RENT at the Old Rep, Birmingham

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The opening night performance was beset by technical complications, ones that were difficult to ignore. Mics dropped out mid-song, tables trembled underfoot, heels were lost, and a guitar crashed to the ground during a pivotal, emotional moment. There were stumbles and trips. A bench broken during an opening number remained on-stage, its dishevelment garnering a strange totemic quality. But amid the muddle, the spirit of the production shone through.

BLOOM PRESENTS… at the Wardrobe, Bristol

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Eclectic, crazy, moody, intense, personal, funny, faltering and finally formidable… the music cooperative Bloom was all this in yet another mini triumph for The Wardrobe Theatre, who seem hardwired to find and reveal risk-taking artists in this wonderfully creative city . . . Tonight’s triptych of talent was the first of three such evenings planned at the venue, the next being in August followed by a third in September.

OUT OF SKY at the Wickham Theatre at Bristol University

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Despite its dark theme, Out Of Sky has a celebratory feel, fueled by the young actors’ obvious joy in performing. Co-directed by Julia Head and Jack Orozco Morrison, this play is packed with an extraordinary variety of images and ideas, perhaps a little too much so, but they and their talented writer should be congratulated for such inventiveness and ambition. All of Splint Theatre should be very proud of what they have achieved.

WHAT’S THE MATTER? at the Wardrobe, Bristol

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One recalls the founding principles of the BBC as, ‘to educate and entertain’. The Last Baguette Company has taken up the challenge on behalf of theatre, in a show which in its brave attempt to explain the near inexplicable and certainly incomprehensible, is science for the interested-but-easily-bored (The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures are their nearest competitors for this task). The ‘matter’ in question is ‘stuff’, that is, the stuff you and I are made of.

THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA at the Bodleian Quadrangle, Oxford

The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Shakespeare’s Globe and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse are known for their innovative and unusual productions, and this is certainly true in the case of their current production . . . The youthful exuberance of the play is showcased in the company’s modern interpretation as they lift it from its traditional setting and place it in 1966.

WHILE THE SUN SHINES at the Theatre Royal, Bath

A scene from While The Sun Shines by Terence Rattigan @ Theatre Royal Bath. Directed by Christopher Luscombe.(Taken-13-07-16)©Tristram Kenton 07/16(3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550  Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

Although his first big hit was the comedy French Without Tears, Rattigan is best known today for serious dramas depicting the upper-middle class struggling with barely suppressed emotional conflicts. We certainly don’t think of him as a farceur. Nevertheless, the decidedly farcical While The Sun Shines was his biggest hit in its day and ran for well over a thousand performances at the Globe . . . Yes, it’s a period piece, but a good one. Thoroughly enjoyable.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM around Oxford

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a pretty madcap play, so I thought it would work well with Creation’s usual unconventional style. I knew that everyone was split into groups in advance, and that we would all regroup at some point. We were sent our starting location a few days in advance, and met at the agreed spot. This is a fun idea, and spending a beautiful summer evening strolling around Oxford is never a bad thing.

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW at the Bristol Hippodrome

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The Time Warp hit town last night, and in the time honoured way, whether travelling in to the centre on the number 4 or the 43, many succumbing to its pleasures felt compelled to wear nothing but undies, fishnets and basques. St Augustine’s Parade was awash with jiggering flesh as we lined up for our bag checks. Once inside, this jolly crew was more than ready to play its part in a fast, furious and fun evening’s entertainment.