Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry's last Twelfth Night and the final words from Fry
Safe bets vs creativity in London theatre

London theatre news round up and thoughts (w/e Feb 10)

Rupert Goold steps into Michael Attenborough's shoes as Artistic Director at the Almeida

Very exciting news this. Goold isn't a 'safe' director like the Michael Grandages and Trevor Nunns of the theatreland, with Goold you never know quite what you are going to get.

He chooses classic plays and gives them a twist or new plays and presents them in interesting ways. It doesn't always work - Earthquakes in London was a definite no-no for me - but love or hate, his work invariably leaves a mark.

The Almeida is a lovely theatre and I think with Goold at the helm, he'll push the boundaries of content and the way the space is used.

Actors turn playwright for the Bush's new season

Doesn't naturally follow that actors make good writers but it can and does sometimes work so I'll definitely be hurrying off to see Rory Kinnear and Cush Jumbo's debut offerings in the Autumn. Kinnear is a particular fav of mine on stage and his first play is being directed by Howard Davies which also bodes well.


Casting news I've got excited about this week:

Harry Melling treading the boards again (directed by Richard Wilson)

Harry Melling is one of those rising young stars I'm increasingly looking out for on the stage. I first noticed him in Mother Courage And All Her Children at the National Theatre where he was once again cast as Fiona Shaw's son (he was Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter films). Since then I've seen him in a handful of plays most recently taking the leads as Ian in When Did You Last See My Mother and Christopher Isherwood in I Am A Camera. 

Naturally, I was straight on the internet to get tickets for his latest outing, Smack Family Robinson at the Rose Theatre in Kingston, which also appeals because it's a Richard Bean play and it's directed by the brilliant Richard Wilson.

Colin Morgan is Ariel and Roger Allam is Prospero at the Globe

Bit of a double edged sword this one as I've long been a fan of Colin Morgan (first saw him in Vernon God Little before BBC Merlin fame) but I have an intense dislike for Shakespeare's Globe as a venue (cold, wet, standing vs uncomfortable seats at the back etc). In fact I had vowed not to spend my hard-earned cash there unless Mr Whishaw was cast in something. But it's Colin and he's done so little stage work during filming Merlin's five series I decided to give it another go.

This time I'm going to trying standing, mainly because The Tempest is one of the shorter plays and I'll have only spent a fiver if I really dislike it and want to bail.

Best of the theatre blogs:

Lyn Gardner questions why so much theatre is dull

Interesting piece on why we are too kind about theatre productions that are just middle of the road and Lyn Gardner makes a good point. Except, I would add that as a critic she doesn't have the luxury of choosing what she sees.

Something regular theatre-goers, like myself, say that every now and again you have to see something dreadful to help you appreciate the good and it is true but the benefit of being a paying customer is we have a choice. How many of the productions Gardner sees as a paid critic would she have actually chosen to go and see had she been a paying customer?

My choices aren't always right but you do get a sense, the more you see and more familiar you get with different directors, playwrights and actors for what has more potential to be good or not.