious and disturbing. Follow the fears of new parents. Be blown away by the fifteen year-old who understands why bullying happens. Fall in love with the comedian who finds joy in all things, even after losing a close family member. Have your eyes opened by a young woman with a life- threatening condition who risks everything to become a mother. 

A Year From Now is about the importance and power of positivity. These raw, real-life stories encourage us to take ownership of our time and savour every minute. Five actors from various creative backgrounds guide us through these answers in a visually stunning verbatim performance.

 …we have been presented with a playful and unfetishized look into the very unexceptional world we so regularly seek to leave behind… This is Alecky Blythe stripped bare, and it is all the more refreshing for it (LondonTheatre1). 

A Year From Now was co-created by RedBellyBlack’s Artistic Director Kate Goodfellow (Winner of Best Female Performer, Brighton Fringe) and Director Vicki Baron. 

The production is in partnership with mental health charity MIND, who are changing the national perspective on mental health. RedBellyBlack will be collecting donations and promoting the incredible work of this charity.

The Understudy Will Make It’s UK Premiere At Canal Cafe Theatre

Canal Café Theatre and Russell Lucas present

The Understudy by Theresa Rebeck

Canal Café Theatre, Delamere Terrace, Little Venice, London W2 6ND

Tuesday 21st February – Saturday 11th March 2017

Press Night: Thursday 23rd February, 7pm

Originally a smash Off-Broadway hit, the UK premiere of Pulitzer Prize nominee Theresa Rebeck’s The Understudy, directed by Russell Lucas, now comes to Canal Café Theatre. For the first time, the theatre will be transformed to the round.

Staged as part of Canal Café’s American Season, The Understudy is a dazzling and humanistic look at people trying to do what they love in the face of never-ending obstacles.Full of laugh-out-loud comedy and vivacious satire, The Understudy dissects the backstage friction of a frenzied understudy rehearsal of a long lost Kafka play about to be staged on Broadway. 

Charged with running the rehearsal, Roxanne finds her professional and personal lives colliding when Harry, a jobbing actor, is cast as understudy to Jake, a mid-level action star yearning for legitimacy. As Harry and Jake find their common ground, Roxanne tries to navigate the rehearsal with a stoned lighting board operator, an omnipresent intercom system, the producers threatening to close the show and her own mixed feelings about both actors and her past. Will the show go on?

Director Russell Lucas, comments 

I am very excited for our second play in The American Season. This is not only an incredible scoop for Canal Cafe Theatre, but for the London theatre scene. This comedic love letter to the theatre is all set in an understudy rehearsal of a Broadway production. Two actors duel; the stage manager referees. 

Rebeck captures the wistful nature of the understudy’s role, waiting in the wings for a shot that will likely never come (The Mercury News).

…deliver[s] a clever indictment of contemporary theatre while making the characters’ personal circumstances ever more Kafkaesque: They are no more in control of the forces of celebrity, art, money and Broadway than they are of their own fates (The New Yorker).

The Understudy is part of Canal Café’s America: Past, Present and Future season which opened with Driving Miss Daisy in autumn 2016. The season will conclude with a brand new commissioned play

The South Afreakins, A One Woman Family Drama Coming To VAULT Festival

Impi Theatre Company presents:

February 15th – February 19th 2017, VAULT Festival

After a critically acclaimed, sell-out performance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016, Robyn Paterson’s one-woman family drama The South Afreakins transfers to the Vaults Festival in February 2017. Inspired by Paterson’s own parents’ experience of emigrating from South Africa to New Zealand, she rapidly switches between Helene and Gordon to create a very human story of loss and family. 

**** “spot-on observations & a snappy script” The Stage

Helene and Gordon are stuck. Stuck in their arm chairs, stuck in the same house and stuck in their rut. As Gordon’s work-life comes to an end, and with the murder of their son four years previously still tainting their everyday lives, Helene is determined to leave everything behind and start again in the quiet sheep-filled hills of New Zealand. Gordon’s dream is to stay right where he is – until Helene confirms that their extended holiday to New Zealand is, in fact, a permanent move to a new home. Feeling progressively more culturally isolated, will the arrival of his best friend Clive make a difference? And does our home really lie in places, or within people?

***** “Paterson takes us all on this journey with wit & emotional insight” Sunday Express

Robyn Paterson’s play examines the pragmatic decisions behind immigration, intentional displacement and the push and pull challenges of adapting into a new culture. Critically, the play unpicks what happens when the head seeks safety and security, the heart, home.
Robyn has been an award-winning actress/playwright for over 14 years in theatre, film and television in Australia, New Zealand and London. She played the lead in the London immersive theatre show The Generation of Z and Channel 4’s Anzac Girls, which premiered in 2015. 

**** “Robyn Paterson gives a tour de force performance” One4Review 

Dirty Great Love Story Is Making It’s West End Debut At Arts Theatre 

Felix Scott (The Angry Brigade, Paines Plough; The Archers, BBC Radio 4; Inception) and Ayesha Antoine (Red Velvet, Garrick Theatre; Holby City; Grange Hill) have been cast in the highly acclaimed, Fringe First Award winning Dirty Great Love Story which will be making its anticipated West End debut at the Arts Theatre from 18th January 2017.

Dirty Great Love Story combines drama and poetry in this laugh-a-minute exploration of modern romance.

 Pia Furtado, director of Dirty Great Love Story, comments,

It’s a particular privilege as a director to revisit a great script. This new production of Dirty Great Love Story is one of those moments for me. I can’t wait to get stuck into this total treat of a play with actors as loveable, skilled and funny as Felix and Ayesha! I’m thrilled that we will be bringing this heart-warming, hilarious, emotionally-messy celebration of modern romance to the West End, and in particular the intimate gem that is The Arts.

Loyalty? Everyone Wants It

In our lives and our Arts industry, we crave loyalty. Not petty, cliquey loyalty, that is so prevelant around us, but real loyalty shown towards us and our career.

Loyalty, what is it? It is knowing someone or a collection of people, respects you enough to want to give you their full support, ‘have your back’. This is not an ideal, it is something everyone wants and can be a reality, although, in contemporary society it is rare.

Here are short definitions of loyalty from individuals in all aspects of our life, we choose to have around us (excluding family members). These are of course just personal opinion, rather than gospel.

The Arts

Someone who believes in you 100 percent and what you are capable of acheiving, with your skills and goals anything is possible and they will champion you. These people know what you can be, even when you can not. To have a constructive adviser on your career is so vital.

A Partner 

Pretty much the same as the above, but also will have belief in you when they know you are wronged. Who will stand by you through the harsh times, as well as the good and make the grey skys always seem blue (that sounds like song lyrics in the making). They will hate to see you hurting and want to make the world a better place for you.

A Friend

This person will always be there for you, will listen and not judge you EVER. OK they probably do very often, but who cares? They are there for us when we need them. A friend makes you smile and laugh, they don’t expect anything in return. These are precious gems in your life, always remember that.

A Pet

In a lot if ways the most loyal of them all. Loving and affectionate, not to mention always there to listen too. Always appreciate the loyalty your pet gives you unconditionally, it is beautiful.

MUTED Opens Tonight, Plus New Production Shots!

The Bunker, 53A Southwark Street, London SE1 1RU Wednesday 7th December 2016 – Saturday 7th January 2017 

Interval Productions present new musical Muted, described by Stephen Fry as ‘stunning’ and Mark Shenton (The Stage) as the British equivalent to Rent. Written by Sarah Henley, with music and lyrics by Tim Prottey-Jones (Once, Phoenix Theatre; Kinky Boots, Adelphi Theatre; finalist on ITV’s Superstar) and Tori Allen-Martin, Muted is a story of grief, guilt, self-discovery, forgiveness and the thing we can’t do without – love.

Muted tells the story of teenager Michael Brookman, an exceptional singer whose band is on the brink of stardom. However, after the sudden death of his mother in a hit and run accident, Michael quits the band and stops speaking entirely. Three years on, Michael still hasn’t uttered a word and those around him have no idea what to do. Jake, Michael’s former band mate, is trying to hold everything together as the band’s shot at the big time comes along. But there’s a catch: the record label wants Michael back as the band’s frontman. Lauren, Michael’s ex- girlfriend who is now in a relationship with Jake, attempts to bring Michael back from the edge. In doing so, long-forgotten feelings are unearthed and uncomfortable truths force their way into the opening. Perhaps some cracks are just too big to paper over.

Muted is brought to life on stage by Tori Allen-Martin (vocalist on Idris Elba’s mi Mandela album; backing vocalist for Eliza and the Bear; Hair, European Tour), Edd Campbell Bird (Les Misérables Palace Theatre; Sweeney Todd, English National Opera; Adding Machine, Finborough Theatre), David Leopold (The Crucible, West Yorkshire Playhouse; Soho Young Playwrights Festival, Soho Theatre; Burnt Part Boys, Park Theatre), Jos Slovick (Once, Phoenix Theatre and Gaiety Theatre, London; Bad Jews, Theatre Royal Haymarket and UK Tour; Spring Awakening, Novello Theatre and Lyric Hammersmith), Helen Hobson (Sunny Afternoon, Hampstead Theatre; The Sound of Music, Regent’s Open Air Theatre; Mamma Mia, Prince of Wales Theatre and Novello Theatre) and Mark Hawkins (The Railway Children, King’s Cross Theatre; Julius Caesar, The Globe; A Midsummers Night Dream, Middle Temple Hall).

Playwright Sarah Henley comments,

 I’m incredibly excited that a full-scale production of Muted is going to be mounted at this ambitious new venue which is perfect for such a character driven, psychological piece. After four years of development I think that Muted feels incredibly raw and real. Interval Productions have always made sure our shows feel like a great night out and The Bunker is definitely keen to do the same – with the bar open before and after the show, the audience will be able to mingle with the cast and join the ever-growing Interval Productions family.

The early workshop version of the show (titled After the Turn) received a Broadway World nomination for Best Fringe or Regional Musical and a What’s on Stage nomination for Best New Musical.

Here are a few production shots to wet the new musical appetite..

Courtesy of Savannah Photographic