Why do some reviews have a different-coloured star rating? This year, we're re-publishing selected reviews from earlier runs of the same show – for example, if we reviewed the same production at last year's Edinburgh Fringe. Find out more.

Contractions

4 stars

First performed a decade ago, Mike Bartlett’s Contractions seems to get more relevant - and more creepy - with every passing year. A comment on both faceless corporatism and surveillance culture, it’s the story of a once-ambitious saleswoman called Emma and her run-in with a nameless HR manager. The accomplished script is both witty and disturbing, and Buxton Drama League’s version of it lives up to its sinister promise.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Saturday 20 July | Read more

Ruby & Cedar

5 stars

"You'll never forget it, not all your lives!" says Ruby and Cedar's mum as she gets them up in the middle of the night to watch the moon landings. It's the fiftieth anniversary of that epoch-defining event this very weekend - and inspired by it, Fishhouse Theatre have created a gem of a show, that celebrates a love of space, sisterhood, and friendship.

Review by Stephen Walker published on Saturday 20 July | Read more

Angel Cards with Janice

4 stars

You don't so much watch Angel Cards with Janice as experience it. It's a micro-theatre adventure for one or two, in a delightfully decorated grotto draped with fabric and lit with fairy lights.

Janice from the hairdressers is at a bit of a crossroads in her life, and she is experimenting with card reading as she tries to figure out what the future holds. She adopts the mysterious character of Madam Norrash; that's Sharron backwards, and some may remember Janice from Fishhouse Theatre’s previous show, What Would Sharron Davies Do?

Review by Stephen Walker published on Saturday 20 July | Read more

Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell

4 stars

Trapped in the Coach and Horses pub overnight, Fleet Street hack Jeffrey Bernard regales us with stories from his chaotic but never boring life. He makes the saloon bar his home, almost literally - he doesn’t really have anywhere else to go after being kicked out by yet another woman, and he’s carting his possessions around in a battered suitcase and a couple of carrier bags.

Review by Stephen Walker published on Thursday 18 July | Read more

Jordan

5 stars

Jordan is a deeply challenging play: harrowing at times, uncomfortable throughout, asking difficult questions about just what we can forgive when it’s done in the name of motherly love. Written in the early 90’s by Anna Reynolds and Moira Buffini, the one-woman script is arguably less well-known than it ought to be, and it thoroughly deserves the powerful and sensitive revival it’s given here.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Wednesday 17 July | Read more

Home

3 stars

A young couple settle into their first home together. The flat is a bit scruffy and they are protective of their new son, but they are together and happy. Because they seem so sensible, it takes us a while to realise that they are only sixteen - and trying to combine school, work and parenting without the support of their own parents. Home is all the more interesting for not falling into the cliches of irresponsible teenage life.

Review by Stephen Walker published on Wednesday 17 July | Read more

Soapbox Racer

4 stars

When the love of Kay’s life dumps her for her best (and only) friend, she resolves to build a soapbox car and race down a hill in an attempt to win him back. Kay knows that this is not how it really works. But if Plan B is a school trip to Belgium, does she really have a choice?

Review by Stephen Walker published on Wednesday 17 July | Read more

The Neat Freak

4 stars

“I’m a little bit OCD”. It’s a phrase we’ve all heard someone use - but if you see The Neat Freak, you’ll never be tempted to reach for that glib metaphor yourself. This short but powerful piece is both informative and wrenching, showing the true impact of severe OCD, and delivering a strident call for greater understanding.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Sunday 14 July | Read more

Men Chase, Women Choose

4 stars

Men Chase, Women Choose is a laugh-a-minute show, but it’s also a complex and layered one - so much so, in fact, that it would take me several paragraphs to fully explain the title. Suffice to say that it describes a theory of human sexual attraction, which once was widely accepted but is now regarded as dubious.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Sunday 14 July | Read more

The Suitcase, The Beggar & The Wind

2 stars

It’s hard to know what to make of this 40-minute production, set on the platform of a railway station in a nameless, timeless town. It has hints of absurdism and it’s occasionally surreal, but a lot of it feels unintentionally obscure. Perhaps it’s a comment on the moments of decision that define our lives; or perhaps it’s something else entirely. I’m simply not sure.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Sunday 14 July | Read more

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