Unburied

5 stars

Kids' TV in the 70's was creepier than it is today. Real-world series like Children of the Stones are noted for their quality – but also for the incongruous darkness of their themes. So Hermetic Arts' Unburied grows on fertile ground; an homage to this vanished strand of junior horror, it's built around the story of a lost children's series, filmed for ITV but strangely never shown. It's not so much a play as a live investigation, as actor Carrie Marx delves into the archives and inevitably unearths more than she had planned.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Sunday 11 March | Read more

Work Makes You Free

5 stars

You shouldn't judge a book by its cover – and you shouldn't judge a play by its title, either. Yes, Work Makes You Free was inscribed above the gates of Nazi concentration camps; and yes, this play's set partly in a modern-day Jobcentre. But no, playwright Michael Ross isn't drawing an offensive parallel, and no, it's not a crass attempt at humour either.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Saturday 24 February | Read more

Surprise!

4 stars

Who in the world doesn't like a party? Especially one with hats, party poppers, a raffle and a cake – all of which feature in Lauren Silver's upbeat, friendly show. The answer, it turns out, is Silver herself: she experiences an excess of anxiety, so that even happy social situations can trigger thoughts of death. She doesn't like surprises, and she doesn't like parties. A surprise party, then, is worst of all.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Saturday 24 February | Read more

Revolution

4 stars

Billed as a mix of a board game and theatre, Revolution is an unusual and highly interactive show. We're met at the door by a fiery, resolute pair of hosts; there's an uprising on the streets outside, they tell us, and we the audience are competing dissident leaders. To find out which faction wins, we're going to play a game – a little reminiscent of Risk, though it's projected on the wall rather than being set out on a table. And along the way, we'll have plenty of opportunity to share ideas for a brighter future for London.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Wednesday 21 February | Read more

One Duck Down

4 stars

Billy is sitting in the bath reading a book, together with his rubber duck, Lucky. Lucky the ducky has a story – which takes us back in time to when Billy was 17, and the Paperboy of Pebbleton. Having successfully completed a list of impossible tasks set by the "love of his life" Cecilia, Billy discovers she has added on just one more... following a recent accident at sea, a cargo of 7,000 rubber ducks have been unleashed, and she tasks Billy with finding them.

Review by Lizzie Bell published on Saturday 17 February | Read more

The De Nova Super

4 stars

Flashlights pierce the misty gloom, and respiratory apparatus echoes the breaths of two men. No-one has been here in many years; a faint distress call is all that was received from the ship that once championed humanity's hope. Welcome aboard the De Nova Super.

Review by Lizzie Bell published on Saturday 17 February | Read more

Cotton

3 stars

With Cotton, playwright Alex Benjamin offers a glimpse into an intriguing world: the domain of e-sports, where highly-trained teams of fast-fingered video gamers compete for life-changing prizes. We follow a three-person team – two men and one woman – as their hopes of glory are brutally dashed, and they're forced to emerge from a virtual world into a deeply disappointing real one.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Friday 16 February | Read more

La Revue En Rose

3 stars

It all starts well: I'm part of the congregation invited to the funeral "celebration" of Tempest Rose, an international burlesque star. However, the twist in the tale is that she's not speaking from the grave, but is actually very much alive – and in charge of the whole proceedings from start to finish. Tempest Rose (Ariadne Blakey) is flamboyant, opinionated and at times shocking, full of sharp asides and hilarious quips. She dominates the service and, after a fitting sing-a-long opening "hymn", we are introduced to a series of burlesque acts in honour of her death.

Review by Tig Land published on Wednesday 14 February | Read more

A.I. Love You

3 stars

The lights are harsh and bright; the set is sparse and comfortless. A man and a woman face us, divided by the breadth of the stage. We are here, we're told, for a reason: to act as judge, and perhaps executioner. We must vote on a proposal, choose between two very different paths… and depending on our decision, the woman in front of us may die.

Oh, and one more thing. She's actually a robot.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Saturday 10 February | Read more

DROLL: The Mummers

4 stars

In their previous show, DROLL: The Humour of John Swabber, Owle Schreame gave us a celebration of the ridiculous form of performance that persevered through the theatre ban of the mid-17th century. Now, they turn their hand to the Mummer plays – a type of coarse winter folk plays that persisted from early medieval times through to the last century – and give them a shot in the arm, as we risk losing them from our collective memory.

Review by Stephen Walker published on Saturday 10 February | Read more

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