A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Noel Coward Theatre (the Michael Grandage season); October 2013
Oh. My. God. Now, I will be entirely honest. I was tired. I’d already seen a really excellent Dream at the Globe earlier in the year. Also, I’m not the play’s biggest fan. But still. Oh. My. God. This was just really bad – a very confused, completely unengaging production. We left in the interval. I was so disappointed – I was excited about seeing Sheridan Smith, and the Globe’s production had temporarily made me forget that I don’t like the play that much. For some reason, it got really good reviews, which is a source of ongoing mystery.
The Herd – Bush Theatre; October 2013
Already talked about this in an earlier post, it seems.
Mojo – Harold Pinter Theatre; December 2013
Again, another play with great reviews and only middling enjoyment. That is, the play was quite amusing and the cast was great (Ben Whishaw was amazing, natch, and I thought Daniel Mays really stood out, plus Rupert Grint was endearing – their double-act was one of the highlights), but it really didn’t seem to have any point to it. Turned out, according to further reading, that it was supposed to be a play that laid bare the pretensions to power that men have (in a gangster sort of way, that is), but from our point of view it seemed so clear that all the blokes in it were clueless twats that there was no progression at all.
Jumpers for Goalposts – Bush Theatre; December 2013
This – about a really terrible LGBT five-a-side football league in Hull – was absolutely and utterly adorable. That is all. Loved it so much.
The Light Princess – Lyttelton, NT; December 2013
Katie queued to get us day seats for this, and it was a really lovely Christmas-time sort of musical. That is, tbh I thought the book and music were very mediocre, very pedestrian, but it was very well produced and the actors were lovely. I enjoyed it a lot.
Drawing the Line – Hampstead Theatre; January 2014
A Howard Brenton play about the process of partitioning India. Very good, and my first visit to the Hampstead Theatre. Had a very visually effective ending, but really it was its focus on the impossible job handed to the civil servant sent to India to draw a line between India and the notional state of Pakistan that was its strength.
Henry V – Noel Coward Theatre (the Michael Grandage season); January 2014
Oh, this was top notch. Jude Law made a great Henry, and it was just really good fun. Very fast-paced, but I didn’t feel it lost anything from that. They kept in the humour; the set was pretty minimalist but effective; I enjoyed the Chorus. The only downside was that we were right up in the gods and it did mean we spent a lot of time looking at people’s heads. (Also, Jude was no Jamie, but who is?)
The Blackest Black – Hampstead Theatre Downstairs; January 2014
This was kind of weird, about an artist and an astrophysicist or astronomer or something struggling to understand the other’s perspective on the world. I felt the first half, set in an observatory, was stronger than the second, in the artist’s, like, garret or whatevs. Some interesting ideas; interesting lighting.
American Psycho – Almeida; January 2014
Oh my God, this was absolutely ridic and so much fun! Kind of loved some of the musical numbers. I mean, it was a bit stupid, but a great night out. Is it moving to the West End? I’m sure someone said it was.
Ellen Terry with Eileen Atkins – Sam Wanamaker Playhouse; January 2014
So, this was very interesting – basically an interpretation of a lecture that Ellen Terry did or summat, looking at different female roles in Shakespeare, but really I was more interested in the theatre in some ways. Newsflash: it’s so beautiful.
Coriolanus – NT Live (Donmar Warehouse); January 2014
It’s not really proper theatre, I know. And yeah, the way they do the camera-work and editing is kind of weird. Still, I enjoyed this. I won’t lie to you, I do enjoy watching a bit of Tom Hiddleston, he was very good, and Deborah Findlay too, but mostly I liked the scheming politicians; they were great! The pacing was a bit off, though – not of the action/drama per se, but of the narrative – he seemed to rise and fall in the course of about a day’s work in the Senate or whatevs. I don’t know if it was due to cutting the text or what, but that did seem to happen a bit too quickly. But oh, when Coriolanus concedes that his mother’s pleas have worked and he will cease to attack Rome, and the price becomes apparent…
Strangers on a Train – Gielgud Theatre; February 2014
Oh, you know what, I enjoyed this. Very melodramatic and silly, but every element of the design was superb and I like melodrama.
HMS Pinafore – Hackney Empire; February 2014
All male Gilbert & Sullivan. I am so, so glad I went to see this, it was so good and so much fun and just really delightful.
It Just Stopped – Orange Tree Theatre; March 2014
Hmm. I did enjoy this, about a couple stuck in their fortieth-something floor flat and everything stopping working and thinking the apocalypse had come, but it got quite confusing towards the end, and I’m still not quite sure what we were supposed to think was going on.
The Knight of the Burning Pestle – Sam Wanamaker Playhouse; March 2014
This was so funny. Just ridiculously, Monty Python-esque funny. We were practically wetting ourselves laughing. Plus, play-within-a-play (my favourite trope, as I may have mentioned before), and ridic posing and dancing everywhere. Brilliant. Playhouse still beautiful.
Versailles – Donmar Warehouse; March 2014
This was very good. I loved, in the first act, the way they explored these different kinds of people and how the war – and its end – had affected them. The second act, I think, was the strongest – Leonard in France trying to convince the powers that be that making their demands for reparation too harsh – or, not even that, but the precise nature of the demands too economically unreasonable – would only lead to trouble. He had this immense speech about the coal industry in Germany and how the proposed terms would affect it, and it was so compelling and so interesting – utterly absorbing. A few nods to hindsight were amusing (a dig at the individualism of lower-middle class grocers and the potential political ramifications of same). I really enjoyed it – see it if you can!
1984 – Almeida Theatre; March 2014
Wow, this was intense! Just kind of sucked me in. Brilliantly constructed – I loved the repetition of scenes, of phrases, the use of video, the sense of unreality. Very good. I do really feel, though, that the concept of “Big Brother”, the ubiquity of the words these days (not even in the reality TV sense, just in the way it has pervaded our modern culture) renders it less effective in its original context, which is a real shame.