Theatre hottie of the month: December
A few thoughts on Kenneth Branagh's weepy The Winter's Tale via encore screening

That was my year of theatre-going 2015: The StOlivier awards

89050759_9b7a9cb884_mThere are awards and then there are the StOliviers...

I'm only human award: This goes to Ben Whishaw who, during the Iliad live reading, mispronounced a name did a delightful giggle at his mistake before slipping straight back into character and carrying on. You can see the reading here (roughly 26 mins in for the giggle).

Best food fight: Cast of Rules for Living, National Theatre, who not only managed to mess up the stage but trod and smeared mashed potato into the carpet and on the drapes at all the exits from the Dorfman stage.

Scariest prop: For Carman Disruption at the Almeida I was sat on the front row not far from the life-sized, prone but visibly breathing bull. It was so realistic it freaked me a little bit. If it had moved its head or a leg you wouldn't have have seen me for dust.

Most accident prone production: Ah Wilderness! Young Vic. Props went flying and actors fell over, I wrote a post about it.

I didn't know you had that in you surprise performance award: Lots of surprises this year Tom Sturridge in American Buffalo, David Dawson in The Dazzled but the award goes Johnny Flynn in Hangmen for a performance that meant the first two words I said to Poly after the curtain call were 'Johnny Flynn' to which she replied 'I know'.

The bloody play of the year: The single stream of blood slowly rolling down the stage towards the audience at the end of  Macbeth, Young Vic, was great but the bloody highlight goes to the Almeida's Oresteia. Agamemnon is murdered and his spilled blood slowly seeps out in a growing pool from beneath his corpse.

Fruitiest play: This goes to Three Days in The Country, National Theatre, during which there tangerines, raspberries and nectarines the latter were eaten very seductively. If there was a healthiest cast gong it would surely be awarded here.

Best supporting actor: This goes jointly to me and Poly for our role in helping an actor back onto the stage when he misjudged his exit during the Donmar's Teddy Ferrara. He was in a wheelchair and one of the wheels caught the edge of the stage causing both chair and actor to topple into my lap (I 'improvised' a squeal). It took the strength of the two of us to push him and wheelchair back onto the stage so he could complete his exit. We'll take our thanks now. 

Most in need of a bit of male grooming - Ben Whishaw for his man garden in Bakkhai, Almeida. People who saw the play will know what I mean.

Best off-stage drama or the Mark Rylance effect: A woman in the on-stage seating fainted during Farinelli And The King, Duke of York's, and Mark Rylance stopped the play so that she could be carried out.  He wouldn't re-start until it was known if she was OK. It's not the first time it has happened when he's been performing, I've been told. Mark Rylance wouldn't be my first suggestion for actors that make women swoon but just goes to show.

Actor/audience interaction award: This also goes to Mark Rylance who said 'hello' to Poly as we passed him back stage en route to our on-stage seats for Farinelli and the King.

Safety first award: The runner up for this is As You Like It, National Theatre, which was stopped to untangle one set of chairs that wasn't dangling properly above the stage. The stage manager, quite rightly, didn't want any sudden falling chairs. But the actual award goes to Hangmen at the Royal Court. Had tickets for the first preview but it was cancelled for technical reasons and 'performer safety'. Given the title of the play this was a very wise decision, besides I get ridiculously nervous watching staged hangings as it is. 

Off stage trip-up award: It was the press night for Constellations at the Trafalgar Studios and we didn't realise that Benedict Cumberbatch was following us to the bar until he threw his glasses at Poly (it was probably more like he dropped them). I thought they were hers and turned to pick them up just as Mr Cumberbatch reached in to do the same at which point Poly turned around and nearly fell over him. Sort of. There were some hasty 'sorrys' and then we all rushed to the bar to hide our embarrassment in free glass of bubbly.

Harassing the audience award: This goes to Bertie Carvel for terrifying Poly with a Pentheus hard-stare during the Bakkhai. She wasn't doing anything wrong it was just part of the performance but she still has nightmares.

 Champagne image by Waldo Jaquith on Flickr