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November 2018

December 2018

Is it time for theatres to reward loyal ticket buyers and how should they do it?

When tickets went on sale for the concluding play in Jamie Lloyd's Pinter at the Pinter season - Betrayal starring Tom Hiddleston - those who had already booked tickets for other, arguably less commercial plays, were given 24-hours priority booking*.

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Tom Hiddleston is a big draw, Hollywood level stardom with a large fan base and demand was going to be high for tickets, so it felt like a genuine reward was being offered for those who are theatre fans first and foremost.

And I don't think I've seen a theatre do anything quite like this before.

Recognition for loyalty

The gesture and recognition for loyalty felt all the greater when a few days later the National Theatre sent out emails about the results of a ticket ballot for another play with a Hollywood star in the cast.

Cate Blanchett is taking to the Dorfman stage next year in a play directed by Katie Mitchell and, anticipating high demand, the National asked people to apply to go into the ballot for a chance to buy tickets. 

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Theatre recommendation for the festive season: Orpheus, Battersea Arts Centre

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It's not a Christmas-themed show but Orpheus by Little Bulb Theatre is a such a joyous experience to watch it is perfect for the season.

I saw it twice when it had its first run at the Battersea Arts Centre back in 2013 and I'm so glad it's back so more people get to enjoy it.

The theatre is decked out like a French jazz cafe from the 1930s with tables so that you can sit back and enjoy a bottle of wine and perhaps some food. 

Describing what it is about and like is difficult - read my attempt here - but I was grinning throughout.

See it at BAC as part of the Phoenix Season until December 30

 


Review: Ellie Kendrick's play of female anger - Hole, Royal Court

It feels long, primarily because it's not so much one note as one emotion.

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You'd be forgiven for thinking London's theatre scene had been taken over by Game of Throne's actors in the past month or so.

First Maisie Williams made her stage debut at Hampstead Theatre in I and You, then True West starring Kit Harington opened at the Vaudeville Theatre and now we have Hole, not starring but written by Ellie Kendrick.

Hole is a mixture of speech, song, movement and music exploring female anger through a series of stories, themes and metaphors.

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Review: True West, Vaudeville Theatre starring Kit Harington and Johnny Flynn - quick fire dialogue and sharp comic timing

Harington and Flynn prove themselves agile performers with quick-fire dialogue and sharp comic timing.  

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Kit Harington and Johnny Flynn in True West. Photo Marc Brenner.

Kit Harington is no doubt the star draw for True West but it is Johnny Flynn who is the star in this new production of Sam Shephard's play of fraternal tension.

Harington plays Austin, a screenwriter who is house-sitting for his mother in Southern California.

He is using the peace and quiet to work on a script and meet with film producer Saul (Donald Sage Mackay) when Lee (Flynn), his estranged older brother, turns up unexpectedly.

Unlikely siblings

The brothers couldn't be more different.

Austin is neatly dressed and groomed - almost nerdy looking - professional, patient and law-abiding, the urban, sanitized 'west' to Lee's 'wild'.

The latter has been living in the desert for two months, wears dirty jeans, drinks beer like it's an accessory and has a pilfering past which makes Austin nervous about loaning him his car.

While their mother's house presents a respectable, domestic backdrop, the ever-present chirrup of crickets and nighttime howls of coyotes press up against the windows.

Resentments escalate

Sibling rivalry, resentment, and jealousy escalate when the meeting with Saul takes an unexpected turn.

Harington and Flynn prove themselves agile performers with quick-fire dialogue and sharp comic timing.  

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Review: The Night Before Christmas, Southwark Playhouse - festive fun for grown-ups?

Despite the laughter and hints of substance beneath the glitter and lights you'd expect from a Christmas show it is clunky at times and shows its age.

L -R Douggie McMeekin and Dan Starkey star in The Night Before Christmas at Southwark Playhouse - credit Darren Bell
L-R Douggie McMeekin and Dan Starkey star in The Night Before Christmas at Southwark Playhouse. Photo: Darren Bell


It's Christmas Eve and Gary (Douggie McMeekin) catches an elf (Dan Starkey) in his knock-off goods warehouse who claims to have fallen off Santa's sleigh.

His friend Simon (Michael Salami) thinks the elf is a just a burglar trying it on.

But with Gary's ex-wife on the way around to pick up their son's Christmas present and local prostitute Cherry (Unique Spencer) also after him for a promised Power Rangers toy for her own kid, the elf's timing isn't perfect.

Grown-up fun?

This is adult Christmas fare, counter-programming to the Dr Seuss musical which is on next door but what constitutes grown up festive fun?

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