Theatre gets me through the dark days of January, here are my highlights from the new play and casting announcements, favourite things I saw (and the low moment). And, thanks to the Julius Caesar press night, there was a bumper crop of actor, director and writer spots too...
* Forbes Mason, who will forever be known as the Lucifer in pants, thanks to Jamie Lloyd's Doctor Faustus, has been cast in the Almeida's Summer and Smoke which opens later this month. Did I mention how much I'm looking forward to seeing Patsy Ferran, who also stars, in that?
* Josie Rourke announced she is stepping down as artistic director at the Donmar Warehouse next year after eight years in the role. My highlights of her tenure, if you were to ask me for the first things that spring to mind, would be the Tom Hiddleston Coriolanus (incidentally my review of that is my most popular post and has been viewed nearly 15,000 times), the all women Shakespeare series and James Graham's Privacy. There are plenty of others but those are what stick most in my mind.
* Vanessa Redgrave (yes Vanessa Redgrave!) has been cast in The Inheritance at the Young Vic which opens next month. I could listen to her voice for hours. Also announced in the cast are Stan-fav's Kyle Soller, Michael Marcus and Luke Thallon plus a whole bunch of new names I’m looking forward to getting to know over a double play day.
* Ophelia Lovibund and Claire Skinner have been cast in Barney Norris' new play Nightfall at the Bridge Theatre which opens at the end of April.
* Andrew Scott's Hamlet is to be shown on TV by the BBC according to the Radio Times. It's up there with my all time favourite Hamlet's and while nothing will beat seeing the live performance, having the chance to see it again is something to be relished.
* Simon Russell Beale (first of two appearances in this post), Adam Godley and the lovely Ben Miles *giggles* have been cast in The Lehman Trilogy at the National Theatre which is being directed by Sam Mendes. Poly and I will be elbowing our way to the front of the queue when the tickets go on sale.
* Just when we'd got our breathing under control after the Vanessa Redgrave announcement, it was announced that Laura Linney is going to make her West End debut at the Bridge Theatre in My Name is Lucy Barton.
* Jonathan Slinger, Kate Fleetwood and Danny Webb have been cast in National Theatre’s Absolute Hell which opens in April.
* And last but not least, the lovely Samuel Barnett has been cast in Kiss of the Spider Woman at the Menier Chocolate Factory.
Patsy Ferran in My Mum's A Twat. Loved her. Loved the play. The Claim made me angry (for the right reasons) and the star-studded (Ben Whishaw, Michelle Fairley, David Morrissey) Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre was much anticipated and didn't disappoint. Looking forward to seeing it again in a week's time.
Left John, National Theatre at the second interval. Just didn't care enough about any of the characters to be home late on a school night.
Thesp spots: Alec Secareanu (God’s Own Country) was in the Royal Court Bar. He can currently be seen in Gundog, at the Royal Court which opened a few days ago. Then there was James Corrigan and Martin Hutson (recently Mark Antony and Cassius in the RSC's Julius Caesar) were at Brother's Size at the Young Vic together.
And then there was the press night for the Bridge Theatre's Julius Caesar. Deep breath: Simon Russell Beale, Jim Broadbent, Paul Ready, Robert Icke, Jeremy Herrin, Michael Frayn, Maxine Peake, Alex Jennings, David Suchet, Lindsay Duncan, Kate O'Flynn, who was in deep conversation with Andrew Scott, John Heffernan (who shared a hug with AS), Mike Leigh (who had a steady stream of actors making a beeline for him), Jonathan Price, Jonathan Bailey, Tobias Menzies and Rory Kinnear. I was hoping there would be a RK and BW reunion but if there was one I didn't see it sadly.