Prince of the Pagodas – Coliseum; March 2014
This was hilariously enjoyable. The heroine got to leap around and be heroic, which was very pleasing, and things like the dancing seahorses and dancing shrimp were completely delightful. Plus bonus points for the Russian suitor and his ridic outfit. (The brother-sister dynamic was a tiny bit weird, though.) Also comedy lols for the father and ?servant.
Blithe Spirit – Gielgud Theatre; April 2014
Well, obviously I’d been looking forward to this, and it was super fun, with Angela Lansbury scampering across the stage on excellent form. She was definitely the best part about it. It’s quite a silly play, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Birdland – Royal Court; April 2014
TBH, this was a bit disappointing. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, per se, it was just a bit meh. I don’t know quite what it was that didn’t work – it was a perfectly good concept, the acting was good, but somehow it didn’t work. I don’t think I really cared much about the characters – maybe it was too artificial. (Maybe that was the point, I don’t know.)
The Winter’s Tale – ROH; April 2014
There are no actual words for how much I loved this. The first act, which has most of the plot, really, was AMAZING. The choreography and lighting etc for Leontes’ sudden, outrageous jealousy was brilliant – where he’s creeping around behind the statues imagining their lustful embraces – and was just so clever at making it all from within. And that early, gorgeous dance with Leontes, Hermione and Polixenes, and Mamilius running around with them. I loved the drama that came with Leontes turning on Polixenes and Hermione, and the scene where the women are being all domestic or whatevs in the nursery, and the soldiers slowly descend the stairs, and then Leontes follows in all his mental glory. Tip top. The second act is less dramatic, but really lovely, and Perdita’s foster brother was ace. The third act was the weakest and tbh could probably do with a bit of beefing up when they next put it on (and THEY’D BETTER) – everything was resolved far too quickly and with minimal dramatic tension. The ending was terribly sad in a way, though; although Hermione’s statue came to life, Leontes looks for Mamilius’ to do likewise and must be disappointed. (I enjoyed this so much I went to see the live broadcast but HORRORS the cinema broke down five minutes into Act 2. Then I was going to take the morning off on Thursday to queue for a day seat for the final performance but alas there’s a meeting I have to go to. SADTIMES.)
King Lear – Olivier, NT; April 2014
We’d ummed and ahhed about going to see this, neither of us having much enjoyed the Almeida’s production a couple of years ago, but it sounded like it was an interesting production and we are always pro a bit of SRB, so we decided to risk it. Guess what? It was dead good. I’d previously found the whole mad Shakespearean king with straw in his hair leaping around very difficult to connect to, and didn’t quite understand what was going on (which I do put down to a weakness in the production). This was (a) so much clearer in terms of understanding the political landscape and the position Lear and his daughters were in and (b) infinitely more sympathetic to Lear and, to an extent, Goneril and Regan. SRB’s Lear was a little bit heart-breaking – aware of his own failing powers but with no way to deal with it. Enjoyed the shifting fortunes of the Gloucester/Edgar/Edmund triumvirate. Highly recommended!
Much Ado About Nothing – Shakespeare’s Globe; May 2014
Basically, you can’t go wrong with a bit of Much Ado. I think I’ve only ever seen one production I didn’t enjoy much. This was a touring production, and was really enjoyably fun – lots of larking around and dancing and ridic instruments etc. I liked Beatrice and Benedick – Benedick was played slightly sillier than I’ve seen before, I think, and his stepping up to the mark to challenge Claudio seemed more out of character and thus in a way more impressive. Claudio and Don Pedro seemed even more unbearable and uncaring about Hero which made me want to punch them (my usual reaction for Claudio; less so for Don Pedro). And Dogberry was hilaire, which is always a good measure for Much Ado, I think, because too often those sections can fall a bit flat. I really need to watch the Joss Whedon production again (Ken & Emma obvs so often watched it can be played out in my head at will).
A Small Family Business – Olivier, NT; May 2014
Well, I had an afternoon free and there were £15 tickets, so I thought I’d pop along. Although I was mildly entertained throughout and the ending was pleasing in terms of dramatic structure and its nods to the relevant popular culture, I probably wouldn’t bother with this again.