Fat Friends the Musical is a feel-good play with plenty of belly laughs. (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)
Reuniting the characters from Kay Mellor’s hit TV show, Fat Friends follows the struggles of a group of overweight friends who attend a slimming club based in Headingley, a suburb of Leeds. Kelly has a larger-than-life personality but is struggling to fit into her dream wedding dress, lovelorn group leader Lauren is trying to find the man of her dreams, whilst Kelly’s father Fergus is just trying to keep the family chip shop open.
Alice is about to click send on an email to her parents to tell them she’s a lesbian, when her partner of seven years, Fiona, reveals that she has always thought she were a man and now wants to start living as one, as Adrian.
As Adrian begins his transition, Alice wants to be supportive but is conflicted what this means for her: is she still a lesbian if she is in a relationship with Adrian, does she want to be in a relationship with him, and what about her work colleague Lelani? And what does this mean for Josh, Adrian’s older brother and Alice’s ex; will he finally move on from his own heartache at losing his girlfriend to his own sibling?
Trans identity seems to be very much in the public eye at the moment, but a lot of the stories in mainstream media seem to be focused on the stories of trans women. The role of the trans man, whether it’s less glamorous or perhaps more hidden, is one that seems to have been somewhat downplayed. But Rhum and Clay in collaboration with Kit Redstone’s British Council Showcase play Testosterone is less a play about trans identity and more a play about what it is to be a man, seen uniquely though the eyes of someone who has been watching, and wondering, how to be a man most of his life.
Following an outstanding run at London’s West End, The Kite Runner has landed in Birmingham and it is one of the most enthralling yet haunting productions I’ve seen on stage.
Adapted by Matthew Spangler from Afghan-American Khaled Hosseini’s bestselling novel of the same name, The Kite Runner tells a powerful father-son story of redemption, spanning several countries and generations. It’s a powerful story that has already translated well onto a successful film, but after a raft of positive reviews for its West End run, the production has gone on a UK tour.
Celebrating 50 years since Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special,’ This is Elvis showing at The New Alexandra Theatre is a captivating part tribute act, part play which really brings the best of The King to modern audiences.
This is Elvis tells the story behind Presley’s monumental return to performing live for the first time in seven years, pivoting away from his film career back to his musical roots. More than a tribute show, the play charts the self-doubt and tensions behind the NBC show that became known as Elvis’ 68 Comeback Special and ultimately relaunched his music career. But it doesn’t shy away from the darker sides of The King’s return, depicting the fractious relationship with manager Colonel Tom Parker and avoidance of wife Priscilla, as well as self-doubt about his relevance to audiences of the time and hints at his alcohol and drug dependency.
We Are The Lions Mr Manager is the poignant, funny and heartfelt the true story of Jayaben Desai, hero of the Grunwick strike in the 70s.
Freshly arrived in England after leaving the newly-independent Tanzania and a childhood growing up in Gujarat in India, England is not what Mrs Desai expected; from the houses to the weather to the discrimination felt by South Asians trying to find employment. She begins working in the Grunwick Film Processing Factory, where the manager is a bully and overtime is mandatory – after all, you signed the contact, the workers are told.
One day, Mrs Desai has enough of the treatment and confronts the manager with a firework of a line; “What you are running here is not a factory, it is a zoo. But in a zoo there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your fingertips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are the lions, Mr. Manager.” And with that she promptly resigns, and starts what was to become one of the longest and most important industrial disputes in British history.
There are worse ways to spend a grey, and drizzly Saturday, but wrapped up in Kneehigh Theatre and director Emma Rice’s retell of the 1945 Noel Coward film Brief Encounter is not one of them. The play is warm, at times funny, and sensitively portrays the ordinariness at which two married strangers can meet and fall in love.
The story is based around two people, Laura and Alec, who both lead fairly ordinary lives in pre-war England. They meet at a train station cafe, where Laura has something in her eye and doctor Alec helps her remove it. They sense an instant connection and arrange to meet again, where their friendship becomes something more, despite being married to other people.