Cheap Seats: March
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Spring has sprung and it’s t-shirt weather in the manor, so no more nights in under the duvet watching re-runs of Broad City – time to get out there, tiger. Oh, you’ve only got twenty quid left in your bank account? Not a problem – we've rounded up a few cheap plays that touch upon everything from feminism to exorcism and youthful optimism. Your main outgoings in London should be rent and fringe theatre. Get it into your budget spreadsheet, stat.
It's a scorching summer in the city, and anxious 18-year-old Katie has found herself on the wrong side of Luton. She rambles her way through a monologue about ending up on the wrong side of town, taking her knickers off (but not having sex), scratching obscenities in her dad's car, and pouring mince into her teacher’s tumble drier. They are the musings of a well-spoken girl with an expansive vocabulary who has nevertheless found herself in Luton with three strange men and no underwear. Along with a violent climax involving spilled ice cream and a car chase, there’s plenty of youthful soul-searching that will make you pine for your teenage years again (not really).
Jo, Celia and Mary, a victim of a recent sexual assault, pass a disproportionate amount of time in the bathroom they share, confiding in each other and in their reflections. We hear about Jo’s sexual fantasies and Mary’s victim blaming, and get a front row seat to Celia’s general vanity. Walker has wisely kept the production in period, just before that pesky fourth wave of feminism hit, so the three women are on that tipping point between feminist revolution and really just wanting to settle down. Will probably resonate all too acutely.
High hopes for the future have given way in the real world, where everything seems to be going to shit. The best friends hunker down in their student house, which is haunted by a monster and is slowly filling with water. As time ticks on, they are forced to confront important adult decisions that will determine the course of their lives: jobs, marriage, money. As their youthful optimism gets pushed to the limit, student dreams give way to paranoia and murderous betrayal (don't they always?)
The creative bunch at STYX are reviving three experimental plays from the 90s that characterise ‘in-yer-face’ theatre – vulgar material that aims to shock. Sarah Kane's 'Blasted' is a bleak piece about a tabloid journo, a young woman, a dead baby and a soldier; Anthony Neilson's 'Normal' centres on the morality-free inner workings of the German equivalent of Jack the Ripper; and Caryl Churchill's 'The Striker' sees her protagonist resurrect herself as various versions of a woman as she explores feminist issues. There's also throwback hip hop DJ sets, a Bjork-inspired drag extravaganza and a Take That Tribute, all in celebration of the golden era.
If budget thrills are your bag, head to a disused rug warehouse in Southwark for this basement seance. Immersive horror experiences usually involve lots of being chased by zombies and tactfully hustled into the next room. This one's different – it’s all about the slow build and letting your imagination do all the work. Think translucent plastic sheets rustling ominously, creaking doors and weak, spluttering lamps, while an almost-Priest takes you through the steps of an exorcism. If you’re not terrified the whole time, you’re an absolute hero.