BBC Audio Drama Awards 2018 finalists

Best Single Drama
Dangerous Visions: Culture by Al Smith, produced by Sally Avens, Radio Drama – London for BBC Radio 4
The Red by Marcus Brigstocke, produced by Caroline Raphael, Pier Productions for BBC Radio 4
The Music Lesson by Hannah Silva, produced by Melanie Harris, Sparklab Productions for BBC Radio 4

Best Audio Drama (Series or Serial)
Black Eyed Girls by Katie Hims, produced by Sasha Yevtushenko, Radio Drama – London for BBC Radio 4
Dangerous Visions: Resistance by Val McDermid, produced by Sue Roberts, Radio Drama – Manchester for BBC Radio 4
Home Front by Katie Hims and Sarah Daniels, produced by Jessica Dromgoole, Radio Drama – Birmingham for BBC Radio 4 Continue reading “BBC Audio Drama Awards 2018 finalists”

11 of my top moments in a theatre in 2017

As ever, the wait for the end-of-year lists of favourite plays and performances has to continue until I’ve actually stopped seeing theatre in 2017. But in the meantime, here’s a list of 11 of my top moments in a theatre in 2017, the things that first pop into my mind when someone says ‘what did you enjoy this year’. For reference, here’s my 2016 list, 2015 list and 2014 list.

Continue reading “11 of my top moments in a theatre in 2017”

Queer Theatre – a round-up

“There’s nowt so queer as folk”

Only about a week behind schedule, I wanted to round up my thoughts about the National’s Queer Theatre season – links to the reviews of the 5 readings I attended below the cut – and try a formulate a bit of a response to this piece by Alice Saville for Exeunt which rather took aim at the season alongside the Old Vic’s Queers (also I just want to point out too that there are two writers of colour involved – Tarell Alvin McCraney and Keith Jarrett). As a member of the ‘majority’ within this minority, I tread warily and aim to do sowith love and respect. 

It feels important to recognise what the NT (and the Old Vic) were trying to achieve though. Queer Theatre looked “at how theatre has charted the LGBT+ experience through a series of rehearsed readings, exhibitions, talks and screenings” and if only one looked at lesbian women, two of the readings were written by women. Several of the post-show discussions at the NT talked specifically about this issue but in acknowledging it, also quite rightly pointed out that there just isn’t the historical body of work to draw from when it comes to wider LGBT+ representation. That’s where the talks and screenings came into their own, able to provide some of that alternative focus. Continue reading “Queer Theatre – a round-up”

Review: Queer Theatre – Neaptide, National Theatre

#1 in the National Theatre’s Queer Theatre season of rehearsed readings

“My God, I wanted three daughters like the Brontes and I ended up with a family fit for a Channel Four documentary”

There was a special currency for Sarah Daniels’ Neaptide being the opening play in the #ntQueer season as this 1986 drama was actually the first by a living female playwright at the National Theatre – an astonishing fact all told. And it is perhaps sadly predictable that Daniels now finds herself somewhat neglected as a writer, despite being prolific in the 80s and 90s.

Neaptide proved a strong choice too, a powerful exploration of the extent to which lesbian prejudice permeated society and institutions even as late as this, and indeed how little we’ve moved on – in some ways. Daniels presents us with three generations of lesbians and explores how they deal with working or studying at the same school when a scandal threatens to upturn all of their lives. Continue reading “Review: Queer Theatre – Neaptide, National Theatre”

National Theatre unveils Queer Theatre event series

Not content with reviving the landmark drama Angels in America, the National Theatre will mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales by staging its first Queer Theatre event series from 6th – 10th July 2017.

A group of world class actors and directors will look at how theatre has charted the LGBT+ experience through a series of rehearsed readings and post-show discussions in the Lyttelton Theatre. And looking at the list of readings announced below, it’s good to see a diversity of sexualities being represented and I hope that the rest of the programme continues to explore LBT+ lives as well as the G. Continue reading “National Theatre unveils Queer Theatre event series”

Review: Between Us, Arcola Theatre

“I bet you’d rather be at Mamma Mia”

Sarah Daniels’ new play for the Arcola opens with a cracking sequence that pokes fun at stereotypical theatregoers and set the scene intriguingly for what is to come. There’s something wonderfully subversive about Julia’s stand-up routine, especially before its true purpose really manifests itself, the forthrightness with which she muses about female sexuality has a delicious edge (although I’ll never hear ‘snack box’ the same way again) and it is almost a shame that there isn’t more of this taboo-busting chat alongside the outrageous liberties she later takes in taking inspiration from her work and life to make people laugh.

For we soon find out that she is a therapist and we get to eavesdrop on two of her regular patients as they work through the issues plaguing them. Waitrose shopper Teresa is struggling with the realities of having adopted two troubled children, five star builder Dave is plagued with depression after the birth of his baby daughter, and even Julia herself is coming to terms with meeting the daughter she gave up for adoption long ago. As is often the way in plays such as these, the stories of these three are interlinked in ways they can’t even imagine and Daniels teases out the reveals with real skill, ensuring the level of Between Us never flags. Continue reading “Review: Between Us, Arcola Theatre”

Review: Masterpieces, Royal Court Surprise Theatre via YouTube

“Looking at pictures never hurt anyone”

Alongside the Weekly Rep season, another of the major innovations at the Royal Court as part of their Open Court summer is the notion of Surprise Theatre. Here, the upstairs space has been taken over on Mondays and Tuesdays and tickets sold without any information being given about what is to be performed. An ambitious move to be sure but one which clearly paid off as the run soon sold out – but even with the assurance of a quality programme, I have to admit to not being willing to take the risk. I like to be able to have the choice of how I spend my money and my time.

Perhaps with an eye on this, or just acknowledging the limited number of tickets for the smaller theatre there, many of the pieces of theatre have been made available on their YouTube channel – the performances themselves filmed from a standing camera, and allowing many more people to experience the surprise. A good thing, one may think, but having watched one of them – the performance of Sarah Daniels’ 1983 polemic against pornography Masterpieces – I’m not 100% sure it is the most successful of enterprises. Continue reading “Review: Masterpieces, Royal Court Surprise Theatre via YouTube”