More Scrooge than Santa? Try these distinctly non-festive shows this month

African Gothic at the Park Theatre

African Gothic at the Park Theatre - Credit: Archant

Alex Bellotti rounds up a host of shows around Hackney and Islington, covering everything from Apartheid to Manhattan musicals.

For all those eager to avoid the Christmas spirit, there are plenty of non-Panto shows in northeast London to provide an escape from festivities.

At the Park Theatre until January 23, African Gothic provides a harrowing examination of Apartheid South Africa. Reza de Wet’s play depicts two South African children who – in the absence of parents, money and God – are forced to take a long and uncomfortable look at Afrikaner society and the myths that sustained it. (Visit

Best regarded as a playwright’s playwright, the Arcola’s celebration of Howard Barker continues with a double bill until December 19. Dark comedy The Twelfth Battle of Isonzo is followed by Barker’s 1992 masterpiece Judith: A Parting From The Body, in an exhilarating collision of love, truth, sex and war. (

Recently extended until April, the Tony Award-winning musical In The Heights has received plenty of accolades following its successful transfer to the King’s Cross Theatre. With a gripping story and Latin and hip-hop infused score, this ground-breaking contemporary musical provides an uplifting, exhilarating and three generational journey into Washington Heights, one of Manhattan’s most vibrant and changing communities. (

Over at the Courtyard Theatre, Lingua Franca Theatre are presenting Molière’s L’École des Femmes. One of the 17th century playwright’s most acclaimed works, this updated adaptation sees an aging, insecure pop star trying to groom Agnes, a young girl who also attracts the interest of the town ‘it’ boy Horace. A satire of celebrity and modern misogyny, the play is presented in the original French text from December 16-18. (

A radical reworking of John Gay’s scabrous satire The Beggar’s Opera, Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs) is at Shoreditch Town Hall until December 12. Taking inspiration from Gay’s original, Carl Grosse’s bold re-telling shines a contemporary light on people’s capacity for corruption; confronting big business, corrupt institutions, urban myths and pilchards. (

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Finally, due to popular demand, F*cking Men is back at the Kings Head. Running until January 9, this moving portrayal of hunger and desire previously won plaudits for a story which depicts the erotic encounters of 10 men in their interconnected search for sexual satisfaction. (

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