PREVIEW: Camden Fringe – Theatre

The Camden Fringe has been playing for a week with plenty of theatre, comedy and more popping up all over the borough. You can find out more about the festival here, and catch up on the comedy highlights here, but below is a run-down of some of the theatre programme continuing throughout August:

Sonder – The Cockpit | 6-8 August

This piece of physical theatre focuses on the concept of ‘sonder’ – the realisation that each stranger and passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. Centrality theatre company are presenting the piece in conjunction with Birmingham charity St Basil’s to raise awareness of homelessness in Britain. Performers Grace Bussey and Rosanna Stanton told me “it’s about opening your mind to the people around you on the street. You can see the same people everyday and you never talk to them and don’t register what’s going on with them.” It’s a striking concept to bring to London, notoriously the city where no-one speaks to each other on the tube, and it will be interesting to see how the show link this idea with the aim raising awareness for the homeless.  The company is made up of recent graduates from the Birmingham School of Acting, and Sonder is their debut production. Catch them at The Cockpit tomorrow night for their final show. More information here.

Garden of Eden – Hen and Chickens | 8-9 August

Garden of Eden - Hen and ChickensThis contemporary adaptation of the Adam and Eve story is all centred on power struggles within a relationship and had a rehearsed reading at the Rag Factory a couple of years ago. Read More »

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PREVIEW: Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents… Mayday

I reviewed Whoop ‘n’ Wail’s inaugural ‘Represents…’ showcase back in November 2014, in which the variety of works all had to pass the Bechdel Test. The series of showcases has continued, and for this new Mayday production, the rules are the same: each short play must include at least two named female characters who, at some stage, talk to each other about something other than a man.

Represents MaydayFounders Ali Kemp and Deborah Klayman will once again include one of their own works in the show, as their piece of new writing Madjesty will round off the evening. Other writers in the showcase include Lizzie Bourne, who starred in Three Women in a Music Box in the launch of ‘Represents…’ in November, and Sarah Davies, whose short work Dust  was for me a highlight of the first showcase. While the Bechdel Test is associated with feminist theatre, Kemp and Klayman highlight the importance of both genders in equality in theatre, with both male and female writers, who are paired with directors (again, a mix of genders) to première their works on a UK stage.Read More »

Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown, Playhouse Theatre

booking until 9 May

This isn’t going to be a review in the traditional sense, not only because I attended a preview of the show a week before press night (something I’d usually flag up clearly anyway), but because the cast of Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown were three men (or women) down at this particular performance due to illness. Cue a cancelled show the previous night, and three presumably terrified understudies taking on principle roles with, we were told, not much preparation. Director Bartlett Sher came on stage to speak to the audience pre-show – a first for me – to explain the situation and ask the audience for their support in what must have been a tough week for everyone involved.Read More »

PREVIEW: Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents… The Launch

Alison Bechdel's original cartoon showing the rules of the test.
Alison Bechdel’s original cartoon showing the rules of the test.

In November 2013 it was widely reported that some Swedish cinemas had introduced a rating system based on the Bechdel test: to gain an A rating, a film must contain two female characters who engage in a conversation that is not about a man. Few would dispute that the representation of women in film is not currently equal to that of men – it’s interesting to read that huge movies such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part IIAvatar, and, incredibly, all 10 hours of the Lord of the Rings trilogy fail spectacularly; yet it’s also open to criticism, with possible suggestions that it oversimplifies the situation or becomes too reductive to effectively address gender equality. Particularly startling is how long the idea has been around: it was first devised by Alison Bechdel  in the 1980s but certainly strikes a chord today. Wherever you sit in the debate, it’s a fascinating test that provokes important discussion.Read More »