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Take Your Pulse on the Escalator

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Pulse has grown over the years into a significant showcase for new writing and production companies. This year’s festival lasts from 27 May until 12 Juune and includes some unusual venues – not just the New Wolsey main Theatre and Studio and the Sir John Mills Theatre but the underground spiral car park, the Buttermarket shopping centre, the Jerwood Dancehouse and at least one venue which the programme marks as “top secret”. Now, I wonder where that might be…

A number of the shows are part of Escalator, the East of England’s own initiative helping new work to take part in the Edinburgh Festival. One such production comes from new writing ensemble Nabokov and is by Jack Thorne who wrote the excellent 2nd May 1997 about that other General Election. The Siege takes place at the Sir John Mills Theatre on 27 May. Two New Wolsey presentations on 27 and 28 May are of Free Times Radical developed with Frequency d’Ici and Orpheus and Eurydice which transposes the classic myth to the celebrity culture of the 21st century.

Sex Idiot is a one-woman show by Bryony Kimmings – the title says it all. It’s in the New Wolsey Studio on 28 May and is followed there the next night by a collaboration between the New Wolsey, Transport and Complicité called Invisible. Another one-woman show is Molly Naylor’s Whenever I Get Blown Up I Think of You about a girl whose London dreams shattered on the 7th of July in the Underground; it’s in the Studio on 29 May.

Theatre Ad Infinitum presents The Big Smoke, a fusion of physical theatre, an original score and classic storytelling, in the Studio on 30 May. The same evening sees Certain Dark Things in the main house, a family drama about the darkest days of the Spanish dictatorship under Franco. Theatre-smiths is how the Plasticine Men describe themselves; Keepers is the story of a lighthouse and the men who worked in it 200 years ago. It’s also on at the Studio on 30 May.

Freefall Theatre offers Half Man/Half Clam in the New Wolsey Theatre on 1 June. It combines live music with performance art to tell the story of a man too tongue-tied to tell his girl that he loves her. You have to book for It’s Like He’s Knocking on 3 and 6 June to find out where it’s playing; Leo Kay won’t tell you in advance. The Jerwood Dancehouse hosts a double-bill on 3 June. It’s Fanshen’s presentation of Marcelo dos SantosMoshing Lying Down and a dance and theatre development inspired by The Secret Life of Walter Mitty called Agnes and Walter.

A world première comes from Box of Tricks with True Love Waits; inspired by the Amanda Knox case. Three writers – Evan Placey, Kenneth Emson and, once more, Marcelo dos Santos – explore the world of ‘celebrity criminals’, those who attract devoted pen pals. It’s in the New Wolsey Studio on 3 June. In the Town Hall Galleries on 5 June you can encounter Shallowridge from Tin Horse Theatre; this is for a small audience and its members influence the development of the story.

Fancy you know your Shakespeare inside out and back to front? Then Shakespeare à la Carte at Arlingtons on 8 June might put your memory to the test. This is a dining-theatre experience from Hydrocracker Theatre Company, devised by Richard Hahlo and Jonathan Cullen and originally commissioned by the Brighton Festival. Take your seat at the feast on 8 June. On the same evening Pilot Theatre in association with the Theatre Royal in York have a new Robin Hurford play about the murder of John Lennon in December 1980 in the New Wolsey Studio. And there’s another Hydrocracker presentation on 10 June, also in the New Wolsey Studio. Neil Fleming’s Rain From a Dry Sky is the story of a businessman who calls in the consultants. Big move. Bad move.


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