Review: And The Rest of Me Floats, Bush Theatre

Outbox Theatre’s And The Rest of Me Floats is the queer house party at the Bush Theatre that you didn’t know you needed

“Do you see me?
Do you really see me?”

Outbox Theatre’s And The Rest of Me Floats soars in its opening and closing moments. There’s not a word spoken for the first few minutes but as the company of trans, non-binary, and queer performers take their seats one by one on the stage of the Bush Theatre – full of unflinching direct eye contact with the audience – there’s such a powerful statement of intent about their unalienable right to take over this space.

And as the show winds to its climax just over an hour later, this already most unconventional of shows opens out into something of a game of ‘Never Have I Ever’ as performers and audience members alike are encouraged to share something of themselves. It’s a beautifully intimate and inclusive act, topped off with a raucous singalong to MUNA’s anthemic ‘I Know A Place’ – how my queer little heart filled with joy. Continue reading “Review: And The Rest of Me Floats, Bush Theatre”

Review: Drip, Bush Theatre

Tom Wells and Matthew Robins’ sweetly wonderful one-man musical Drip returns to the Bush Theatre

“Eat some toast, then eat more toast
(I love toast)”

In events I can’t imagine being repeated anytime soon, I was the nominated ‘audience hunk’ for this performance of Drip., and far be it from me to review my own performance but never has a wind-chime been tinkled so beautifully… This kind of light-touch audience interaction is threaded throughout the show and really helps to set the mood of slightly bemused wonder.

Tom Wells’ Drip popped up briefly in the library at the Bush Theatre last year, played Edinburgh over the summer and returns to W12 in the studio where its idiosyncratic charms prove well suited. A one-man musical, we follow 15 year old Liam as he makes a presentation to his school assembly in an attempt to win the annual Project Prize and more importantly, win back his friend Caz, Continue reading “Review: Drip, Bush Theatre”

Review: Lands, Bush Theatre

Devised by actors Leah Brotherhead and Sophie Steer, Antler’s Lands is a quirky treat in the studio at the Bush Theatre

“I CAN’T get off”

Leah likes a jigsaw, Sophie is fond of her little trampoline. But in the world of Lands, their preferences have turned into something more. Leah fills out her puzzles by giving detailed commentary on each jigsaw piece and Sophie, well she can’t remember when she actually last stopped bouncing. 

Created by actors Leah Brotherhead and Sophie Steer with director Jaz Woodcock-Stewart, Lands emerges as a gnomic study of compulsive behaviour and how it impacts on those we love. Trapped in their own cycles of addiction, we watch as their unspecified emotional connection becomes severely tested.  Continue reading “Review: Lands, Bush Theatre”

Review: An Adventure, Bush Theatre

Vinay Patel’s An Adventure is a long night at the Bush Theatre and an ambitious one

“Home is where you fight to be”

Vinay Patel’s An Adventure certainly doesn’t lack for ambition, taking inspiration from his own family – specifically his grandparents – and constructing his own historical romance tale, folding in racism, political upheaval of differing hues and the enduring legacy of colonialism.

From India to Kenya to Britain, from the 1950s to the 1970s to the modern day, Patel traces the love story between Jyoti and Rasik, the young man she chooses from the five selected by her father. They’re both dreamers and soon find themselves swept up in the Kenyan independence movement in Nairobi and union marches in London, even as their relationship suffers.  Continue reading “Review: An Adventure, Bush Theatre”

Review: Jellyfish, Bush

Almost impossibly tender and true, Ben Weatherill’s Jellyfish is a minor-key masterpiece at the Bush Theatre

“Do you think there will be people like us around for ever?”

I know a little something of what it is to be treated differently in this world. Whenever I took an exam at school, college, even university, I would be given extra time, usually an hour, because that was what disabled students got. Regardless of the fact that my only concern was being able to communicate effectively in big echoey halls – I’m deaf y’see – one category fit us all for the differently-abled… And that does something to you no matter how confident you are, to be shunted off to the special room even by the most well-meaning of souls and God knows I had some amazing teachers who provided invaluable help.

That feeling of being considered ‘different’ came flooding back to me while watching Ben Weatherill’s achingly beautiful play Jellyfish in the studio space at the Bush Theatre. It’s a feeling that dominates Kelly’s life. At 27, she’s convinced of her own independence and a burgeoning relationship with the slightly older Neil promises much. Kelly has Down’s Syndrome and lives with her mother Agnes though, a mother who has provided unerringly constant care for her daughter and can’t conceive that this could ever be a healthy relationship. She means well, so very well, but at what cost? Does the help she offers square with the needs of a young woman yearning for sexual maturity. Continue reading “Review: Jellyfish, Bush”

Review: Misty, Bush

“Here is the city that we live in
Notice that the city that we live in is alive
Analyse our city and you’ll find that our city even has bodily features
Our city’s organs function like any living creature
Our city is a living creature
And if you’re wise enough, you’ll know not all of us are blood cells…
Some of us are viruses.”

A quick belated note for this, which I loved, and which deservedly sold out and extended at the Bush. Written by and starring Arinzé Kene, one-man show Misty blends verse, music and video projection in a fierce interrogation of the act of telling a story on a theatre stage. Epic in scope, intimate in nature, Omar Elerian’s direction on Rajha Shakiry’s balloon-filled set made this a play I wished I caught much earlier so I could recommend it to people (who would have probably already been!).

Photo: Helen Murray
Booking until 27th April

Review: The B*easts, Bush

“Essex-y, but not from Essex”

There’s a temptation to raise an eyebrow when a well-known actor gets a writing commission. 2013’s The Herd was a perfectly decent play but would it have got the same attention were it not written by Rory Kinnear? Who knows. Also at the Bush, we now have Monica Dolan’s The B*easts but over an intense hour, there’s little doubt about the quality here.

Dolan’s monologue takes a long hard look at how the increased sexualisation that has seeped into the very marrow of Western society and how not even our children are immune from its effects. She plays Tessa, a psychotherapist who has been called in to assess a mother who has been placed under the spotlight for allowing her daughter to have breast implants. Her daughter who is eight years old. Continue reading “Review: The B*easts, Bush”

Review: Parliament Square, Bush

“No one ever changed the world alone”

With pretty much every production of hers that I see (most memorably Lela & Co. and I’d Rather Goya Robbed Me Of My Sleep Than Some Other Arsehole), Jude Christian is becoming one of those directors whose work cannot be missed. And with the 2015 Bruntwood Prize-winning Parliament Square, now opening at the Bush after an October premiere at the Royal Exchange, that reputation doesn’t look in any danger at all.

She’s helped here by a magnificently fearless piece of writing from James Fritz, split almost schizophrenically into two contrasting parts. The first presents us with Kat, a woman on the precipice of leaving her husband and their young son to commit some unspeakable act, being urged along the way by an enigmatic figure far more bluntly daring than she seems to be. The second then takes us past the act, which failed, into an uncertain world of uneasy compromise.  Continue reading “Review: Parliament Square, Bush”

Review: Drip, Bush

“Dive, dive, dive right in
Dive, dive, dive, dive, dive right in…”

On the one hand, I think I’d like to see Tom Wells really surprise us with something completely different. But on the other, he does what he does so bloody well that I kinda never want him to stop. Drip sees him playing with form, as it is a one-man musical but thematically, we’re once again in the world he has explored so affectingly in plays such as Me As A Penguin, The Kitchen Sink and Jumpers for Goalposts

Our protagonist is Liam, a 15 year old from South Shields who has moved to Hull cos his mum is seeing a guy named Barry who lives there. Making fast friends with Caz, the ‘other queer student’ at school, he throws himself into helping her with the annual project prize presentation that she is so desperate to win. Only thing is, she’s planning Hull’s first synchronised swimming team and Liam can’t swim…  Continue reading “Review: Drip, Bush”

Review: Hir, Bush

“We don’t do cupboards anymore. 
We don’t do order”

Taylor Mac’s Hir comes loaded with worlds of contemporary resonances, particularly in its exploration of the disaffection of the American working class and its probing into multiple layers of gender politics. And in this blackest of black comedies, getting its UK premiere at the Bush, it is – initially at least – vigorously, startlingly effective as an reinvention of the archetypal dysfunctional family drama.

We open with Isaac’s return to his small-town California home having been dishonourably discharged from the Marines. Working in the mortuary during a tour of Afghanistan has shattered him but he soon finds the home comforts he’s been dreaming of remain as far away as ever. His father has had a stroke, his mother is enacting vicious revenge on him for their abusive relationship by shattering the patriarchal order in the household, and he also discovers that his sibling is transitioning. Not quite the welcome home he was expecting. Continue reading “Review: Hir, Bush”