Friday, 30 December 2011

The Grand Hamlet-Off 2011 - Results

So, I’m going to kick off my theatre round up this year with the results of the Grand Hamlet-Off, as I've not written the rest of them yet.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

66 Books - Bush Theatre - Part 8 (James to Revelation / 5.05pm to 7pm)

66 Books - Bush Theatre - Part 7 (1 Thessalonians to Hebrews / 1.10pm to 4.45pm)

66 Books - Bush Theatre - Part 6 (Acts of the Apostles to Colossians / 10.25am to 12.50pm)

66 Books - Bush Theatre - Part 5 (Nahum to The Gospel According to John / 7.20am to 9.25am)

Sorry for the extended delay, I got trapped in the whirligig that is Nanowrimo. Anyway we’d reached the half way point and about 8am and I’m afraid my tiredness was starting to get the better of me, so it’s increasingly incoherent from here on out folks...

66 Books - Bush Theatre - Part 4 (Lamentations to Micah / 04:20am to 06:20am)

66 Books - Bush Theatre - Part 3 (Esther to Jeremiah / 01:20am to 03:20am)

Friday, 14 October 2011

66 Books - Bush Theatre - Part 2 (2 Samuel to Nehemiah / 22.35pm to 01:00am)

66 Books - Bush Theatre - Part 1 (Genesis to 1 Samuel / 7pm to 9.25pm)

So a quick note about the blog first, as is probably ridiculously apparent I have lost momentum, partly because there has been no time and partly because my excitement has waned. However, as I saw the most marvellous theatrical event of the year so far last weekend I couldn’t resist putting some of my memories down in a more solid form. Whether I will go back and fill in the spaces is a bit up in the air at the moment, though not completely impossible as I do have notes for most of the things I have seen.

Anyway onto the new Bush Theatre’s 66 Books - a spectacular 24 hour event featuring 66 short plays inspired by the 66 books of the Bible. As the tagline goes – 66 writers, 23 directors and 130 actors. Let’s just say it was one hell of a 24 hours.

Over 8 posts (4 now and 4 once I’ve had time to write them) I’m going to try and relive the entire event – not necessarily with a critical response, but with a personal one. Because this was intensely personal and magical and overwhelming.

One last thing – if you’re going to the next 24 hour event (and if you possibly can, you should) – don’t read this before you go. Go in unspoilt and uncoloured by my feelings and ideas. Also do take a spare pair of socks; I can’t begin to express how much I was craving them by the end.

(All photos copyright Mark Douet)

Friday, 1 July 2011

Interval Awards - Part 4

The fourth and final part (which is a bit of a relief) and I'm going to end relatively easily with a countdown of my favourite ten productions of the year so far:

Interval Awards - Part 3

With performers, ensembles and my favourite productions to go I'm going to change my approach from here on out - rather than selecting winners and runners up I'll be doing count downs of my favourites. In this post I'll be doing my top 6 actors, actresses and ensembles as I tried to cut it down to 5 and just couldn't do it. Here goes:

Interval Awards - Part 2

This is a bit more of a mixed bag - but beneath the cut you will find my choices for Best Direction, Best New Writing, Best Fight Choreography, Best Theatre/Company, Best Front of House (I'm including advertising/media here as it's all linked together for me) and my prize for the moment of theatrical magic that made me gasp most so far this year:

Interval Awards - Part 1

Bit later than expected due to all sorts of craziness at work (including a visit from the charming Ian McDiarmid) - but here is the first post of my Interval Awards for this year. Six months have gone by, I've seen 102 plays and I'm already struggling to pick favourites from a large list of strong contenders. Onwards and upwards and I thought I'd start with some of the technical awards in no particular order:

The Inaugural Interval Awards 2011

Hello all.

It's nearly the end of June and six months have already flown by (though given how much of it I've spent in the theatre, that's maybe not a surprise). As we all know December is the time for reflection, the time to take stock of the year just gone and the time to give out the prizes - NOT ANY MORE! Well, not just then any more. By the time I get to December, I'm struggling to remember what happened in January, I've forgotten the sets that blew me away, the ensembles that astounded and the plays that left me weeping (for I am fickle and have a poor memory). So, I've decided that at this mid-way point it would be nice to have a mini-awards ceremony, to take note of what we've seen and loved and to leave a reminder for those important December decisions. And I thought it would be amazing if other people wanted to get involved to.

So welcome to the Interval Awards (thanks to @CheleCooke for the name) - the first half is over, we're milling around in the bar and opinions need to be shared. There are no rules - you can give out as many or as few prizes as you like, in whatever categories you like (I'll post a list of suggestions below) and you can give them to as many or as few people as you like. We don't mind if you want to highlight one person or you can only just narrow it down to a list of ten - anything goes. And everyone's welcome no matter how much or how little theatre you go to.

You can also post your choices however works best for you - blogger, tumblr, facebook, website, award by award on twitter - if you are using twitter though, it'd be great if you could tag it #IntervalAwards so we can all see (links to off twitter lists would be cool too) - if you're not on twitter but would like your list linked to, feel free to comment here and I'll post it for you. It would also be ace if people could hold off posting their lists until the 1st July (though you're welcome to write them before) - though I understand if people need/want to post sooner.

Most of all have fun.

These are just some suggestions for awards you might like to give out, feel free to send me more to add or to make up your own...

* Best production (Revival? Musical? Drama? Comedy? Devised? Fringe? etc)
* Best Performance (Male? Female? Ensemble?)
* Best Direction
* Best Stage Design
* Best Costume Design
* Best Lighting Design
* Best Choreography
* Best Music (Composer? Score? Tracks? Performers?)
* Best Sound Design
* Best Writing
* Best Effects
* Best Fight Scene
* Best Kiss/Love Scene
* Best Theatre
* Best Front of House
* Best Website
* Best Social Media
* Best Programme
* Best Food (I'd definitely be interested in finding out which theatres to eat at ;) )

P.S. I should probably add that I'm also @lorannah on Twitter

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

89. Three Farces - Orange Tree Theatre

One of the best things about seeing ridiculous amounts of theatre is that you start to find actors you know you can trust – that you know even if you hate the theatre, think the writing’s awful and that the direction is dire, will still give a good performance. Ed Bennett is one of those actors for me, never short of sparkling. The best thing about these actors is that they end up taking you to theatres and shows you might not have found otherwise. And thanks to Mr. Bennett’s appearance in Three Farces I’ve not only discovered the marvellous Orange Tree Theatre (can’t help but love a small, intimate, friendly theatre in the round) but also that Victorian one act farces are fantastic. I am not sure I have grinned so much for a long time.

Monday, 13 June 2011

88. American Trade - RSC at the Hampstead Theatre

American Trade was the third and final instalment of the RSC’s Hampstead residency and sadly I can’t quite shake the feeling that it’s lucky the long ensemble had New York to head off to as it would have been a shame to end such a marvellous tenure with a disappointing, uncelebrated and geographically peripheral end. As unfortunately American Trade suffered from the same problem as its two predecessors – interesting productions, strong performances but weak writing. Though not awful - like the other two plays, I thought there was great potential here but it may have needed longer to develop.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

87. Cardenio - Swan Theatre

If the promise of Gregory Doran and the Swan and theatrical ‘archaeology’ wasn’t enough, having seen Double Falsehood at the Union Theatre in January made Cardenio a must see for me. In the end though, the last of these I think proved more of a hindrance than a help and I’ve found myself increasingly unable to separate my thoughts about one from my thoughts about the other. Which has made it rather difficult to work out truly how I felt about this.

86. The Merchant of Venice - RST

Oh, Rupert Goold, you marvellous, marvellous man. In some ways it shouldn’t be a surprise (given how he completely rehabilitated Romeo and Juliet for me) that he would produce something just as magical with Merchant of Venice. But having heard that he had transported the story to Las Vegas, I couldn’t quite shake my doubts. Which only goes to prove that I must have more faith. Not only does the setting work, it fits perfectly; not only is it flashy and impressive and feels like an event but it marries that with a genuine cleverness. Transformative is the only word that I can think of, on every level this is transformative and I think I will be hard pressed to ever see the play as a comedy again.

Friday, 10 June 2011

85. The City Madam - Swan Theatre

I feel a little sorry for The City Madam, sandwiched in between two of the most impressive productions I’ve seen at the RSC it was bound to suffer somewhat by comparison. In the end though I couldn’t shake the feeling that whilst there were some wonderful performances, an interesting design and some funny set pieces – that the writing just wasn’t strong enough to stand up against Shakespeare. (Though truly who can? I occasionally get irrationally sad that there was a genius in the world and there isn’t anymore – I may be more than a little odd).

Thursday, 9 June 2011

84. Macbeth - RST

This is one of those productions that completely blew me away and I’m not sure if I’ve completely sorted out my thoughts and feelings about it yet (though that might partly be down to cramming so much theatre in to such a short time frame). It’s an incredibly clever production. Whilst Michael Boyd may not be as impressively flashy as Rupert Goold or as able to completely re-envision a play; I find his depth of understanding no less imaginative or magical and with Macbeth he has combined his cleverness and inventiveness with a strong emotional core and an intensity that left me shaken and shaking by the end. In fact my main problem with writing this review has been working out how to elaborate the wealth of interconnecting concepts and where to begin.

Monday, 6 June 2011

83. Much Ado About Nothing - The Globe

I hesitated about writing this up as we were treated to a rather unusual performance with Eve Best indisposed, but given that I’ve already wimped out with one “doctor’s note” for The Globe this year and that I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this – I thought I would go ahead (though given that everyone I know adored Eve Best, I might post an update when I finally get to see her). Anyhow, before the show started Dominic Dromgoole took the stage and explained that The Globe is unable to afford a full understudy programme but that in the best showbiz tradition the show would go on with Lucy McGrillis stepping up from Margaret to play Beatrice, script in hand, and with Charlotte Bevan, Head of Casting, taking her place.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

82. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead - Chichester Festival Theatre

This was one of my more memorable journeys of the year, involving a panicked moment when I realised that the train was about to split off in two directions and finishing with my jacket heading off to Bognor Regis without me. Thankfully despite the stress, I enjoyed the production so much that I wouldn’t hesitate to head further afield, especially to Chichester, again.

Friday, 3 June 2011

81. Cause Célèbre - Old Vic

Given I’m not sure I’d ever seen a Rattigan play before this year, the centenary is proving to be a rather marvellous experience with Cause Célèbre keeping up the fine standards that Flare Path promised earlier in the year. And though both benefited greatly from beautiful, classic productions and excellent performances – I think it’s truly the writing that continues to shine.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

80. Butley - Duchess Theatre

Oh my, I can only really start this write up by squealing gloriously over the set – so many books, it made my heart want to burst with joy. I also really adored the “safety curtain” the scribbled title on lined paper was a lovely touch. However, the sheer force of literature upon the stage was only part of the reason I ended up loving Butley, and the complexity of the relationships on the stage proved the greater target for my adoration.

Monday, 30 May 2011

79. Antigone - Southwark Playhouse

Given that I suspect I have said more than enough on here already about Greek drama, it will hardly be a surprise that Antigone at the Southwark Playhouse was on my must see list (especially as Antigone was the first Greek play I studied, I even did part of my art A Level coursework on it). It was particularly a given since it was translated by Timberlake Wertenbaker, another favourite of mine (excitingly she will be writing a new play for Wilton’s Music Hall later this year). And for once, gloriously, my high expectations weren’t disappointed.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

(63). All's Well That Ends Well - The Globe

I wimped out of reviewing this the first time I saw it though mostly, I hope, for good reasons.At any rate I’m glad I waited – it would have truly been unfair of me, crammed onto uncomfortable seats and missing half the action and as much of the dialogue to have made any judgements on the production. Now, having been crammed at the front of the stage instead I feel much more qualified. Though I’m a little sad that my overriding feeling is still that whilst this is a marvellous production, it can’t quite overcome the fact that this is called a problem play for a reason and in some ways is very difficult to enjoy.

78. Henry VI part I - Rose Bankside

In many ways I find the histories, as they currently stand for me personally, a difficulty. I haven’t seen them all; I’m still missing Henry V and Henry IVs part 2 and 3. I don’t even know what happens in some of them and I certainly don’t understand their nuances or the way they affect each other, the way they bleed into and inform their various parts. So I always feel, except with superb productions like the Tobacco Factory’s Richard II or the Globes Henry IVs, like I’m slightly adrift in judging them. That I just don’t know enough to “get them”. That was definitely the case with Henry VI part 1 where I felt for long stretches like I was floundering, unsurprising I suppose as I neither know the plays that precede it or the plays that follow it.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

77. Moonlight - Donmar Warehouse

I have so far not spoken about Moonlight in any of the polite company I normally inhabit, because I sort of... quite liked it. Given that the consensus is that this was thoroughly rubbish, I’d start to doubt my own critical judgement, except that I generally seem to be a bit out of sync with everyone at the moment. Perhaps it was just that by the time I saw Moonlight, my expectations had hit rock bottom and the only way was up, but I genuinely found I was enjoying it. Though that isn’t the same as loving it, by any means.

76. Rocket to the Moon - Lyttleton, National Theatre

Though it has ended up being rather overshadowed in my memory by the large number of marvellous plays around at the moment, I rather loved Rocket to the Moon – it was gentle, slightly old fashioned and, in the end, a little forgettable – but it was also crammed full of superb acting.

Friday, 27 May 2011

75. Hamlet the Musical - Richmond Theatre

If going from the White Bear to the Rose, from the Bad Quarto to the Folio, had been a bit of a sudden departure – then Hamlet the Musical was a real shock. Thankfully of the best kind, as it managed to be fun, clever, grand, witty, ridiculous and silly in marvellous degrees. I feel almost ridiculous myself about how much I enjoyed this, but I was grinning from ear to ear for days afterwards and still find myself occasionally bursting into the Eurotastic showstopper ‘To Be or Not To Be’.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

74. Hamlet - Northern Broadsides at the Rose Kingston

I went into this production with high hopes – I’d heard good things, the trailer was exciting and I loved the idea of seeing another 1940s Hamlet. Unfortunately mostly, though not entirely, I was disappointed. Partly this might have been the still lingering effects of the marvellous Hamlet 1603 and the slight feeling of pantomime the production left me with, certainly might have been down to moving from the intimacy of the White Bear to the relative grandness of the Rose Kingston – it made everything seem too big and grand and performed.

Monday, 23 May 2011

73. Kingdom of Earth - The Print Room

I must admit, when I think of my trip to Kingdom of Earth, the first thing that springs to mind is the mingled excitement and panic of finding myself sat next to Tom Brooke (a panic not helped by friends offering several helpful tweets reminding me of the odd ways the press have chosen unfairly to describe the very handsome Mr. Brooke). That this is the first thought to spring to mind though should speak for the enormity of the occasion, rather than anything else – as my first trip to the Print Room was memorable for several other reasons – the lovely surroundings, the beautiful garden and it’s sprays of dripping roses, the whistle stop talk beforehand, the free lollipop and, most of all, a really wonderful production.

Friday, 20 May 2011

72. Silence - RSC and Filter at the Hampstead Theatre

Writing about this play, in itself, has proved to be an interesting experience and something of an opinion altering one. My overriding feeling when I left the Hampstead Theatre following Silence was of vaguely underwhelmed dissatisfaction. I certainly didn’t hate the piece but I definitely felt disappointed. Yet, as I’ve been working out what I want to say about it I’ve remembered more and more things that I loved, enough that under normal circumstances I might have been blown away. So why wasn’t I?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

71. As You Like It - The Globe

I feel I should warn you up front, whoever you may be, that this is going to be long. It could in fact be much longer as this production truly blew me away, I could take pages listing all the things I loved about it – but I’m not going to because that would be quite spoilery. In some ways that’s been one of the hardest things about trying to write this entry, finding a way to go into the details of why this worked so well without spoiling it for people who haven’t seen it yet (I’ve done my best, but this isn’t perfect). Because really you must go and see this. Trust me.

Monday, 16 May 2011

70. Ecstasy - Duchess Theatre

It’s taken me a little while to pick apart my feelings about this one, as I found it both an incredibly real, powerful performance and at the same time entirely emotionally ineffective for me. Which, I am going to point out right away isn’t the same thing as thinking it was bad – the production was clearly superb. It mostly just means that my reaction was complicated.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

69. Electra - Gate Theatre

I must admit that after three shows in a row that had left me slightly disappointed for one reason or another, I was starting to feel a little downhearted and theatrically burned out – thankfully Electra came along to completely blow me away and leave me re-energised. In fact, if As You Like It hadn’t come along three days later and made me fall in love, it would easily have taken my top spot for the month.

Friday, 13 May 2011

68. Circuit - St. Paul's Church

A combination of elements attracted me to this production – the description of it as a dark fairytale, the chance to look inside the Actor’s Church and the fact that I love the use of circus arts to explore ideas and stories (I’m a dedicated follower of Seven Fingers of the Hand / Les 7 Doights De La Main – though they don’t come to the UK nearly enough). Unfortunately, though, in the end this disappointed on almost every level – so I’ll try not to spend too much time dissecting it.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

67. Stock Da'Wa - Hampstead Theatre

I must admit I really struggled with Stock Da’Wa – I felt like there was an interesting grain of an idea held within the story and performances but it had got lost in an overly melodramatic storyline and some questionable political overtones. To explain why, I’m going to go into some detail and though the play is over, if you don’t want to be spoiled for possible future revivals I wouldn’t read on.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

66. Pocket Dream - Udderbelly

Poor Pocket Dream – I can’t envy any production that had to live up to the last Midsummer Night’s Dream that I saw, the 2008 RSC revival/production – which is still beating vividly in my mind as one of the best Shakespeare’s I’ve seen. On top of which the small cast had to deal with a poor audience turn out and the constant danger of being drowned out by the gathered merrymakers in the Udderbelly Garden outside. In the end, the production couldn’t match the magic, wonder and laughter of the RSC production but still had a lot of heart and I enjoyed it thoroughly anyhow.

Monday, 9 May 2011

65. I Am The Wind - Young Vic

Ah, the joy of a good theatrical twitter war – just what the doctor ordered – and I Am The Wind has definitely been bringing out the passion in people. The No to AV campaign has been replaced with a No to I Am The Wind agenda and annoyance has been running high. Well... sort of, obviously things have been a lot more civilized given the nature of the people I follow on twitter. Still, it has made it difficult to get going with this review – see, I’m one of the ones that actually liked this and I have a sneaking feeling that any attempt to explain why, or to say what I saw in this is only going to come across as pretentious as the show itself is – it’s a fate I’ve had to resolve myself to.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

64. Irish Blood, English Heart - Trafalgar Studios 2

I can’t quite shake the feeling that Irish Blood, English Heart deserves to have done much better in my memory that it has done. It really was a marvellous little play, clever, exploring ideas I’m interested in and with some lovely production values – but overall it’s been overshadowed by a truly ridiculous number of excellent productions that have blown me away so far this year.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

63. All's Well That Ends Well - The Globe - DOCTORS NOTE

Just a quick note, to explain that whilst I really loved All’s Well That Ends Well – a combination of being seated at the Globe (so, so wrong) and being surrounded by a noisy audience who made me miss large chunks of the text – has made me decide to hold off on my review... for now. This is one I definitely will be seeing again later in the summer, so once I’ve had a chance to ruminate and gotten the complete Globe experience, I’ll write a proper entry.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

62. They Came To A City - Southwark Playhouse

Alas for the shows that fail to make an impact, they always manage to throw a spanner in the works more than any other when it comes to reviews. It’s so much easier to write about things if you love/loathe them that when things fall between the two it can really give me writers block. Anyhow whilst I’ve been desperately trying to work out what to write about They Came To A City, I have managed to scrabble several other reviews, about shows I had actual opinions on, together, so if things go according to plan there might be a trickle of reviews tonight (I was going to say a flood of reviews but I think that would be overly hopeful).

Monday, 2 May 2011

61. Hamlet - The Globe

God bless The Globes Hamlet, it was up against a tough challenge coming only two days after seeing Hamlet 1603, which you may have noticed I adored. In the end I think that coloured my enjoyment here, it couldn’t quite match up, which is a shame really as this is a great little touring production of the play.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

60. Hamlet 1603 - White Bear Theatre

Ah, my first Hamlet since deciding to attempt the Grand Hamlet-Off of 2011 and given that this was a chance to see the rarely performed Bad Quarto of 1603 (hence the title) - one I was very excited for. And I was far from disappointed, in fact I’m looking forward to heading back to see this when I’m a little less exhausted in May. In short, I adored it and I fear large parts of this entry will just be me listing all the things I loved most.

59. Clybourne Park - Wyndham Theatre

Given the rave reviews that Clybourne Park has been receiving for the last year or so, I was extremely thankful to finally find a Saturday in my schedule to slip in a successful visit to their day ticket queue (I would day ticket more if I were less tired and more organised, alas I am rarely either). In the end I came out feeling it was definitely worth the early morning, but I wasn’t quite sure it was worth the hype.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

58. Macbeth - Belt Up at Clerkenwell House of Detention

Macbeth was one of the Shakespeare’s I studied at school and I vividly remember (being the only one in the class who apparently could speak verse) reading both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s parts out loud. It’s made this one of those plays that I’m irrationally fond of, but so far I’ve somehow managed to only see the play once before, with Song of the Goats slightly unusual lyrical approach last year, a situation I was keen to remedy. Belt Up have also been on my list of troupes to catch for a while after hearing interesting things. So hearing that Macbeth and Belt Up were combining themselves with the creepy Clerkenwell House of Detention not far from where I worked, I couldn’t resist.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

57. The Fat Girl Gets A Haircut & Other Stories - Roundhouse

It’s really difficult to know what to say about this one, which is the feeling I seem to be taking away from a whole heap of plays at the moment, though here at least I think the feeling is justified. The Fat Girl Gets A Hair Cut & Other Stories is a piece difficult to classify – it crosses the borders of theatre, performance art, modern dance, illusion and poetry.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

56. Weak Edward - Rose Bankside

The Rose Bankside is fast becoming one of my favourite venues in London, despite all its rough and ready edges (and lack of toilets). Or perhaps it’s because of those edges, which add an indefinable atmosphere to productions – even with Weak Edward, a retelling of Edward II set in South America, demanding bright sunshine and heat, it worked because of the dark underlying tone of the play reflected by the surroundings.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

55. Little Eagles - RSC at the Hampstead Theatre

Hmmm... I’ve been struggling to work out what I think or feel about this one, let alone what I should write. There were a lot of things I really liked about the play, when I reread it a week later the memory of lots of the scenes made me grin, and it’s a great story they’re telling, a story I’ve loved for years. But overall this didn’t work, there was something vaguely unsatisfying about the experience and it’s taken me a while to put my finger on what the problem was.

Friday, 15 April 2011

54. Clockwork Orange - Southwark Playhouse

I can remember distinctly the booking thought process for this one as I spotted it on the Southwark Playhouse website: Oooh.... Clockwork Orange, that might be interesting.... Clockwork Orange with PUPPETS!?!?!?T That’s... that’s... that’s just wrong *books*. Which makes it a shame, really, that there weren’t actually any puppets.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

53. Sunday Morning At The Centre Of The World - Southwark Playhouse

Possibly one of the oddest theatrical experiences I’ve had this year so far – if not least because I actually have no idea whether the people in the pictures below were the ones I saw perform, since I was blindfolded for the entire show. It’s odd knowing that I wouldn’t spot them again as I quite enjoy those oddly disorientating moments when you try to work out what you saw someone in. Curiosity more than anything else probably leads me to book for shows (though there are other, weirder, reasons – I might be about to book a show simply because one of the actors has an awesome name – it’s a thing). Anyway, the idea of a spoken word play where the audience is blindfolded inspired by Under Milkwood definitely raised the curiosity factor sky high, luckily for me.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

52. Iolanthe - Wilton's Music Hall

This was a surprise favourite during its appearance last year at the Union Theatre after booking it to fill a gap in my schedule and despite having never seen any Gilbert and Sullivan before. It was love at first sight. In fact the only description I could find for the experience was that I was charmingly beguiled. So it didn’t take much to talk myself into catching it again especially once I heard it was moving to Wilton’s Music Hall, which has been on my list of places to visit for ages.

Monday, 11 April 2011

51. Wastwater - Royal Court

This was a bit of an odd one as, despite being quite excited when I booked I went in with increasingly lowered expectations as various friends expressed their disappointment, dissatisfaction and frustration with the play. In the end, though, I came away feeling not exactly happy, certainly not like I’d been blown away but definitely like I hadn’t disliked it as much as everyone else.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

50. The Children's Hour - Comedy Theatre

My 50th production of the year scarily and I’d say this was a bit of a departure from seeing The Tempest earlier in the day – but bleak, queer themes and with a manipulative character at it’s heart – maybe it really wasn’t. Given the high profile casting and high ticket prices, I thought I was going to have to give this one a miss but then I heard about the wonder of the restricted view seats. Sure your view is sometimes blocked by a pillar but there’s something ultimately satisfying in knowing that you paid £5 whilst the person next to you forked out £40 (it’s all about the small victories).

49. The Tempest - Cheek By Jowl at the Barbican

This was another excellent word of mouth purchase, particularly pleasing because The Tempest is quite possibly my favourite Shakespeare – it’s certainly the play I’ve seen the most excellent productions of, even the less lustrous ones have been good. Right back to my very first, though it’s long enough ago to be only the vaguest memory, was memorable for having taken place outside in an actual storm. So perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised to be treated to two superb (if very different) ones within a month of each other – still it’s definitely a thing of joy.

Friday, 8 April 2011

48. Project Snowflake - Brockley Jack Theatre

Another new pub theatre for me and I have to admit I was a bit impressed – the Brockley Jack looked like an ace pub (even if I was accused of dying my hair to be Irish) and the theatre upstairs had the most comfortable seats I’ve ever seen in a fringe venue. Highly looking forward to their Midsummer Nights Dream now. The theatre also has the advantage of being close to a co- workers house, so I was treated to a ridiculously good home cooked slap up meal before heading to the theatre (there were three courses and homemade pesto and hors d’ouevres and cats – though should point out the latter were not part of the meal and were mostly just eyeing me suspiciously).

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

47. The Little Shop of Horrors - White Bear Theatre

Ah, this was a much more enjoyable trip to the White Bear Theatre than last time I was there, despite managing to book for a football night again. This time I even managed to get served at the bar (cider – if I’m going to end up the evening being eaten by a shrub, I’d like to know I inflicted some damage to the plant world first). Plus whilst last time I had trouble with the actors being drowned out by the rowdy disco next door, this time the small cast were loud enough for it not to be a problem.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

46. Betty Blue Eyes - Novello Theatre

Sometimes you find a show that is so utterly, ridiculously delightful from start to finish that you can’t help but be completely charmed. Betty Blue Eyes is one of those shows. Even rubbish seats and a throbbing knee (a recent injury aggravated by all the steps to get to the upper circle) couldn’t spoil the joy of it, I came out of it grinning from ear to ear and floating on air. A perfect post-musical combination.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

King Lear / Romeo and Juliet - RST (The Final Shows)

This is an even more not-quite-review than normal as I’ve already discussed King Lear and Romeo and Juliet before, at length (ridiculous, ridiculous length). But I can’t not write something about these last two shows, as they feel slightly momentous to me in an oddly difficult to define way. I suppose it’s just that these productions have been a major part of my life over the last year and it’s still slightly hard to comprehend that I won’t be seeing them again. Plus even with the three Hampstead plays to go, this felt a little like we were saying goodbye to the ensemble (none of this is rational of course – but emotions generally aren’t).

45. YPS Comedy of Errors - RST

We possibly couldn’t have chosen a more dramatic shift in mood than going from The Rape of Lucrece to the YPS Comedy of Errors – thankfully a night of mild drinking, a legendary Adelphi breakfast and the fact that this production is something of an old friend (I first saw it in 2009) – eased us between the two. So by the next morning we were ready for the crazed, slightly psychotically gleeful, utterly energetically mad hour we were set to enjoy. And I have to say I still utterly love it.

Friday, 1 April 2011

44. The Rape of Lucrece - Swan Theatre

I know that when people talk about completing the Shakespeare canon they’re not normally including his poetry, but hearing that the RSC were creating a version of the Rape of Lucrece accompanied by music was nothing short of irresistible. I didn’t really know what we would get, only being vaguely familiar with the poem, not having seen anything like this before and having no idea who Camille O’Sullivan was – I certainly didn’t expect how powerful it would be (or that we would be sharing the theatre with half the Romeo and Juliet cast).

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

43. Woody Sez - Arts Theatre

This wasn’t a show I’d planned to see having little knowledge of Woody Guthrie and feeling a little exhausted by jukebox musicals, but having spotted a last minute deal I decided to give it a chance and I was completely won over. I’ve come away with a deep abiding respect for Guthrie – what an incredible man with so much drive and passion and social concern. Several of his albums (and those connected with him) have worked their way on to my “to buy when the theatre stops being such a demanding mistress” list.

Monday, 28 March 2011

42. Mogadishu - Lyric Hammersmith

At this point I have been staring at a blank screen for at least twenty minutes desperately trying to work out how to describe how powerful Mogadishu was. But as my twitter review – “Well... fuck” (in the best possible way) – certainly won’t do, I might as well accept I’m not going to do this justice and get on with it.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

41. The RSC Ensemble Revealed - The Swan Theatre

And now for something completely different... literally every 3 minutes or so, as those of us in The Swan Theatre on Sunday were treated to poetry one moment, comedy the next, singing, dance and some things that defy all description. Whilst I certainly hadn’t been planning to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon three weeks in a row (though I really don’t need much excuse) hearing that the ensemble were putting on a cabaret afternoon to raise money for James Gale and his family after his sad diagnosis with leukaemia, I couldn’t have imagined being anywhere else.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Shakespeare Masterclass at the V&A

Firstly, it was sort of amazing being at the V&A after hours so to speak, it’s a beautiful museum  anyway but there’s something special to feel like you’re exploring it in the dark and quiet and once the event kicked off it was equally amazing to hear it so filled with sound and to find people as excited as you about the theatre at every corner. I really love that more museums and art galleries are starting to events like this, I think it forces you to interact with them in different and more informal ways. Which for me, at least, feels like a good thing (then again I’m also the sort of person who always has to stop at the colouring table and finish a picture, complete with name and age – so you probably shouldn’t listen to me about anything).

Thursday, 24 March 2011

40. The Harvest - Play Reading at the Royal Court

This play reading at the Royal Court was a bit of a last minute booking for me, upon discovering that John Heffernan was going to be part of the cast and since my recent conversion to his talent. It also held curiosity for me though as it was written by Belarusian author Pavel Pryazhko and since seeing the Belarusian Free Theatre last year, I was definitely interested to see how the situation in the country was impacting other work. If you do have some free time I would highly recommend reading the following articles on the situation in Belarus and the work of the BFT:- here and here and here

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

39. The Kissing Dance - Jermyn Street Theatre

Oh god help me, this is a truly terrifying moment for I appear to have made no notes about The Kissing Dance, despite having thoroughly enjoyed it, and given that I saw it over a month ago and April has managed to be ridiculously crammed with theatre – my memories are a little vague. I’ll do my best though.

Monday, 21 March 2011

38. Remembrance Day - Royal Court Upstairs

I must admit that I’m starting to feel a little nervous that what seems like an almost miraculous run of excellent productions can’t possibly last. But the Royal Court is nearly always a good bet not to let the side down (though they really need to sort out a handful of health and safety issues that are making me twitch – less propping doors open with fire extinguishers, more actually accessible alarm cords in the disabled toilets). Plus I’ve had many good experiences with Eastern European plays in the last few years and with Remembrance Day by Ukrainian Aleksey Scherbak; I found a production that could almost have been tailor written for me. Which, you know, is always nice.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

37. The Tempest - The Swan Theatre

Oh, I truly loved this co-production between the RSC and the Little Angel Theatre and was shocked recently to see the London run getting a two star review. All I can say is that I think the reviewer was completely wrong and also possibly a bit of a miserable fart as comparing a brutal Russian production of the play to a version designed for children is rather missing the point, especially as part of the joy of the Tempest is that it can take such polar opposite productions. And this one was utter magic from start to finish, filling me with a childish sort of wonder and glee that is exactly what I want to feel in the theatre and exactly how I would want children to first experience Shakespeare.

Friday, 18 March 2011

36. Antony and Cleopatra - The Swan Theatre

I saw the original run of Antony and Cleopatra twice whilst it was in Stratford-Upon-Avon and was left with the feeling that I hadn’t hated it half as much as everyone else seemed to, even if it was deeply flawed. Still the idea of it being remixed for the Swan Theatre was utterly irresistible – it’s rare we get to see such a complete and dramatic journey for a production.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

35. After Troy - Shaw Theatre

Hmmm... I’ve been dreading writing about After Troy since I saw it as I’m struggling enough to get my own head around it, let alone to try to capture it in words or to explain it to others. This is a fusion of both Euripides’ The Women of Troy and Hecuba by poet Glyn Maxwell. Having studied the Greek plays at school and university, I find them fascinating and have been glad to spot a couple of them coming up over the next few months – but that doesn’t change that they can be problematic from a modern perspective. And even with the removal of the chorus, except in the form of Talthybius the Scribe, I think this more modern retelling maintains many of these issues.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

34. Sign of the Times - Duchess Theatre

There’s something slightly guilty about writing about a play that has already closed ignominiously, especially if it’s one that you didn’t particularly enjoy. Though I didn’t particularly dislike it either. In fact, the problem was really that it left me not feeling or thinking much of anything and has already sunk into the annals of the barely remembered (luckily I’ve at least been managing to keep notes about all the shows I’m seeing, even if keeping up with the diaries was a massive failure – as otherwise I would be glaring at a blank screen right now with no idea what to type).

Monday, 14 March 2011

33. In A Forest Dark and Deep - Vaudeville Theatre

This was another Masterclass marvellous press night deal, though sadly not one I enjoyed anywhere near as much as Flare Path. Partly this might have been down to the seats which were some of the most ridiculously uncomfortable I have ever sat in at a theatre (I was lucky that no one sat next to me, so I could sit sideways, as my not exactly ridiculously long legs wouldn’t fit otherwise – how the Vaudeville could ever charge someone £35 for those seats is a mystery). Mostly though my issues were down to the writing.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

32. Richard II - Tobacco Factory

Despite my frequently stated assertion that it would be silly to pay to travel outside London for theatre when I never manage to see everything I want to in London (a rule I break frequently anyhow) – I couldn’t quite bring myself to miss this play. Firstly it was a Shakespeare I’ve never seen (very exciting) and a history to boot (since the RSC Histories cycle there’s been a bit of a dearth of productions, tragically, as I find the kin strife element to the history plays quite irresistible). Secondly, it was starring John Heffernan, who I’d never seen before but who several people I respect rave about. And, thirdly, it was close enough to my hometown that I could pop back to see my family at the same time (also tickets are wonderful Mother’s Day presents – just a suggestion). The thing that really swung my decision though was the beautiful photographs on the Tobacco Factory website – the production looked stunning – good photos work wonders on my interest in productions, occasionally to my detriment.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

31. Flare Path - Theatre Royal Haymarket

I was lucky enough to get an absolute bargain of a ticket for the press night of Flare Path through the Masterclass offer – particularly lucky as the Theatre Royal Haymarket, despite being quite, quite lovely, is also quite, quite outside my price range. And it would have been a real shame to miss Flare Path as it was absolutely wonderful, in a beautifully sad, warm way.  

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

30. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee - Donmar Warehouse

I rather suspect that you can’t get much further away from a First World War drama that The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (though it certainly completes my run of three plays with ridiculously long titles) - but what’s life without some contrast. Particularly as I was certainly won over by both productions – how could I resist, when this was just so bright and fun and clever and inventive - it was hard not to fall head over heels.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

29. Holding Hands at Paschendale - White Bear Theatre

My second foray into a pub theatre, the White Bear Pub Theatre this time, for the weekend and one that even more convinced me that it’s not exactly a happy alliance of two institutions. I’d headed down early, in the hope of trying out new ale and expecting a typical quite Sunday drowsiness and found that I’d completely forgotten the football was on. No quiet Sunday for me then and no ale either as I couldn’t manage to fight my way to the bar. Plus I was getting an all to familiar look from the regulars, suggesting that they’d twigged I wasn’t their for the footie (though it wasn’t a bad game, just don’t ask me who was playing) and that they were about as happy to see me as I was to see them. All in all not an auspicious start and unfortunately this time my reservations proved to be well founded as although the football finished before the show began, the crowd almost immediately afterwards launched into a disco, which half the time threatened to drown out the actors.

Friday, 4 March 2011

28. I Never Get Dressed Till After Dark on Sundays - Cock Tavern

This one was a bit of a last minute impulse purchase for me – though one I’m so glad I indulged in despite initial reservations (brought on by Kilburn seeming a bit rough, the resentful pub crowd seeming somewhat rougher and the fact that the entire rest of the audience seemed to know each other – I think, based on the fact that I was proffered a glass of something bubbly on my way out, that I’d accidentally stumbled upon a press night). I should not have worried, however, as I ended up really adoring the production.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

27. Ordinary Days - Trafalgar Studios

I suspect this new musical would have fared better, would have left more of a mark on me, in a month that had contained less really stunning (or, truthfully, utterly maddening) theatre. As it is, it’s fallen into the rather awkward position of being liked (I wouldn’t have hesitated in recommending anyone else who was interested in going to see it) but overshadowed and somewhat forgotten.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

26. Frankenstein - National Theatre

This is a bit of an odd one – in some ways it is one of the most spectacular production I have seen this year (and maybe last) but in others it completely fell apart for me. I think perhaps it was the contrast between these two reactions that overall made this so disappointing. It was like one player letting the entire side down and loosing the game.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

25. The Centaur and the Animal - Bartabas at Sadler's Wells

Another difficult performance to review as I feel utterly unqualified to discuss this one. Dance is not really an area of familiarity for me, let alone one where I feel any expertise and when it comes down to equestrian dressage, well... I saw the Spanish Lippizaners about 15 years ago, but beyond that I was completely lost.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

24. Company - Southwark Playhouse

I’m something of a late convert to Sondheim, having caught my first last year (Passion followed shortly after by Into the Woods – not a bad start I feel) -  but I’ve been instantly won over by his quirky stories, complicated music and clever lyrics.  So spotting that Southwark Playhouse were putting on Company it immediately jumped onto my to-see list, seeing that one of my all time favourite musical theatre performers, Cassidy Janson was in it pushed it right to the top (actually there was a rather impressive number of familiar faces for me in the cast). And I certainly wasn’t disappointed, in fact, it’s the first new show of the year that has provoked a second booking.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

RST Re-Opening

Decided I’d probably be best off writing about these two together as, although I do love both productions dearly, what I was really there for was to see the new theatres in action at last. Plus having just written a 2,000 word or so... well, essay on this King Lear, I’m still feeling a little burnt out (it may have made me cry multiple times again, but that’s all I’m going to say).

Saturday, 19 February 2011

23. Little Platoons - Bush Theatre

Must admit that this play has been a nightmare to write about because whilst I liked everything, I didn’t love anything (or hate anything either for that matter) and as it turns out ambivalence is a difficult place to find inspiration.

Friday, 18 February 2011

22. Edward II - Rose Bankside

Oh… I really loved this one, despite it being frequently, utterly ridiculous – I came out glowing and wanting to babble continuously about it and the only thing that stopped me from buying another ticket for it was the utter lack of time I had to fit another performance in.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

21. Our Private Life - Royal Court Upstairs

This is a really difficult play to review and not just because of the difficult, uncomfortable subject matter. It’s more, in fact, that I came away with the sense that whilst there was a huge amount to enjoy and admire in the production, I was having the difficulty of appreciating that through the shadow of the production I wanted to be seeing. Alas, I fear that sentence makes absolutely no sense.

Perhaps the easiest way to explain is to talk about Colin Morgan. He is one of my favourite young actors in the UK at the moment; I think he has a truly exceptional quality to his performances which make me want to see everything he ever does. But (in what I suspect will be a hugely unpopular opinion) I didn’t like his performance here. I suspect it was more a directorial choice than an acting one as it was a problem I had across the board.

Monday, 14 February 2011

20. The Heretic - Royal Court Downstairs

My second climate change play of the month and though I still think I’ll give Greenland a miss (promises of impressive polar bears and all) – I really enjoyed this one too. Given that comparisons are going to be somewhat inevitable between the two, I might as well get it out of the way here and admit that if I were forced to choose between the two, that Water had the edge for me – it’s hard to resist the eclectic inventiveness of Filter.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

19. Water - Filter at The Tricycle

It was a bit of a last minute decision to go and see this one, once I realised that Becky Shaw was all booked up after the last minute changes to my schedule. I'd put off booking it before, because I wasn't sure about Filter's Twelfth Night - I liked some of the ideas greatly (Malvolio having an inner rock god was a personal favourite) but overall felt the story got lost along the way. Thankfully this piece worked much better for me. Actually, I really loved it - it's a definite contender for my play of the month.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

18. Love Story - Duchess Theatre

This was another repeat visit for me as I couldn’t bare not to see it again before it’s far too premature closure, especially given that it ended up being my third favourite musical of last year – I saw the first preview with a friend last year based purely on the fact that we had a gap in our schedule and there was a pleasing symmetry to doing the first performance of this against the last performance of Design for Living on the same day. I also had vague memories of Michael Xavier being rather good in Into The Woods...

Friday, 4 February 2011

17. The History Boys - Rose Kingston

Was a bit worried when I got  to my seat for this one, I'd gone for restricted view seats just to try them out (and because I can't afford non-restricted view seats - despite the discomfort I think it's the floor seats for me) and it looked like I was going to be missing half of the set. Thankfully though it turned out that the set was a lot more awesome than it appeared at first sight, I ended up really falling in love with it - very simple but there was something warmly familiar about watching them rearrange the mismatched tables in the classroom. Plus the regular use of a slow revolve was excellent, allowing us to catch different reactions and different people at different moments. Really lovely.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

16. Double Falsehood - Union Theatre

The obvious thing that springs to mind about Double Falsehood is, of course, the authorship controversy (my gut feeling of which is that if Shakespeare had a hand in the play, only glancing traces now remain – though if I go into why I feel that, this will go on I suspect for pages) but I suspect the reason so many of the reviews of this production have focused on this aspect of the play to the detriment of all others is that, otherwise, it’s incredibly difficult to know how to approach it.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

15. As You Like It - RSC at the Roundhouse

I must admit, having already seen six serious plays at this point, it was relief to get a comedy and this is a production and play that I'm exceptionally fond of and had already seen several times. Weirdly I've been finding it much more difficult to work out what to say about the plays that I've seen lots of time. I'm sure I had lots of random thinky thoughts when I first saw this a year ago but possibly my brain had melted from all the theatre, because I've been struggling to remember any of them.

14. King Lear - RSC at the Roundhouse

For me the RSC production won out in the battle of the Lears - though it didn't really feel like a fair fight - between the Donmar's bad audience, Jacobi's illness, my awesome seats at the Roundhouse, the fact that this is a repeat visit so I'm able to pick out details, an interesting behind the scenes type thing in the morning and that I come pre-programmed to be fond of the actors - it was practically a David and Goliath scenario.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

13. King Lear - Donmar Warehouse

The great and good have been trying to get tickets to this, so I knew my only hope was to queue up ridiculously early (though not as ridiculously early as planned as I managed to oversleep). Thankfully my experience of day seating, even in the cold of January, is that it's usually mostly fun. You tend to build an odd sense of community, you're rooting for each other and helping each other out and the people you're with are interesting. It's ace, even if like us you're a bit worried that the show might be cancelled. Luckily we were the first show Jacobi did after his laryngitis and I even managed to get a seat for it.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

12. Julius Caesar - RSC at the Roundhouse

Going to say upfront this one was an utter joy for me. It felt like I had the best seat ever. This is a play that works for me on a lot of levels and I haven't seen the production for well over a year, so it felt very fresh again - but also the improvements the long run has made feels almost immeasurable. The performances in particular are much stronger and it's made it into a really great production (possibly even my second favourite of this ensemble's Shakespeare's following Romeo and Juliet).

11. YPS Hamlet - RSC at the Roundhouse

Ah... sadly I feel I might have to woefully short-change Hamlet a little here as I've fallen far too behind on these things and I've been putting writing this one off (I've already written my Caesar review and the ones for both Lears as I sit here at 2am trying to write this). Not even sure why I've putting it off, accept the odd feeling that I don't have much to say - which is no reflection on how much I enjoyed the production as I really loved it. I think partly it's that seeing this again, didn't really give me any new revelations about it. It's like I have very little to add, so here is what I wrote last time:

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

10. Three Sisters - Sovremennik at the Noel Coward

Bit of an odd one this and probably my least favourite plays I saw last week but I don't really regret going. It appealed to me for a few different reasons. Partly because a renowned theatre company coming over just to perform six performances was a little bit irresistible; partly because I'd had a very good experience last year with surtitled performances by the Belarus Free Theatre; partly because I'm generally interested in Russian theatre and mostly because I studied Three Sisters at school and somewhere in the numerous re-reads it suddenly gripped my heart and has refused to let go since. It's one of the few plays that always makes me cry when I read it and I've never gotten to see it live before.

Monday, 24 January 2011

9. Tiger Country - Hampstead Theatre

Ah, Nina Raine is fast becoming one of my favourite new playwrights, I love the way her mind works and the way she uses words - so when I spotted that she was doing a play at the Hampstead Theatre I couldn't resist going and checking the theatre out at the same time (I liked it an awful lot). Though Tiger Country isn't a match for her Royal Court hit Tribes, I still think it has a lot to recommend it and contains a lot of the elements I really love in Raine's work.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

8. Salad Days - Riverside Studios

This was something of a last minute decision based on everyone raving about it and I'm so glad I got the ticket - it was like compacted joy from the start to the very finish. Literally, even the programme was adorable and wee and came with a free postcard and made me grin and by the time it started I was already grinning from my head to my very toes. I love it when productions extend the experience, spill over into the rest of the theatre or engage with you in some way. For Salad Days they had the cast in graduation robes greeting you as the entered, giving you graduation certificates (I love free gifts!) and showing you to your seats. It was such a lovely touch.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

7. Hamlet - National Theatre

This was the second time I saw this production and I'm so glad I got to go back - not just because the first viewing was spoiled by being sat amidst the worst audience ever (I missed two whole scenes at the start of the second half) - but also because this production makes me think so much, that it makes my head want to explode. I have five pages worth of notes. Five pages! I will try not to write the ridiculous amounts that I want to about it (but I make no promises).

Saturday, 15 January 2011

5. The Glass Menagerie - Young Vic

I don't really know what to say about this one, it had many excellent elements which I'll discuss below and I can't pick out anything that didn't work for me but when I left the theatre I didn't particularly feel anything, it hadn't left me with any overriding emotion. Perhaps it was just that I was distracted by the presence of Greg Doran and Anthony Sher two rows in front of me (did I mention I love Greg Doran's brain?). Really though I think it's that, despite being excellently written and on the surface the ideal sort of family based drama for me, I didn't connect emotionally with the story.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

4. Twelfth Night - National Theatre


Having beeen interestedly watching everyones reactions to this online all week, it appears I may have been one of the few people to actually have really enjoyed it. Possibly this is because I lack traditional Twelfth Nights, the recent RSC one is about as traditional as I've seen; possibly it's because it's a play I have issues with (more below); possibly it's because I didn't overly like the last production I saw by Filter.

Monday, 3 January 2011

3. An Ideal Husband - Vaudeville Theatre

This production didn't quite work for me, though I struggled to work out why exactly. Possibly it was just that I found it a little slow and leisurely, the action actually takes place over a very short space of time but this never seemed to gain any momentum. Plus I wasn't sure if the production knew whether it wanted to be a farcical comedy or something more serious. Each time it seemed to be moving towards either end of the extreme it pulled back again fast. The sets were grandiose but I found them after a while repetitive. The costumes though were beautiful, I would love to own all of them. There were some great performances too, with all the lead actors shining at various points. Samantha Bond was beautifully coniving, Alexander Hanson superb in the moments where he lost control, Rachael Stirling as always divinely controlled and Elliot Cowan excellent, particularly when he addressed the audience directly. But for me the play was stolen by the utterly delightful Fiona Button who was lovely in Lip Service and just as lovely in this. So, not sure I liked it exactly but also certainly didn't dislike it.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

The Grand Hamlet-Off 2011

Sometimes an idea just pops into your head – a ridiculous, dangerous idea. Sometimes it’s more like it’s been forced into your head just by looking at your theatre schedule. Sometimes twitter suggested it. This is one of those times.

2. Romeo and Juliet - RSC at the Roundhouse


1. The Winter's Tale - RSC at the Roundhouse


The Phil Cumbus Guide To Poetical Espionage

Please feel free to move right on past this moment of silliness.