I love history, and social history, and artworks and performances that are all about that sort of thing, so when I heard about Kate Saffin and Heather Wastie's touring double bill about the UK's 'Idle Women', I naturally pricked up my ears.

To find out more about the content of the show, and its performers, I spoke to the aforementioned Kate Saffin, writer and performer of 'Isobel's War'. Read the interview here.

You can see 'Idle Women Of The Wartime Waterways' at various locations throughout the summer, but imminently in Little Venice and at Rembrandt Gardens from 29-30 April, Perivale on 3 May and Uxbridge on 5 May: see this page here for all the tour dates and detailed locations. The show returns to central London later in the summer, with a date at The Pirate Castle, Camden, on 5 Aug.

FRIDAY 28 APRIL 2016 >>

Political Bodies - Triple Bill | Rich Mix | 28 Apr (pictured)
Three dance pieces that make use of live music, spoken word, beat box, hip hop and dance theatre, and which have distinctly political themes, in particular with reference to the effects on individuals of assimilation, integration and multiculturalism, and the trauma caused by nationalism and fear based propaganda. For more information, see the venue website here.

No Finer Life | Pleasance Theatre | 28-30 Apr
Long term Archers story editor Graham Harvey is behind this production, which is based on a true story of enduring romance. Switching time zones between past and present, it tells the tale of a young Somerset land girl who, towards the end of World War 2, sets off in search of a best selling author. It also features new live music from Alastair Collingwood. See this page here for more.

This Beautiful Future | The Yard Theatre | 25 Apr-20 May
"Elodie is 17. She's French. She lets down her hair and puts it up again. She finds reflective surfaces everywhere. She tests new looks. Otto is 15. He's a German soldier. He brushes his hair to make the shape of his head more perfectly oval. He tries not to look at himself in the mirror. It's 1944. Elodie and Otto are experiencing love for the very first time". Another show set during the second world war (I didn't plan it, honest) but this time in occupied France, and focusing on love in extreme circumstances. Click here for details.


Romeo and Juliet | Union Theatre | 29 Apr-20 May
This is described as "an extraordinary new interpretation" and I must admit, it sounds quite different, even to my rad-new-shakespeare-PR-soaked ears. In this version, the chief protagonists are gay footballers - which is topical - and the production employs a whole lot of music, noise and physical theatre to evoke the atmosphere of the soccer stadium and the religious-like fervour that pervades it. Click here for more.

Breakin Convention '17 | Sadler's Wells | 29-30 Apr
The fourteenth year running for this, the world's biggest festival of hip-hop dance, and as ever, you can expect a weekend of internationally produced excellence, with the line up of acts including outfits from Russia, France, Canada, Austria, South Korea, The Netherlands, South Africa, Canada, the USA, and of course the UK. Meanwhile, activities and workshops will be going on offstage, see this page here for details.

Material Men Redux | The Place | 28-29 Apr
Hurrah, more dance, and this one also has a hip-hop element to it. Two performers with very different dance styles - the aforementioned hip-hop, plus classical Indian - but with a shared ancestral history of colonial migration and plantation labour explore themes of loss and finding new ways of belonging. See the venue website here for info.

SUNDAY 30 APRIL 2016 >>

The Elves And The Shoemaker | Jacksons Lane | 30 Apr (pictured)
I've seen quite a lot of shows based on this story in recent years (what with having a child, and all) but I never get tired of it, because I really like it. This version threatens to be a "topsy turvy retelling", and the premise sounds great, plus, it features puppetry, humour, original music and magic. For ages 4 and up, so a nice one for a family outing, unless you have pouting teens. Head this way for all the info.

Lester City's Super Sunday | The Comedy Room | 30 Apr
I'm just going to leave this to them: "Improv squad Lester City host this hotly tipped London fixture at their infamous Lord Stanley stadium. Joining them on the lineup will be a selection of London's finest and fittest improvisational talent. These sparky youngsters are match ready and fighting hard to stay out of the relegation zone. Don't miss out on this much anticipated premier league clash". Click this link here for details.

Red Riding Hood And The Wolf | Little Angel Theatre | 27 Apr-16 Jul
Right, one improv comedy night's enough for you grown-ups, here's something else for the kids. It's not one for teeny tots though, because this offers a bit of a subversion of the traditional tale, as its young heroine creates her own story because she can't really relate to Little Red Riding Hood. Expect dark humour, and an exploration of friendship, acceptance and overcoming prejudice. See this page here.

MONDAY 1 MAY 2016 >>

Oh Yes Oh No | Camden People's Theatre | 26 Apr-11 May (pictured)
The very excellent Louise Orwin heads back your way with this follow up to the brilliant 'A Girl And A Gun', but be warned, it's not for the faint-of-heart: "This is a show about having sexual fantasies that might not align with your politics. It's about trying to understand what you want, and wondering how the fuck to ask for it. It's also about fucking. And wondering how the fuck to make a show about fucking". So there you fucking have it. See this page here for more.

Out Of This World | Peacock Theatre | 1-3 May
One from the file marked "hard to classify by genre", this, yet oh-so-worth-seeing, so don't miss this part psychological thriller, part heart-rending medical drama, staged by the acclaimed Mark Murphy using his signature combination of special effects and aerial choreography. It tells the story of a woman's descent medically induced coma, and a subsequent fight for life. Click here for info.

Occupational Hazards | Hampstead Theatre | 28 Apr-3 Jun
This new play by Stephen Brown is based the acclaimed memoir of the same name by Rory Stewart, who, back in 2003, was posted to serve as governor in a province of the newly liberated Iraq, tasked with the somewhat challenging mission of helping to build a new civil society at peace with itself and its neighbours... see the venue website here for details and to book tickets.

TUESDAY 2 MAY 2016 >>

Paul Duncan McGarrity - Ask An Archaeologist | Camden Comedy Club | 2 May
Funny, informative and interesting, which is pretty much my favourite thing, and well received at the ye olde Edinburgh Fringe, so coming close to ticking every one of my boxes. "Set in a wigwam dressed up as a viking drinking hall, on the roof of a pub, Paul will answer some of your questions about life as an archaeologist. It may be rude, it will certainly be crude, but we will all be protected by context (probably)". See this page here for more.

The Gap In The Light | New Diorama | 2-17 May
In this psychological thriller Engineer Theatre Collective explore what it is to be truly afraid, through the story of two climbers making a journey to somewhere they don't belong, what they encounter in the dark, and the effects of what they bring back with them into the light. "How far do we have to fall, and who will catch us when the rope snaps?" Click here for info.

Becoming Mohammed | Pleasance Theatre | 2-21 May
This new play, written by Claudia Marinaro and inspired by the experiences of the show's director Annemiek van Elst, explores what it takes for a Western man to become a Muslim. When central character Sara sees her brother after a long time, she is surprised to find him sporting a beard, getting up at the crack of dawn and dating a young woman in a hijab, but she's yet to hear the full story of his conversion. See the venue website here for details.


Voices From Chernobyl | Jack Studio | 2-13 May
Can't believe it's more than thirty years since the disaster at Chernobyl, but it is. And this show offers a moving account of what happened, and the effects it had on those living in the nearby towns and villages. It's adapted from Nobel Prize winning author Svetlana Alexievich's book, a compilation of the stories of hundreds of the event's victims. For more info see this page here.

Tick Tick... Boom! | Park Theatre | 3-27 May
Award winning creative Jonathan Larson's autobiographical rock musical telling the story of the sacrifices he had to make to make it big in the business of show. On the eve of his thirtieth birthday, he's questioning his life choices: his girlfriend wants to get married and move from the city, his friends are making a proper living, but he is still waiting on tables to make ends meet while he develops his artistic career. See the venue website here for details.

Octopus | Greenwich Theatre | 2-6 May (pictured)
"Set in a world where how British you are is determined by the state, three women have been called in for interview. Sara looks kind of Asian. Scheherazade kind of Middle Eastern. And Sarah is kind of white and has no idea why she's here. She also keeps bursting into song". A dystopian, anarchic comedy - sounds extremely promising, and explores some very relevant contemporary issues. Click here for info.

THURSDAY 4 MAY 2016 >>

Give Me Your Love | The Albany | 4-5 May
"Ex-soldier Zach has withdrawn into a cardboard box in a kitchen in West Wales. His wife whispers, kindly, that it's safe to come out. But is it a trap? His friend arrives offering recovery - in the form of a capsule - and parachutes them into their recently fractured pasts". The ever excellent Ridiculusmus bring their current show - which is about post traumatic stress and the effects of MDMA - back to London. If you didn't see it last year, here's your chance. Click this link here to book.

Brimstone And Treacle | Hope Theatre | 2-20 May (pictured)
A fortieth anniversary revival of Dennis Potter's dark, funny and controversial play 'Brimstone and Treacle', which was originally written for the BBC as one of their Plays For Today in 1976, but then banned because of its shocking nature. Its portrayal of the prejudice and fear latent in the collective mind of 'middle England' is just as relevant as ever, and it's directed by the award winning Matthew Parker. See the venue website here for details.

The Pulverised | Arcola Theatre | 2-27 May
And here's another show with a very relevant theme, this time the creep of globalisation, and its effects on our lives. This show, which won the prestigious Grand Prix de la Littérature following its premiere at the National Theatre of Strasbourg, comes to the UK as a new translation, and tells the stories of four seemingly unconnected people - a quality assurance officer from France, a call centre manager from Senegal, a factory worker from China, and an engineer from Romania - who of course all work for the same concern. Head this way for info.
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