Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair by Theo McCabe at the Arts Theatre

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A trip to Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair is a trip to musical comedy heaven. This show is jam-packed with outstanding jokes, devised by writer/director Theo McCabe, and it keeps the energy flowing from one cleverly directed moment to the next. The characters are extremely distinct, juxtaposing raucously against each other in their individual plights. The Captain pines for his long lost love, his first mate pines for him, while the rest of the cast are the usual suspects you’d find on a cruise: horny elderly folk, a drug convict from New Zealand, and to thicken the plot, a naïve and God-fearing nun. The cast is full of standout performers with perfectly timed comedy and great projection, a combination so difficult to get consistent in today’s Fringe performances. Theo McCabe himself supports the performance from the keys, leading the Hawaiian-shirt clad band. With the help of a few select props including colourful cocktails, flower necklaces, drink umbrellas, and the Holy Bible, we are taken straight to the heart of our cruise ship love affair.

As the story unfolds, our initial destination of the Caribbean is nowhere in sight. Captain Bleufonde follows the storm into the Arctic Ocean in pursuit of his beloved Mandy, who drowned at sea many years ago. The passengers are in disarray both by drink and desire, and the impending apocalypse brings out their lusty natures as they pursue their last hoorah upon the ship.

Will Vera convince Hanks that she’s actually not cripplingly old? Will Hanks convince Evie that he’s a better lover than Jesus? Will Captain Bleufonde finally see Vittles as his true and dedicated partner? Or will the apocalypse collapse any hope for these poor, doomed passengers?

Do not miss this musical, it will enliven your life with laughter while teaching you an age old lesson: most mistakes are made out of love.

5/5 WIGS

By Ranga Liliu

The House Of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe at The Hope Theatre

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Any avid literature fan can be found wondering: can Edgar Allen Poe successfully be elevated from the page? In the new gothic musical thriller, The House of Usher, this possibility is explored by creators Luke Adamson and Dan Bottomley. Their creation draws inspiration from Phantom of the Opera, Rocky Horror Picture Show, modern rock, which together disturb and startle the audience with excellent use of staging and effects.

The cast superbly manages the text, spitting out words with such clarity as the space demands. A black box theatre seating about fifty guests, we sat in the round, hanging on to every word and syllable. The narrator, Richard Lounds is a personable and compassionate character. He guides the audience along as we meet and process the neurotic Roderick Usher and his flighty sister Madeline.

The script juggles the overall spookiness, doses of lightheartedness, a promise of salvation for the Ushers, and a whopping second act that delights and exhilarates. Although there were problems with balance between the different media of live and amplified instruments, sound effects and song, the eerie mood lingered in the atmosphere throughout the theatre.

For a night of spooks that will haunt you for days, go see this musical.

4/5 WIGS

By Ranga Liliu

Skin A Cat by Isley Lynn at The Bunker

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A brand new theatre has opened in London, and its pretty damn cool. The Bunker was set up by Joel Fisher and Joshua McTaggart in an unused carpark underneath the Menier Chocolate Factory. We certainly thought it was gonna be a bit more, well, car parky, but in fact they have done wonders to create an open and interesting theatre space with three sides of audience. The left side was particularly cool with its rows of “I’m a boss” leather chairs.

And so their first piece of programming was some new writing from young American playwright, Isley Lynn. Skin a Cat opened at the Vault festival this year and was spotted by Joshua as the perfect opening show for this new theatre. We are led on a hilarious yet poignant journey through a girl’s sexual awakening and experiences as she struggles with vaginismus. Lydia Larson plays the protagonist, Alana, who leads us through her sweet and sad memories. We encounter the boys who do not understand her, the friends to whom she cannot reveal her anguish, and her mother who seems to be at the root of all the problems. Jessica Clark, recently in Rotterdam, provides a brilliant supporting role playing the women in this tale whilst Jassa Ahluwalia is equally excellent as the men. Both actors do a great job multi-roling theses additional characters.

Alana is the real centre of this story and we feel her every pleasure and pain, thanks to the truthful and open storytelling that Lydia provides us as she takes us on this journey through Alana’s womanhood and sexual discovery.

Staged very simply, with all the action taking place on or around a bed, Alana spent most of her time here, whilst the two supporting actors, stood behind microphones, adding sound affects, from phone noises to club sounds, as well as the interjections of the other parts.

This was a very well executed play thanks to the writing and the realisation by the performers. Not only this though, it was certainly a story that could help a lot of young people understand more about sex, and that it is personal and idiosyncratic and that we are all unique when it comes to what we enjoy and want to do under the sheets.

This was a really great night of theatre, and a really exciting venue that we will look forward to visiting again. Their upcoming programming is intriguing and we are eager to return. Well done to the boys for creating this new space, in which brilliant drama like Skin A Cat can thrive.

WIGS 4/5

Tickets Under £15

That’s right folks, it’s time for your latest dose of affordable theatre for you to get all excited about…

In Theatres Now

Imogen – The Globe £5 in the pit until the 16th October

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London. 2016. A strange and unsettled time – where men and the violence of gangs rules the streets. In a dangerous world we hear a new voice – Imogen’s.

Skin A Cat – The Bunker – £12 previews £15 concessions until 5th November

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Every teenager thinks they’re the only one not having sex. But for Alana, it may well be true. She really wants to, but luck is clearly not on her side. Soon she can’t help wondering: Is it this tricky for everyone else? Because no one ever said it was going to be this complicated.

Coming Soon

Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair – Arts Theatre tue-thu £12/10, fri-sat £14/12, from 25 – 29 October

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Welcome aboard Blues Cruise journey no. 666, where the weather is glorious, the Sundeck is heaving and eternally lusty Captain Bleufonde has decided to resurrect his dead lover by sailing into an apocalyptic storm.

Rubber Ring – The Pleasance £12/10, 31 Oct – 6 Nov

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Jimmy’s sixteen, sexually confused and stuck in Sheringham; the seaside town they forgot to bomb. When Morrissey comes to London, Jimmy flees to the city to try and find his hero and himself.

On the Horizon

Borderline – The Cockpit

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S: I’m a theatre maker. I’ve been volunteering and doing workshops in Calais for a year now. M. gave me your number. I want to create a comedy play with refugees about the Jungle.

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P: A comedy?…  About the Jungle???

Silence. Big smile.

P: Yes, I love comedy!!!

Bright Lucifer – The White Bear Theatre £15/12, 8 Nov – 3 Dec

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On the verge of a nervous breakdown Jack retreats from the world with his brother Bill to an isolated family cabin, planning a long weekend of whisky, fishing and brotherly love. All doesn’t go to plan. As the brothers descend into madness and paranoia, only one question matters; who or what is Eldred Brand?