Black Love (Kiln)
How does blackness inform and impact identity? It’s a question at the heart of Chinonyerem Odimba’s musical, which comes with music by Ben and Max Ringham, and which was first seen as part of Paines Plough’s Roundabout season last summer. The story of black brother and sister Aurora and Orion, living in a small South London flat and surrounded by memories of their parents’ love, gets a chance to spread its wings and fly onto a main house stage. Good to see this questing and joyful exploration of family and race in the UK today getting a wider viewing.
Project Dictator (New Diorama)
Well the title couldn’t be more apt but so is the content from Rhum & Clay, a company which has consistently delivered thoughtful, knotty pieces with contemporary relevance, strong visuals and often an undercurrent of the absurd. Here authoritarianism is put under the microscope using clowning as it follows a comedy double act whose freedom of expression is gradually limited by a slow tide of authoritarianism. Inspired by conversations with artists who have made work under autocratic regimes, the show explores when artistic free expression becomes complicity.
Operation Mincemeat (Riverside)
Yep, it’s the cult show that keeps returning and which gathers more fans as it rolls around London venues (New Diorama, Southwark Playhouse and now Riverside) playing bigger stages and allowing its cast to rewrite and refine what was already a delicious comic musical on its first outing. Who knows, it will probably be at the London Palladium next. It deserves to be, because this wonderfully inventive and very silly musical account of a top-secret WW2 operation to trick Hitler into believing that British troops were going to invade Sardinia is very witty, beady-eyed about the British class system and touching too.
Cover image from Black Love.