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April/May Theatre Reccs

April’s nearly over but theatre is forever! 

three women read a letter
Adele James, Gemma Whelan and Rihannon Clements. | Credit: Isha Shah

Underdog: The Other Other Brontë @ National Theatre

Ends 25 May 

Directed by Natalie Ibu (Northern Stage Artistic Director) the Brontë sisters rivalry takes centre stage in ‘Underdog: The Other Other Brontë’. 

Starring Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones) as Charlotte Brontë; Rihannon Clements and Adele James as her sisters Anne and Emily, we are thrust into their world as they each try to make a name for themselves in a time where women were only good for looking after other women’s children. 

I loved this production. The small cast made it feel much more intimate and voyueristic as we learnt about the Brontë’s world and their individual quests for notoriety. The ensemble, comprised entirely of men, played into their roles amazingly, whether they were pageboys, partygoers or ladies of the manner. 

Gemma, Rihannon and Adele meshed amazingly as sisters, with the characters of Emily and Anne constantly calling out Charlotte for her unreliable narration and fanciful story telling. 

I love the National’s commitment to staging theatre from outside the capital, long may it continue. 

man facing away from the camera holds a woman's head in his hands as she leans on his shoulder
Reece Richards and Sharon Rose

Love Steps @ TALAWA Theatre

29 May to 1 June 

Anastasia Osei-Kuffour’s ‘Love Steps’ is a lesson in love and understanding your own journey.

Starring Sharon Rose (Hamilton) and Reece Richards (Sex Education), Anna takes us through her journey of romantic love and self-love through movement, dance and monolouge. 

This adaptation of Osei-Kuffour’s poetry is a strong contender for development through to a larger space. Based on her own experiences in love (read our Q&A with Anastasia here) Sharon carried us through this story in her own way as Anna, supported by various, friends, family and love interests all voiced by Reece and his ever changing accent-work. 

I love the stripped back staging of this production; simple lighting and costume design are used to track Anna’s feelings and emotions throughout her journey. Pink LEDs light the stage when she’s feeling loved up, blue when she’s conflicted, when her love looks hopeful and she meets ‘The One’, Anna dons a floral wrap dress as opposed to her all black ensemble. 

With a run time just over an hour, ‘Love Steps’ hits the sweet spot and doesn’t drag out Anna’s story, the only issue is that it means that it feels a little more open-ended that I’d like but Anastasia Osei-Kuffour could be hoping for an extension of Anna’s journey. 

This production has a little break between its transfer at Omnibus and TALAWA, so I’m excited to see how, and if there are any adaptations.  

three boys line up to race on a concrete football pitch
Francis Lovehall, Kedar Willams-Stirling and Emeka Sesay

Red Pitch @ Soho Place

Ends 4 May

My second time seeing this production and it did not disappoint. I was worried that a transfer to a larger space would see some the the nuance lost from it’s original run at Bush Theatre (you will always be famous). But this didn’t disappoint, I think the intimacy was aided by the fact that the upper tiers of seating weren’t bookable so you felt like you were back at Bush. 

Starring Kedar Williams-Stirling (Sex Education),  Francis Lovehall (Small Axe: Lovers Rock) and Emeka Sesay (The Book of Clarence) these three boys are aspiring football stars battling it out on their local pitch as the gentrification of their home looms overhead. 

This production is so Bush Theatre it makes my heart swell. From the jokes to the dance breaks, the camaraderie is clear to see, as is the real heart for the story being played out. 

Special shoutout to the movement director Gabrielle Nimo and the original movement director Dickson Mbi for crafting such raw scenes. 

Not to be missed. 

three women stand on a stage with their arms spread wide
The Fates plus ensemble

Hadestown @ Lyric Theatre

Ends 22 December 

I had no expectations going into this production, I hadn’t even listened to the soundtrack; which didn’t disappoint. 

Hadestown tells the tale of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, lovers who are separated by Hades. The tale is told by Hermes, played by Melanie La Barrie (& Juliet) who’s phenomenal, her accent only heightens the story and the otherworldly feel that Hadestown seeks to project. 

I adored the Fates, played by Bella Brown (A Chorus Line), Madeline Charlemagne (The Secret Life of Bees) and Allie Daniel (As You Like It). Their performances of Nothing Changes and When the Chips Are Down were stellar and I loved the fact that they supported the cast musically with individual instruments. 

The relationship between Orpheus and Eurydice, played by Donal Finn and Grace Hodgett Young respectively, felt a little lukewarm for me, but nevertheless they carried their individual roles well along with every song performed. 

Hades and Persephone, played by Zachary James and Glori Onitiri, had a much better dynamic in my opinion.

Staging and music a feat to witness, I’m glad that this was brought back to the West End. 

five friends sit on a porch
Ferdinand Kingsley, Katie Leung, Yolanda Kettle, Anthony Welsh, Tamara Lawrence

The Comeuppance @ Almeida Theatre

Ends 18 May 

Travelling from across the pond, ‘The Comeuppence’ tells the story of what everyone hates to imagine returning to, your school reunion, but this time it’s post COVID. 

Directed by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Appropriate) it’s clear to see thematic strands from his previous works involving race and strained relationships. 

I’m obsessed with the set design on this one, despite largely taking place on the porch, Arnulfo Maldonado has created an entire home behind the cast!

Starring Yolanda Kettle (Persuasion), Ferdinand Kingsley (Reacher), Tamara Lawrence (The Silent Twins), Katie Leung (Nightsleeper) and Anthony Welsh (Bob Marley: One Love). We see the highs and lows of reuniting with old friends who have adult problems. 

I loved the way this played out, though I would have loved if there had been more anger, at times it felt as though we were about to reach the pinnacle of something great only to have it pulled away from us. 


Credit: Ali White

Is Dat U Yh? @ Brixton House

Ends 27 April

I have yet to see this, and sadly I don’t think I’ll be able to squeeze it in but if you watch it let me know what you think!

Summary: Tamagotchi’s, Pokemon and alien babies.

“a time where laughter was free and nonsense was all we knew”

It’s when you couldn’t be on the phone and the internet at the same time

It’s where you learned insults were a love language

It’s when spittin battles at lunchtime could get you happy-slapped

Tolu and the “Back Of the Bus Queens” relive and rediscover their love of home, in this joyous and whacky adventure down memory lane. Surreal memories, short stories, and nonsense!

Theatre. Dance. Lyricism & school daze nostalgia!

man and a woman sit on some suitcases both are carrying cake boxes
Sam Tutty and Dujonna Gift

Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York) @ Criterion Theatre 

Ends 14 July

Disclaimer: I saw this at Kiln Theatre in Decemeber 2023 but I was so glad it was going to the West End. 

Now at the Criterion Theatre, ‘Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York)’ stars Dujonna Gift (Hamilton) and Sam Tutty (Dear Evan Hansen). Seeing this in the winter was the perfect setting but I know that this production is seasonless. 

Dujonna and Sam are stunning both theatrically and sonically, you almost forget that they’re the only two performers on the stage, the weight they carry. From the score through to to the use of staging, this production snuck in for me on my list of top five shows for 2023. 

This musical needs the same cult following as SIX. If you’re looking for something feelgood with plenty of heart, Two Strangers is for you. 


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