Review: Ivo Van Hove's epic Kings of War, Barbican Theatre
Review: Why I prefer Alistair McDowall's Pomona to X (Royal Court)

That was April in London (and New York) theatre-land - the bloody (dog) star-spangled month

TamaskanApril was a bloody month and it was a (doggy) star spangled month...

* Haven't seen a dog on stage since Little Eyolf at the Almeida last year but this month there were two occasions for pause so the audience could go 'ah'. First up was at the Almeida again, this time a dog was walked on the stage during Boy then in The Crucible at the Walter Kerr there was a wolf. Actually it was rare dog breed called a Tamaskan (pictured) which looks spookily like a wolf. The Tamaskan gets the performance award for wandering around the stage (helped by strategically placed treats) pausing to look out into the audience before trotting off.

* Talking of The Crucible, as you may have guessed my theatre obsession took me state-side. It was my second trip to New York to check up on Ben Whishaw and it is reassuring to know he can still touch his knees with his nose at the curtain call. Used the Today Tix app to get some really good seats for a relative bargain to see Michelle Williams and Jeff Daniels in the disturbing and devastatingly good Blackbird.

* Several exciting casting announcements. First up we'll get to see Freddie Fox's Bottom in the Southwark Playhouse's A Midsummer Night's Dream (won't be the first time I've seen his bottom as there is was that scene in The Judas Kiss in 2012). Then there was news of Daniel Radcliffe's next stage outing as The Writer in a Broadway production of James Graham's Privacy. I won't get to see it in New York but I'm excited for everyone who will as it is a unique and brilliant play and he is so suited to the part. Ruth Wilson will play Hedda Gabbler at the National Theatre directed by my current fav Ivo Van Hove - that is a dramatic pairing if ever there was one. And Rhys Ifans is to play the Fool to Glenda Jackson Lear in the Old Vic production. It will be the second time I've seen him on stage, the first was back in the early 90s when I went to see Hamlet at Theatr Clwyd in Mold - he had a very small part as did a number of other actors who've gone on to be big stars.

Celeb spots (there have been many this month): Stephen Rea and Joseph Quinn were in the audience of X at the Royal Court. The following night was press night and Poly was there (seeing the play upstairs) but spotted: Tom Goodman-Hill, Debra Findlay, Matthew Horne, Leo Bill, Jonjo O’Neill, Alexi Kaye Campbell and John Tiffany. On a trip to see The Flick at the National she also spotted Andrew Garfield, Eleanor Matsura and Trevor White (bumped into Helen McCrory on the way too). I  stood next to Jessie Buckley in queue for the loo at Maison Bertaux (George MacKay is a previous spot there) but my favourite spot of the month was Antony Byrne in the audience at The Crucible in New York. OK so the RSC were over their doing the King and Country cycle and it must have been his night off but it was still a thrill to see a familiar famous face (we passed on the stairs and I like to think that was a knowing look we shared).

(l-r) Craig Stein, Kit Harington and Tom Edden in Doctor Faustus at the Duke of York's Theatre London. Running until 25 June 2016 CREDIT Marc Brenner
(l-r) Craig Stein, Kit Harington and Tom Edden in Doctor Faustus at the Duke of York's Theatre. Photo: Marc Brenner

Stage blood corner (from where you can never quite remove the stains)

April was a blood curdling month, so much so that stocks of stage blood must be running low here's how the month scored using my special ratings: Paper Cut, Nose Bleed, A Few Stitches, Stabbing, Full on Bloodbath):

Play: X, Royal Court

Bloody incident: Self inflicted throat slashing

Rating: Stabbing

Play: The Crucible, Walter Kerr Theatre, NY

Bloody incident: Ben Whishaw turns his back on the audience to reveal a raw and bloody whip marks.

Rating: It raised a gasp from the audience but there was no oozing so it's getting Nose Bleed

Play: Dr Faustus, Duke of York's Theatre

Incident: There were many culminating in Kit Harington taking a blood shower which is going to be hard to beat.

Rating: Got to be Bloodbath