Dust is a bold, honest and heartbreaking one woman show about mental health, depression and the aftermath of a suicide.
Alice struggles with mental health and one day she gives up and kills herself, but she’s stuck. She’s like a fly on the wall, in-between worlds, watching the aftermath of her death and the effects it has on the people around her. We first meet her on the mortuary slab, where she examines her dead body, almost like she’s looking at someone else. We’re with her when she’s at her own funeral, when she commits suicide and when she wants to hug her parents.
There a light and funny times during the play, where Alice jokingly talks about things in her old life but the dark and more intense scenes, such as her suicide outweigh the lightheartedness. In combination with the mirrored stage by Anna Reid and the direction by Sarah Joyce, the show leaves an aftertaste of feeling lonely, vulnerable and weak.
The show itself has a millennial feel to it, not only because Alice is a typical millennial but it also focuses on issues like the addiction to smartphone and the constant urge to check social media that we all know to well.
Milly Thomas’s raw, vulnerable and more than honest performance transfixes the audience. I kept catching myself trying to hold my breath during certain scenes. The overall effect of the production is so powerful that it goes beyond thinking about it afterwards. It almost had a physical effect on me while watching it, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced when watching a show.
Dust runs at Trafalgar Studios until 13 October. Tickets are available here
The sun is out and the city is booming with people enjoying ice cold drinks. This can only mean one thing, Edinburgh Fringe is around the corner. If you find yourself in Scotland’s theatre city, these five shows could be perfect for you:
3 Years, 1 Week and a Lemon Drizzle examines the relationship between two sisters and how their close bond was affected when one of them was diagnosed with a severe eating disorder as a teenager. Recalling touching memories, laugh-out-loud anecdotes and Mars bars, this searingly frank and painfully funny two-hander examines what it’s like to live with a loved one and their mental illness. 3 Years, 1 Week and a Lemon Drizzle seeks to show the powerful bond that endures throughout mental illness and reinforces the enduring message – you are not alone. Underbelly McEwan Hall (Jersey) from 1st August at 14:25 (not 13th).
Welcome to the stimulating world of Feed where emotions are the currency and your passions and fantasies will be indulged… for a price. After the sell-out successes of The Marked and The Fantasist, Theatre Témoin return, bringing their vibrant visual style to the world of click-bait culture, fake news and cyber gluttony. Using the incisive and gleeful spirit of bouffon, Theatre Témoin explore the dark absurdity of today’s media landscape and what capitalism has turned it into. Aided by Mentoring Dramaturg Chris Thorpe, Feed looks at how algorithms and capitalism are shaping the information we receive and consume online and how this information is, in turn, shaping us. Pleasance Dome (King Dome) from 3rd August at 14:00 (not 15th).
Written and performed by Kate Kennedy (BBC One’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Channel 4’s Catastrophe and The Win Bin), produced by Edinburgh Fringe favourites DugOut Theatre (Replay, Swansong, The Sunset Five and Inheritance Blues) and directed by Old Vic 12’s Sara Joyce (Dust, Edinburgh Fringe and Soho Theatre; Hedda Gabler, The Bunker and The Scar Test, Soho Theatre), Hunch is a dark new comedy about a superhero and her power to make gut decisions. After using this power to save the lives of others, she starts calling the shots to save her own life. This funny and heartfelt piece celebrates the individual and restores one’s faith in oneself while teaching us that, more often than not, our own gut feeling is right. Assembly Roxy (Downstairs) from 1st August at 17:05 (not 13th).
Tamar Broadbent: Best Life
Award-winning songwriter Tamar Broadbent is back and this time she’s asking – how do you know if you’re living your best life? If you’re not, how do you go about changing it? This exciting musical comedy about ambition, anxiety and avocados promises to be her best show yet. Developed by Tamar and Sara Joyce, Best Lifebrings together mesmerising musical theatre, beautifully written songs and highly relatable observational comedy for which Broadbent’s dedicated Edinburgh audiences love her. Tamar is best known for her funny, catchy songs about single life in your twenties which she has toured around the UK and internationally. Underbelly Cowgate (Belly Laugh) from 2nd August at 14:20 (not 13th).
The exciting world premiere of The Journey, written and directed by critically acclaimed stand-up comedian Stuart Laws comes to Pleasance this summer. Co-directed by Phoebe Ladenburg and starring Will Brown and Phoebe Sparrow, The Journey is a romantic comedy about a breakup, set on a spaceship. A play about self-obsession and toxic relationships, The Journey is a funny, relatable and surprising comedy following two people on the unstoppable journey of their relationship. Pleasance Dome (Ten) from Wednesday 1st August at 17.40 (not 3rd).
Tickets for any Edinburgh Fringe show are available here.
Inside Pussy Riot is a powerful and relevant immersive production that needs to be experienced.
In all honesty, I was very nervous before going into the play. Having previously read about Pussy Riot and Nadya Tolokonnikova, I couldn’t imagine how this would be turned into an immersive production.
Naturally, when being led into the first room, I was nervous. Surprisingly, Inside Pussy Riot starts out light and funny, when the audience are led into a room and an ‘incapable’ tour guide welcomes everyone. This was great as this made all of us feel more relaxed and it was a nice ice breaker to the experience.
Then we are led into a cathedral and encouraged to take part in a short protest, to show what we believe in. We get caught and arrested, interrogated and sentenced to labour camp and experience things similar (but toned down) to what Nadya went through during her time in the penal colony.
However, having been to other Les Enfants Terribles productions, this one slightly dissapoints. Some things feel a bit forced and not as natural as in previous productions. There are also parts that slow down the story-telling.
Nonetheless, Inside Pussy Riot feels contemporary and right at the time, hinting at a Trump-led America and the Weinstein scandal that led to the uncovering of countless of other sexual abuse cases in the entertainment industry. It sets up the audience with just the right amount of anger before we are encouraged to vocalise our beliefs.
Another great thing is that it feels like a very millennial way of showing people social issues around the world. Instead of reading or hearing about those issues, we get to experience it, which has a much deeper impact. We walk away finding ourselves thinking: Would I stand up for my beliefs? How would I react in the same situation? Would I be brave enough to stand up for myself and for others?
It seems as though the intention was to raise awareness of oppression, the judicial system and injustice, what happened to Nadya and other members of Pussy Riot and how quickly basic human rights can be taken away from you. As well as adding that typical Les Enfants touch of quirkiness to it, this was completely achieved.
Inside Pussy riot is an immersive production that needs to be experienced. It raises attention to important issues and shocks the audience, so be prepared!
Sally Cookson directs Stick Man and enchants kids with delightful music, creativity and playful characters.
The best-selling adaptation by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler returns to the Leicester Square Theatre for the festive season.
When Stick Man accidently gets pushed into a misadventure and taken away from his family, he sets out on a long journey back to find his tree and family again. On the way he encounters people and animals that often confuse him with an ordinary stick and he gets lost even more. Will he ever find his way back home?
Children’s laughter echoes through the theatre ignited through the shows comedic value, that even leaves adults chuckling in their seats. The whimsical stage design thrills and engages everyone in the audience, keeping children captivated throughout the performance.
Sam Heron embodies Stick Man and gives the character a voice that young audiences can interact with, while Lara Cowin plays his wife and other endearing characters. Everything that happens to Stick Man, Cowin conveys with charm and comedy.
Alex Tosh (Musician) emphasises and compliments what’s happening in the play, with sounds and music. Many things are purely conveyed through music and choreography which sparks imagination and creativity in kids and adults alike.
The show is an hour long which is the perfect amount to keep the children entertained without them becoming bored of sitting still. Every time the young ones engage in the play, many of their faces light up with excitement. It also breaks up the show, so they [the kids] don’t get restless.
This Christmas production fires up children’s imagination with props and loavable characters. A perfect family show to see during the festive season.
Jane Upton’s ever so important and powerful play is heart-breaking, thought-provoking and cannot be missed.
In the midst of rubbish, wrappers, empty bottles and fallen autumn leaves just off the railway tracks, three young girls are celebrating a birthday. Joanne and Lisa reunite, while Amy wants to belong. Lisa got out, but now she’s back and their past is haunting her. Where alcohol abuse is celebrated, a life threatening game where entertainment and violence is normal. In a society where the forgotten just want to belong and predators lurk around the corner. When does the victim become the villain?
The play makes several important points. No one cares about children without a family, how easy it is to turn villain after being the victim and the horrendous, long-lasting effects of sexual abuse.
In times where you can’t flick on the news without men getting away with saying things like “grab them by the pussy” and making it seem normal, and Harvey Weinstein who uses his powerful position to sexually assault women, this play needs to be seen. It needs to be seen now.
People need to be made to feel uncomfortable, their hearts need to break for the girls and what they’ve had to go through.
All three leading ladies, Esther-Grace Button, Sarah Hoare and Tessie Orange-Turner are remarkable. It cannot be easy to convey three forgotten and vulnerable teenage girls, who all have had horrible things happen to them, but Button, Hoare and Orange-Turner take the audience on a dark journey through unimaginable experiences.
Jane Upton’s script, directed by Laura Ford is simple, touching and shocking that will have the audience holding their breaths.
While his village is flooding, Adam feels like he’s drowning with it. His mother has just died and all his friends have moved away, closer to the capitol. Everyone is moving on with their new lives, millennials leaving the village in search for a better future. Adam feels abandoned by his friends and sister. When his friends return to the village for the funeral, secrets are uncovered.
Playwright Tom Hartwell creates a wonderfully slick and heartfelt play that flows from scene to scene with characters that feel natural. The comedy drama deals with millennial themes such as how our culture is dominated by viral videos, occupied by the constant use of social media and how it’s made us lazy when it comes to social interactions. As well as all this, the play also touches on how millennials deal with loss and bereavement.
We find ourselves sending condolence messages and birthday wishes over social media which have just as much meaning as poking someone on Facebook. Hartwell seems to be able to tell relatable stories about different aspects and hurdles of millennials’ lives and finds the right tempo and tone with ease, by creating characters that are relatable and real.
Adam (Jon Tozzi) and Michael (Nathan Coenen) compliment each other well and have a fun character dynamic. Jess (Emily Céline Thomson) brings a slightly more mature note to the play with her relationship with Michael that is moving forward and developing through the play. Overall, the chemistry between the actorsaids the brilliant direction by Georgie Straight.
From the set that looks like floating furniture in a flooded basement, to the swift and creative scene changes, everything in this play works together perfectly and turns this debut production into a must-see for Paper Creatures Theatre.
Enda Walsh’s Disco Pigs comes to London for its 20th anniversary and brings a punch of energy and youthfulness.
John Haidar directs this upbeat, whirlwind of a story that follows Pig (Colin Campbell) and Runt (Evanna Lynch), who are born on the same day, at the same time. They’ve been inseparable ever since, dancing and drinking. They’ve created a world just for the two of them, in which they speak their own language, slang and only follow their own rules. Their friendship almost has a Bonnie and Clyde-esque feel to it, it’s them against the rest of the world, or at least their hometown of Cork. On their 17th birthday however, something changes. They find themselves growing apart.
The production manages to take the audience on the lively and adventurous journey with Pig and Runt through their life in Cork, their own little world with humorous stories and their hopes for the future.
Evanna Lynch, who is best known for her role as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter series, gives such a strong performance as Runt. She shows versatility and skill, switching to other characters in a heartbeat. A shimmer of dreaminess shines through when Runt is dreaming of a different life, away from her home and even her best friend Pig.
Colin Campbell is excellent as the youthful, quite intense Pig. His range of emotion keeps the audience on their toes and surprises them when he shows his true feelings for Runt, something other than just the friendship they clearly have.
Many things are left to the audience’s imagination. The movements created within the play, with thanks to Naomi Said, plays a big part of the production as it creates the space for the audience to use their own imagination. Wonderfully executed, the lighting is magnificent (Elliot Griggs) and transports the viewer into a 90s disco, with (almost) magical lighting effects.
Disco Pigs runs at Trafalgar Studios until 19 August.
It seems fitting that I meet the founders of the new theatre company Paper Creatures at the National Theatre.
It’s only morning but the National Theatre is already buzzing with people, guided tours, tourists and people who are desperately trying to get tickets to Angels in America. We find a quiet and cool space on a warm, sunny day and start talking about Flood, the debut production by Paper Creatures.
The themes were important, we wanted to look at grief within the millennial generation, humour and heart.
Flood is a new comedy drama by playwright Tom Hartwell, about Adam who is “forced to confront his future when those closest to him return after the death of his Mum. Upon their arrival, repressed truths and unsettling secrets are revealed. Flood is a complex and humane portrayal of a group of friends struggling to define themselves beyond the confines of their small town.”
Starting rehearsal on 17 July, the two talk about the first read through of the script.
The first read through was really special. It was so relatble, he [Tom Hartwell] managed to take an ancient idea of a village flooding and put it in such a modern light of 20 year olds, dealing with home and identity. We were fascinated with the idea, why is it that people want to leave their homes.
Jon and Nathan met when they were both working in an all-male Shakespeare troupe and travelled around the UK and Europe doing open air Shakespeare. “We became quite close on tour, got chatting and when we finished the tour we wanted to do something different after spending five months doing Shakespeare. We thought why don’t we put on a play?”
After seeing a lot of theatre once returned from their tour, they noticed that millennials need a “realistic and honest voice for our generation, the millennial generation, we sometimes felt we were painted a bit one dimensional.”
Also passionate about new plays, they decided to set up a theatre company.
The name paper creatures came from the paper representing the script, where it starts, the blank piece of paper. And then the creatures being the characters that come from that. We are the creatures that make the story and the theatre is the place where we perform, it’s the place where we can tell those stories.
Wanting to create a voice for not only this generation, Jon and Nathan also hope that in the future people will look back on these plays that are new writing now, but could be a potential classic in the future.
Talking about the importance of new writing, Paper Creatures explains why they’re happy to be part of London’s theatre community. “There is so much opportunity for fringe theatre, there are so many lovely pub theatres in London and around the UK. It’s thriving at the moment. It’s almost like a revolution, all these new playwrights emerging, coming out of every place you can imagine and then they get transferred to the West End.”
There is such a dynamic community of new writing on the fringe circuit in London that is dominated by the millennial generation in a very positive way and it’s so vibrant, so helpful and so supportive. It’s a really great community to be part of.
By setting up Paper Creatures, the actors want to create a “platform for young new writers, young creators from all different fields, lighting designers, sound designers, to come together and create stories which are simple, bold and compelling.”
Our long term goal is to create a really creative environment to tell these stories with our generation contributing to them, for our generation.
Flood runs as part of the Camden Fringe 2017 at the Tristan Bate Theatre from 31 July until 5 August. You can get tickets here.
An intense and brave tale of evil, the death penalty and the human inside a monster.
The play based on the novel by Rene Denfeld looks at the person behind a murderer and the death penalty. Waiting for your death on death row is lonely. Arden is mute and as he waits for his day, he listens and watches an investigator trying to save some of the prisoners from their deaths. While doing so, she uncovers the sad and disturbing past of some of the ‘monsters’ in the maximum security prison.
The choreography by movement director Emily Orme, conveys a sense of helplessness and sadness that carries throughout the whole play, with an eerie undertone through the music.
The stage and background are completely white and chalk is used to draw on it. However sometimes it doesn’t have enough of an impact as the light blue colour of the chalk gets lost easily.
The use of puppetry shows a certain vulnerability each of the characters have, it’s done so delicate and creatively it adds to the aesthetics of the show. However, the puppets are always used during narration, therefore they have to compete for the audiences’ attention with the actor on stage and it looses its impact slightly. It would’ve worked better if they had been on stage by itself.
Corey Montague-Sholay who plays the narrator and Arden, a silent killer is captivating. He captured the essence of his character and the play so well, it’s beguiling and so compelling that it would probably work with just him telling the story of all the other characters.
Devastated fans explain what happened when their favourite show left the West End for good.
“I’m missing a huge part of my life. I used to have somewhere to go to, knowing it would make me happy and feel good, I don’t anymore,” said Jessica Gray, 26.
Whether you’re a musical or play lover, London’s West End offers a wide range of shows: from the emotional Les Misèrables, to a juke box musical like Jersey Boys and Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap, the longest running show in London, there’s something to satisfy everyone’s tastes.
Every show accumulates a fan base with the musical becoming part of their life, developing friendships with supporters as well as cast members, following the show to other events and creating social media fan accounts becomes a normality. So, what happens when a show closes?
Sunny Afternoon has grazed the West End for the two rock ‘n’ roll filled years. Not only has it accumulated a huge fan base, it has also won four Olivier Awards and has been praised by many stars, Mark Hamill being one of them.
In August 2016, the hit show on the rise and stardom of iconic English band The Kinks embarked on their first UK Tour, with the West End cast doing their last performance on October 29th 2016.
Below, three very dedicated followers shared their experiences.
Deborah,28, undoubtedly set the record for seeing the most shows within the Sunny Afternoon fan base, hitting the mark at 279 times.
How involved were you with Sunny Afternoon?
Deborah Gilpin: I ended up seeing 279 shows, although I’d have liked to reach the 300 mark.
Throughout her visits, Debbie quickly became friends with other regular audience members, together they started a Twitter fan account. “We just wanted to bring people together initially, then this year we’ve tried our best to promote the second cast as they seemed to be getting less attention, which led to the Cast Member & Understudy of the Month awards,” said Debbie.
How are you coping with the show leaving the West End?
I had no idea how to cope with it at the beginning, my plan was to make the most of it being there, enjoying every minute of it and waiting to see how everything went afterwards. Luckily I have my theatre reviewing keeping me busy. I’m waiting for more of the actors (from both casts) to get new jobs or announce gigs, I’m going to follow them on their new projects. Plus I’m excited to see what the tour is like, I’m planning to see it once it reaches a venue closer to me.
Ksenia,30, travelled to London from Russia a lot, seeing the show 122 times: “Being a Kinks fan, I’d been following the development of the show since its first workshop in December 2012.”
“I fell in love with Sunny Afternoon and there was no turning back. I’m also co-running the fan page with Debbie and Jess”.
How you’re feeling now and how you’re trying to cope with its ending, do you have a special plan for that?
Ksenia Nemchinova: I’ve never been this attached to a show before so it’s not easy to process and to cope. Sunny Afternoon may not be in London anymore, but I’ve seen the touring production several times and I have grown to love them dearly, so it’s definitely not the end for me, the tour will keep me going for another few months.
And after that, who knows? The show may be back in London again, maybe if we all wish really hard…
Jessica has been following the show since its very beginning: “I first saw Sunny Afternoon at the beginning of October 2014.
“I had been invited to review the show for my blog, and became a fan immediately.”
“I started a fan page first on Twitter and then on Facebook and eventually I made arrangements with the show’s marketing company for an official Sunny Afternoon Challenge Week to happen.”
“During it, we would attend every show over a week and blog about it daily, with a new challenge being assigned to us every day.”
What are your plans now?
Jessica Gray: I’m actually leaving London – not exactly because of the show closing, but I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t make my decision a lot easier. I’d like to see the tour again, however following it around the country isn’t an option for me. I’d mostly like to see what actors from the West End production do in the future in terms of new shows.
The world doesn’t end when a show ends. There are different ways to cope with it, whether that is concentrating on other shows, supporting the cast members in new projects or trying to stay away. Even when the show has ended, you’ll always have the memories. Not to forget the cast recording.