End of 2018 report

2018

Gone are the days of one show or one venue to rule them all! Obviously I will still happily make repeat visits to shows – or follow them around on tour – if I really enjoy them, but variety has very much been the spice of life in 2018. That covers venue as much as the type of show; as you’ll have seen in my ‘on tour‘ post, I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time out of London this year, spreading Mind the Blog’s wings across the UK as much as possible.

After saying that I wasn’t going to break any records this year, I inadvertently gave it a good go… My casual January put paid to overtaking my total number of shows from 2016 & 2017 – I ended up seeing 221 different shows (a new P.B.), and 278 overall. If you haven’t already, do check out my favourite male and female performances of the year, as well as my favourite (and least favourite) shows from 2018.

It was a real shame that a relatively small amount was made (in the theatre world) of the centenary of partial female suffrage; yes, there were a lot of amazing female-led stories being told, but there could absolutely have been more suffrage-related ones. Over the National Theatre’s poorly advertised Courage Everywhere weekend they had rehearsed readings of plays on the subject, and also had an exhibition which listed the various plays written at the time – why were none of these put on?

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Behind the scenes at Wise Children
Photo credit: Manuel Harlan

This, of course, has been my year of Emma Rice. And quite a year to choose this focus!

It was quite remarkable to have some Emma Rice availability almost non-stop through the year, and balanced between London & elsewhere – making it occasionally easy for me to reach, occasionally a bit more of a challenge. To start with was the Flying Lovers London residency, followed by a tour. If I could’ve gone out to see them in America as well, then you can be certain that I would!

Annoyingly because of its timing, I didn’t manage to see Brief Encounter before it arrived at its site-specific venue of the Empire Cinema Haymarket; I’m still rather miffed that it closed early, especially as I was rather complacent about it being around for a while and couldn’t fit in a return visit following my two press invites. It should be back, at least.

The other major event was the beginning of Wise Children. Finally! It seemed to take an age for any details about its Old Vic engagement to come out, but in the end it couldn’t have been timed any better. As well as really looking forward to reacquainting myself with the show, I’m incredibly excited about what Emma will come up with next.

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We’ll Live and Die in These Towns
Photo credit: Robert Day

It’s still nice to try and see as many of the Sunny alumni as possible, and it’s actually been a rather good year for them! From the original West End cast, I was thrilled to see Tam in a couple of shows at the RSC (The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich and Miss Littlewood), George reprising the role of Marc Bolan in 20th Century Boy, Adam in The Dog Beneath The Skin and We’ll Live and Die in These Towns (my first press engagement in Coventry), Philip in White Teeth, Ben in Describe The Night, Em in Sweet Charity up in Nottingham, Liz in my first viewing of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Ash in Company, Vinny in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and of course Amy in Wicked. Fortunately, Vicki happened to be on when I went to see Bat Out Of Hell in its new home of the Dominion, I made my first trip to Liverpool to see Lloyd in The Jungle Book, Lia was on in Hamilton a couple of times that I was there, and I ended up seeing Silas in a Shakespeare hat-trick of Much Ado (Rose Theatre), As You Like It (Regent’s Park) and Twelfth Night (Young Vic).

Of the second cast, I managed to see Tom in Yerma at the Cervantes, Niamh in Chasing Bono, Megan in Electra, Damien in Myth the Musical, and Gabriel in the workshop of Manhattan Parisienne. It was also great to see Andy in Teddy and Mark in Bananaman the Musical. I even made it to one of Danny‘s gigs, which was really nice. Annoyingly I’ve not managed to see Ryan in Tina: The Musical or Harriet in Fiddler on the Roof – but I’ll be doing my best to try and rectify both of these next year, if I can. I think that’s everyone! (It’s been a long year…)

As for my theatre resolutions… I’ve done alright with them. I managed to do the monthly preview posts, though for next year I definitely need to find a more efficient way of getting those done, plus I ended up finally sorting out a challenge week, and did Edinburgh in my own inimitable style. Still a bit stuck in a rut about seeing shows in the rest of the West End theatres, and there just didn’t seem to be time to enter the Book of Mormon lottery or add any RADA shows into my schedule. I did at least end up ticking off all of the shows I had on my tentative ‘to see’ list!

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And I definitely did well at branching out from almost exclusively going to the theatre in my spare time, with 55 non-theatre ‘things’ added into my diary – meaning that my grand total of shows and ‘things’ came to 333. Not too shabby. Some standouts had to be the few gigs I went to (Travis, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Miles Kane), stand-up comedy shows (Harry and Chris, Ed Gamble, Sara Pascoe and James Acaster), the film in concert series at the Royal Albert Hall, various press launches (including Wasted, Come From Away and Bat Out Of Hell), and Sonnet Sunday at the Globe. Oh, and a little film called Bohemian Rhapsody.

I’ve also reviewed some more varied things, including a book review of Terry Ward’s Jack Dawkins, an album review of Sounds of Refuge, and a film review of Jermaine & Elsie (a short from Ashley Campbell & co.). I enjoyed the whole ‘Missed The Boat‘ series; it was great to catch up on things I haven’t managed to see, both in playtext and cast recording form – I won’t be doing that as regularly next year, but will revive it if anything pops up.

It was also nice to welcome some Mind the Bloggers into the fold, providing a nice little contribution of reviews – it’s nice to give budding writers a platform, as well as accept a few more invitations that I receive.

And now that we’re officially a UK Blog Award nominated blog, who knows what 2019 has in store?

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