Most popular posts of 2022

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Photo credit: Matt Crockett

Unsurprisingly again, in terms of hits 2022 is now the worst year on record – I did have some bursts of motivation at certain points in the year, but at times was definitely more ambitious than I should have been. At least I did manage some challenge weeks, as well as some lengthier film-based projects (Film February will be back, and if I have an excuse to do another Bondathon I will).

The stats obsession continued in 2022, so here come the most popular 20 posts of the year…

Gabriel Byrne in Walking with Ghosts, directed by Lonny Price, at the Apollo Theatre, London, 6 - 17 September. A Landmark production presented by Neal Street and Playful Productions. Photo_ Ros Kavanagh
Photo credit: Ros Kavanagh

20. Walking With Ghosts
Following in the footsteps of the likes of David Suchet and Ian McKellen, celebrated Irish actor Gabriel Byrne brings his memoir, Walking With Ghosts, to the stage. This brief West End run comes off the back off an engagement at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre earlier this year, and a stint on Broadway will follow next month. Read more…

19. AVA: The Secret Conversations
On the anniversary of Hollywood legend Ava Gardner’s death, she lived again in the form of Elizabeth McGovern, whose play AVA: The Secret Conversations opened at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios last night. It’s based on the book written by Gardner in conjunction with Peter Evans, and co-stars Anatol Yusef as Evans (and a range of other characters) – Gaby Dellal directs. Read more…

18. Henry VI: Wars of the Roses
Running in rep alongside Henry VI: Rebellion (a.k.a. Henry VI, part two), the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre is also currently home to Henry VI, part three. As with the previous part, this third play in Shakespeare’s first Henriad has been renamed – going under the title Henry VI: Wars of the Roses. Read more…

17. This Wooden O: I, Joan
The last few weeks have been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for I, Joan – and the show only opened last night! It sparked a debate not only about Joan of Arc’s identity, but the nature of using theatre to explore ideas in a physical format; without having seen the show, people had decided that it was sacrilegious, misogynistic, and inaccurate. But you and I know that you can’t judge something before you’ve seen it (or at the very least read the full text), and keeping an open mind is key. Read more…

16. #MindTheBand 2022: Diary
This time round I’ll be out & about quite a bit each day, whether I’m off to work or on day trips, so I thought it would be worth the effort of the diary post idea for 2022. As always, my daily endeavours will find their way onto my Instagram stories, so do keep an eye out for those updates as well – not to mention the playlist I’ll be adding to as the week goes along. Read more…

SHAKE_THE_CITY_PRODUCTION-SHOTS-5 by MEG TERZZA
Photo credit: Meg Terzza

15. Shake The City
“Equality isn’t a moment!” Shake The City tells the forgotten story of the Leeds clothworkers strike of 1970, as four women band together in their own makeshift Women’s Liberation Movement in Harehills. Equal pay is a concept that people struggle with today, so you can imagine the hostility with which these perfectly reasonable demands were met over fifty years ago; there are also the issues of class and race to consider. Read more…

14. The Canterville Ghost
Fear and laughter often go hand-in-hand (you only have to look at work from the likes of Steve Pemberton & Reece Shearsmith to see that), so Tall Stories’ approach to the Oscar Wilde novella The Canterville Ghost is not as bizarre as it may first seem. Their vaudeville stage adaptation is currently playing at Southwark Playhouse, before heading to Bristol and Newcastle. Read more…

13. 1797: The Mariner’s Revenge
This brand new immersive, site-specific production isn’t about that infamous mariner, but Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic tale does loom large in 1797: The Mariner’s Revenge. Set in the attic rooms of the Admiral’s House, in the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, the audience follows the fortunes of a bed-ridden sailor who has returned from the Battle of Tenerife feeling worse for wear. But there aren’t just physical injuries for him to worry about, as he is also being plagued by a stuffed albatross that sits above his bed… Read more…

12. Favourite shows 2021 (in-person)
It’s quite nice to go back to this, although when I had a look through my list of shows it wasn’t too hard to choose a top 10 – the hardest thing was getting them in the right order… I haven’t seen all of the shows that have been put on since things reopened, for a variety of reasons (money, time, a couple of boycotts), but I feel like I’ve seen enough to commit to a decent list; of all the productions I managed to see, I definitely think I chose wisely, as there wasn’t a properly bad one in there at all. (Why am I sort of gutted about that?!) Read more…

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Photo credit: OftheJackel

11. Withered Optimism
You wouldn’t necessarily think that a show depicting the commute-work-eat-repeat cycle within which millennials find themselves trapped would be a natural choice for a stage show; surely escapism is the order of the day – you want to be transported away from your shitty open plan office and morning alarm, right? Ordinarily I might agree (especially as I’ve personally had a few very stressful weeks at work of late), but when something like Withered Optimism comes along, you might be inclined to change your mind. Read more…

10. Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol
As most people have noted, you can’t move for stage adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol this year, so it’s vital that each one has something that makes it stand out from the crowd – and makes people want to see multiple versions. If you head to the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre this Christmas, you’ll find one that does just that. Though the title is a bit of a mouthful, Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol is an unexpectedly brilliant retelling of the Victorian tale. With Robert Bathurst as Scrooge and a live band onstage, you can’t go too far wrong. Read more…

9. Stereophonics: Oochya! (The Brighton Centre)
Saturday 26 March 2022 is a date that will live long in the memories of music fans across the world, being the date (for most) that heralded the news of Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins’ death at the age of just 50. A desperately sad day, though made incredibly special & poignant as the tributes rang in from other musicians in their own concerts worldwide – it’s something I’ve never really been in the privileged position to experience before, and at the Brighton Centre I got two for the price of one. Read more…

8. White Christmas (2022 tour)
Following a successful West End engagement at the Dominion back in 2019, Nikolai Foster’s staging of White Christmas has been taken on the road for the 2022 festive season. Directed this time by Ian Talbot, the production has visited Truro, Nottingham & Sunderland, before closing its run at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre with a month-long stint. This time round, the Irving Berlin classic musical stars Jay McGuiness, Dan Burton, Jessica Daley, Monique Young, Lorna Luft & Michael Starke – and of course includes several renditions of the famous title song. Read more…

7. #MindTheBand: “I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio” – Word Gets Around
Stereophonics burst onto the scene as the Britpop era was on the wane, though didn’t fully conform to that style themselves – instead veering on the slightly heavier side early in their career. In the weeks around the release of Word Gets Around, albums by Texas (White On Blonde), Prodigy (The Fat of the Land), and Oasis (Be Here Now) topped the charts, with Radiohead’s OK Computer and Backstreet’s Back by Backstreet Boys also frequenting the top ten. In the UK singles chart, you could find Will Smith’s Men In Black, and Puff Daddy & Faith Evans’ I’ll Be Missing You at number one, with Bitch by Meredith Brooks, Tubthumping by Chumbawamba, and Jon Bon Jovi’s Queen of New Orleans all featuring in the top ten. Read more…

6. Play By Candlelight: Hamlet (2022)
You caught me red-handed. As soon as Hamlet was announced as part of the 2021-22 winter season my eyes rolled so hard I nearly saw the inside of my eye sockets. Unlike the current government, I’m not going to try and cover that up or pretend I held the opposite opinion – in fact, I’m going to link directly to my preview post in case anyone reading this missed it. I was desperately disappointed. But then something magical happened: a Hamlet unlike any other – and I’ve seen the Shit-faced Shakespeare and the Brandreth family versions. I have enjoyed Sean Holmes’ work in the past (such as his vibrant A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Globe Theatre), but I think this tops the lot now. Read more…

Hamlet
Photo credit: Johan Persson

5. Favourite shows 2021 (digital)
Despite the fact that theatres were once again up and running for about half the year (varying from place to place), there was still a massive appetite for digital productions going into 2021. The digital revolution has been a great step forward for accessibility (I’m pleased to see that a few venues are committing to livestreams alongside their in-person tickets), and also for ingenuity; many creatives have shown that there is another way to do theatre, and we have to hope that at some point more people take their fingers out of their ears and listen. Read more…

4. Cock
“But that’s what this is, isn’t it? The ultimate bitch fight.” Watching Mike Bartlett’s play Cock today, it seems strange to think that it was actually written 13 years ago, as it covers themes that are so resonant with life in 2022. Presumably it has had some tweaks over the years, as language and laws have changed, but the core of it remains the same and is just as relevant as ever – perhaps even more relevant, as more terminology is generated (or simply comes over to the mainstream) on a regular basis. This latest production sees the play make its West End debut, with Marianne Elliott directing Jonathan Bailey, Taron Egerton, Jade Anouka, and Phil Daniels at the Ambassadors Theatre for a limited run. Read more…

3. Henry VI: Rebellion
Following a successful open dress rehearsal project developing Henry VI, part one, the Royal Shakespeare Company is now mounting full productions of Henry VI, part two and Henry VI, part three in its Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Rather than sticking to the traditional numerical names, this second part of Shakespeare’s first Henriad has been renamed Henry VI: Rebellion. Read more…

2. A Night At The Kabuki
“Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?” For people like me, who are both massive Queen fans and Shakespeare nerds, a dream crossover has now arrived: A Night At The Kabuki. Inspired by a combination of Romeo & Juliet and Queen’s famous 1975 album, Hideki Noda has created a brand new piece of theatre that will appeal to a previously unexpected cross-section of fans; the magic ingredient is the Japanese touch, sprung from Freddie Mercury’s love of the country & its culture – and the hero-worship the band received during their first trip to Japan in the mid 70s. Read more…

1. Moulin Rouge! The Musical
If you’ve seen Moulin Rouge! The Musical and loved it, I’d advise you to read no further – this is not going to be pleasant. Pretty much as soon as the film came out in 2001, people were clamouring for a stage version so they could visit Baz Lurhmann’s fantastical Moulin Rouge club for real, and see the story played out in front of their very eyes. It was made for the theatre. But sometimes you should just leave things alone. Read more…

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Photo credit: Matt Crockett

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