Many readers will be more than aware of the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon - which specialises in children's theatre - not least because we often mention the shows it produces in our weekly recommendations.

Of late, the venue has been undergoing renovations, but that hasn't stopped them from working on new and interesting ventures. This week sees the opening of a new piece for younger children - 'Maanika & The Wolf' - at a pop-up shopping centre venue.

To find out more about the play I spoke to its creator and director, Polka Theatre Artistic Director Peter Glanville.

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

'Maanika & The Wolf' will be performed in a pop-up theatre space at Wimbledon's Centre Court Shopping Centre from 31 Jul-29 Aug. See this page here to book your tickets.

As readers will surely be aware by now, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is back in 2021, and although it's got a smaller and somewhat differently shaped programme compared to previous years - because of the ongoing COVID pandemic - there's lots happening, both in person in Edinburgh itself and also online. It all officially kicks off on 6 Aug and our coverage of it kicks off now!

Our first focus is on a show that's happening online only, a Zoom-based, interactive drama hosted by edfringe venue Summerhall's online platform. 'Kill Me Now', written by Rhiannon Boyle, is presented by Welsh new writing company Dirty Protest Theatre. I spoke to Rhiannon (pictured) and company artistic director Catherine Paskell to find out more.

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

'Kill Me Now' is presented as part of Summerhall's online Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme from 17-21 Aug. See this page here for info and to book.
Shows to see in person in London - and online anywhere - including performances from people and companies we first discovered at the Edinburgh Festival.


Horrigan & Howell: A Sketch Too Far | Camden Fringe at The Hope Theatre | 2-8 Aug
Hurrah, isn't August great? There's a Fringe in Edinburgh AND in London - and even if COVID is still having a bit of an impact on how many shows are happening in person - there are opportunities for Fringey entertainment at both ends of the country. Plus, this year there's loads of digital stuff to take in too, so you can in fact enjoy stuff wherever you are. We have to wait a bit longer for the Edinburgh stuff to start, but Camden Fringe just makes it into the dates for this week's tips. So we've picked three real live happening-in-the-flesh shows from it for you. We start with Horrigan & Howell's sketch show, which sounds promising: "There are sketches about farmers. There are sketches about Nazis. There are sketches about how the aristocracy make podcasts. But one way or another, all of these sketches are about the British psyche - from the ridiculous to the banal to the downright horrid". Click here.

Coronavirus - A Great British Farce | Camden Fringe at Hen & Chickens | 2-4 Aug
"Joe's stuck in a tiny London flat trying to make sense of the pandemic. One day, whilst watching a government briefing on TV, he decides to answer back. This sets off a surreal conversation with… the Prime Minister? Or maybe it's his friend on Facebook? Or… maybe it's his fridge. All Joe knows is, he definitely doesn't know. The news is confusing - his brain isn't keeping up". This sounds good, doesn't it? And also, it's rather topical. And fun, promising to take us on "a high-energy farcical journey from panic buying to Jackie Weaver via Dominic Cummings, with an unhealthy dose of British gusto thrown in". See this page here.

Alice-India And Ruby Carr Present Friend Ship: Welcome To The Murder Boat | Camden Fringe at 2Northdown | 2 Aug (pictured)
I will acknowledge that - despite my advanced age - I am a bit childish, and that's probably why I was instantly attracted to a show with a name that involved the words 'Welcome To The Murder Boat'. It's also comedy, which is good, because it's important to keep smiling when there's another wave probably coming (see what I did there) and all the supermarket shelves are emptying far too quickly, apparently. Anyway, what can you expect from this cheering show? A performance from the talented pairing of Alice-India and Ruby Carr, who are seeking a crew of best ever friends forever with experience with pranking, high fives and revenge. For more information and to book tickets, see this page here.


Civilisation | New Diorama Theatre | 27 Jul-7 Aug
Lots of good stuff over at the New Diorama Theatre lately, despite some COVID-related setbacks, and this is the latest to catch my eye. It's a collaboration from director Jaz Woodcock-Stewart and choreographer Morgann Runacre-Temple, and previously won acclaim up at the old edfringe. It's described as an "arrangement of theatrical realism and contemporary dance", features music by ABBA and Bach, and focuses on a day in the life of a woman who has experienced a tragic event. "A hairdryer, an oven, a letter opener. The local church, fiscal policy and Marie Kondo's folding technique. Civilisation is about the things we've lost and the things we've built". See the venue website here for more info and to book.

Andromeda | Camden People's Theatre | 27-31 Jul (pictured)
"In modern London, two girls meet under a starry sky. In ancient Ethiopia, a hero saves a princess, chained to a rock. Somewhere not quite either, first love meets its match. 'Andromeda' by Hannah Greenstreet reimagines a lost play, constellating ancient fragments with a contemporary queer love story. This exploration of the stories we tell each other asks what happens when a young woman falls for someone unexpected, and how to feel proud when the world tells us not to be. What do you do when you're stuck between a myth and a hard place?" Another intriguing sounding show from CPT's summer season, which will be performed to live audiences, like everything else in this section, but it's also going to be livestreamed on the Friday of the run for those of you who can't make it. See this page here for all the details.

Hello Georgie, Goodbye Best | The Space | 27 Jul-5 Aug
Now we're headed to The Space for something with a bit of a historical subject, which focuses on the themes of personal demons and the price of fame, for two well known public figures: "1971. Footballer George Best has gone missing ahead of a crucial match, and now the paparazzi are holding a London flat under siege. Rumours are he's inside with up-and-coming actress Sinéad Cusack, and the two are surrounded. With no way out, the couple are forced to confront the demons they've both been keeping from the world". For more information and tickets, see the venue website here.


Somewhere To Belong | Lion & Unicorn Theatre | 27-31 Jul (pictured)
This is interesting. According to 'The Bisexual Report: Bisexual Inclusion In LGBTQ Equality And Diversity', bisexual people have the highest incidence of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidality, and it appears to be linked to their experiences of biphopia and the sense of bisexual invisibility. The team behind this show interviewed more than forty people about their experiences, and writer and performer Kim Scopes uses their true life stories to shine a light on this community. The result is a heart-warming comedy focused on real, queer experiences from a group of people in search of a place to fit in. See this page here for more.

Wilde Without The Boy | King's Head Theatre | 28-31 Jul
"I was a man who stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age … I had genius, a distinguished name, brilliancy, intellectual daring … Along with these things, I had things that were different…" This is Gareth Armstrong's adaptation of Oscar Wilde's 'De Profundis' - the letter he wrote to his lover Lord Alfred Douglas whilst in his cell in Reading Gaol - performed by Gerard Logan. It's a production we first heard about up at the Edinburgh Fringe some years back, and our reviewer had some extremely glowing words to say about it: "The performance glistens with masterfully-controlled indignation - never angsty or enraged, though, that would be 'unbeautiful'. Logan is clearly in love with Wilde's words, and he'll make you fall in love too". Head this way for more information and to book tickets.

Pauline | Pleasance Theatre | 27-30 Jul
"Ever read your grandmother's suicide note? Sophie has. 'Pauline' is a funny heart-warming journey of personal-discovery about the grandmother Sophie never knew. Sophie introduces us to her mum, via frank recorded interviews and her grandmother, Pauline, through extracts from Pauline's diaries". Written and performed by Sophie Bentinck, this intriguing piece promises a "rare, intimate and salacious glimpse" into the lives of three generations of women, and to inspire you to dig into your own family history. Read more about it here.


This Noisy Isle | Iris Theatre / Poplar Union | 1 + 8 Aug (pictured)
"You've washed up on a new shore… Can you navigate through this world where nothing is quite what it seems? The inhabitants of this island make strange noises and sprites hide around every corner. Where do you belong?" An interesting diversion for your older children - the age recommendation is seven to eleven - from the award winning Spun Glass Theatre, an interactive treasure hunt show that will see participants solving puzzles, meeting mysterious characters and discovering their own magical powers. It does happen outside, though, so check the forecast and dress yourselves accordingly before you head out. For more information and to book, see this page here for Iris Theatre on 1 Aug, and this page here for Poplar Union on 8 Aug.

The Revel Puck Circus: The Wing Scuffle Spectacular - A Celebration Of Fear | Leyton Jubilee Park | 29 Jul-8 Aug
And now, another outside event for you, kind of, given that it's in a tent, and it's one with a definite appeal-to-all-ages feel, so perfect for a family outing. It's a circus show from The Revel Puck Circus who are on a mission to reinvigorate the genre, not least with this new production, which features artists from across the UK and Europe and offers "a joyous and absurdist examination of fear, and why it is something to be celebrated". For all the info and to book tickets see the company's website here.

Bowjangles: Dracula In Space | The Playground Theatre | 28-30 Jul
"Forget everything you think you know about string quartets; Bowjangles is an irreverent, anarchic group of genre spanners, bringing music, theatre and comedy together in a way you've never seen before". Full disclosure: despite being in this family section, this is not marketed as a children's show: but I do know Bowjangles of old, and to my mind, their work is definitely fun for older children as well as adults. Anyway, this is a new show in which the quartet head to space to meet a mysterious benefactor, who seems a little bit too good to be true. What will happen next? I don't know, you will have to go and see the show, see this page here to sort all that out.


Puncture The Screen | Chronic Insanity | 29-30 Jul
If you've been reading our recommendations and Q&As with any degree of frequency this past couple of years, you'll definitely have heard us going on about the incredibly prolific Chronic Insanity. They've got loads of stuff going on that you can access online, but specifically, coming up this week, is a short festival celebrating digital arts called 'Puncture The Screen'. It features livestreamed and digital performances, a panel discussion, short films, workshops and tutorials. "We want this festival to show the full innovative strength of digital art and performance", says the company. "We want to show off its accessibility, its sustainability, and its affordability for both creatives and audiences alike". Which is very cool. See this page here for event info and this page here to book tickets.

Susan Murray: How Not To Die In A Plane Crash | Soho Theatre | 2 Aug (pictured)
Back to live and in-the-flesh performances again and one from a fab and funny act that, like many of the comedy people we know, we first discovered when we were up at the Edinburgh Festival. It's Susan Murray and she's got a fabulous show for you to take in at Soho Theatre for one night only. "Fasten your seat belts for a darkly hilarious and deliciously bumpy ride. 'How Not To Die In A Plane Crash' is the antidote to boring, life-affirming, feel-good motivational comedy. Come and listen to Susan's sweet dark soul as she makes you laugh and cry at the same time with her useful death defying survival tips, all wrapped up in fantastic jokes". Click here for more.

Tree Confessions | Camden Fringe | 2-29 Aug
Okay, yes, this is part of the Camden Fringe, but I didn't put it in the Camden Fringe section because a) I wanted to include more than three Camden Fringe shows and b) this one is online so I thought it was justifiable to put it in a different place. So, you know, fight me. Or, just let it go for once, and listen to how great this audio play sounds. I blooming love trees, me. "In a landmark study, a scientist learned everything about how trees communicate - or did she? One tree tells the story of what really happened. Presenting the world's first play told entirely from the point of view of a tree. To experience this site-specific audio play, find a tree near you, sit under it, press play, and listen to the tree's confessions". Book here.
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