It's entirely possible you already discovered Loren O'Brien via her stand up sets, for which she has won much acclaim, but you may not know that she is also an up and coming writer of funny stuff, and this month she heads to Vault Festival to star in a play of her own creation.

As it turns out, the desire to write that aforementioned funny stuff actually came before the stand-up, a fact which I discovered when I put the following questions to her ahead of the upcoming theatrical run. Read the interview here.

Loren performs in 'I Need To Vent' at Vault Festival, from 8-12 Feb, and, as she's just pointed out, in 'Okie Dokie' from 22-26 Feb. See this page here for info on the former, and this page here for info on the latter.

We first came into contact with Frozen Light Theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe last summer, where they staged a very successful short run of a show created especially for those with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities.

Very few theatrical companies offer the kind of shows that are so tailored to their audiences in this way, so I was very happy to see that they'd be performing a new show in London, firstly at Stratford Circus, and at Ovalhouse later in the year. To find out more, I put questions to one of the company's two artistic directors, Amber Onat Gregory. Read the interview here.

'Home' is on at Stratford Circus from 10-11 Feb, see this page here for more info. The show returns to London's Ovalhouse from 5-6 May. Also see this page here for further tour dates.


School Play | Southwark Playhouse | 1-25 February
Oooh, this is pertinent and timely: this debut play from Alex MacKeith examines what it means to be a teacher in contemporary Britain, and you know, it's really not much fun, because the government are mean and keep demanding impossible things of them and pulling the rug from under them. I presume and hope this play will reflect that. See this page here for all the info.

The HIV Monologues | Ace Hotel | 2-19 Feb
"In 2016, two boys go on a date - one of whom has been recently diagnosed, and the other of whom is ignorant of anything to do with HIV." What follows is an examination of the realities of life for people living with HIV, an exploration of love, life and death. Very promising, see this page here to book your tickets.

The Starship Osiris | Vault Festival | 1-5 Feb (pictured)

If it's something seriously funny you are after this fine February Friday then look no further than 'The Starship Osiris', which one of our reviewers praised as one of the most chortlesome shows at last summer's Edinburgh Festival, a hugely hilarious sci-fi parody turned chaotic mess (in a good way). "Expect skimpy costumes, pop songs, hilariously poor special effects, and quite a lot of swearing!" Head this way for more.


We Are Brontë | Vault Festival | 1-5 Feb (pictured)
I thought we'd have another Vault Festival day today, because it's just so blooming marvellous and full of fabulous stuff I want to tip. Starting with this, 'We Are Brontë' a hilarious slice of physical theatre. I used to be obsessed with the Brontës, back in the day, and I take them very seriously indeed. But I'd still like to see this comedic and eccentric take on their story. See the Vault Festival website here for more info.

A Hundred Different Words For Love | Vault Festival | 1-5 Feb
If you saw the excellent James Rowland performing 'Team Viking' at the Edinburgh Festival this summer, you will no doubt be in a rush to see this too, because, as you might expect, having read this far, it's also by him. "I'm aware there isn't much art made about love," he says, "so I thought I'd wade in and nail the definitive article before anyone else tried to". Ha ha. See this page here for details.

Happily Never After | Vault Festival 1-5 Feb
A dark and twisted Tim Burton/Brothers Grimm-inspired musical tale courtesy of master improvvers The Maydays. A different show every time, based on an audience suggestion, featuring a cinematic soundtrack, and of course, darkly comic, physically dynamic performances from one of your favourite improv troupes. Click this link here, if you dare.


Simon Caine - Laughter Is The Best Placebo | The Bill Murray | 5 Feb
If you haven't seen Simon Caine performing stand up before, you've maybe heard him on his excellent 'Ask The Industry' podcast, interviewing the very great likes of Idil Sukan, Louisa Omielan, Bob Slayer, Helen Zaltzman and Armando Iannuci. This is a work in progress road test for his second solo hour, and it sounds like he'll be putting the funny into some interesting issues. Head this way for info.

Dubailand | Finborough Theatre | SMT 5-21 Feb (pictured)
I am really bothered by Dubai. I know it's not the only place to blame, but the fact that it even exists seems emblematic of the horrendous gap between rich and poor, and the excessive behaviour of those endowed with shitloads of money. But enough politics and onto this play. Which is kind of political, obviously: it explores the crappy plight of Dubai's migrant labour force, who struggle while everyone else bathes in cash. Book your tickets here.

Litha And Effy Efthymiou: Rituals To Mould Her With | King's Place | 5 Feb
Twin composers Effy and Litha Efthymiou stage their new multimedia piece, which features music, obviously, as well as movement and theatrical elements. Described as a "conceptual stage work", it explores the the musical ritual that celebrated the Virgin Mary in early-medieval Spain, which was used as a tool by men of influence to help enforce their own ideals of femininity. Sounds excellent, see this page here for details.


Bush Hall Presents with James Acaster | Bush Hall | 6 Feb
The very brilliant and rather en vogue Mr James Acaster heads the bill at this promising night of comedy which features two other immensely talented comedians, Elis James and Dane Baptiste. Pity there's no women aboard, but you know, it's not the end of the world. Head this way to book your tickets.

Run The Beast Down | Finborough Theatre | 31 Jan-25 Feb (pictured)
"Charlie has stopped sleeping. His neighbour's cat has been dismembered. And worse, he's being haunted by an urban fox. In a haze of neon-soaked insomnia, lines blur between reality and fantasy". This sounds pretty interesting, as it's the sort of mixed genre piece that combines theatre with music, but also because of the magical realism. I bloody love magic realism. See this page here for details.

Mat Ewins - Mat Ewins Will Make You A Star | Soho Theatre | 6-8 feb
And another suggestion for comedy to brighten your sludgy February Monday, the ever-so-good Mat Ewins, who is, I guarantee, lots of fun. We gave him four stars when we saw his Edinburgh show in 2015 and our reviewer found lots to praise, using phrases like "deft gags" and words like "charm". And he's going to make you a star. What have you got to lose? See the venue website here.


Frankenstein | Greenwich Theatre | 7-11 Feb (pictured)
Well, you all know the story of Frankenstein so I probably don't need to say much to introduce this gothic tale, but even if you know it like the back of your hand, it's an adaptation of an absolute classic, and definitely worth a look. This particular production includes puppetry, live music and what promises to be a fresh and exciting retelling. See this page here for more.

She Called Me Mother | Tara Theatre | 7-11 Feb
"Evangeline is waiting; she has been waiting a long time. She waits for the Black Swan to glide through the station and show her a little warmth and kindness. She waits for a ticket home to Trinidad, the sun, the mango trees, and the street vendors selling curry. She waits for Shirley, the daughter she let walk away all those years ago." The brilliant Cathy Tyson stars in this fab-sounding new play from Michelle Inniss. See the venue website here for details.

Larkinworld | Southbank Centre | 31 Jan-30 Apr
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Philip Larkin, because I think he was a great poet, but oh, his work is so full of failure and misery. So I think this new exhibition is probably just the thing for me, but possibly you lot as well. Artist DJ Roberts explores the writer's oeuvre, finding the positives with a variety of works in neon, drawings, and pop culture ephemera. Head this way for info.


Futurists | Arcola Theatre | 8-11 Feb
"Russia's revolutionary artists dreamt of tearing up the rulebook and realising a new world. But four years on from the Bolsheviks seizing power, a new rule book is being enforced, and the new world is under threat. Do the Futurists have a future? And if so, what is it?" A rare revival of Dusty Hughes' 1986 play about artists finding their way in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. See this page here for more.

I Need To Vent | Vault Festival | 8-12 Feb
Back over to the old Vault Festival now for a dark comedy created by and starring Loren O'Brien. Central character Allie returns home after travelling round the world in order to "find herself", and discovers that everyone has moved on in her absence. She decides to take action, and plonk herself back in the middle of everyone's lives. Involves black humour and a ventriloquist's dummy, see the Vault website here for details.

This Must Be The Place | Vault Festival | 8-12 Feb (pictured)
And now we are already there, I think we might stay with Vault Festival for another intriguing looking show from Poleroid Theatre. 'This Must Be The Place' is described as "two short ballads about being alive and not", which deal in themes of migration, missed connections, and living life at the edge of respectability. Click this link here for info.


Police Cops | Soho Theatre | 9-11 Feb (pictured)
Right, it's been more than a week since it was my birthday and I am starting to feel a bit down about having so few excuses to drink gin. To cheer myself up, I shall declare this Comedy Thursday and only recommend things that I think will make you laugh. Like this, 'Police Cops', a funny play that's won lots of Fringe acclaim for its pastiche of small and big screen detective drama. See this page here for info.

Alexis Dubus - Cars and Girls | Vault Festival | 9 Feb
You might be more aware of Alexis Dubus for his portrayal of comedy's favourite Fringe Frenchman, but if that's the case, it's time you took in some of his other brilliant stuff. Like this, his poetic tale of travel and adventure featuring love, truckers, and possibly even UFOs. Head this way for details.

The Red Richardson Experience | The Bill Murray | 9 Feb
Last time out, apparently, for this show from comedy club regular and 'So You Think You're Funny?' finalist Red Richardson. This was pretty successful up in Edinburgh last summer, but be warned, if you're not familiar with his work, that you can expect some pretty dark and contentious comedy. And now that I have warned you, go. More here.
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