When I heard about 'Rethink', which is on at the Union Theatre this week, I was immediately interested for a number of reasons. Firstly: it's a play about young people attempting to set out on an acting career who are stymied by the coming of the pandemic and the lockdown conditions that made it so hard for those in the entertainment industry to continue working.

Secondly, it's performed by a group of early career performers who themselves graduated during that time, and have of course faced those very issues themselves.

The play is the work of Ardent8, an ensemble of newly graduated performing artists formed by the Ardent Theatre Company to help support the careers of such actors, specifically those outside London who may not be able to take advantage of the opportunities the capital might offer them.

To find out more about the show, I spoke to Andrew Muir, all round theatre-maker and teacher, and co-creative director of Ardent Theatre Company; and Ardent8 member Jack Dunford, a cast member of the show.

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

'Rethink' is on at the Union Theatre from 26-30 Oct. See the venue website here for information and to book tickets.
Shows to see in person in London - and online anywhere - including performances from people and companies we first discovered at the Edinburgh Festival.


The Smeds And The Smoos | Rose Theatre Kingston | 27-31 Oct
Lots to get through today so let's speed ahead apace. Those of you who don't have children in your lives might wonder why there's a family show focus in this week's tips, and if you are, let me enlighten you: it's half term this week and parents and carers may well be looking for things to do. So here's one possibility: the amusingly named 'The Smeds And The Smoos' at the Rose Theatre in Kingston, the latest of kid-show experts Tall Stories' numerous Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler adaptations. This one's set on a far off planet and is suitable for young ones aged three and above. Click here for info.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Stories | Watford Palace Theatre | 29-30 Oct
And another adaptation from another very popular children's author, and this is one that parents will know and love from their own childhoods, too. 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' was published before I was born, and I am quite old. I remember the copies we had of it at my primary school being all dog-eared, in fact. Anyway, it's just as popular with children now as it was back then, and this lively looking show promises to bring Eric Carle's bright and colourful world to life, and not just through the caterpillar's tale, they'll be performing four of the author's stories in total. Head this way for details and to book.

The Wind In The Willows | The Cockpit | 30 Oct (pictured)
"Mole yearns for adventure, Rat adores boats and Badger likes peace and quiet. Into their lives bursts Toad who loves very fast cars and just can't seem to help getting into trouble. But can the animals reform Toad's character and evict the squatters from his ancestral home to restore justice to the world?" It's a long loved classic, but the book isn't an easy one for younger readers, so this might be a good introduction for little ones. Wizard Theatre's production is "back by popular demand", so if you haven't seen it already, you can expect it to be a good un. Head to the venue website here for more.


Lachlan Werner: Voices Of Evil | London Horror Festival | Pleasance Theatre | 26-27 Oct (pictured)
It's Hallowe'en soon so I shall be expecting all of you to want to take in some manner of spooky entertainment this week. Fair dos if you'd rather watch a Hammer Horror or suchlike, but I have three superior offerings for you here, so do consider them. And this one, part of the much talked-of London Horror Festival, is by ventriloquist, clown and theatre-maker Lachlan Werner, who promises an evening of "frights and thrills, where demonic voices seem to come from every corner", and a "horrifyingly funny" experience. For more info and to book see this page here.

Will Seaward's Spooky Late Night Ghost Stories | Museum Of Comedy | 29+30 Oct
"Many years ago, there was a tradition that every Hallowe'en Will Seaward, the comedy circuit's loudest and spookiest comedian, would do a terrifying ghost-flavoured vampire-draped tomb-curdling show at The Museum Of Comedy! Then some sort of world event happened in 2020 which stopped him. But now he's back! Run!!" More scary fun for fans of funny and scary, from a well reviewed TW favourite. Quick, get your ticket before someone else does: head to the venue website here.

To Be A Bat | London Horror Festival at The Space | 29-31 Oct
And we are back to the London Horror Festival for more scary stuff over at the The Space, and a show that has a live-streaming date as well as its live in person performances for you to take advantage of. It's quite intriguing: "Moi's brother Jo is dead and it's probably all Moi's fault. In the aftermath, the dregs of their family drift into the uncanny; imagination overtaking reality. Together the new friends embark on a drug-fuelled adventure to hunt the ghosts of the ones they've lost, and maybe, possibly, become who they want to be". I encourage you to click here to read more about the play, and to book your tickets.


Who Cares | Omnibus Theatre | 28 Oct (pictured)
And now for non-spooky, live in London theatre, and this first one is a really important piece about a really important topic, taking a searching look at the care system and the impact of austerity. "At school Nicole, Jade and Connor are just like everybody else. But when they get home, things are very different. Nicole started caring for her mum when she was four. Every morning Nicole helps her get washed, put on clothes and eat breakfast. Jade has always cared for her brother, but she never expected to look after dad as well – now she juggles two lots of appointments, two lots of prescriptions, two lots of assessment forms. Connor cares for his mum. But he doesn't like to talk about it". Details here.

how we love | Theatre Peckham | 28-30 Oct
You'll remember a few weeks ago when the Young Gifted And Black strand was beginning over at Theatre Peckham that we ran an interview with Annette Brook, whose play 'how we love' was set to be staged as part of it. So I thought you might like to be reminded that this staging of her work is coming up this week, so it's time to head out and see it. "Gay investigative journalist Babatunde 'Babs' Okonkwo has come to visit his lesbian best friend Regina 'Regi' Abengowe in Lewisham. With mounting pressures back in Nigeria, where homosexuality is illegal and escalating dangers for their partners, Babs and Regi hatch a plan to get married". See the venue website here to book tickets

Tender Napalm | King's Head Theatre | 26 Oct-20 Nov
"Two lovers. A desert Island. Sea serpents. UFOs. Tsunamis. Unicorns. Atomic bombs. What is this thing…called love?" Acclaimed playwright Philip Ridley's 2011 play, first staged at the Southwark Playhouse, to largely glowing reviews, gets a staging at King's Head Theatre, accompanied by two post show events featuring Ridley himself. If you haven't seen it, you'll want an idea of what it's all about, and summing that up isn't exactly easy, to be honest, not least because it's not obvious, in the interactions between the protagonists 'man' and 'woman', whether we're in the realm of reality or fantasy. What I can say is that it's an interesting and inventive exploration of a relationship between lovers. Head this way for more.


Foxes | livestream via Theatre503 | 26 Oct
If you read our Q&A of a couple of weeks back with James Hillier, about 'Foxes', which was completing a run at Theatre503, then you might well have decided to go and see the show live and in person. But I expect there are plenty of people who didn't make it, or who aren't able to make it to venues, who will benefit from this post-run digital stream. The play explores masculinity and homosexuality within London's Caribbean Community and black street culture, and sees Danie, a young black man dealing with issues that threaten to tear his closest and most loving relationships apart. Read more about it here.

Oliver Twist | online via Leeds Playhouse | 25 Oct-21 Nov
"Born into poverty and misfortune, Oliver Twist escapes the workhouse for a life of adventure where he joins Artful Dodger, Fagin and their mischievous gang of pick pockets. But the enjoyment is short lived as he falls under the influence of the vicious Bill Sykes". Shakespeare's classic, adapted by Bryony Lavery, and featuring creatively integrated sign language, audio description and captioning. It's been specially filmed for online audiences and it looks like a fabulously colourful production. Suitable for older children/teenagers, too, by the look of it. Head to this page here to find out more.

Frisky & Mannish: Popcorn | digital via Lawrence Batley Theatre | 1-14 Nov (pictured)
An act that's been extremely popular with our edfringe review team over the years, and here they are proposing to entertain you in the comfort of your own home, which is fabulous. "Like so many, Frisky and Mannish have spent the last eighteen months slumped on the couch, wolfing through mail-order snacks and repeat-watching favourite movies. However, unlike the rest of you slobs, F&M were actually tirelessly researching their latest project: 'PopCorn', a brand-new cinema-themed musical comedy extravaganza celebrating great films!" It sounds really good, and I would urge you to read all about what to expect from it right here.


Christian Lee Is Magic | Jacksons Lane | 25-30 Oct (pictured)
Well, it is half term after all, so why not go to town (literally, in one sense, I suppose) and talk about a few more things suitable for making your little ones' school holidays feel nice and special. Here's something magic! Hurrah! 'Britain's Got Talent' finalist Christian Lee offers a "non-stop feast of tricks, magic and comedy" and is joined at each performance by special guests, including stage and close-up magician Oliver Tabor, comedy ventriloquist Steve Hewlett, and bubble wizard The Bubble Wizard. Well, he's a bubble wizard, I got that right. Anyway, for more information on the show and all those acts, and to book, of course, see this page here.

Peace At Last | online via Stratford Circus Arts Centre | until 30 Nov
This is free and online and has been available for a while, so it's possibly something you've already seen and done, but if not, it might come in very handy in an otherwise unoccupied few hours at home with a two to five year old. The basis of the show is children's book 'Peace At Last', which was one of my favourites to read to my daughter when she was a little thing, and OperaUpClose did a new opera based on it back in 2019, and toured UK venues with it. What's available for you to access here is a number of different videos filmed at participants homes, and based around the show, including a reading of the book by soprano Emily-Jane Thomas. Find it all here.

Line Of Light | Battersea/Nine Elms/Kennington | 29-30 Oct
This one is for anyone, I suppose, it's not just for families. Indeed, it's the kind of thing I quite like taking in all by myself without anyone bothering me. 'Line Of Light' is a large scale light installation celebrating the communities who live above the new tunnels of the Northern Line extension, which will see the sky and buildings lit up along the route from the tube station at Battersea Power Station to Kennington. There will also be accompanying podcasts and festival hubs featuring live music and street entertainment, and other activities for all ages. Read more about it here.


Just These Please: No Worries If Not | Soho Theatre | 1+2 Nov
Hurrah, funny stuff. Who needs a laugh? I always do at this time of year, I must confess. I think it's the grey days that do it. So, I have been in search of stuff to cheer us all up, and here is what I have found. First up, a show that had a good run at the reduced Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year, and which found favour with one of our very discerning review team members. That being the case, it's good to see them turning up at the Soho Theatre aiming to entertain London audiences. "Like most sketch groups, Just These Please are made up of three actor comedians and one maritime lawyer". And if that doesn't persuade you I don't know what will. Head this way to book your tickets.

Doing Shakespeare | Bridewell Theatre | 1-13 Nov
During the 2020 lockdown you might well have heard about or seen Northern Comedy Theatre's production 'Doing Shakespeare', a farcical fusion of Shakespeare classics which was written to be performed via Zoom. Interestingly, quite a few shows intended for the stage were adapted for online distribution, but in this case, a show intended for digital delivery has now been produced for the stage, and is coming to a theatre near you. Well, if you live in London it is. The play follows fictional company The Felching Players, who agree to stage a Shakespeare play but don't agree on which one, so chaos ensues as each actor tries to perform a different bardy classic. Read more and book right here.

Scream Phone | Soho Theatre | 28-30 Oct (pictured)
When this show was on at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2019, our reviewer was highly impressed. That's of course why I am suggesting you see it when it's on at Soho Theatre, and I think it's best if I let our writer's review speak for itself: "Boasting parodies of classic 80s hits such as 'Material Girl', this musical amply showcases the cast's impressive vocals: the harmonies, solos and choral work are all flawless and add a lot to the overall polish and professionalism of this well-written production. Like an 80s mash-up of 'Mean Girls', 'Clueless' and 'Scream', this spoof horror musical will have you in fits of laughter, on the edge of your seat and in admiration throughout". How can you resist? Book here.


A Time To Breathe | 208 Wandsworth Road (formerly Stockwell Playhouse) | 26-31 Oct
This, my friends, is a whole festival, not just one event, and it's absolutely packed with good stuff. It's cross genre and features artists from diverse backgrounds: "As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic which has amplified a number of entrenched social concerns, 'A Time to Breathe' will create a stage to accurately represent black communal narratives and shine a light on marginalised groups and will create a holistic environment where artists and audience can strive and revitalise our cultural and artistic knowledge". Here's a link to the excellent line-up of events for you to peruse.

Raven | Rosemary Branch Theatre | 30-31 Oct
"Get a glass of red rum and laugh with Elf forever and ever. It will be a misery if you can't come". I think this one could probably have gone in the scary show section, as it's a horrifying dark comedy by TW fave Elf Lyons, but you know, so could 'Scream Phone', probably, so let's not get too hung up on this whole section integrity thing. If you're sensible and have taken our advice to see Lyons' shows in the past, you will know what a ridiculously fabulous talent she is and are already hot-footing your way to the Rosemary Branch Theatre's website to book your tickets. If not, fools, head this way, quickly.

Waxa Belta Helta Skelta | Camden People's Theatre | 27-28 Oct
And finally, over to the Camden People's Theatre for this rather interesting show from acclaimed artist Serena Ramsay. "What do you do when your mam abandons you to join a cult? Serena Ramsey is back with her new solo show, a surreal look at abandonment, cults and Mammy issues. Warning, this extravaganza WILL contain witch-craft, dance numbers, sausage rolls and lots of Newcastle Brown Ale. Ramsey brings emotions to the stage that will resonate heavily with anyone who has ever experienced loss, love and the need for answers. This explosive multi-platform exploration of drag will leave the audience laughing, crying and craving a sausage roll". Book here.
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