The finalists of The Offies 2021

The finalists for the 2021 Offies (for productions in 2020) have been announced and congratulations to the 47 finalists across 16 of the 28 Offies categories. The winners will be announced at the Offies Awards Ceremony, being held online on 21 February 2021.

The following categories are not going forward for 2021 awards as there were insufficient nominations due to theatre closures arising from Covid-19 lockdowns:

  • Design: Costume
  • Design: Video
  • Choreography
  • Company Ensemble
  • Musicals: New Musical
  • Opera
  • Panto
  • Plays: Most Promising New Playwright
  • Plays: Production
  • Theatre for Young People: Production (0-7)
  • Theatre for Young People: Production (13+)
  • Theatre for Young People: Production (8+)

Continue reading “The finalists of The Offies 2021”

Review: Circa, Old Red Lion Theatre

Tom Ratcliffe’s Circa feels just too fragmentary and ephemeral at the Old Red Lion Theatre to really convince

“Most people get to be happy with one person. I don’t see why I should have it any different”

I was a big fan of Tom Ratcliffe’s VELVET at the VAULT Festival and so was intrigued to catch this production of his debut play Circa at the Old Red Lion Theatre. But where VELVET taps right into contemporary culture with its gay perspective on the #MeToo era, Circa feels curiously dated.

The play follows the amorous adventures of a gay man at different stages in his life, ostensibly tracking the way in which gay relationships have developed over the decades. It’s a nifty conceit but one which struggles to come to full fruition here, one man’s shags over 30 years not necessarily equating to the evolution of modern gay life. Continue reading “Review: Circa, Old Red Lion Theatre”

The finalists of The Offies 2019

Some decisions that reflect my own nominations for the year, many others for plays I haven’t seen and as ever, some curious choices too.

DESIGN
COSTUME DESIGN
Gabriella Slade for Six at the Arts Theatre
Jonathan Lipman for Harold & Maude at the Charing Cross Theatre
Pam Tait for Rothschild & Sons at the Park Theatre

SET DESIGN
Bethany Wells for Distance at the Park Theatre
Francis O’Connor for Harold & Maude at the Charing Cross Theatre
Simon Daw for Humble Boy at the Orange Tree Theatre Continue reading “The finalists of The Offies 2019”

Review: On Your Head Be It, London Horror Festival at Old Red Lion

My first foray into the London Horror Festival sees me take in On Your Head Be It at the Old Red Lion Theatre

“Do you want to be caught by the police?”

There’s nothing quite like being smacked around the head by the brilliance of a theatre company and that was my experience the first time I saw Out of the Forest Theatre with their striking take on the story of Lizzie Borden – Bury the Hatchet. So of course I was delighted to find their newest show popping up as part of the London Horror Festival at the Old Red Lion.

Written by and starring Joseph Cullen and Sasha Wilson, On Your Head Be It – A Cautionary Tale is the story of a couple trying to enjoy a bit of holiday in deepest Wales, a break from the old routine. After a rocky journey there and a few bottles of sauvignon blanc have been downed, it soon becomes clear to what extent Stuart and Eleanor are no ordinary couple though. Continue reading “Review: On Your Head Be It, London Horror Festival at Old Red Lion”

Review: Hear Me Howl, Old Red Lion

One woman, her drums and a whole lotta rage against the patriarchy, Hear Me Howl is a defiant roar at the Old Red Lion Theatre

“Drum-roll please…”

Jess is pretty sure she’s a grown-up. She can make a granary loaf from scratch; she’s got a steady job (even if she’s forgotten to order the paper clips); hell, she’s even got an ISA. It might only have fifty quid in it but baby steps… She’s also booked in for her first smear test but when the results come up with something unexpected, she decides that she’s in a rut she wants to get out of.

Only problem is, everyone has a lot to say about that. Lydia Rynne’s solo play Hear Me Howl is about a woman’s right to choose. About if and when to become a mother, if and when to adhere to societal conventions, if and when it is ever right to get lost in the noise of a drum solo… And performed with uncompromising directness by Alice Pitt-Carter, it demands that you listen. Continue reading “Review: Hear Me Howl, Old Red Lion”

Review: I Am Of Ireland, Old Red Lion

I Am Of Ireland proves a knotty and thought-provoking look at Irish society at the Old Red Lion theatre pub in London

“A hundred thousand welcomes”

The ambition behind Seamus Finnegan’s I Am Of Ireland is awesome in its scope, as it tackles the last century of modern Irish history in all its myriad complexities. And the intent that lies behind it is equally laudable, as Finnegan delves deep into the national psyche to analyse what deep-seated religious and political partisanship means for society in a contemporary Ireland.

With the Troubles under the microscope, Finnegan provides us with a dizzying kaleidoscope of stories – some inter-connected, some not, but all touching on the way some kind of conflict has impacted on life. Nationalism curdled into racism, faith challenged by abuse, the legacy of a life governed by terrorism moving forward into a future that seemingly only wants forgiveness.  Continue reading “Review: I Am Of Ireland, Old Red Lion”

Review: Plastic, Old Red Lion

A brutal and bleak look at teenage dreams and experiences – Kenneth Emson’s Plastic is playing at the Old Red Lion before a short run at the Mercury in Colchester

“Think Columbine, think Sandy Hook, think Virginia Tech…”

Deeply poetic, densely constructed and deftly performed, Kenneth Emson’s Plastic finds itself in the unfortunate position of being considered timely. In its depiction of the way violence insinuates itself into society through schoolhood trauma, and disproportionately affects teenagers, it has a horrible currency reflected in the rising crime rates that Amber Rudd apparently knows so little about.

Set in Emson’s native Essex, at a secondary school where old friendships have been recalibrated along new tribal lines, Plastic examines not just the faultlines that emerge from being bullied, but the hopelessness that accompanies the thought that being the popular kid might just be as good as life will ever get. Brutal and bleak, it is uncompromising about how desperate life can get for those feel left behind. Continue reading “Review: Plastic, Old Red Lion”

Review: Under The Skin / Is This Thing On?, Old Red Lion

Under The Skin and Is This Thing On? make for a feminist double-bill worthy of your time at London’s Old Red Lion Theatre

“I liked it…until I didn’t like it”

As Women’s History Month draws to a close, the folks at the Old Red Lion are putting on a double-bill featuring up-and-coming female theatre-makers – Tik-sho-ret Theatre Company’s Under The Skin and Frigg Theatre’s Is This Thing On?. As they’re both relatively short, it’d be rude not to take ’em both in.

In the wrong hands, a story such as Under The Skin could be incendiary – a love story between a Nazi officer and a Jewish prisoner, and a lesbian romance at that. But Yonatan Calderon’s play has its basis in extraordinary truth and directed here by Ariella Eshed, it has a lot to say to about the complexity of human nature and how identity can be too easily pigeon-holed. Continue reading “Review: Under The Skin / Is This Thing On?, Old Red Lion”

Review: The Moor, Old Red Lion

“It’s rained all week and the peat has risen”

The Old Red Lion may not look like the most flexible of spaces, especially since the seating is not, but it seems to inspire designers to come up with most inventive work. And Holly Pigott is no exception as she evokes the dark and brooding mystery of an unforgiving moorland, enhanced by the striking lighting design from Jamie Platt.

And it provides an ideal setting for the psychological thriller that is Catherine Lucie’s The Moor. Bronagh has lived there for most of her life but is far from immune from the strangeness that the landscape inspires. Trapped in a fug of post-natal depression, grief from the death of her mother and the torment of an abusive relationship, she’s beginning question what is real.

Continue reading “Review: The Moor, Old Red Lion”