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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“Margaret of Anjou”, By Jove Theatre

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Oh my goodness I have been missing this kind of theatre, and I didn’t even realise until I went. A small white-painted wood-floored gallery under a railway arch in south London with one toilet and the “bar” a table run by an artistic director selling crisps and plastic cups of bag-in-a-box wine, and a collaborative poem about the project hanging on the wall, and gosh when I walked in I just felt a wave of artistic comfort and joy.

“Margaret of Anjou: a new play by Shakespeare” is taken from four of Shakespeare’s plays: Henry VI parts 1, 2, and 3, and Richard III. Prof. Liz Schafer and dramaturg Philippa Kelly created a ‘new’ play about the character Margaret of Anjou – who is in all four plays, and is the character with the most lines in Shakespeare – out of Shakespeare’s text.

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Drunk Theatre: June-July 2016

I’ve been seeing so many plays and not writing about them! Here are a few.

Shitfaced Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice @ Southbank Udderbelly: I was so looking forward to this that I got massively shitfaced myself ahead of time, at my friend Ken’s birthday drinks, at a wine bar in the City, where another friend Jo and I had to – had to, for a tenuous reason I don’t remember very well – buy wine by the bottle instead of the glass. Anyway, I knocked back a litre+ of rosé and lost to Ken at pool several times, then tottered over the river to the South Bank Udderbelly and bought a double rum and tonic (“YES, WITH TONIC“) for £7.40, and waved it in front of the Shitfaced Shakespeare MC, who is responsible for keeping the show relatively on the rails. He also hands out gongs to the audience to ring if we feel the drunk actor is sobering up. I got a gong!

The interesting thing about “Shitfaced Merchant of Venice” was going to be how to do a weird tragedy with the structure of a comedy, which historically has been very hard to do without accidentally or intentionally being terrible about gay people, or Jewish people, or women, or black people, or…, in the style of Shitfaced Shakespeare, which is basically ‘loosely controlled anarchy, and booze’. It failed much less than I was dreading! (PR guys, you can use that on the posters if you like.)

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Drunk(ish) Theatre: “Guys and Dolls” at the Savoy Theatre

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Cast of Guys and Dolls on tour in Manchester: Sophie Thompson, David Haig, Jamie Parker, Siubhan Harrison. Photo Manchester Evening News.

 

The show: Guys and Dolls at the Savoy Theatre, February 27 2016 (matinee)

The drinks: gin cocktail at lunch, medium wine at the top, medium wine at the interval. (The house red at the Savoy is not actually that bad, and you can order £5/175ml vouchers when you book tickets, which again is all right for the West End really.)

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Drunk Theatre: The Oresteia, Trafalgar Studios (Almeida)

Oresteia at the Almeida - poster

I was quite drunk the first time I ever encountered the Oresteia, Aeschylus’ family bathtub-drowning-revenge-stabbing-dynastic-betrayal-murderfest trilogy. For about ten years, every January a group of us would rent a big house in Derbyshire for a weekend and read through some plays. When we did the Oresteia, I was one of the chorus: it was the first play of the weekend, on a Friday night, and I may have wilfully misinterpreted what kind of libation, exactly, the Libation Bearers were bearing, like whether or not it was a raspberry daiquiri, and whether it was being borne to, say, Agamemnon’s grave or, for example, my mouth.

(During The Eumenides, the final play, when the chorus is the Furies, I mostly remember Athene, played by Kat, rapping her gavel very firmly and the lead Fury, played by the weekend’s organiser Catriona, repeating ‘Fury Two—‘ with the sharp weary tone of ‘wing commander, we’re trying to attack the Death Star here and you seem to be vomiting in your helmet’.)

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Drunk Theatre: Earlham Street Clubhouse and “City of Angels” at the Donmar

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The drinks: Earlham Street Clubhouse

The evening’s story actually started last October during London Cocktail Week, that most magical of times in the capital. A £10 wristband gets you cocktail bars across the city, from Mayfair hotels to Bethnal Green dives, throwing open their doors and sliding over £4 drinks, most of which are specially created for the festival.

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