End of 2019 report

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Well, it’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? The less said about the political landscape the better, except for the fact that it’s probably given James Graham enough material to last a lifetime… I can’t help but wish that I had some play writing ability to lighten the load (and for my own catharsis)!

Back in the world of theatre blogging, I’ve just about managed to stave off burnout and keep things going – but I really hope that PRs and theatre companies make a new year’s resolution to be more considerate when sending out show invites. I’m eternally grateful to get the chance to see so many shows in return for a write-up, but receiving late-notice invites and duplicate emails will not get you on my good side. My emails can stack up at times, which isn’t ideal but I do occasionally need to prioritise my full-time paid job and having a break; email about a month in advance with an RSVP by date, and it’ll make things clearer all round. I don’t want to have to bring back my autoresponse, but if you keep bombarding me I won’t hesitate.

In spite of exhaustion and admin difficulties, I managed to see 178 different shows and 214 in total, including a good chunk ‘on tour‘. If you haven’t already, please do check out my favourite male and female performances from the year, as well as the best (and worst) shows of 2019.

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As well as everything else going on, 2019 was my Arthur Miller year.

I was super keen about it when I started, but it’s just a shame that transport costs in this country have become quite so prohibitive. Even about 6-8 weeks in advance it’s nigh on impossible to get an affordable train ticket; I’d have happily trundled up to Bolton and Nottingham for two of the productions I missed, but there’s only so much money I can chuck at these things.

It has definitely given me more of a taste for Arthur Miller’s work though, so hopefully a few more different plays of his continue to be produced over the coming years – I’m sure they will maintain their relevance.

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Romeo and Juliet
Photo credit: Ellie Kurttz

As usual, I think we should check in on our Sunny Afternoon alumni! I had a few Shakespearean encounters with the Sunny lot this year, with Adam taking on Henry V and Macbeth, Ned taking part in Playing Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Dom forming part of an acting troupe at the letterlocking workshop, and George tackling my favourite of them all: Twelfth Night. I was also lucky enough to be invited to review The Mill at Sonning’s Private Lives, directed by Tam. From Team B, I managed to see Lloyd in The Hired Man, and Robbie D in High Fidelity (it’s been a while!).

From the second West End cast, I got to see Megan a couple of times in The Worst Witch, Harriet in the West End transfer of Fiddler on the Roof (the first time I saw it, anyway!), and Gabriel in Little Miss Sunshine. And from the tour crew, I managed to see Nate in the wonderful Come From Away, and Andy in Phoenix at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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As far as my theatre resolutions are concerned… A little hit and miss! I did manage to see a couple of shows at RADA and did reasonably well with my reviewing limits – I definitely had some nice evenings in, as well as some ‘leisure’ trips rather than working ones. But I still haven’t made it to The Book of Mormon, and I just can’t bring myself to see Mamma Mia! again, so the Novello remains uncharted territory…

Where I absolutely improved was my ‘N. E. Other’ category – in all I had 96 miscellaneous events, which brought my grand total up to 310. I definitely enjoyed getting to the cinema more (enabling me to produce a ‘favourite films‘ post), and other highlights included a double helping of Kelly Jones’ solo tour, front row at Maxine Peake’s A Life in Pictures at BAFTA, Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm tour, John Robins’ Hot Shame, Tim Minchin’s concert comeback, Tim Key’s Chrimbo Bimbo, and (of course) the ICC Cricket World Cup Final at Lord’s. I also had lots more fun at the Royal Albert Hall, with the films in concert series, Letters Live, Badly Drawn Boy’s Classic Album Sundays episode, and Settling the Score all proving highly enjoyable.

I already have plenty of ideas for 2020, and various things booked up across the year… So what are we waiting for?

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