Reviews & features: Suzanne Black

182 reviews

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The Trench

6 Aug 20125 stars

Pitch-perfect evocation of the theatre of war

Les Enfants Terribles have built a formidable reputation for playfully macabre tales mixing drama, music and inventive staging to create gothic fantasies reminiscent of Tim Burton’s oeuvre. The latest from the company’s writer Oliver Lansley draws on…

The Girl With No Heart

6 Aug 20122 stars

Children's storybook on loss of innocence fails to come to life

The Girl with No Heart is based on a short story book written by performer Louisa Ashton. A children’s parable about the loss of innocence, Sparkle and Dark’s Travelling Players use puppetry, silhouettes and origami to narrate the tale of a girl who…

Danny McLoughlin: The Truth, the Half-Truth and Nothing Like the Truth

5 Aug 20122 stars

Lies, damned lies and comedy

At the top of the show Danny McLoughlin promises two things. The first is that the purpose of his show is to examine the role of 'enhancing' the truth for comedic effect. The second is an admission that not all of what he says during the next hour will…

Dave McNeill: Canoe Ride 3000

5 Aug 20122 stars

Surreal silliness that goes for the easy laugh

Dave McNeill works hard. After an hour the vast amount of sweat dripping from his shirt is matched only by the volume of jokes he tries to wring from his surreal material. Describing a journey to China in a canoe, the plot of the show definitely falls…

Jim Campbell: Nine-Year-Old Man

3 Aug 20124 stars

Wonderful timing, whimsical narrative

On the wrong side of 25 and facing the less exciting parts of contemporary life (mortgages, babies, failed dreams of being a rock star), Jim Campbell muses on the themes of growing up and assuming responsibility. It’s hardly unique subject matter and…

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Kemble’s Riot

2 Aug 20123 stars

Political intrigue with superbly engaging performance from Richard Hansell

Kemble's Riot recreates 66 nights of rioting in 1809 when the Covent Garden Theatre increased its ticket prices. With the audience drafted in as the rioters, split pro- or anti- theatre manager John Kemble, sitting on the fence is not an…

Hotel Methuselah

23 Aug 20114 stars

Stunning and inventive multimedia production

In a war-time hotel night porter Harry delves into his memories in this tense, mysterious multimedia work from Imitating the Dog. A frame around the stage offers limited views of the actors who work in tandem with pre-filmed dialogue and supplementary…

The New Conway Experience

23 Aug 20114 stars

Bringing hilarity to the masses

Appearing haphazard while remaining in control isn’t easy. John Conway is the genial host for an assortment of skits and bits that feels more like post-pub drinks at the house of a funny friend. Balancing the well-crafted with the pleasingly…

Unanswered, We Ride

23 Aug 20113 stars

An emotional portrait of grief

Joe Tippett and Martha Wollner take on multiple roles to flank Joy Barrett’s journey as bereaved mother Reese in a portrait of all-consuming, selfish grief. Despite one jarring attempt at an Irish accent, all aspects collide to create an engrossing…


23 Aug 20113 stars

Capable garden-fence comedy

Scripted by Matthew Osborn, this natty little three-hander (Alan Francis, Mike Hayley, Toby Longworth) relocates The ’burbs to Middle England. Taking the tested trope of a seeming idyll masking a sinister reality, the deviant Tony Deveraux rules the…

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Silken Veils

23 Aug 20113 stars

Tenderly performed memories

We join a Persian woman (Leila Ghaznavi) as she freaks out about her impending nuptials. Using puppetry, silhouette-work and animation to complement live action we are taken on a journey through her memories of Iran, suffused with the poetry of Rumi. A…

Ian D Montfort - Spirit Comedium

23 Aug 20113 stars

Witty send-up of hand-wringing mediumship

Resplendent in the New Age uniform of beads and sandals, Tom Binns takes on an industry that is at best delusional and at worst predatory. While sending up the vagaries of ‘cold reading’, Montfort drops ‘real’ psychic insights. A witty send-up of…

New Art Club: Quiet Act of Destruction

23 Aug 20112 stars

Comedy-dance due don't do their talents justice

War between two English villages provides the narrative for this comedy-dance duo’s latest. Tom Roden and Pete Shenton’s years of working together shows and at moments their previous inventiveness shines through, but an hour that’s light on dance and…

Russell Kane

17 Aug 20114 stars

Caustic and hilarious self-flagellation

It’s hard to judge Russell Kane’s show because he’s already done it. For the ‘difficult’ follow-up to his Edinburgh Comedy Award-winning 2010 show Kane performs Manscaping as himself, offers up heckles, anticipates critic and audience responses and even…

Beowulf – A Thousand Years Of Baggage

17 Aug 20114 stars

Postmodern interaction with a classic

As Beowulf was pitted against the manbeast Grendel in the Old English epic, NY theatre company Banana Bag & Bodice pits Beowulf the man against Beowulf the text in this clever, stylish interaction with a classic. Seemingly set in a jazz club, three…

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The Dark Philosophers

17 Aug 20114 stars

Dark Welsh classic given a postmodern twist

Death is no impairment to being on stage (as being a goat is no impairment to being a stagehand) in this darkly comic delight from National Theatre Wales and Told by an Idiot. Weaving together two novellas from Welsh English-language writer Gwyn Thomas…

Medea's Children

17 Aug 20113 stars

A cautionary tale for divorcing parents

Lung Ha’s Theatre Company is known for its use of performers with learning difficulties. Teaming up with Swedish company Unga Klara they bring us an exploration of the psychic trauma felt by children affected by divorce. The script, originally…

The Time Out

17 Aug 20113 stars

Interactive theatre with a motivational aspect

An interactive piece for 12 players who get to don swimming caps (with headphones inside) and become a water polo team. If this fills you with trepidation, it’s meant to. The focus shifts between Ken, the cliché-spouting coach with motivational tidbits…

Tom Goodliffe

16 Aug 20112 stars

Lightweight autobiographical material, but with lovely rapport

Goodliffe rails, good-naturedly, against middle-class problems like not liking your job, not having a girlfriend and the annoying questions people ask him because of his name. Taking in his love of maths (with an insistent musical riff on the subject)…

Mark Nelson

16 Aug 20113 stars

Straight talker whose profanity is utterly charming

With no narrative arc or gimmicks, Nelson presents himself as a straight talker, not scared of eliciting shocked gasps with his more provocative material. He deals in the controversial with a cheeky grin, as if the words magically appeared in his mouth.

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King Lear

14 Aug 20113 stars

Engaging spectacle gives Shakespeare a Jingju interpretation at 2011 EIF

Two artforms, alike in their lengthy traditions and explorations of familial and martial subjects but divergent in their aesthetic, are brought together by their areas of commonality. Wu Hsing-kuo (Contemporary Legend Theatre) adapts aspects of…

Imran Yusuf

14 Aug 20113 stars

Religious perspectives on universal issues

This year Imran Yusuf seeks to Bring the Thunder, playing on the fact that one of the Western media’s biggest bogeymen is Muslims seeking to effect change through conflict. In a shiny suit and oozing charisma, he nudges up against political and…

Free Time Radical

14 Aug 20112 stars

Wryly humorous evocation of mid-life crisis falls short of expectations

After a massive flood wipes out London Jensen (Tom Frankland) seeks refuge in the flat of his rescuer Ali (Sébastian Lawson). Amidst a creatively interactive set the duo muses on surfing, relationships and their place in the world in an often physical…

Are You Happy Now?

14 Aug 20112 stars

Pessimistic two-hander about dysfunctional relationships

First-time Fringe writer and director Sam Wright brings us a pessimistic two-hander about dysfunctional relationships. Mark Booth and Mark Jeary flit between the stories of two gay couples on the outs. The cast make an admirable attempt to convey the…

Lee Camp Is: Yet Another American Mistake

12 Aug 20114 stars

Rabble-rousing American gets mad at current affairs

Lee Camp aims his freewheeling cannon at all the aspects of American (and Western) culture that are easy to criticise: childhood obesity, people who believe in aliens, sweatshops, war as big business, the moon landings, the death penalty, multinational…