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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Review: 'Der Schauspieldirektor & Bastien Und Bastienne' at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, 23rd May 2018

Thursday, May 24, 2018 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Reviewed by David James
Rating: 4 Stars

When I was 12 I spent most of my time arguing over which Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle was the coolest (Raphael, obviously), so watching an opera composed by a 12-year-old is a humbling experience, even if that 12-year-old is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. 

This is Bastien und Bastienne, one half of a double-bill with Der Schauspieldirektor, directed by Anna Pool and Berrak Dyer and performed by Pop-Up Opera. The company's mission statement is to broaden the appeal of opera by staging productions in unusual locations, combined with irreverent adaptations that preserve the tone but update the humour. It's a style that proves perfect for these two farcical comedies that poke fun at stuffy, self-obsessed elites. 

First up is Der Schauspieldirektor, a 'singspiel' (basically half comedy/half music) about an impoverished arts company holding auditions for its next production. Problems arise when two sopranos, faded star Madame Herz (Sarah Helena Foubert) and talented newcomer Mademoiselle Silberklang (Hazel McBain) compete for the same role. There's only enough money to hire one of them, so the two women attempt to vocally outdo one another and claim the coveted title of prima donna.

Aside from the competing aria and rondo, this is primarily a goofy self-referential comedy about the difficulties of receiving Arts Council Funding and the egomania of theatre producers. Though it occasionally borders on being a bit too broad, Wesley Biggs and Laura Cheetham serve up two energetic, nervy caricatures familiar to anyone involved in backstage drama, with Foubert and McBain injecting their respective aria and rondo with character and humour. 

But Der Schauspieldirektor proves to be a mere appetiser for the much more satisfying main course of Bastien und Bastienne. This opera tells the story of a dippy teenage couple on the outs. Bastien (Nick Allen) has been putting it about with the rich ladies in town, enraging his girlfriend Bastienne (Laura Cheetham). Despite their current woes, they're still besotted with one another, and so turn to mystical love guru Colas in an attempt to solve their problems with new age nonsense and yoga.

I've seen many Pop-Up Opera productions, but Bastien und Bastienne feels like the platonic ideal of what the company wants to achieve. The piece is performed in the original German and translated via Harry Percival's extremely funny surtitles. When Bastienne is furiously denouncing a recalcitrant Bastien, her rage is summarised as "jog on mate", and later her despair that her man has strayed is translated as her bemoaning that her "milkshake really isn't bringing the boys to the yard". I had a smile on my face from start to finish, with Bastien und Bastienne effortlessly sailing past my "three giggles" comedy test in about five minutes. 

One of opera's biggest hurdles is perceived inaccessibility - a reputation is often well-deserved. But I simply can't imagine any audience not enjoying this particular production. The egalitarian, welcoming atmosphere the company create was amplified by Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, providing a charmingly bedraggled backdrop that aches with community history.

The show is set to go on tour over the next few weeks to a variety of excellent venues, including the attractively bombed out Asylum Chapel in Peckham, the acoustically incredible Thames Tunnel Shaft at the Brunel Museum and the enjoyably whiffy Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight. There's many more listed on their website, but I can confidently predict that this show is going to delight wherever it goes.

Boring simply isn't in Pop-Up Opera's vocabulary and whether you're opera-sceptical or a die-hard fanatic you'll find great heaping piles of things to enjoy. I left happy and satisfied, with my only complaint that my cheeks were sore from grinning so much. Check it out!

'Der Schauspieldirektor & Bastien Und Bastienne is on tour until 27th July 2018. Details here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Review: 'Sex With Robots And Other Devices' at the King's Head Theatre, 22nd May 2018

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Sex With Robots And Other Devices reviewed by David James
Rating: 3 Stars

Would you fuck a robot? My instinctive answer is no. The corpse-like uncanny valley creepiness of Real Dolls is nightmarish, it seems gross to have some kind of animated woman-shaped object hanging around, and let's face it, it's essentially a really expensive, overcomplicated wank.

But according to the programme for Nessah Muthy's new play Sex With Robots And Other Devices, I might soon be in the minority for holding this opinion, as a 2016 study indicates that more than 40% of heterosexual men they surveyed could imagine buying a sex robot for themselves now or in the next 5 years. 

It's a common observation that domestic technological development is driven by sex, with the porn industry's adoption VHS cited as a reason for Betamax's failure, early adoption of the internet fuelled by easy access to porn and now robotic technology being used to create quasi-lifelike sex dolls. Sex With Robots imagine the future that might be around the corner, presenting a series of situations in which problems arise with the new robotic partners.

These vignettes are performed by Isaura Barbé-Brown, Deshaye Gayle and Eleri Jones, and take place in a world where sex robots are still a novelty but increasingly common, with the 'rules' on interacting with them still solidifying. We see a woman recovering from a miscarriage ordering a replica of herself to fulfil her partner's needs, someone using a robotic version of themselves to care for their Alzheimer's suffering partner, a man forever reliving one amazing night with his ex-partner, people dealing with overly attached robots, worrying about consent issues with them and so on.

It's a broad, intelligent and imaginative tapestry, and the cast do a great job of quickly sketching out individual characters. Best of the bunch is Isaura BarbĂ©-Brown, whose performances as various robotic characters send a shiver down the spine. She's got a masterful control of body language, her movements landing just on the right side of inhuman.

The show trips a little as the subject is a bit over-familiar these days: leaving aside the fact that this feels pretty Black Mirror-y, there's been numerous stage shows that have explored the same territory recently - for example, AI Love You at Vault Festival and Instructions for Correct Assembly at the Royal Court. 

Slightly more egregiously the quickfire vignettes mean we get a lot of setup and not much resolution. So, we see a woman beginning to get jealous of her husband using a robotic replica of her, but do not see that spill over into confrontation. The Alzheimer's patient never has the moment of clarity where she realises what her partner has done. A woman disturbed by her partner setting the robot to 'sin mode' is merely in the early stages of perturbation rather than exploring what this means for their relationship and so on (frustratingly, we also never learn exactly what 'sin mode' entails, or for that matter, how robot sex differs from human sex).

It results in a consistently interesting yet slightly shallow work that's content to posit questions but won't attempt any answers. The obvious response to that criticism is that as this is speculative there simply aren't answers to be had - but that strikes me more as a failure of imagination.

You won't regret seeing Sex With Robots. It's a nicely written, smartly turned out and precisely performed bit of drama. But if it were allowed to breathe a little more and expand its dramatic morsels into something more substantial it'd be a great play rather than 'merely' a good one.

Sex With Robots And Other Devices is at the King's Head Theatre until 2nd June 2018. Tickets here.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Review: 'In The Shadow Of The Mountain' at the Old Red Lion, 17th May 2018

Friday, May 18, 2018 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Reviewed by David James
Rating: 1 Stars

I have two ambitions for this review. I want to be humane and I want to be efficient. In The Shadow Of The Mountain was created with the best of intentions: to address the stigma and misconceptions surrounding Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It fails to do this. More prosaically, it is not a very good play.

The plot concerns the relationship between Ellie (Felicity Huxley-Miners, also writing) and Rob (David Shears). They 'meet-cute' on a train platform when Ellie hurls herself at Rob after she suspects that he's suicidal. Though Rob is annoyed and confused, he follows her home after she offers him casual sex. Ellie's behaviour grows more bizarre once we're at her flat, with a very confused Rob spending the rest of the 70-minute play dealing with her rapid mood swings, impulsive behaviour and emotional manipulation. 

There are multiple reasons why In The Shadow Of The Mountain fails to achieve what it wants to do. To be precise, in the words of the playwright, the goal was to kick back against "...portraying women with BPD as difficult and deliberately manipulating ... All of this contributes to the harmful, negative portrayal and is so damaging to both those affected and those with little personal experience."

If this was the aim then the play has catastrophically failed. Ellie is written, played and directed as the villain of the piece, objectively shown to be deliberately manipulative to Rob. It's bizarre that the play claims it is pushing back against harmful stereotypes of mental illness at the exact same time it is leaning into them as hard as possible. The tone of the piece is so skewiff that after the ominous first couple of scenes I assumed we were heading into outright horror territory, and that Rob would soon find himself shoved into a sack and dismembered, Audition-style.

This happens because the audience only sees Ellie via Rob. We get to know her as he does, and his lack of comprehension of her mental situation means that we're forever on the outside looking in. If the aim of the play is to show empathy with someone with BPD we need to understand her internal processes and see the situation from her perspective, which this play cannot achieve by virtue of its structure.

Granted, In The Shadow Of The Mountain would be a much more difficult play to write if it were told from Ellie's perspective, but it's not impossible. For example, Rachel Bloom's CW sitcom Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is about the protagonist's BPD, and that manages to present the illness accurately and humanely while delivering a series of toe-tappin' musical numbers (read more in this excellent Elle article).

Compounding all of this are two unconvincing performances. Huxley-Miner's Ellie spends large swathes of the play acting like a textbook Manic Pixie Dream Girl ("MPDGs are usually static characters who have eccentric personality quirks and are unabashedly girlish. They invariably serve as the romantic interest for a (most often brooding or depressed) male protagonist.") while David Shears' Rob is barely a character and more a collection of perplexed stares. Then there's the lacklustre set and...

Y'know what I just feel bad now. It's one thing to stick the boot into a production ruined by ego or stupidity, it's another to do it to a play obviously written with good intentions that has gone completely awry. I wish I had nicer things to say about In The Shadow Of The Mountain - but, well, I don't.

In The Shadow Of The Mountain is at the Old Red Lion until 2nd June. Tickets here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Review: 'Unexploded Ordnances (UXO)' at the Barbican Arts Centre, 15th May 2018

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Reviewed by David James
Rating: 3 Stars

This probably outs me as a morbid weirdo, but I think about being nuked each and every day. I gobble up books, TV and films about the subject: Command and Control (about the many screwups that almost led to Armageddon); Neville Shute's On The Beach; the terrifyingly mundane Threads; and many movies like When The Wind Blows, the nuclear explosion scene in Terminator 2: Judgment Day and, of course, Dr Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb.

I haven't learned to stop worrying yet, and from the looks of things neither have queer comedy duo Split Britches (Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver), whose Unexploded Ordnances (UXO)  recreates the war room set from Kubrick's film and informs us that we have an hour until the bombs drop. With Shaw playing the US President and Weaver as a Jack D. Ripper-ish general, the apocalyptic deadline gives us time to ponder some important things about life, the universe and, y'know, everything.

The vehicle for said pondering is a 'Council of Elders' composed of the oldest members of the audience. After ascertaining who they are by asking people to raise their hands if they were alive during World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War, they're asked to sit around a circular war table. As the nuclear countdown ticks down they're quizzed about their fears, ambitions and thoughts on the state of the world.

Responses were somewhat depressing. The 'younger' old people all seemed terrified at the prospect of further aging, describing their fears of incontinence, their bodies continuing to fall apart and the sudden proximity of the Grim Reaper. On top of this, there was an unsettling pessimism of the state of the world in general, touching upon the Israeli slaughter of Palestinian civilians, plastic choking up the world's oceans, global warming and the incompetence and ineptitude in global political leadership. It's a bit worrying to hear people's misgivings at how they expect the world to be in 50 years, and how they will be unable to protect their children and grandchildren from whatever happens.

The one ray of light comes with the oldest member of the council, 82-year old Margaret. She seems to have pragmatically accepted ageing and declares herself to be a born optimist, explaining that she's sure things will work themselves out somehow. It's a pretty vague platitude, but hey, I'll take it.

The backdrop to this discussion is infographics showing every nuclear explosion from 1945-1998, with tallies by country in the top corner, B-52 bombers lazily trailing their way across the stage and 1950s stock footage of children practising 'Duck and Cover' (advice that is not as ridiculous as it might first appear). This stage dressing (together with reminders from Weaver's General that we're working to a deadline) help keep both the Council of Elders focused and ensure that things keep moving.

But it's in sustaining momentum that Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) often comes a bit unstuck. By design the show meanders between subjects according to the whims of its participants, and I suspect it lives and dies by who ends up on stage. Even though I suspect we got a pretty interesting batch, there were moments throughout the show where things got exasperatingly aimless - more than once I wondered what the point of this all was.

Fortunately, Split Britches isn't trying to be particularly enigmatic. The show's title refers to potentially lethal bombs (grenades, mines, shells etc) that remained buried long after the war they were used in was over. This explained as a metaphor for the unexploded ordnance within us - the fears we keep bottled up and the ambitions and desires we have not or cannot realise. Perhaps a tiny bit presumptuously the show posits itself as therapeutic for its participants, but they looked like they were engaged so hell, maybe it was.

It made me reconsider my preoccupation with being incinerated in a nuclear holocaust: is it a practical fear or just an irreligious way of thinking about my own death? Visualising buildings torn apart in a hail of shattering glass, combined with a raging wall of fire moving at the speed of sound is a bit Roland Emmerich especially when, statistically speaking at least, I'm more likely to pop it slipping in the shower. Then again these bombs really do exist, they really are aimed at London and the people currently in charge of them don't inspire much confidence. It's an unsettling train of thought, and the mundane fears and desires we see here reminded me of Stalin's famous quote that one death is a tragedy and a million is just a statistic.

Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) ends up as a tricky one to grade. The show often engages in self-critique, particularly when Weaver and Shaw explain that they never know how to end a show properly, after which they do indeed unceremoniously anticlimax themselves off-stage. Understanding and explaining your flaws doesn't excuse them, but it at least shows an honesty that few other shows have. But though this is a fuzzy and loose-limbed bit of theatre it's also a consistently thought-provoking one. And as always that goes a long way.

Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) is at the Barbican Arts Centre until 19 May. More info here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Review: 'Isaac Came Home From The Mountain' at Theatre503, 14th May 2018

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Reviewed by David James
Rating: 4 Stars

It turns out that living through a 'crisis of masculinity' isn't much fun. A century of feminism and civil rights campaigning has left straight white men paranoid that their hitherto unassailable place at the top of the social pecking order is being eroded. Riddled with paranoia they've turned in droves to reassuring caricatures of manhood - see the pussy-grabbin', nuclear-dicked leader of the free world.

Traditional masculine traits like physical strength, propensity to violence and rugged individualism are being consigned to the scrapyard of history. It's among this tangled heap of rusted machinery and corrugated iron that we find the characters of Phil Ormrod's Isaac Came Home From The Mountain.

Set in a northern post-industrial town, we follow teenage boy Bobby (Charles Furness), spinning aimlessly through a world that doesn't have a place for him. His estranged cop dad, John (Guy Porritt) tells him he's got no skills or experience and is in danger of getting left behind by the world, handing him a cold McDonalds hamburger and pleading with him to get a job.

Bobby does precisely that, ending up at a scrapyard run by Mike Scofield (Ian Burfield) and his son Chris (Kenny Fullwood). Mike is almost a caricature of old-fashioned masculinity, his beard, sturdy physique and booming voice adding up a man you can imagine charging off a Viking long-boat, screaming and brandishing an axe at some terrified monks. He's apparently some kind of low-level criminal (or at least moderately shady) and his employment of Bobby scares John, who sees his son falling in with a disreputable crowd.

What follows is a two-layered paternal battle. On one front Mike and Bobby are vying to be Bobby's father figure, on the other Bobby and Chris are struggling to win the approval of Mike. Everyone seems to recognise Bobby as a person with potential, each eager to impress their own philosophies upon him before his personality solidifies. 

Most successful is Mike who, in the play's best scene, takes him into the mountains and waxes lyrical on his British heritage, explaining that his ancestors walked this landscape and he is intrinsically connected to it (slightly undercut by Bobby pointing out that his parents moved here from Lincoln, but the point still stands). Mike massages Bobby's lack of purpose by putting a shotgun in his hands and instructing him to blow away a rabbit, allowing him to understand his masculinity by handing him a physical manifestation of his potential.

What follows are the horrible consequences of someone being filled full of half-baked notions about masculine identity and a burning desire to impress someone. It's the kind of story you see periodically echoed on the news as yet another young man picks up a semi-automatic rifle and walks into a mall or perhaps rents a van and drives into a group of pedestrians. What better way to instantly define a bruised masculinity than through senseless, bloody violence?

Isaac Came Home From The Mountain doesn't screw around when it comes to communicating this stuff. The play is fat-free at just over an hour long and has a strong sense of purpose and momentum. Director Carla Kingham and the cast also do an admirable job of making the physical elements of the play land with a thump - as the young men wrestle one another to establish their dominance in the social hierarchy you can practically imagine David Attenborough on narration.

An obvious highlight is Ian Burfield's Mike, whose rumbling anger rattles the audience's bones and instantly physically dominates the space. He's the perfectly pitched counterpart to the more introspective performance of Guy Porritt - and it's instantly obvious why a young man like Bobby would gravitate and seek to emulate him. Charles Furness as Bobby is also fantastic,  playing up his sharply defined features, gangly teenage body language and insouciant gaze. He nails the character's transformation: beginning the play physically loose and lanky, before straightening up and gaining an intimidating sense of purpose.

Ormrod's weaving together of class and gender is careful and precise, and though I don't know much about him I assume these are observations borne of personal experience. But one element that initially seems absent from the play is an explicitly political dimension. We can assume that the characters' situations arise from Thatcher's deindustrialisation of the North, with the resulting unemployment and dent in masculine purpose in the area, which has had long-simmering consequences in the rise of the far-right and its deification of masculinity (the briefest glimmer of this comes through in some off-stage character's names).

The obvious justification for this absence is that these simply aren't characters who are going to naturally segue into chatting about their socioeconomic circumstances, but all the same, there's a bit of a void behind their actions that could be alluded to a little more strongly. That's about it for criticism though, well other than the rather flea-bitten and stiff stuffed rabbit that drew a couple of giggles from the audience.

Isaac Came Home From The Mountain is a concise and moving examination of modern masculinity and how badly it can go wrong. It's witty, intelligent, well-performed and Eleanor Bull's staging is a delight. Ormrod asks a lot of questions, none of which have easy answers. Still, there's a simmering, indignant frustration that runs right through the play like the words through a stick of rock - it's got a palpable life that so many other productions lack.

Isaac Came Home From The Mountain is at Theatre503 until 2nd June. Tickets here.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Review: 'Lippy' at The Wandsworth Arts Fringe, 12th May 2018

Sunday, May 13, 2018 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Lippy reviewed by David James
Rating: 2 Stars

Lippy is right about everything. It's right about body fascism. It's right about the unfairly limited social expectations of women. It's right about the ways age brings both fresh perspectives and new neuroses. It's right about unrealistic expectations of sex. It's especially right about the way female comedians are sidelined despite being some of the funniest performers around.

All that is bang on. But, sadly, Lippy doesn't work as a show. 

Written and performed by Rachel Causer, the show is an exhaustive autopsy on her life to date. Confessional shows like these live and die on whether the performer is interesting enough to warrant an hour of self-obsession - and Causer actually is. She's witty, insightful, unflinchingly honest about her flaws and has charisma to spare. It's easy to get involved in the minutia of her life: some elements universal to the human condition, some speaking directly to feminine experiences and some particular to her as an individual.

The problem comes with the conceit of the show: that we're hearing Causer's internal voice and seeing her external reactions to it. On the face of it, it's a great shortcut to getting under her skin and seeing how she really feels without having to bother with subtext and all that and were it an element of the show rather than the whole show it'd be effective.

Sadly it is the whole show. Causer essentially hits play at the beginning of Lippy and then reacts to a pre-recorded soundtrack for about an hour. The most immediate consequence is that there is no sense of spontaneity or excitement - once that play button has been pressed Lippy is going to rumble to its conclusion regardless of what happens on stage. It undermines the connection we feel with Causer and makes us feel like we're watching someone going through the motions - because we are.

Causer's own voice is punctuated by sequences in which she lip-syncs to lengthy excerpts from the live acts of comedians she admires: Amy Schumer, Caitlin Moran, Andi Osho, Joan Rivers and Victoria Wood (among others). Causer's enthusiasm and admiration for these women is palpable, though it's a hell of a risky move to fill about half of your own 50-minute show with other people's material. 

Predictably enough, these excerpts are by far the funniest and most entertaining parts of the show. It raises the question of precisely where the credit for Lippy lies - is Causer strengthening her own story by contrasting it to her comedy icons or is the show running on stolen fuel? Is the show really recontextualising these performances enough to justify doing this? It's definitely not plagiarism - but it's somewhere in the same area code.

It leaves with a show with an artificially transplanted emotional core, whose dramatic conceit efficiently siphons away pathos, excitement and the vulnerability crucial to making the comedic confessional work. If I squint I can kind of imagine the intellectual justification behind the show's style, but in this instance, the method cancels out the meaning. Rachel Causer seems like an interesting performer with some important stuff to say -  I want to hear her say it.

Photo by Alex Harvey-Brown

Friday, May 4, 2018

Review: 'Grotty' at The Bunker, 3rd May 2018

Friday, May 4, 2018 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Grotty reviewed by David James
Rating: 4 Stars

I don't know much about the London lesbian scene, but judging by Grotty it's a psychosexual pressure cooker crammed full of cynical, predatory weirdos. Written by and starring Izzy Tennyson, this semi-autobiographical story follows Rigby, an awkward 22-year-old scene newbie doing her best to navigate a tangled web of bitchery and broken hearts.

Rigby spends most of the play bouncing like a pinball between two women's beds; Toad (Rebekah Hind) is maternally overpowering while Witch (Grace Chilton) is into pretty much everything dark and depraved, though appears to mostly get her kicks from causing shame and embarrassment in her partners. Witch and Toad were also once engaged, so uh, that'd be awkward if they found out they now share Rigby.

But the white-hot core of Grotty is Rigby: one of the most fascinating characters I've seen in a very long time. Hunch-backed, twitchy, tongue pressed awkwardly into her lower lip, clad in charity shop sportswear - she behaves like someone who spent her childhood in a Harry Harlow isolation box. Her dialogue is a rat-a-tat stream-of-consciousness, winding its way through suicidal self-loathing, incisive observations and amphetamine fuelled paranoia.

Rigby is a grotesque in the nicest possible way, reminding me of some of the darker work of Peter Cook or maybe The League of Gentlemen. Despite her being a caricature amidst a cast of (relatively) realistic characters, the character brims over with pathos, empathy and wit. The other women in the play are drawn to her malleable vulnerability, seeing her as a woman-shaped-flesh-puppet they can mould to their sexual specifications and discard when things get boring. It leaves her unfulfilled and confused - perhaps most touchingly when she asks the hard-edged lesdom fanatic Witch for a simple hug.

Rigby's viewpoint (and I have to assume Tennyson's too) of London's lesbian scene isn't particularly charitable. These takedowns comprise the funniest moments in the play, from bemoaning the omnipresent R&B soundtrack, to the fact that lesbian nights tend to be midweek ("Who goes out on a Wednesday?!"), to the preponderance of bicurious Goldsmiths graduates in pixie haircuts called Annabelle who are there to vicariously play at being different rather than find a shag.

It's a breath of fresh air to see a show about lesbians that's so aggressively deromanticised. A lot of right-on shows that feature lesbian relationships (even ones written by women) have the vague odour of the male gaze about then - with a tacit understanding that there's something intrinsically erotic about lesbians. Grotty comprehensively dispels that, feeling custom-designed to deliver a warts and all insight into the dull sexual drudgery that really goes on behind closed doors.

The show's insights are uniformly excellent, but sadly it comes a little unstuck narratively. This is mainly down to the core narrative concluding, but the play continuing on with an inessential 15-minute epilogue. This marks a tonal shift that does the play no favours: the jokes dry up, the pace slows down and we just don't learn much new about the characters. It's a bit of a structural headscratcher - as if there's a lack of confidence that the previous 70 minutes or so hadn't communicated its message well enough (it did).

Anyhows, that doesn't get in the way of Grotty's obvious qualities. It's handsomely directed, staged, soundtracked and contains a bevvy of great performances (I love the way Grace Chilton delivers the dead-eyed nonchalant stare of the truly committed pervert). But it's Izzy Tennyson's night and while Grotty is not without its flaws, it's a great performative and literary showcase for a serious theatrical talent.

Grotty is at The Bunker until 26 May. Tickets here.

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