It's that time of year to recognise, reward or even just acknowledge those special moments from the last 12 months of theatre. First of all some goodbyes. The Old Vic Tunnels closed its doors and the Southwark Playhouse moved from under the arches at London Bridge to temporary space at Elephant Castle, which has a rather fine cafe bar area as it happens.
We also said goodbye, sort of, to Nicholas Hytner who is passing the keys of the National Theatre onto Rufus Norris in 2015 and Kevin Spacey also announced he will be leaving the Old Vic in 2015. The later has promised to source funding for the renovation and expansion of the theatre including sorting out the ladies loos before he leaves. Dominic Cook also handed over the Royal Court to Vicky Featherstone who has had a mixed season thus far.
Several themes for this year, because all theatre people collude. Firstly egg smashing - Amen Corner, Cripple of Inishmaan and Children of the Sun. As fellow theatre blogger Nick says, all very wasteful in these days of food banks. And then there was the dangling actors by their ankles, not wasteful but there are only so many red-faces you can watch before the novelty wears off (Titus Andronicus, Let The Right One In, Mojo and Coriolanus).
And finally 'boy kissing', which has been a particular favourite Poly's. I've seen more man on man puckering up this year than the last three combined as the Best Kiss StOlivier will testify. And talking of which lets gets onto the awards which, you will soon notice I make up as I go along throughout the year:
The 'what on earth do they use for that?' award*
During The Low Road at the Royal Court, Johnny Flynn spits out the 'climax' of a blow job he'd just performed. Nice.
David Tennant puckers up with both Nigel Lyndsey and Oliver Rix in Richard II but his kisses are just runners up to Harry Haden-Paton and Al Weaver's with tongues snog in The Pride and John Heffernan and Kyle Soller's long, lingering lip-lock in Edward II.
Sam Troughton for convincingly blubbing in just about every play he did during the Royal Court's weekly rep. He should give a masterclass.
Helen Mirren for telling those drummers to shut the fuck up.
Actors to watch:
Charlie Archer (Billy Budd) and I've always championed him but surely Harry Melling's star is on the rise?
This goes to Hysteria at the Hampstead Theatre for the Dali-scene that felt like Terry Johnson trying to turn his wet-dream into something artistic.
Stage blood award
Shares in stage blood must have soared this year. Runners up include the vampire victims in Let The Right One In and little Colin Morgan's bloody bullet-in-the-head death scene in Mojo. The winner, however, is the RSC for Titus Andronicus, it spurted, poured and splatted as gruesome murder followed gruesome murder - apparently they ran out during the second preview.
First night nerves
This goes to Max Irons in Farragut North who made me nervous just watching him. I don't think his hands stopped shaking. He looked visibly relieved it was over at the curtain call and I wouldn't be surprised if he downed a double vodka the moment he got off stage.
New theatre actor crush
Adrian Bower (The Herd) and I want to say Seth Numrich but I’m probably old enough to be his mother so I'll just keep that to myself. Ahem.
Haven’t seen that before
During Let The Right One In a tank of water is filled and then used rather ingeniously for a swimming pool 'drowning' scene. The whole audience held its breath.
Best slip up
Benefit of seeing a play several times is seeing the actors trying out new stuff which leads to the winner of this category. During one performance of Mojo Ben Whishaw decided to spit out a mouthful of water and then subsequently slipped over on the wet patch while chasing Colin Morgan. In fact he nearly slipped right of the stage. Brendan Coyle also slipped in it too. Bet Mr Whishaw won't be trying that one again.
An honourable mention must go to Nigel Lyndsey who, as Bolingbroke, dramatically said of Richard II's murder "I never wished him bed". Good recovery though.
The curtain call sub category
Had some particularly memorable curtain calls last year so there are two awards:
The most flexible bow award
Ben Whishaw for a vigorous demonstration that he can get his nose on his knees every single time.
Curtain call moment
Stephen Fry rather deliciously took the piss out of Mark Rylance and his views of Shakespeare's authorship at his final performance of Twelfth Night. He also cracked the rather topical joke about Richard III being performed in Leicester Square tube.
And then there was Kim Cattrell kissing Seth Numrich on the mouth at the curtain call - because you so would if you could get away with it. Go girl.
Worst night at the theatre
Quality of theatre was very high this year but A Drowned Man wins this hands down with Raving at the Hampstead Theatre getting a dishonourable mention.
*I am curious as to what Johnny had to gargle every night