End of 2016 report

2016-report

If the Queen thought 1992 was an “annus horribilis”, then 2016 has taken it to a whole new level. Not only has politics gone horribly backwards, with Brexit & Trump, but there have been what feels like an unprecedented number of deaths of significant cultural icons & recognised personalities. Some of the most hard-hitting include David Bowie, Prince, George Michael & Carrie Fisher.

Luckily, in the midst of all this carnage, theatre has been even better than ever. At time of publication, I’ve seen 126 different shows – and 290 shows in total. One more new show should be added to this tally this morning, as I have my final review for 2016 scheduled.

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Sydnie Christmas, Michael Esper, Gabrielle Brooks and Maimuna Memon in Lazarus
Photo credit: Tristram Kenton

As you can see from my ‘Theatre in 2016’ page, just over a third of my total shows were Sunny Afternoons: 104 West End & 1 tour. It should’ve been a larger tally, but I’ve had nearly a year of employment uncertainty & decreased wages, so the number is not as representative of my love for the second West End cast as it should be. As the tour rumbles on, I can be confident that my enthusiasm for this third cast’s version of the show will not be representative in my number of visits either – unless I suddenly become very rich…

The price of a decent seat is absolutely scandalous! With most of the venues being a lot bigger than the Harold Pinter Theatre, I can’t face sitting up on higher levels as I feel there’s too much of a chance of the show’s effect being diluted; I sat in the Pinter balcony a couple of times & that was passable, but any further away than that is worthless to me. ATG’s pricing is notoriously unfair anyway – add to this that they think only their members are worthy of a huge amount of deals, and it’s pretty much untenable to visit multiple venues. It is a real shame, as it is a good version of the show that I really enjoyed in Dartford (where I saw the full cast, three months after their first show) – there are bits about it that I would change, things I’d argue should’ve been picked up already, but nothing’s perfect I suppose.

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The touring cast of Sunny Afternoon
Photo credit: Kevin Cummins

As the West End show went out with such a bang, it’s actually not the show I miss so much as the regularity. Knowing there’s something that can cheer you up if you need it is comforting, and about the closest to a sort of routine that I’m comfortable with. I’ve obviously managed to see most of the original cast in their new projects, and I’m definitely looking forward to whatever the second cast get up to next – starting with Gabriel Vick in Promises, Promises at the Southwark Playhouse.

Looking back at my resolutions I set for this year, it seems like I’ve done quite well! I’ve seen Shakespeare (& non-Shakespeare) at the Globe, added to my tally of Shakespeare plays, saw The Mousetrap, and been to another Read Not Dead. I may have missed Robbie D in Billy Elliot, but I did at least get to see him in Million Dollar Quartet before Christmas. With my financial situation, my busy schedule & the right show not coming up, I’ve not managed to have a night at the opera. I’ll be setting some more for 2017, so keep an eye out for those.

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I’ve also made some great discoveries this year – from actors (Ewan Wardrop & Katy Owen spring to mind), to creatives (need I look any further than Emma Rice?), writers (James Hartnell for Falling Pennies) & theatres (old & new: Bristol Old Vic & West Yorkshire Playhouse are favourites). I even managed to fit Lazarus in!

And to top it all off Mind the Blog has even popped up on Facebook! Give it a like, you know you want to.

So, theatre-wise at least, it’s been pretty spectacular this year! With things looking bleak in the ‘real’ world, knowing that we have art to escape into (& help fight back, if needs be) is a real comfort – and if 2017 is even half as good as 2016 then we should be treated very well indeed.

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