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Off-West End Picks for January 2010

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The Christmas celebrations are over and your stocking will be gathering dust in the attic for another year. But rather than relentlessly counting down the days until your sunny summer holiday, embrace the dark January nights by spending them in a cosy theatre – and there are plenty of good options to choose from in the coming days and weeks.

If you hurry you still have time to catch Fiona Shaw's acclaimed performance of TS Eliot's The Waste Land. Running until 10 January at Wilton’s Music Hall, where Shaw's virtuoso performance, directed by Deborah Warner, was first seen in 1997, Eliot’s epic 1922 poem expresses the spiritual crisis of modern man and societal dislocation.

You will also have to rush to avoid missing The Stefan Golaszewski Plays, running until 9 January at The Bush Theatre. The double-bill of monologues looks at one man’s love at two very different stages of life – his first romance and the relationship troubles of an old man. They really are a treat and Golaszewski, who rose to fame as a member of comedy group Cowards, is fast proving himself one of the hottest new writing talents.

The legendary Simon Callow's one man show, Dr Marigold and Mr Chops, is now showing at Riverside Studios until 31 January. Patrick Garland’s production combines two of Charles Dickens’ Christmas stories, one about a dwarf who wins the lottery and the other about a man who loses his tormented daughter and replaces her with a dumb and deaf girl.

Bringing some international flavour, Innocence, by provocative German playwright Dea Loher, opens at the Arcola Theatre on 8 January. The show asks questions about conscience and compassion after two illegal dock workers witness a women drowning but do not save her out of fear of being caught by police.

Meanwhile, for a bit of light relief you'd be wise to head to Trafalgar Studios 2. Following the success of the magnificently-titled Barbershopera in 2008, we're now presented with Barbershopera II which also proved an Edinburgh Hit (picking up an MTM Award) and runs in London until 6 February. Three guys and a girl tell the story of a Catalan matador who inherits his father's Norfolk barbershop.

Keeping with the musical theme, Gordon Greenberg‘s production of Jihad! the Musical also opens on 8 January and runs until 6 February at the Jermyn Street Theatre. The production, themed around the war on terror, tells the tale of an innocent young flower seller's journey from the mean streets of Jalalabad. On her journey she receives the help of a friendly local terrorist and an unusually proactive TV reporter who is in search of a 'killer' story.

The last decade has flown by so quickly you may find yourself struggling to remember what on earth the world was like back in the early noughties. Fortunately, we've found something that may help to jog your memory; Decade is a series of ten short plays which look at changes in society throughout the past ten years. It runs from 19 to 23 January at Theatre503 in Battersea.

Change within society is also a theme evident in our final recommendation, Trilogy. The Edinburgh Fringe hit runs from 13 to 16 January (preview 12 January) at the Battersea Arts Centre, transferring to the Barbican on 22 and 23 January. Trilogy explores modern-day feminism and has been designed to challenge you and leave you feeling inspired, acquiring the help of 50 onstage naked female volunteers to help achieve this. Let's just hope they have the heating on!

- Kelly Ann Warden


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