Ever behind the curve, I present 10 of my top moments in a theatre over the last ten years (plus a few bonus extra ones because whittling down this list was hard, and it will probably be different tomorrow anyway!)
Extraordinary Public Acts for a National Theatre
The establishment of the Public Acts programme at the National Theatre offered up something sensational in Pericles, an initiative designed to connect grassroot community organisations with major theatres, resulting in a production that swept over 200 non-professional performers onto the stage of the Olivier to create something that moved me more than 99% of professional productions. A truly joyous and momentous occasion.
The UK Theatre Awards are the only nationwide Awards to honour and celebrate outstanding achievements in regional theatre throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and they have just announced the winners for the 2018 awards, which include a well-deserved Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre for Maxine Peake– take a look at her acceptance speech here.
Combining with the joyous feel of carnival with the sincerity of the most serious of dramas, this musical Pericles proves a heart-lifting triumph at the National Theatre for their Public Acts programme
“Pericles likes to play Pericles likes to woo Pericles never pauses to think things through”
What is a national theatre for? You’d be forgiven for answering ‘complaining about’ given the amount of sniping regularly aimed at the institution. But with the launch of Public Acts, the National Theatre’s new national initiative, you feel that they’ve alighted on the answer. The desire to “create extraordinary acts of theatre and community” by collaborating with a range of organisations whose community reach is second to none, the first result of which is this production of Pericles which brings over 200 non-professional performers onto the stage of the Olivier Theatre.
Emily Lim’s production is thus a huge endeavour but one whose heart swells effortlessly to accommodate the full scope of its representation. The choice of Pericles is a canny one and Chris Bush’s adaptation loses none of its essentially random character, the introduction of music from Jim Fortune further democratising it and adding opportunities for participation. So as the titular Prince of Tyre is forced on a character-building journey for the ages, Tarsus becomes a land of kazoos and cheerleaders, Pentapolis rain macs and wry humour (“it’s a man-fish” ‘or a fish-man, it’s unclear’), Mytilene a party island presided over by a drag queen. Continue reading “Review: Pericles, National Theatre”
But though this Restoration writer is proving popular, directors seem unable not to tinker with his work – that production was set in the 1920s and Jonathan Munby here moves it even further to the present day, casting new light but also dimming its intent. Continue reading “Review: The Country Wife, Minerva”
So much goodness announced here in the National Theatre’s near future – particularly excited for Nine Night’s transfer, what looks like a leading role for Siân Brooke and the prospect of Joanna Riding’s ‘Losing My Mind’.
National Theatre Season: July 2018 – January 2019
Nine Night, Natasha Gordon’s critically acclaimed debut play transfers to the West End following a sold-out run at the NT
Further cast announced for Antony and Cleopatra alongside Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo, playing from September
Cast confirmed for world premiere of David Hare’s new play I’m Not Running, including Siân Brooke, Alex Hassell and Joshua McGuire
Peter Brook returns to direct at the National Theatre for the first time in 50 years with The Prisoner, co-directed with Marie-Hélène Estienne
Following the acclaimed Consent, Nina Raine returns to the NT with her new play Stories starring Claudie Blakley
Anthony Neilson makes his NT debut with new play TheTell-Tale Heart, based on the short story by Edgar Allan Poe
Alexander Hanson and Joanna Riding to join the cast of Follies alongside Janie Dee and Peter Forbes, returning to the Olivier Theatre in February 2019
War Horse returns to the NT marking the centenary of Armistice Day
Antony and Cleopatra and I’m Not Running to broadcast to 65 countries worldwide as part of NT Live
New play Gypsy Queen by Rob Ward, Hope Mill How My Light Is Spent by Alan Harris, Royal Exchange Narcissist in the Mirror by Rosie Fleeshman, Greater Manchester Fringe Festival Narvik by Lizzie Nunnery, Home
Opera Cendrillon, Royal Northern College of Music, RNCM La Cenerentola, Opera North, the Lowry The Little Greats, Opera North, the Lowry The Snow Maiden, Opera North, the Lowry
Michael Buffong’s reinterpretation of Guys and Dolls, a co-production between the Royal Exchange and Talawa Theatre, is just that, a bold re-envisioning of the classic musical that consequently comes up with something different. That’s the point. So it may take a second to recalibrate, to adjust to these portrayals of familiar characters but in doing so you get to embrace something fresh and new and really rather exciting.
Moving the show from Times Square to the heart of the Harlem Renaissance in 1939 allows Buffong to employ an all-black cast, infuse Frank Loesser’s score with jazz and gospel (new orchestrations by Simon Hale) and introduce a vibrant choreographic vision (by Kenrick Sandy) that draws on several decades of dance history. The result is less-concept heavy than you might expect and often, explosively good fun. Continue reading “Review: Guys and Dolls, Royal Exchange”