We first heard about 'Velvet' - a highly regarded one man show written and performed by Tom Ratcliffe - when it was on at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe back in 2018. Since then it's been on tour and now heads to London for a nearly-four-week run at Above The Stag.

The show is about a young actor with a #metoo style story to tell, and it's in part based on its creator's own experiences. To find out more about the play, and about Tom himself, I arranged a quick chat ahead of opening night.

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

'Velvet' is on at Above The Stag theatre from 2-27 Oct. For tickets and more information, see this page here.

Coming up at Omnibus Theatre is the first staging of a new piece from woman-focused production company Futures Theatre. Written by Somalia Seaton, and informed by the experiences of women in the criminal justice system, it focuses on the relationship between a mother and daughter during a significant point in their lives.

The show is directed by Caroline Bryant, the company's founder. I spoke to her to find out more.

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

'I'd Rather Go Blind' is on at the Omnibus Theatre from 1-5 Oct. For more info and to book your tickets, see this page here.


The Niceties | Finborough Theatre | 1-26 Oct
"America. 2016. Within the stately office of an elite university two women united by their vision for the future, but divided on how to get there, meet to review a history paper that asks one big question: has America reached the moment for its real, radical, revolution? When a clash of ideas becomes a complicated discussion about race, the niceties begin to wear thin and one woman is forced to put everything on the line in order to make her case". A European premiere for this recent off-Broadway hit by Eleanor Burgess. For more info, see this page here.

Shuck 'n' Jive | Soho Theatre | 2-26 Oct (pictured)
A fab sounding debut play from Cassiopeia Berkeley-Agyepong & Simone Ibbett-Brown, directed by Soho Theatre Associate Director Lakesha Arie-Angelo: "Opera singer Simone very quickly discovers that London is not the BNP-free utopia she'd always dreamed of. Meanwhile, actress Cassi battles it out for the illustrious roles of 'Sassy Friend', 'Spunky Slave' and 'Third Crack Whore From The Left' at every audition. Desperate to be seen as they are, not as the colour of their skin, they decide to take control and write their own story". For all the details, head this way.

Mites | Tristan Bates Theatre | 7-26 Oct
This new play by James Mannion is described as absurdist and darkly comical, and explores how people can be manipulated in relationships, in particular those people who are mentally vulnerable. "A lonely woman, abandoned by her husband, lives in an isolated house with her outspoken, anthropomorphic cat, Bartholomew. One day she is visited by Ken, a pest controller, who claims to be her ex-husband returned to her. Deceived by his lies and obsessed with memories of the past, the woman accepts Ken into her life, despite the sceptical protestations of Bartholomew. As her self-deception grows and Ken's true intentions become clear, how will she survive the competitive machinations of her two male companions?" See the venue website here for more.


Ross Smith: Crying/ Shame | The Bill Murray | 6 Oct
Yes, it's time for another unapologetic section of shows that were great up in Edinburgh in the summer of 2019, and here's our first choice, a show by comedian Ross Smith that well and truly won the heart of our reviewer. "Boys don't cry - but should they? Ross Smith can't remember the last time he did and is unsure if he still can. In Crying/Shame Smith asks why It's good to cry, for emotional wellbeing and comedy awards. And why he is nowhere near reaching either. Hopefully it will all end in tears". For all the details, head to this page here.

Islander: A New Musical | Southwark Playhouse | 2-26 Oct (pictured)
A new and unusual musical that scored a very palpable hit at this year's edfringe. "Eilidh stares out to sea and dreams of a new life beyond her lonely island. Myth and reality collide when the tide washes a mysterious stranger onto her beach, changing her life forever. Epic storytelling, intimately staged with a contemporary Scottish folk-inspired score. The two-hander cast of Kirsty Findlay and Bethany Tennick perform a whole host of characters, while weaving, building and layering their voices using looping technology to create an expansive, ethereal soundscape for the ears and imagination". Book your tickets here.

James Hancox - 1000 Great Lives | 2Northdown | 3 Oct
And finally, another post-Ed offering from the talented James Hancox, who you may know from TV and radio appearances, comedy competition success and Abandoman collaboration. "An epic, thought-provoking stage spectacular celebrating the 1000 great lives that shaped history. However, with the cast missing, budget running low and doubts that he can count that many, he might have to think on his feet. Sketch, song and DIY props combine to create a show that - if pulled off - will be even better than War Horse". See this page here for all the info.


Preludes | Southwark Playhouse | 6 Sep-12 Oct
Tony Award nominee Dave Malloy's well received musical based on the life of composer Sergei Rachmaninov, which explores mental health and how creative processes can be used as therapy. "Sergei Rachmaninoff has it all; world-wide fame from a single composition by the age of nineteen, commissioned to write his first symphony at 20 and engaged to the love of his life, Natalya. But at 21 he is crippled with a depressive paranoia and anxiety. His world has imploded, his work has stopped, he cannot even lift a pencil to compose a simple melody. Such is the power of the men who sought to destroy him, who haunt his waking nightmares and poison his dreams". Details here.

Amsterdam | Orange Tree Theatre | 6 Sep-12 Oct
"An Israeli violinist. Living in her trendy canal-side Amsterdam apartment. Nine months pregnant. One day a mysterious unpaid gas bill from 1944 arrives. It awakens unsettling feelings of collective identity, foreignness and alienation. Stories of a devastating past are compellingly reconstructed to try and make sense of the present". The European premiere of this play by prizewinning Israeli playwright Maya Arad Yasur is directed by the acclaimed Matthew Xia and has generated a largely positive response from critics. See the venue website here for more.

Anna Bella Eema | Arcola Theatre | 11 Sep-12 Oct (pictured)
A London premiere for this 2001 play by Pulitzer Prize finalist Lisa D'Amour. "Ten-year-old Annabella knows that there are scarier things than the monsters her mother sees lurking in their abandoned trailer park. There are red eviction notices through the door. There are social workers at the window. There's the new highway looming, drawing ever-closer, threatening disaster. Frustrated, one day she builds a girl out of mud. The girl comes to life. The girl is Anna Bella Eema..." Head this way for info.


Clean Break's New Work Showcase | The Bunker Theatre | 4 Oct
You're probably aware of Clean Break - the group founded by women in prison with the aim of staging work to ask questions about women in the justice system - so you'll probably be interested in this: a showcase of work in development, two pieces, each commissioned by the company. They are 'Not Pretty Like The Rainbow' by Daisy King, which explores the effect on women's lives of the short prison sentences that are widely regarded as ineffective, and 'Blis-ta' by Sonya Rachel Hale, which is a story of two homeless girls struggling to survive on the streets, based on the writer's own experiences. For more information and to book tickets, head right this way.

It's All Academic Festival | various venues, UCL | 5 Oct
This is a slightly unusual sort of thing for us to tip, I suppose, but I reckon our readers will be interested in this, an opportunity to take in loads of fascinating and sciencey events, to quiz academics and find out about academic discoveries. Highlights include 'Fingers On Buzzers', in which UCL 'University Challenge' veterans from years gone by compete in a quiz with with a team of the university's sharpest academics, comedy scientist Matt Winning with 'It's The End Of The World As We Know It', and 'Fantasy Frontbencher', in which people get to select a dream cabinet based on the issues that matter most to them, learning more about the process of politics and policy-making in the UK. All free, but booking is advised for popular events. Find out about all the events here.

Alfred Taylor-Gaunt's Derrière On A G String | Lillian Baylis Studio | 1-4 Oct (pictured)
I love it when people do funny things with classical music, so it sounds like I am in for a treat with this: "Very fun, quite silly, and rather naughty; this new comedy gleefully subverts some of the best-loved pieces of classical music in ways you've never thought of them before. From chaos to carnage; from carnal to camp, Derrière on a G String comments, without words, on the daily struggles of modern life. With a cast of some of dance-theatre's most exciting young talent performing an hilarious original series of dance and physical theatre sketches by Alfred Taylor-Gaunt, it's an evening to expect the unexpected". Book here.


A Haunted Existence | Camden People's Theatre | 2-4 Oct
"In the early 1950s, seventeen-year-old Geoffrey Patrick Williamson was on the Exeter to Bristol train when he got into a conversation with another man, also travelling in his train compartment, who accused Geoffrey of making 'improper approaches'. The other man was a Railway Officer in plain clothes. Geoffrey was arrested at the next stop, Taunton. When questioned, Williamson revealed the names of men he had had sex with, so beginning a domino effect of arrests, prison sentences, aversion therapy and suicide". This acclaimed piece by Tom Marshman deals with an important and difficult subject, highlighting the stigma and persecution gay men were subject to for most of the twentieth century. More here.

Half Life | The Albany | 3-5 Oct
"How does our perspective change as we age? How do we cope when we don't know what's coming next? What do we hold onto? What do we let go?" Tangled Feet, an ensemble who came together twenty years ago at the age of twenty, are (yes, I can add up) are now all poised to turn forty, which means they have been creating together for half their lives at this point. This show is a celebration of that, and they are joined by a company of ten, 20 and 80-year-olds, to wrestle with the nature of time passing and explore the constant things in life that bind us all together. See the venue website here for all the details.

Mushy | Arcola Theatre | 1-5 Oct (pictured)
An uplifting piece inspired by the true story of Musharaf Asghar, as seen on 'Educating Yorkshire'. "Mushy, a young man with a debilitating stammer, finds himself at the centre of a television documentary. In a moment of inspiration from his teacher, Mr. Burton, he starts to find a rhythm in his voice through music Social media erupts hailing it a miracle cure and both teacher and pupil become overnight celebrities. But Mushy's journey to find his voice has only just begun..." See the venue website here for info.
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