Sunday, 3 January 2016

Box Office Top 10 (or 11)

My favourite theatre 2015.

In 2015 I made 39 trips to the theatre and saw 37 plays, and it seems that this year there were a lot more that I either didn’t enjoy or felt pretty flat about.  

Unlike most reviewers I think that the Cumberbatch Hamlet and the Branagh A Winter’s Tale were two of the biggest disappointments – although to be fair the big named starts (Dame Judi Dench and Benedict Cumberbatch) were both excellent in their roles, shame about the rest of the productions!

  • Assassins – I’ve never been so freaked out (in a good way) by a production before!
  • Edward Scissorhands (ballet) – this was pure frothy fun and a treat from start to finish.
  • Farinelli and the King – Mark Rylance (and the Sam Wanamaker Theatre) made this slight play punch well above its station for me.
  • Romeo and Juliet (ballet) – I studied and wrote about this ballet and the chance to see it at the Royal Opera House was the icing on the cake.
  • Measure for Measure – a real problem play on reading and studying but this clever production at the Globe ironed them out for me and I really enjoyed this.
  • Merchant of Venice – a hard play to pull off in a post-Shoah world but I think this production managed it wonderfully, the ending especially was very moving.
  • The Bakkhai - I love Greek drama (2016 sees the return of the Cambridge Greek plays and seeing them in the original language!) and I thought this was a clever way to keep very true to the original while updating slightly.  I didn't have the problem with the Chorus that many did.
  • Shakespeare in Love – I wasn’t sure, but Shakespearean adaptations formed a large part of my spring studies and as I prefer theatre to film I treated myself and don’t regret a penny!
  • Book of Mormon – I knew nothing about this going in except that it was hugely hyped and quite hard to get seats. It might be short but it is very funny – if you can get over the blasphemy, rude language and scatological humour, which I can!
  • Richard II – sneaking in at number 10 is my 3rd Globe production (4th if you count Farinelli). It wouldn’t have made it from the viewing early in the run, but it changed so much during the run that it was a different beast by the last night and a play I can’t wait to own on DVD.
An honourable mention has to also go to the Simon and Garfunkel Story which wasn't a play, a concert or a musical in the traditional sense but was a brilliant evening and also introduced me to new songs by the duo - something I was surprised by as I've been a fan for over 30 years.

Here's hoping that 2016 is a good theatrical year, I've already got 13 plays booked for the first 3 months of the year and this is before a lot of the Shakespeare productions get announced. 2016 will be big for the Bard as it marks 400 years since his death, and should also be big for me as I will finish my MA (and have more time for the theatre...!)

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