It's a great week of theatre at Soho, where the programme includes the return of Amanda Wilkin’s gorgeous Shedding a Skin and another chance to take part in Nathan Ellis’ WORK.TXT which made quite a splash at the Vault Festival back in 2020. The latter is a show about work, zero hours contracts, late capitalism, the affluent and the precariat and if that isn’t enough to whet your interest, it is made and performed entirely by the audience. But no worries, this isn’t a show that requires your am-dram skills but rather one which allows the audience to work individually and together and in the process cannily examines our make and break work culture. I saw that Vault try-out and it was electric, so I have no hesitation in recommending.
Moreno (Theatre 503)
Winner of the 2020 Theatre503 International Playwriting Award, Pravin Wilkins’ play, directed by Nancy Medina (fresh from helming Trouble in Mind at the NT), is set against the background of Black Lives Matter and American football. Wilkins is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With the NFL under pressure after Colin Kaepernick takes the knee to protest racial injustice and police brutality against black people, star player Luis Moreno is feeling the pressure. Should he or should he not take the knee as the political tide turns against his own community? The Award has produced some excellent plays and this one about what happens when politics reaches the pitch sounds timely.
24 Italian Songs and Arias (Battersea Arts Centre)
When Brian Lobel was a teenager he failed to get the requisite 98 out of 100 score to get into his state choir. It has haunted him ever since, and he has gone on to have many more failures. Even this show is a failure: it failed to win the Oxford Samuel Beckett Award or get Arts Council funding. But what it does with sly rackety charm is to turn failure into success and in the process explore why we are so uncomfortable with failure, why some people such as businessman Donald Trump fail upwards, and how what might be seen as one person's failure is another person's success. As this show demonstrates, sometimes imperfection is far more interesting than flawless perfection, and often just having a go is a success in itself. I saw it in early 2019 when it was still in embryonic form. By now it should soar.
Cover image from 24 Italian Songs and Arias.