David Benedict on theatre

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Nobody tells Cheek by Jowl what plays they should do. There are, however, a number of theatre companies whose audiences feel they have a right to determine the agenda. From the late Eighties onwards, gay theatre companies were criticised whenever they chose to do work that wasn't focused entirely around Aids.

Disabled companies too are expected to have a particular agenda. Yet their work is increasingly diverse. Graeae is currently preparing Ubu Roi for an autumn tour. As administrative director, Steve Mannix, points out: 'After nearly 15 years, it's our first classic. The political climate has changed. Disability is now on the agenda. We are representatives of the disability culture and we are giving our interpretation of the world.'

Candoco's recent dance season at the Queen Elizabeth Hall drew critical superlatives that by-passed the often patronising response of people who think it simply marvellous that these people can be in theatre at all. Meantime, New Breed appears at the Turtle Key Arts Centre until Saturday with Grimm, starring Mike Parker (above), part of the Barclays New Stages Festival. If you want polemic or pleading, stay away. The 'gorgeously original' New Breed is much more interested in theatrical and formal experimentation, fairy-tales, physicality, and wit.

(Photograph omitted)

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