Br’er Cotton – Theatre 503, until 31st March
Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm’s play follows a 14-year-old boy in Lynchburg, Virginia, struggling to grow up in a world where black men are in constant danger. Sally Hales’s review wrote that “for straight-up heart, ambition and brilliance Br’er Cotton can’t be faulted, and could seriously set a far bigger stage than Theatre503’s alight.”
Trap Street – New Diorama, until 31st March
Charting the complex, contested territory of social housing in London, devised theatre company Kandinsky’s show Trap Street leaps through time to explore both the grand ideals and the lived realities of a fictional estate. Brendan MacDonald’s Exeunt review called it “ferociously intelligent, poignant, and as intricate as the labyrinthine passages of the Austen Estate”.
Humble Boy – Orange Tree Theatre, until 14th April
Step onto the blooming, beautiful set of Humble Boy and for a brief moment, it feels like spring has actually sprung. It’s a reimagined Hamlet that’s full of closely observed, very English humour and and intriguing facts about bees. Amy Borsuk’s review praised it for “transforming melodrama into a more interesting balance of sarcasm, vulnerability and situational humour. The play even follows the classic Chekhovian dramatic rule to comedic effect: if a honey pot of your father’s ashes is introduced as a precious, delicate object in the first act, it will certainly be endangered in some fashion in the third.”
Buggy Baby – Yard Theatre, until 31st March
Reviews for this one have been interestingly mixed – for everyone who thinks Ned Bennett’s pulse-racing, nerf gun-firing, haunted rabbit-infested production is the Best Thing Ever, there’s someone else who’s baffled by the text underneath, and the obscurity of its approach to these two refugees’ story. Miriam Gillinson’s review concluded that “there is something about Buggy Baby that refuses to let me off the hook – something meaningful and perhaps something warm, despite the wilful levels of obfuscation and aggression, layered into this deeply unsettling show.” And like everything at The Yard, it looks and sounds incredible.
YAYAYA AYAYAY – Southbank Centre, 20th-23rd March
The name of Ultimate Dancer’s solo show is extremely fun to both say and write – and the story behind it is fascinating, too. Read Diana Damian’s Exeunt interview for more info on Louise Ahl’s exploration of darkness, healing rituals, and transcendental experience.
Fanny & Alexander – Old Vic Theatre, until 14th April
There are still plenty of tickets to be had for this sumptuous, sprawling stage adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s film – and at surprisingly manageable prices (many are in the £8.50-£21 bracket). Visually stunning, it follows the Ekdahl family on a surreal trajectory from luxury, to puritanism, to “a fairy-tale setting where endless newly-born puppets hang from the ceiling, menacing and magical” – Exeunt’s reviewer Rosemary Waugh was suitably enchanted.
The Comet – Print Room, 20th-24th March
It’s disappointingly rare for companies from Europe to come to UK theatres (the Barbican excepted) so this production is a welcome chance to see the work of Polish directors Teresa and Andrzej Welminski. The Comet is an absurdist, vaudeville-style exploration of the mayhem that unfolds when a town is threatened with destruction, inspired by Bruno Schulz’s classic novel.
Brighton Rock – Hull Truck, 20th-24th March, Cheltenham Everyman, 27th-31st March, Birmingham Rep, 10th-14th April (then on to Winchester, Watford, Northern Stage, Theatre Clywd, Derby Theatre, Lowry Salford)
As the cumbersome heading above suggests, Bryony Lavery’s new version of Brighton Rock is going on a fairly epic national tour – full details here. It’s a well-deserved victory lap for a show that’s shot through with “all-pervading menace” – Exeunt review here.
The Party Somewhere Else – Nottingham Playhouse, 20th – 24th March
Conversations around gender discrimination in theatre don’t always lead to concrete action, so it’s exciting to see a 12-strong, all-female collective of artists take over Nottingham Playhouse with a bustling line-up of shows. Read Emily Holyoake’s Exeunt feature for more on the festival, then go and join the arty party.
The Cherry Orchard – Bristol Old Vic, until 7th April
Michael Boyd’s reimagining of Chekhov’s play “successfully marries the atmosphere of privilege to race as well as class”, wrote Exeunt’s reviewer Lilith Wozniak, in a welcome exploration of the intricacies of prejudice.
Richard III Redux – Theatre Clwyd, until 21st March (then on to Milford Haven and Cardigan)
There’s rightly been discussion around whether actors should ‘crip up’ to play Shakespeare’s most famous (potentially) disabled role – Kaite O’Reilly explored the issue in a piece for Exeunt last month. Setting Richard III Redux in content, she explained that the work is “a response to Richard’s portrayal both in Shakespeare’s text and through the actors who have embodied him, viewed through a lens which is female, disabled, and predominantly Welsh.”
Strike a Light Festival – Gloucester, 21st-27th March
Oh, what a lovely line-up – 2018’s Strike a Light Festival includes Exeunt favourites Joan (read our review here) and The Hiccup Project’s May-We-Go-Round. Full details of the festival here.