All the theatre I saw in 2016, ranked

(nb: most of this was written on the train on New Year’s Eve, so “last night” = Dec 30th.)

In 2016 I saw 41 plays (and three staged readings, which were interesting but it feels unfair to put in with the rest because they’re not supposed to be fully realised pieces of theatre). Drunk Theatre stalwart Louisa and I tried to clear out the bottle-ends in the booze cabinet before the New Year, and carried out the immense task of force-ranking all our 2016 plays with Post-It notes. (for the record if you are also looking to clear out your drinks bottles, the “Monkey Gland”, a 1920s? cocktail involving grenadine and absinthe, was surprisingly all right.)

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Dover Castle and the White Cliffs of Dover

I was in Dover last week as the Shakespeare setting for King Lear, where I found a crumbling postwar seaside town with Roman history and lots of confusing nationalism (many asylum-seekers and migrants from Europe enter the UK here). It’s actually a pretty good fit for the apocalyptic play, if maybe not a first pick for an off-season holiday. When my B&B host picked me up from the station, she asked if I were headed to Calais or Canterbury for a day trip, as “There’s not a lot to Dover, Kerry.”

Dover Castle

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Photo (c) Simon Kane

Globe to Globe: King Lear in Belarusian (Belarus)

“That was certainly the shortest Lear I’ve ever seen,” I overheard a patron say as I left the theatre on Friday. It was, and it was brilliant. All Lears should clock in at 80min (1hr35min with interval).

Most of the cuts were around Lear, the Fool and Kent. The highlights were still there, but not the endless moaning on the heath. The storm scene was extremely effective: a blue tarp stretched on stage, held at the edges by the cast, who vigorously shook it to create a tempestous space for Lear to wander in; halfway through, someone dumped a bucket of water into it, which bounced off the tarp for the rest of the scene, splashing Lear again and again, genuinely disorienting him and soaking him through. The Fool played piano and wore very enviable yellow wellies.

King Lear in the storm, The Belarus Free Theatre Read more...