THE GRINNING MAN at the Bristol Old Vic


A young man with a hideously disfigured face has become a member of a travelling show. One day he removes his bandages and discovers that the sight of his injuries has a strangely transformative effect upon his audience. They become happier, more caring and more fulfilled, but he remains tormented by the need to discover how he came to be so cruelly scarred. Who did this to him? . . . Last night’s performance received a well-deserved standing ovation. This is a must-see show.

STEPPING OUT at Bath Theatre Royal


The scene is a church hall (lovingly recreated in Robert Jones’ detailed set) in which Mavis (Tamzin Outhwaite) an unfulfilled dancer has arranged tap dance lessons for a motley group of women and one, slightly gap-in-the-clouds, man (Dominic Rowan). We’re in Ayckbourn country, without the slightly jaundiced eye, but with hints at suburban angst which is hinted at in tangential references to off-stage events. At the end of the act the group is galvanized by a request for them to perform at a local charity event.

THE RIVER at the BT Studio, Oxford


This is a play that talks a lot about fishing. I learnt what a ‘priest’ is (a tool for quickly killing fish) and the fact that there is little difference between a trout and a sea trout. As the title suggests, it is set in a cottage by a river, where ‘The Man’, played by Charlie Tyler, enjoys his lifelong obsession. But fish are not the only prey he captures for sport, we realise as the play unfolds. This is also a play about relationships, love and lies and the complexity of being human against the simplicity of the natural world.

Akram Khan’s GISELLE at Bristol Hippodrome


There are times when the best of everything combines to produce something exceptional. Akram Khan’s spellbinding Giselle is a fine example. The reimagining of this classic tale of love and betrayal has been fuelled by the collective creative genius of a dream team. I would challenge anyone to find better this season. An emotional performance by English National Ballet’s Artistic Director Tamara Rojo CBE in the lead role, with scintillating support from James Streeter and Cesar Corrales as the would-be suitors Albrecht and Hilarion, swept this performance to a giddy level.

SÉANCE at Birmingham Rep


A shipping container sits in Centenary Square. Inside there are two rows of worn red velvet seats, like those you might imagine in an old cinema, allowing for an audience of 15 or thereabouts. They surround a table covered in cloth. The audience sits down, and puts on headsets. The lights dim, and then switch off. Séance begins. Total darkness, 3D stereo sound, and actual tactile experience combines in this production to unsettle, frighten and potentially upset the audience, and the show is calibrated as such that it is difficult to maintain your composure.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover at the Oxford Playhouse


An English Touring Theatre and Sheffield Theatres production

Writer	D.H.Lawrence 	 
Director	Phillip Breen 	 
Designer	Laura Hopkins	 
Lighting Designer	Natasha Chivers	 
Sound Designer	Andrea J Cox	 
Movement Director	Ayse Tashkiran	 
Casting Director	Charlotte Sutton	 
Associate Director	George Richmond-Scott        	 
Fight Director	Renny Krupinski


Mrs Flint/ Mrs Bentley/ Singer	
Aretha Ayeh
Constance Chatterley	Hedydd Dylan 	
Sir Clifford Chatterley	Eugene O'Hare 	 
Michaelis / Trade Unionist / Dan Coutts / Albert Adam                           Will Irvine	 

Sir Malcolm Reid / Mr Linley / Field / Doctor	                                       Ciaran McIntyre	
Pianist	                              David Osmond	 
Oliver Mellors	                    Jonah Russell	 

Ivy Bolton	                              Rachel Sanders	 
Hilda	                             Alice Selwyn

Amidst all the furore of indecency and scandal which surround the history of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the romantic element of this story is often ignored or forgotten. This play chooses to emphasise that this is a love story, and Hedydd Dylan and Jonah Russell as Lady Chatterley and Oliver Mellors have a very tender on-stage chemistry . . . if you fancy an interesting retelling of a classic story, you’ll certainly enjoy this.

THE FOX AND THE CHILD at the Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol


Sharp Teeth Theatre has chosen this simple yet slightly sinister tale to make its debut production. Their previous association with this venue has been the curating and presenting multi-genre work and the company’s familiarity with the performance space helps present this short piece in a confident and well balanced way . . . At its heart the story is about love, loss and revenge. There are also hints of jealousy, guilt and mental illness.

DOMESTICA at The Door, Birmingham Rep


Theatre group Sleepwalk Collective have returned to the UK to perform their new show Domestica, a production that functions as live art more than theatre . . . What is delivered is an experience that is unlike most others one might have in a theatre space this year. Whether that means you should see it is another thing entirely . . . The work is densely referential, highly affected and occasionally dull. Thespian pretension dampens the feminist power on display.