Out of 2021 – Into 2022

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I’m slightly more ahead of the game this year than last year, as this is my official follow-up to my ‘favourite things‘, favourite digital shows & favourite in-person shows posts; a round-up of 2021 and a glance ahead to 2022.

The main thing dominating the blog in 2021 was motivation – or lack thereof. It’s a combination of the ongoing underlying anxiety of the pandemic (and a feeling of helplessness at the incompetence & corruption of the UK government) and tiredness due to the hours I have to keep on a working day. I enjoy the writing when I actually knuckle down and do it, but it’s getting to the stage where I pick up the pen and start that’s the problem. I also need to be better at replying to email invites with a simple ‘no’, but my issue is that I always want to try and fit things in – but then I procrastinate until it’s too late anyway. Two things to work on!

In the 6-7 months that theatres were open in the second half of the year, I managed to see 34 different shows and 44 in total – just slightly more than in 2020, reflecting my lack of need to rush back. My other theatre needs were fulfilled by 30 digital shows, spread out across the year but fairly well concentrated early on. This was all balanced out by a few gigs here and there, as well as some comedy, live podcast shows, a variety of talks, and several cinema trips.

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You know what I miss? Writing a ‘worst of’ list. I couldn’t give the tiniest of shits if that makes me some sort of monster in your eyes – when you see a certain volume of shows, you’re not going to get classics every single time, and you absolutely have to be critical. Pretty much everything I’ve seen since the pandemic started has been excellent (be it digital or in-person), so honestly brace yourselves when a real stinker comes my way. There were some things in the slightly more mediocre bracket in 2021, which I’m going to put together as the ‘meh’ list. The majority of these were shows that I wrote full reviews for, so if you go back through them you’ll get an idea of what I wasn’t so keen on – I’ll elaborate on any that I didn’t review:

  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover (online)
  • Bad Nights & Odd Days, Greenwich Theatre
  • Romeo & Juliet 2021 (online)
  • Dorian: A Rock Musical (online)
  • Hamlet, Young Vic – for me it was mostly an issue with the direction, as it didn’t really seem to say anything, though I was a bit bewildered at the magical mystery tour of accents from Cush Jumbo in the lead role (a shame that it detracted from exciting casting and an otherwise excellent performance)
  • Treason the Musical (online) – this has potential (I’m presuming this is far from the finished product, as it was a concert version), though it needs to be much less Disney-fied and the female roles should be more clearly defined (plus I’d love a bit more King James content, please)

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Again, I have some rearrangements in my calendar for this year, namely most of my gigs (Miles Kane has delayed from February to May, Travis has moved from last May to this May, Blondie has moved to April, Queen + Adam Lambert delayed another year, and Alanis Morissette moved from October to June). I’ve also managed to add a few more concerts to my diary, including Stereophonics, The Script & Coldplay (London & Paris) – if all go ahead (& I squeeze in a few more) I could end up fulfilling my wish for 2020 to go to the equivalent of a gig a month!

I’m going to keep on with the challenge weeks, though I’m keen to find a new theme or two; I came up with a good Christmas idea but just couldn’t muster the energy to organise it in time, so that’ll be in the works for December, but I’d quite like to switch something in for #MindTheMusicals – as much as I love musicals, there is a tendency to over-focus on them. I have a nailed-on plan for #MindTheBand, though I’m being cautious about the timing as I want it to tie in with a particular gig, which may yet be delayed… I’d like to be a bit more innovative about #MindTheBard if I can, as Shakespeare understandably steals focus from other early modern playwrights.

What I absolutely excelled at last year was reading; in the end I sailed past my aim of 50 books, hitting 230% of my target (in other words, I read 115 books). In the first three months of the year I did have the benefit of being in a slightly better environment for getting reading done, so I’ve not gone overboard with my target for 2022 – I think 75 is reasonable enough.

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As far as going out is concerned, I’m taking it fairly easy early on – there’s too much of a risk of last-minute cancellations or mass postponements. Plus, frankly, I’m sick of the increasingly judgmental tweets about what type of mask people are wearing, completely oblivious to the fact that a lot of people can only afford a certain level (not to mention how environmentally unfriendly most of the options are); if they just concentrated on persuading more people to put any kind of covering over their face, everyone would be better off. Least of all West End theatre audiences, who seem to think that buying an overpriced glass of wine affords them some sort of divine right to be unmasked for the entire performance; no one really enjoys wearing them (though there are non-COVID-related perks), but the idea is you only remove the mask when you’re physically drinking, not whenever you have a beverage in your hand.

Anyway, despite all that I do have some exciting shows that I’m really looking forward to seeing. I finally get to watch Moulin Rouge! next month, Operation Mincemeat is back at the Southwark Playhouse, The Collaboration and Oklahoma! at the Young Vic should be interesting, Thrill Me transfers from The Hope Theatre to Jermyn Street Theatre, the Wuthering Heights tour continues, and I’m due to see Cock (starring Jonathan Bailey, Taron Egerton, Jade Anouka & Phil Daniels) a couple of times. I’m also intrigued by the Doctor Who immersive show, so I may finally give that a go this year. Much of my energy, however, will be spent on trying to get more Cabaret tickets, as I really can’t get enough of that production!

So it’s not all misery – just a lot of crossed fingers and prayers to the theatre gods…

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