43 posts categorized "Lists" Feed

It's a list with a stage actor/music video/Ben Whishaw theme. OK.

I've been collating this list in my head for a while but struggling to give it some sort of cohesive title. It started out as stage actors (and some film actors but I might come onto that) who are also musicians. But in compiling two subsequent themes floated to the surface: music videos and Ben Whishaw.

So in the end its a sort of themed brain-dump of a list which one or two of you might appreciate. I certainly enjoyed compiling it, mainly because it's a good excuse to listen to some music and watch some music videos.

It all started with Johnny Flynn whom I first saw on stage in The Heretic in which he played and sang. This led to some googling and the discovery of his band Johnny Flynn and The Sussex Wit whose albums I now own and love.

I've seen him in lots of plays since and he is due to play Roger Taylor in the Freddie Mercury biopic opposite Ben Whishaw as Freddie. The prospect of him acting and singing in a film alongside Mr W brings me untold joy.


Next on my list is Olly Alexander whom I first saw on stage in Mercury Fur (he'd already been on the big screen with Mr W in Bright Star. I've subsequently seen them together in Peter & Alice but prior to that I discovered that he had a band called Years and Years. And lo and behold who should pop up in the bands latest video...

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Who do you want to see play...Iago

IagoIt's a topic that comes up frequently among us theatre nerds, who we'd like to see play certain characters, so thought I would start an occasional series. Inspired by a report that Nigel Lindsay has said Iago is the next character he'd like to play (he'd be brilliant btw) I thought the Othello villain would be a good place to start.

So this is my list, who is on yours?

Ben Whishaw is my first choice, obviously. Have written before about how I'd love to see him play a real out and out baddie and we've got closer with Baby in Mojo but Iago is still on the to do list I've written for him. I think he could do a wonderful job at Iago's duplicitous persona caring and concerned friend of the butter wouldn't melt sort while gripping the bread knife firmly behind his back.

Someone else I think would be very good is Kyle Soller and probably influenced by his performance in Edward II I could see him being quite an excitable, kinetic and slightly nervous Iago.

I also fancy a charming blond bombshell Iago, someone who is beautiful on the outside but cut through with blackness on the inside in an almost surprising way. And again, because I've just seen him on stage in Ghosts, I think Jack Lowden would be interesting at this.

A curve ball and because I think gender swapping shouldn't just be the preserve of men playing women (so looking forward to Maxine Peake playing Hamlet later this year) I'd like to see Andrea Riseborough as Iago. She doesn't do enough stage work in my book and I think she could play a beautifully bitchy Iago opposite Cush Jumbo as Othello.

My longer list would include: Harry Melling, Sam Troughton, Jamie Parker, Daniel Mays, Mark Gatiss...I could go on but it has to stop somewhere




If theatreland was to have a list of New Year resolutions...

...this is what I think they should be:

1. Introduce loyalty schemes

The Young Vic and Southwark Playhouse sort of do this already with discounts when you buy tickets for a certain number of plays in one season or pay a lump sum up front and get so many tickets. Maybe it would encourage people to try something new or see more or make those of us who go regularly feel appreciated.

2. Make better use of social media accounts

There are only so many tweets asking if you are coming to see [insert name of play] and it is such an opportunity missed when there is a massive audience hungry for tidbits. It's obvious that a lot of these accounts are set up with little thought to what content they are going to contain as the ideas seem to run out very quickly.

3. Be less media and more social

Related to number 2. the clue is in the name, too many theatre social media accounts don't engage with their followers a lot of whom are potential paying audience members. Without engagement most feeds quickly become one-sided and boring. Social media isn't merely a soap box for theatre marketing departments, there is so much potential there that isn't being utilised.

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My ten favourite plays of 2013

This has been tough, really tough, it's been a really great year for theatre and not just because Mr Whishaw has graced us with his presence in not one but two plays, although you might be surprised by one of the omissions...

These aren't in a particular order:

  1. Mojo, Harold Pinter Theatre - Jez Butterworth + Stan fav's Ben Whishaw and Colin Morgan with a sprinkling of curiosity about Rupert Grint how could it fail? A refreshing change from the bulk of the safe West End offer. I've seen it five times, so far, just in case anyone was wondering.
  2. The Weir, Donmar Warehouse - beautiful, simple and atmospheric storytelling. The bijou Donmar was perfect for this.
  3. Orpheus, Battersea Arts Centre - a delightful and surprising evening of imaginative story-telling and entertainment. Probably the closest I'll get to a musical. Its back next year and so will I be.
  4. As You Like It, Royal Shakespeare Theatre - The chemistry between the leads and the fun and frolicks made this feel like you were at a party. Oh and the wrestling scene was a feast for the eyes too. Ahem.
  5. Cripple of Inishmaan, Noel Coward Theatre - This was a heady mix of deliciously dark humour and heartfelt emotion. Laughing one minute and crying the next.
  6. Sea Wall, The Shed - Andrew Scott had me hanging on every word and in just 30 minutes reduced me to bits. Probably one of the most affecting pieces of theatre I've seen and you can see it online if you don't believe me (link at bottom of review).
  7. Edward II, Olivier Theatre - It wasn't for everyone but it was for me. This high energy, bold and contemporary production blew me away.
  8. Richard II, Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Barbican Theatre - David Tennant and a fantastic supporting cast have done it again. Loved the interpretation of Richard in this the genius being to turn sympathy from firmly with Bolingbroke to Richard by the end. An unlikeable Richard I very much liked.
  9. Let The Right One In, Royal Court - A fantastically atmospheric and inventive piece of theatre that did justice to a much loved film.
  10. Coriolanus, Donmar Warehouse - Third Shakespeare in my top 10 and another high energy and inventive production that brings a very political play to life. The shower scene also gets extra marks *grins*.

I'd have loved to have squeezed Peter and Alice in there and also Sweet Bird of Youth, Jeeves and Wooster and Fortune's Fool but unfortunately there could only be 10. The bar has been set high for 2014.

Related posts:

My top five fringe plays of the year

My top five Shakespeare plays and top five off-West End


Theatre 2013 lists: Five Best Shakespeare and off-West End plays

Continuing with my build up to the top 10 of the year here are my favourite Shakespeares and favourite off-West End* plays of 2013.

First the Shakespeares. It's been a really, really good year for the Bard's plays but there are only 10 spaces in my best of list so here are my top five that didn't quite make it:

And now the best of off-West End list, again lots that nearly made it into my top ten:

* Off-West End to me are the medium sized theatres most of which aren't in the core West End

My overall top 10 will be published tomorrow, my top five fringe list can be found here

Theatre 2013 lists: Top 5 fringe plays of the year

Been so much good theatre this year and too many contenders for my overall top 10, which I'll be publishing on Sunday, so I thought I'd pull out a couple of extra lists so that some of those plays that charmed, entertained or moved me but couldn't be squeezed into the top 10 get a mention.

Oh, and I should probably preface these lists by saying that I've been to the theatre 108 times this year seeing 93 unique productions. The fact that there were so many repeat visits gives an indicator as to just how good a year it has been (and that Mr Whishaw was back on stage).

First of the lists is my five best fringe* plays that didn't make it into my top 10:

 * I class fringe as small, non-West End theatre/commercial theatres or studio theatres

Tomorrow I'll post my top Shakespeare and top off West End productions, that didn't make it into my top 10


Theatre 2013 half year review - some lists

July. How did that happen? 52 plays in six months. How did that happen?

So here are some numbers and some thoughts on the year so far...

27,653 people have visited my blog - I love each and every one of you *blows kiss*

35,002 pages have been read and these are the top five most read individual posts:

1. Second thoughts on Dame Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw in Peter and Alice

2. Punchdrunk's A Drowned Man or nice sets, shame about the lack of performance (thanks Punchdrunk, I did get something out of it after all)

3. First thoughts on Dame Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw in Peter and Alice

4. Five coolest theatre venues in London (I should probably do a new list of the five hottest with current weather conditions ;0)

5. James McAvoy's Macbeth at the Trafalgar Studios second thoughts

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Theatre: best of 2013 so far...and Peter and Alice isn't number one *shock*

As Spring has finally got a hook around Winter's neck and is dragging it kicking and screaming towards the wings it seems appropriate to reflect on the first three months of the year in theatre land. I've clocked up 23 plays which is slightly less than usual but there is plenty of time to catch up and this is my top five:

1. Di and Viv and Rose, Hampstead Theatre

Loved it when I saw it in the downstairs space and loved it all over again on the bigger stage with a slightly different cast.

2. Peter and Alice, Noel Coward Theatre

Why not number one you ask, it's got Mr W in it after all? Well it was close, very close, but I saw the first performance and it no doubt will have benefited from a bit of bedding in. Will find out next month for my second viewing. Can't wait.

3. Twelfth Night, Apollo Theatre

It was the last performance I saw, hence why it didn't make it into my 2012 list but it was worth the wait, great fun. Will forever have the image in my head of Johnny Flynn being pushed across the stage. And Stephen Fry's curtain call speech was worth the ticket price alone.

4. Macbeth, Trafalgar Studios

Again an early performance that needed a bit of bedding in but James McAvoy proved once again what a flawless stage actor he is with an effortless performance. April is project 'see Macbeth again' month and where there is a will...

5. Trelawny of the Wells, Donmar Warehouse

Joe Wright's first attempt at theatre and pretty fine it was too. Just good old-fashioned, fun entertainment.

And the worst? Well I haven't seen anything terrible yet this year, which is a good sign or bad if you think that by the law of averages there will be at least one rotter and it is still to come.

OK, so those are my favourites, what are yours?

Could 2013 get any better for theatre castings?

Admittedly this is all about me and the people I like to see on the stage but I'm wracking my brain to think of any other actors that feature at the top of my favourites list that haven't been cast in a play this year, yet.

This is what I've got so far:

James McAvoy, Macbeth - Trafalgar Studios

Ben Whishaw, Peter and Alice - Noel Coward Theatre

Harry Melling, Smack Family Robinson - Rose Theatre, Kingston

Colin Morgan, The Tempest - Shakespeare's Globe (bit of a double-edged sword that one what with the Globe being top of my least favourite theatre venues list)

John Heffernan, Edward II - National Theatre

Rory Kinnear, Othello - National Theatre


David Tennant, Richard II - Stratford and London.

Not content with that I've already had my dose of Antony Sher for the year having seen him in Captain of Kopenick last week.

Simon Russell Beale is sort of missing but not really, he's still appearing in Privates on Parade and I saw it on New Year's Eve which kind of feels like this year. His next confirmed appearance is King Lear in January but I don't see him 'resting' until then.


Six things that get me to the theatre

Jd3Lyn Gardner wrote a piece on her blog this week about what makes people choose certain plays over others naturally she talked about popular actors, directors and writers, particular theatres and even favourite type of interval ice cream.

Now interval snacks are never going to be a selling point for me but even having seen more than 100 plays in the last 12 months there are still plenty that I miss, usually for reasons of time and funds (I've been lambasted on Twitter for not having seen The Kitchen Sink). London just has so much to choose from and that's before you cast your net further afield to the superb array of regional theatres and the RSC in Stratford.

Anyway, it got me thinking about how I choose what to see and while I concur with many of Lyn Gardner's suggestions (see my examples below) there are some USP's she doesn't include:


It's an obvious one but we all have our favourites - an ever growing list in my case. Names that will

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