47 posts categorized "Lists" Feed

Who I would add to @Polyg's W-list of actors still to see on stage

Polyg has posted a fab list of five actors she'd love to see on stage but hasn't yet, which got me thinking. I ran a similar list back in 2011 which included men and women (can now tick off Julie Walters) but it is growing. Poly's list is all male (coincidence or is there a list of actresses to come?) and I'd say a big yes to everyone for the reasons she states and add:

Andrew Garfield won awards for his stage Romeo early in his career and appeared on Broadway two years ago but 2006 was the last time he trod the boards in London. He's got such a varied body of film and TV work under his belt but stands out, for me, in those roles which require a deep emotional sensitivity. His performances have made me laugh and smile but have also had me sobbing and I think he'd be pretty special to see perform in the flesh.

Tilda Swinton returning to the stage would get me very, very excited. She spent her early career with the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh and RSC and since then has gathered such an eclectic and interesting mix of screen roles to her name. I could see her doing something avant garde with a subtle yet powerful magnetism.


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My five favourite plays of the year so far

PhotoIt's been a phenomenal year for theatre so far  and that isn't even including final performances of Ben Whishaw in Mojo and David Tennant's Richard II.

I've managed to pack in more than 40 plays (no wonder I'm tired) and at least 10 of them would earn an equivalent of five stars if I rated that way. It's going to make my end of year list very tough to decide.

What stands out from the crop of plays this year is the quality and imagination of the new writing. And, curiously, the classics that have made their mark have been either pared down and/or contemporary interpretations giving them a fresh appeal.

There are a couple of fringe productions I want to mention that haven't quite made the top five - Debris and Pests - which both exemplify contemporary writing at its most urgent and poetic. This for me is what fringe theatre is all about discovering something fresh, new and bold.

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Five London theatres with decent tickets under £20

Michael Grandage said in an interview last week that cheap West End theatre tickets are essential to attract the next generation of theatre-goers. Now while I'm much older than the age group Grandage is seeking to attract I a) go to the theatre a lot and always like a good value ticket and b) think I've got a good few decades of theatre-going left in me yet.

His comments, ironically, come at a time when a lot of West End theatres have sneakily pushed up ticket prices. Standard stalls seats seem to have risen from around £55 to £60 in the last couple of months, an increase of 9% which is way above inflation.

Now I've always thought of the West End as mainly for tourists and occasional theatre-goers with some exceptions. (*coughs* Mojo). There are plenty of places in London to see good quality theatre, with some of the best acting, writing and directing talent and without paying over the odds. Here are five such places that you can get tickets near the stage (I hate seats in the gods) for less than £20.

1. Royal Court, Sloane Square

All tickets on Monday's are £10 for both theatres. Get online at 9am on the day and you shouldn't have a problem.

2. Donmar Theatre, Covent Garden

£10 Barclays Front Row tickets go on sale, online 10 am two weeks prior. Now I only tried this when Coriolanus was on and had no luck but then it was hideously over subscribed. I do, however, know plenty of people who've successfully secured tickets for less starry productions relatively easily.

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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