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.