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Lyn's Picks: Oct 17

Lyn's Picks: Oct 17

Lyn's Picks: Oct 17 cover photo on Stagedoor
What's caught the attention of our resident critic this week?

An Improbable Musical (Hackney Empire)

All eyes may be on the Barbican where Improbable Theatre's Phelim McDermott is directing My Neighbour Totoro for the RSC, which has its press night on Tuesday. But you shouldn’t overlook the company’s other show, An Improbable Musical, which demonstrates the company’s inventive fizz and remarkable skills in improvisation which has driven their work over the last 30 years. Using puppetry, animation and music, this is a show which is conjured entirely from nothing, which is always in the moment, and which puts the alive into live theatre every time it is performed by a crack team. The show got rave reviews when it was seen in Northampton earlier this year and should add to the reputation of a company that has consistently reinvented the possibilities of improvisation and puppetry.

The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes (Battersea Arts Centre)

Theatre is showing a real interest in artificial intelligence at the moment and it is one of the concerns of A Dead Body in Taos which opens at Wilton’s later this month. First off comes the mighty Australian troupe Back to Back, a company made up of learning disabled performers and co-creators which has produced a remarkable body of work which breaks theatrical form in thrilling ways and is often both challenging and heart-breaking. No surprise that the company recently won the Ibsen Prize, one of the theatre’s most coveted international awards. Taking the form of a public town hall style meeting, this is a multi-layered piece exploring the lines between private and public actions and engagements, the baselines of what we consider human intelligence to be, and what normal might look like in a world where AI is smarter than any human.

A Sudden Violent Burst of Rain (Gate)

The Gate Theatre has been a fixture in Notting Hill since 1979, but while this tiny theatre above a pub may have created some miraculous transformations over those years, the space — up a narrow flight of stairs — was never accessible and no longer fit for purpose. So, the Gate has moved to Mornington Crescent where it takes up residence at the space some of you may know as Theatro Technis. The opening show is Sami Ibrahim’s fable — seen at Roundabout in Edinburgh this summer — set in an apparently fantastical world where sheep float, babies grow in the earth like plants, and cities full up with rain like soup bowls. But this slyly told story, one which is buoyantly playful and yet undercut with sadness, is no fairy tale. It gradually becomes clear that the island on which shepherd Elif has taken refuge from the tyrant who terrorised her country and family, is remarkably like our own island. Both writing and Yasmin Hafesji’s adept production have a jaunty light touch which is very pleasing.

Cover image of the cast in An Improbable Musical at Hackney Empire, photo by Marc Brenner.

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Written by

Lyn Gardner

New tips and reviews every week. If you're looking for innovative theatre, you've come to the right place.
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