I may have been to see quite a few shows this year, but believe it or not some have slipped through the net.
Possibly not helped by a lot of time & money being spent on Sunny Afternoon, but that obviously wasn’t the sole reason.
Farinelli and the King – Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
Oh, hindsight is a wonderful thing. I am, of course, grateful that I did get to see this beautiful new play at the Duke of York’s… But it must’ve been something else to experience it in the intimacy of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. I’ve only seen the Read Not Dead performance of A Christian Turn’d Turk there, so I do wish that I’d rectified this. Though given the casting of Mark Rylance, I was very lucky to get the ticket I did for the West End run – so I won’t push it!
Gypsy – Savoy Theatre
If I’m honest, I was only intending on seeing this show because of the reputation it came with – an added bonus, of course, would’ve been to see the national treasure that is Imelda Staunton onstage. I wasn’t sure if the style of it would necessarily be my cup of tea, so I guess I didn’t really want to spend Savoy prices to get a good seat to watch something I wasn’t confident I’d enjoy. As it turns out, I get a reprieve! It was filmed & shown on BBC Four for Christmas, so I can see it for free. Maybe then I’ll properly regret not going?
The Twits – Royal Court Theatre
This show may not have received the best reviews, or lived up to its expectations, but that isn’t necessarily indicative of what I would’ve thought (we’ve all seen how snobbish some high profile critics have been of Sunny Afternoon). It’s one of my favourite Roald Dahl stories, and seeing it come to life – with a fantastic sounding cast, featuring Jason Watkins – would have been brilliant. As ever with Royal Court productions, it was a strictly limited run, and I just didn’t get round to it.
The Vote – Donmar Warehouse
It’s not often you get highly topical pieces of theatre, given the nature of writing, casting & rehearsing – Great Britain (2014) was a good example of how to do this, The Vote was another. Set in a polling station in south east London 90 minutes before voting in the general election closes, it looked at the politics of voting itself and, to me, showed why you should use your vote (& wisely). I saw it via the live broadcast on More4 on election night; I was glad to have that chance to see it, but the production value onscreen left a little to be desired at times.
High Society – The Old Vic
I always mean to go & see more classic musicals – and this would certainly have fit the bill! With music & lyrics by the brilliant Cole Porter, staged in the round and choreographed by Nathan M Wright, I think I definitely missed a treat here. It’s the inevitable problem of the Old Vic being just a bit too out of the way to always remember it’s there. I would occasionally see posters advertising the show, but not in the morning when I’m considering what I might do that evening…
Richard II – Scena Mundi, St Bart’s Church
A combination of a lack of money & poor timing did for me here. As this play was performed in rep with Edward II, it wasn’t on every night – and most nights that I was properly available were the Edward nights! I think I did also choose my 101st Sunny over the final performance… But you can’t really blame me for that, can you? This production was a traditional take on the Shakespeare history play, perfectly set in the beautiful surroundings of St Bart’s Church. It would be lovely if Scena Mundi could perform this again in the future.
Constellations – Trafalgar Studios
More science theatre that went begging! I also had been keen to see two brilliant actors in Louise Brealey & Joe Armstrong onstage – thankfully this side was rectified in going to see Husbands & Sons. It sounds like a wonderful concept, using the quantum multiverse as the context for a love story. Basically this means exploring different scenarios in slightly varying ways, and the consequences of those slight differences. Concentration & thinking required, but that’s definitely good every now & then. Again a limited run, and clashing with other things (I had the chance of a freebie, would you believe, but it was on the same day as another commitment) – can we have another, please?
Tommy – Greenwich Theatre
The Who’s rock opera brought to the London stage. I was away from London for part of its run (not helpful) and then… You guessed it – some other rock band musical got in the way! From what I heard, it could’ve been better (& louder), but I’d have liked to have judged that for myself. Especially having seen Lambert & Stamp earlier in the summer and finally learning more about The Who. I’m still holding out hopes for a Sunny Afternoon style musical showing the rise of The Who – I may even have some casting sorted out already!
Grand Hotel – Southwark Playhouse
I love the 1920s. I love Berlin in the 1920s. I love 1920s hotels. So why THE HELL didn’t I see this show?! I might have to put it down to still being a bit of a rookie, I’m afraid. I am doing my best to go to places outside of the West End, and all over London, but there’s only so much you can do in a year! The show is based in the bustling Grand Hotel in Berlin in 1928, telling interweaving stories and played out in the traverse. This production got very good reviews, so it’s a shame that there wasn’t a West End transfer for the slow coaches amongst us…
Much Ado About Nothing – Shakespeare’s Globe
I’ve STILL not been to see a play at the Globe. I do want to keep seeing more Shakespeare; as I’ve said before, I love his writing but I think I’m still in single digits theatre-wise. I don’t think I could pinpoint an absolute favourite work, but Much Ado would definitely have been a good first play to see at the Globe! It’s a fantastic story (the TV adaptation starring Damian Lewis & Sarah Parish is still one of my favourites) and entirely suited to an outdoor summer season. Oh well, it’s going to have to be next year now!
Oresteia – Trafalgar Studios
Basically, I think I was never quite in the mood to watch this. You really do have to get into some sort of zone to see Greek tragedy – luckily the National Theatre production of Medea that I saw last year was under two hours long, but Oresteia came in at around three hours (including an interval, phew!). So very serious, potentially traumatising & pretty long. You can understand why I just couldn’t quite do it! Had the run been a bit longer it might’ve helped, I suppose, but considering it had been on at the Almeida prior to this the cast probably needed a rest…
Photograph 51 – Noël Coward Theatre
The perennial problem of a Hollywood star being cast: if you don’t book well in advance, you’re all but done for. Unless you’re able to get to the theatre early enough to day seat, but in this case that wasn’t an option for me. I was desperate to see this play, as it’s about one of the oft-forgotten scientists involved in the greatest biological feat of the 20th century – Rosalind Franklin & the discovery of the structure of DNA. So I didn’t care who was in it, which makes me a little bitter that many were going just to say they’d seen Nicole Kidman onstage… Oh well.