Arcola theatre

Watch three irascible women screaming at each other: Anthropology, at Hampstead Theatre, reviewed

Anthropology is a drama about artificial intelligence that starts as an ultra-gloomy soap opera. A suicidal lesbian, Merril, speaks on the phone to her kid sister, Angie, and they discuss Merril’s beautiful ex-girlfriend. After ten minutes, we learn that Angie’s voice belongs to a robot, Digital Angie, created by Merril to replicate the real Angie who vanished a year earlier in unexplained circumstances. Then another surprise. Digital Angie becomes self-aware and turns into a detective who offers to help Merril investigate Angie’s disappearance and to find out if she’s still alive. Angie then turns into a third character who tries to interfere with Merril’s social life. This digital bully sends

Kwame Kwei-Armah’s embarrassing update of Love Thy Neighbour: Beneatha’s Place, at the Young Vic, reviewed

Beneatha’s Place, set in the 1950s, follows a black couple who encounter racial prejudice when they move to a predominately white suburb. The location is Nigeria but it might as well be the USA because most of the characters, both black and white, are American. (The Young Vic has strong links with America, and a transfer to Broadway may be under discussion.) The script by Kwame Kwei-Armah is inspired by the British sitcom Love Thy Neighbour, which aired five decades ago. This misunderstood show was pretty progressive for the 1970s, and it examined the conflict between two thick white bigots living next door to an intelligent and sophisticated couple from

Sad, blinkered and incoherent: Arcola’s The Misandrist reviewed

A new play, The Misandrist, looks at modern dating habits. Rachel is a smart, self-confident woman whose partner is a timid desperado named Nick. Both accept that Rachel must make all the important decisions in their lives and she orders Nick to submit to ‘pegging’. After some perfunctory resistance, Nick obeys. ‘Lube me up,’ he cries and she plunges a pink truncheon deep into his digestive tract. Afterwards he claims that the experience was so uplifting that even his ancestors enjoyed a taste of bliss from beyond the grave. Lisa Carroll’s ironic and frivolous comedy is fun to watch. The characters are enjoyable and the lightweight, throwaway acting meets the

A terrific night of opera: Zanetto/Orfeo ed Euridice, Arcola Theatre, reviewed

For a one-hit composer, we hear rather a lot of Pietro Mascagni. His reputation rests on his 1890 debut Cavalleria Rusticana, the one-act Sicilian shocker that’s usually yoked (not always to its advantage) to Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. But in recent years we’ve also seen the cod-medieval car crash of Isabeau, and a couple of outings for Iris, an opera that fuses orientalist opulence with tentacle porn, but not in a good way. In fairness, there have been winners too: Opera Holland Park revived L’amico Fritz in July, and this sun-kissed romcom about an Alsatian cherry farmer slipped down like a Negroni with audiences thirsty for a strong, sweet triple-shot of escapism,

A brilliant, tense, ragged slice of drama: Waiting for Lefty reviewed

A Russian Doll is a monologue about Putin’s campaign to swing the Brexit vote in his favour. It stars Rachel Redford whose Borat accent becomes grating after a little. She plays Masha, a computer wizard and language expert, who works for a firm of hackers appointed to spread fake news ahead of the referendum. Masha uses two techniques. She poses as a British Facebook subscriber and drops scary comments on to her timeline. ‘If we don’t leave the EU, Muslim extremists will flood the country.’ Her other ploy is to share a quiz about bikinis with her female correspondents. If the offer is taken up, the bots can harvest data