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How do you make a musical about cancer? This latest work from Bryony Kimmings isn’t just theatre, but metatheatre. Her voiceovers and the emails published in the programme detail the at times highly personal development process, and a gut punch of a last 15 minutes strip away the comfort of fictional distance. It could be self-indulgent; instead, it becomes an effective method for making us confront that other, bigger question: how do we talk about, prepare for and deal with illness?
- Pick of the month: Still waters run deep London as seen by the Royal Watercolour Society
- Don’t miss: Swinging Sixties From The Beatles to riots and Woodstock, the V&A explores how that pivotal decade shaped us
- Commuter corner Bridget Jones’s Baby and Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People
It was a dark and stormy night. Two couples are caught in a snowstorm on their way back from a party. Three of them arrive at a remote Connecticut farmhouse. One disappears. There’s a definite pleasure in this familiar story, immaculately told in David Hare’s adaptation of Georges Simenon’s novel La Main. The noir thriller tropes are all in place, from femme fatales and gnawing jealousy to paranoia about what lies beneath.
You have to admire the grand scope of Ella Hickson’s long-gestating new play, which grapples with urgent ideas about this vital but declining resource amidst audacious magic realist time travel. Stretching from 19th-century Cornwall to a dystopian future, it’s DH Lawrence meets Black Mirror, by way of David Hare – anchored by insightful deconstruction of the mother/daughter relationship. If it becomes unwieldy in places, it’s still a rich and absorbing piece of work, and an all-too-rare female odyssey.
True to form, there was something of a post-theme comedown in this week’s show – at least until that climatic flurry of 10s. Is Week 4 too soon for such a high score? Was the sudden mano a mano rivalry a tad forced? Or were the judges simply overcome by the appearance of Boris Becker in the ballroom? (A mystery that went unexplained.)
“I shook up the world.” So says young gun and new heavyweight champion Cassius Clay (shortly to become Muhammad Ali) in those heady moments after his shock defeat of Sonny Liston in February 1964. But a meeting that same night with three African-American friends of equivalent status – superstar crooner Sam Cooke, NFL hero Jim Brown and controversial preacher Malcolm X – leads to soul-searching about the definition of success, and how best men like Clay can represent their community in a divided nation.