MONDAY 6 JUNE 2022 THISWEEKCULTURE.COM
ANASTASIA BUNCE: BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS
I was very interested when I heard about 'Blood On Your Hands', a new play by Grace Joy Howarth that has a short run at The Cockpit Theatre this week.

Set in an abattoir, it's a piece that focuses on the lives of those working in slaughterhouses, their backgrounds, and how their work affects their day to day existence. It's an interesting topic and one which seems rarely to be spoken about. 

To find out more about the work, and about Patch Plays, the producing company behind it, I spoke to director Anastasia Bunce. 

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

'Blood On Your Hands' is on at the Cockpit Theatre from 9-10 Jun. See the venue website here for more info and to book your tickets.



CATH MATTOS: WANDSWORTH ARTS FRINGE
It's that time of year when I start to get all caught up in looking forward to - and planning coverage of - the Edinburgh Fringe. Thankfully, however, not so caught up that I don't notice the summer festivals going on elsewhere - and in particular in London. Because this month there's a rather special one. 

Wandsworth Arts Fringe kicks off this weekend, offering a wide range of cultural events of myriad genres, with shows taking place in venues and open spaces across the borough, as well as online. 

The pandemic had a marked impact on how the festival ran the last couple of years. I was eager to find out how the team behind it negotiated that period, and - of course - what we can expect this year now that COVID-related restrictions have eased.

So I arranged a chat with Wandsworth Fringe producer Cath Mattos.  

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

Wandsworth Arts Fringe runs from 10-26 Jun in various locations in the borough of Wandsworth as well as online. For more information and full event listings see the festival website here.
HENRY MAYNARD: THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH
You'll often hear us talk about our "TW favourites", acts and companies we've often first met, and experienced the work of, at the Edinburgh Fringe.

And the company we are focusing on in this particular feature - Flabbergast Theatre - are very much in that stable, having impressed us year after year with their acclaimed shows, to the point that we made the very easy decision to give them one of our ThreeWeeks Editors' Awards. 

There's been a bit of a pandemic-induced gap in their edfringe productivity, so it was great to hear that they'll be heading back up to the Scottish capital this August with their latest show, a typically interesting staging of 'The Tragedy Of Macbeth'. 

We are always keen to catch up with our TW Award winners, and I wanted to hear about the new show, and the company in general. So I spoke to Artistic Director Henry Maynard to find out more. 

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

Flabbergast Theatre perform 'The Tragedy Of Macbeth' at Assembly Roxy from 4-29 Aug. See the edfringe listing for info and tickets here.
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Shows to see in person in London - including performances from people and companies we first discovered at the Edinburgh Festival.


THREE FUNNY SHOWS>>

Notflix | Greenwich Theatre | 11 Jun
I think perhaps we started with funny things last week and I am going to do the same this week, because a little repetition when it comes to comedy can be a good thing. There's more repetition with regard to this particular tip, also, because it's not the first time we have tipped 'Notflix'. We've done it quite a few times, in fact, and with frankly no regrets because this troupe are brilliant. I'm hoping that you've already heard of them (that would prove that you read these here tips with due care and attention) but if you haven't, they are an all-female group of performers who improvise musical versions of your favourite films. For more info and to book, head to the venue website here.

Bad Clowns: Invasion | New Wimbledon Theatre | 10 Jun (pictured)
"For many years the Bureau For Alien Defence has kept the world safe from extra-terrestrial threats. Now a mind-controlling alien has infiltrated Earth. And worst of all, it's taken over one of the audience members. Can our intrepid special agents locate and neutralise this alien before it's too late?" TW favourites Bad Clowns head to New Wimbledon Theatre for just one night only, sadly, but still, an excellent opportunity for those close enough to enjoy the amusing fruits of their labour. Their work was once described by one of our reviewers as "delectable silliness", which is the kind of endorsement that sends me straight to the 'book ticket' button. Book yours here.

TwoFace | King's Head Theatre | 12-13 Jun
And over now to King's Head Theatre for what's described as a "kids' show for adults" - another phrase that fills me with confidence - so I presume this will be fun and I imagine also funny, despite the fact that its themes - depression, loneliness, dysphoria, mental illness - are not necessarily what you might consider cheery. "TwoFace has been inside for a very long time. They're starting to feel... different. Luckily, a vibrant cast of characters is armed and ready to lead TwoFace through this gloomy doom and onto the path of queer joy! Meet Tina, the sexually liberated puppet; Butch, the Fairy Dyke Mother; Gina Ginason, the self-help TV guru; and more!" Click here for info.


THREE FESTIVAL SHOWS>>

Jenny Bede: The First Pregnant Woman In The World | Underbelly Festival (Earls Court) | 9 Jun
And funnily enough, the funnies are continuing on through this next section, for there's humour in all these festival shows. Our first selection of the week from the Underbelly Festival line-up is for a rather funny woman, recent TW interviewee Jenny Bede. In fact, this one would have been at home in the funny section, this section or, indeed, the upcoming musicals section, for lo this show will contain songs, as well as humour and interesting themes around the topic of becoming a parent: "You won't have had children yet, as Jenny is the first person to ever go through this particular ordeal, but you might be keen to learn a little something about this incredible new process called pregnancy". Head this way to book your tickets.

Heartburn | Camden People's Theatre | 10-11 Jun (pictured)
The fabulous Calm Down Dear fest at Camden People's Theatre draws to a close soon, which is sad, but you've still got time this week to get down to the venue for some quality woman-focused culture, so take a look at all the remaining shows here. But our penultimate tip for this time (a second CDC recommendation has snuck into a later section) is for 'Heartburn', a performance that uses puppetry, comedy, song, text and movement. "Two women face the truth of the dissolution of the European egalitarian dream. Everywhere they look things are not equal; in the taxi, on the bench in the middle of a village, in the congregation, in the boardroom, in the home. They tell stories of childbirth, sing about violence, and dance about menopause. They remember the lies they were told as children and question the hope that things might be different for future generations". Click here.

The Showstoppers Kids Show | Underbelly Festival (Cavendish Square) | 11-25 Jun
More musical improv! Though this time it's for small ones. That said, this is the sort of show that's aimed at kids, but which I feel the adults will enjoy just as much as the children in the audience. You'll no doubt be more than aware of the brilliant Showstoppers and their improv musical shows for grown ups, and now it's time to let them entertain your offspring in a similar and interactive fashion. "Everything is made up on the spot entirely from suggestions, but grown-ups take heed: we ONLY take suggestions from kids! If your children could create their very own musical - where would they start? A dolls' house? A magic castle? A spooky graveyard? From their imagination onto the stage - we'll bring their ideas to life". More here.


THREE MUSICAL SHOWS>>

Seven And A Half Years | Jack Studio | 7-11 Jun
And as if all that comedy musical stuff wasn't enough, we've got a load of musical theatre for you to go to now, so all you music lovers will be having a great time this week. This first one, written and performed by Mark Glentworth, is a biographical musical about a successful musician and composer who suddenly finds his life spiraling out of control following a career-halting crisis. As you might expect, given the subject matter, it's a show that explores well-being and mental health and grief as well as love and recovery, and which promises, overall, to be an uplifting experience. For more information and to book your tickets head to the venue website here.

A Kind Man | Hoxton Hall | 7-12 Jun (pictured)
Another musical experience now, though this one is an opera by Jonathan Finney, based on the novel of the same name by the much loved Susan Hill. Like her arguably most famous novel - 'The Woman In Black' - 'A Kind Man' includes a supernatural theme, though one that describes something more benevolent than malevolent. It tells the story of a couple who have lost a child and are facing the prospect of further tragedy, but the show promises, through a "mysterious transformation", to leave us with a message of hope. Anyway, this looks like it will be a wonderful piece from a talented team and I'd very much like to see it. Head to the venue website here to book your tickets if you're starting to feel the same.

Tony! [The Tony Blair Rock Opera] | Park Theatre | 2 Jun-9 Jul
I rather wanted to recommend this last week, but I ran out of space for everything I wanted to mention, so this was something which had to wait a bit. You've only missed a few dates though and it's on until 9 Jul, so you still have loads of time to see it. Of course you may already have heard about it, I suppose, given that it's the work of the rather high profile Harry Hill, who is responsible for the book, and Steve Brown, who composed and wrote the lyrics. "A reckless reappraisal of the life of former Ugly Rumours front man and Britain's first pop Prime Minister Tony Blair. The story of how one man went from peace-loving, long-haired hippy and would-be pop star to warmongering multimillionaire in just a couple of decades. A hilarious tragedy of political intrigue, religion, power, and romance that plays fast and loose with the facts, owing as much to 'Citizen Kane' as it does to The Marx Brothers - Karl and Groucho". Head this way.


THREE COLLECTIONS>>

Misconnections | White Bear Theatre | 7-11 Jun
I couldn't believe it when I realised there were three whole collections to tip in this week's Three To See recommendations and therefore enough to fill a whole section. What kind of collections are we talking about, you may well be asking yourself? Theatrical collections, that's what, and you know we enjoy that kind of thing. We are starting over at the White Bear Theatre where there's a set of three plays, all written by the one playwright - Nicolas Ridley - and with certain things in common: they are all dark comedies taking a look at some of life's challenges and love is a central theme throughout. For lots more information about each of the individual plays, and to get tickets booked, head to the venue website here.

Miniaturists 77 | Arcola Theatre | 12 Jun
It's been a while since we tipped 'Miniaturists', the regular night of punchy short plays featuring work by both established and emerging writers, and I can't help feeling that perhaps it might be to some extent the fault of that pesky pandemic. But whatever the reason for it, I'm glad to be back tipping this event again, because it's a really special one that's been running for a really long time, and which really appreciates and platforms the short play form as absolutely and justifiably worthy in its own right (rather than as just a means to an expanded end). This instalment's contributors are Stephen Jeffreys, Melissa Dunne, Will Bourdillon, Maud Dromgoole and David Byrne. Head to this page here for all the details and to book.

Cheer Up Love [It Might Never Happen] | Camden People's Theatre | 8 Jun (pictured)
Here's that sneaky second pick from the Calm Down Dear festival at CPT, a mini-festival within the festival featuring a variety of different works about identity, gender, sexuality, rage and revolution. This collection is less 'theatrical' than the other two, I think, being described in the blurb as an evening of live art and dance, but the three works featured definitely have a lot of the theatrical about them. There's 'Your Story' presented by Irene Cioni, 'Yoghurt Is Not Sexy' from Jessica Friend, and 'The Trash Supper' by Lucia Pazzini. They all sound really interesting, so I don't want to try and (possibly badly) summarise their content here - head this way to read more about them all.


THREE INTERESTING THEATRE SHOWS>>

Letters To My Dead Mother | Hope Theatre | 12-13 Jun (pictured)
And finally, some more theatre for you all, not surprising in a section entirely devoted to theatre. Let's start over at the Hope Theatre with an autobiographical one-woman show about grief and how it manifests. "Death is, inevitably, part of one's life. Grief comes in the package for the ones around it. Yet, most grievers feel like a burden when talking about their losses. Grief is always a good subject to avoid, unless you want to kill the mood or ruin someone's day. Ana unapologetically puts hers on stage. And she promises you're down to have a good time if you come along for the ride". Well, that sounds good to me. Click here to book tickets and for more information.

"I'm Just A Little Bit OCD" | Cockpit Theatre | 11-12 Jun
"Tilly has started to get intrusive thoughts about causing harm to her loved ones. Disturbed by the thoughts, she hides them from everyone and finds her own way to keep these thoughts at bay. She starts tapping, checking, checking again, researching, asking, reassuring, but when her sister Grace returns home from university, Tilly eventually has to tell her what's been going on". Another show about the human experience, and another that promises humour along with the exploration of difficult themes, while offering an important spotlight for an often misunderstood and misrepresented mental health condition. For all the info head to the venue website here.

Love (To) Bits | Barons Court Theatre | 7-25 Jun
"Love (To) Bits is a seriously comedic drama or kind of a dramatic comedy, however you choose to look at it, there will be laughter... and some tears. Think of it as if 'Bridget Jones' and 'Fleabag' had a love child. How could you resist that?!" And so to our final tip, for a show by Romanian multi-tasker Ioana Goga, that won an award in pre-pandemic times when it was staged at B.fest, the annual Brighton Youth Arts Festival. The play, which includes the verbatim and the Brechtian, follows two strands, the first being focused on the failing love life of lead character Cynthia, the second featuring the aforementioned verbatim element with voices attempting to answer the long addressed question "what is love?" Book here.
At TW:CULTURE we champion the best in fringe theatre, comedy and culture.

Year round, we pick the best shows happening in London and online each week, providing handy Three To See recommendations and interviewing the people behind those productions.

Plus each summer we also cover the biggest cultural event in the world: The Edinburgh Festival.


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