This week's Sunday Theatre question is about girl-power on stage - what is your favourite play or production with an all-female cast? Theatre's gender balance still has a way to go, but it feels like it has improved in recent years. Do you think?
My choice for this makes a thing of having an all-female cast. Emilia, which I saw at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2019 (review here) is the story of Emilia Lanier, the first feminist poet and a possible inspiration for Shakespeare.
And while it is a story with feminism at its heart, having an all-female cast allowed plenty of humourous digs at the fact that women weren't allowed to perform on the stage in Shakespeare's time.
It was brilliantly done and was such a joyous production; I loved it. So what is your choice and why?
Looking for inspiration? Here are some other all-female cast productions that spring to mind:
Queens of Sheba, Battersea Art Centre - Saw this at the Edinburgh Fringe then again when it transferred the Battersea Arts Centre. It's one of those plays that doesn't shy away from looking at the difficult subjects - sexism and racism - but also feels like a celebration and a rally - a call to arms. I loved it very much.
Going to see a much-loved film or book that has been adapted for the stage can conjure up a mixture of feelings from excitement to nerves. Sometimes there is an element of curiosity about how it will be adapted.
So have you seen a screen or stage adaptation that has particularly surprised you in how it was staged?
In the video, I explain my top choice, the National Theatre of Scotland's adaptation of Swedish horror film Let The Right One In which I saw when it transferred to the Royal Court.
I loved the film but never in a million year would have pegged it as a stage adaptation. I approached it with trepidation but was completely blown away by the inventiveness of the staging and how the tone of the film had been captured.
Here are some of my other favourite adaptations for stage, tell me about yours in the comments.
A Monster Calls, Old Vic Theatre - the book, written by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd, held a particular place in my heart because I read it not long after my Mum died. There had already been a film version which used CGI to great effect to render the tree-like monster - or is it monster-like tree - of the title and I'd been relieved when that version was reasonably faithful to the book.
This week's theatre question is inspired by the wintery weather. The weathermen forecast snow for this weekend here in London but instead, it's peeing it down with rain. Not that I mind too much snow is just a pain - on those rare occasions we get it in the city.
Anyway, the prospect of snow got me thinking about plays that either have a wintery setting or remind me of the winter. Watch the video to find out my choice of favourite winter play and let me know your snowy-set play choices in the comments.
If you are looking for some inspiration, here are some other plays that have wintery connections:
The Red Barn, National Theatre - Mark Strong and Elizabeth Debicki starred in this intriguing and tense play in which a snowstorm throws a group of people together.
On Bear Ridge, Royal Court - The mountain setting, the snowy stage, the actors wrapped in layers against the 'cold' - a beautiful play with a bleak future setting and the weather to match.
A Christmas Carol, Old Vic - The one starring Rhys Ifans had everyone in the audience so giddy that when it started 'snowing' over the stalls there was spontaneous applause. It was such a joyful moment.
If you had a theatre-watching nightmare, one where you were forced to sit an watch something and it was everything you hate, what would that look like for you?
For me, it would be a musical, written by Tom Stoppard and starring Ben Whishaw for reasons I explain in the video below.
There is one Tom Stoppard play I really like and that is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead but I've realised over the years that the only reason I like that play is because I love Hamlet and crucially I'm familiar with it.
And that's the problem with Stoppard he relies on a lot of existing knowledge and if the references and ideas aren't familiar then it doesn't make much sense. Which has been the case with all the other plays I've seen.
I'm not one for dumbing down but I find them alienating because I don't have the prerequisite level of knowledge to adequately appreciate them.
And I've tried quite a few - I've seen Arcadia more than once - but after these years of testing, I've come to the conclusion that Stoppard isn't for me.
Here's a couple of reviews of Tom Stoppard plays I've seen:
Hopefully this year we'll see theatres reopening and a semblance of normality returning so with that in mind the first Sunday Theatre question of 2021 is about what your dream play would be and who would star in it.
So pick a genre - or a play if you have one in mind - the actor and/or actress you'd most like to star in it and then share it in the comments.
My choice would be a black comedy starring Ben Whishaw and Monica Dolan for reasons I explain in the video.
Looking forward to reading about your choices and scroll down for my favourite black comedies...
This week's Sunday theatre question is about when the production design of a play doesn't quite work. It perhaps distracts or gets in the way of the play or maybe makes performing unnecessarily challenging for the actors.
I've got a couple of examples that stick in my mind, one was a Shakespeare play at the Young Vic and the other was a classic Greek tragedy at the Donmar.
Both are memorable for the production fails rather than the performances or interpretation of classics.
Have you had a similar experience? Let me know in the comments.
If you want to explore previous Sunday theatre questions check out my social media:
This Sunday's theatre question is inspired by a comment Ben Whishaw made in an interview about needing to do more Shakespeare. Watch the video to hear more about the question and my choice.
Would love to hear what your choice would be, let me know in the comments. Some suggestions already made over on my Instagram channel include David Dawson in a Simon Stephens play and David Tennant as Richard III.
I'm going to make more of an effort to add my Sunday Theatre questions here every week as posting has got a bit sporadic but in the meantime, if you want to delve into the archive they on my social media channels:
Theatre makes a massive contribution to the UK whether it is in the jobs it creates, the billions it generates for the economy, the outreach programmes for local communities and of course what it gives to you and me as theatre-goers.
Its future is at risk which is heartbreaking, in this Sunday's theatre question video I talk about why I love going to the theatre so much and I'd love to know what you love about it.
And if you want to help theatre survive there are all sorts of things you can do. Sign this petition to get the Government to help theatres, make a donation to your favourite theatre or buy a membership, pay to watch some streamed theatre and tell your friends about it, for example.
If you've missed a Sunday theatre question, here's a few I've already posted: