The purpose of starting this blog was to see if I could keep up any sort of regularity in reviewing the various plays, musicals, and other things I go to see at the theatre. My output thus far, however, has served mostly to suggest that I was trying to run before I could walk.
While I'm mostly keeping on top of my weekly "Friday 5" opinion posts (apart from this week, when illness got in the way), I'm finding it an extraordinary challenge to actually write coherent theatre reviews. It's not so very difficult when you absolutely adore a production, and it's even easier when the production goes out of its way to hit you over head with flaws. But the vast majority of productions - for better or for worse - land somewhere between the two extremes. Hence the difficulty in knowing what to write.
I'm going to keep working at it. I actually have a mess of unfinished reviews tucked away in my drafts folder, and I'm expecting to write a great many more in the future. But for now, I want to do something that publicly lists what I've been to see and records opinions I have. So I've dug out this questionnaire that I like to fill in every now and then, and I'll be redoing it every ten theatre trips, even if I do manage to get up to speed with my reviewing. I hope it'll somewhat serve as an interim opinion post despite not being especially indepth.
List the last 10 things you saw at the theatre in order:
1. Becky Shaw (Almeida)
2. Double Falsehood (New Players Theatre)
3. Season's Greetings (National; Lyttelton)
4. When We Are Married (Garrick)
5. The Heretic (Royal Court)
6. Little Platoons (Bush)
7. Matilda (Courtyard)
8. Rough Cuts: Court Short (Royal Court)
9. Midsummer (Tricycle)
10. Salad Days (Riverside Studios)
Who was the best performer in number one (Becky Shaw)?
Generally a very strong cast. I think I'm going to go for Haydn Gwynne. She brings astounding depth to everything she does. A future dame, one hopes!
Why did you go to see number two (Double Falsehood)?
I cannot tell a lie! I was peer-pressured! It helped that the ticket price was very affordable too. I was also intrigued to see how it was, though I think it was a bit misleading to fixate on the "lost Shakespeare play!" aspect when it came to advertising.
Can you remember a line/lyric from number three (Season's Greetings) that you liked?
I'm terrible at remembering lines. Sometimes I can come up with an answer for this one, but not this time I'm afraid.
What would you give number four (When We Are Married) out of ten?
Oh gosh, erm... 6. Couldn't really fault the cast, but I don't think I was the target audience.
Was there someone hot in number five (The Heretic)?
Ooh, take your pick! I think Juliet Stevenson in her outfit for the final scene wins the ultimate prize though, much as I disliked the final scene with all my heart.
What was number six (Little Platoons) about?
Free schools. Big society. Middle class wankers, if you'll pardon my French.
Who was your favourite actor in number seven (Matilda)?
I don't like to choose from such a flawless cast, but Bertie Carvel. The man is a chameleon, easily one of the most talented actors I wouldn't be able to pick out of a line-up, and as the formidable Agatha Trunchbull, he was a Quentin Blake illustration made flesh. Solid, terrifying flesh.
What was your favourite bit in number eight (Rough Cuts: Court Shorts)?
I liked Hard Gravity. I'd be interested to see that developed into a full play.
Would you see number nine (Midsummer) again?
In a heartbeat. I loved it dearly.
What was the worst thing about number ten (Salad Days)?
None of the cast invited me to dance. Oh I should never have sat on the bank of seats behind the café-style tables...
Which was best?
Salad Days and Matilda.
Which was worst?
I wasn't particularly sold on Double Falsehood. Not the fault of any of the cast or creatives, it's just an odd play. I'm also reacting particularly poorly to misogyny this year, and Double Falsehood hates women.
Did any make you cry?
Tears were shed at Matilda. And Salad Days.
Did any make you laugh?
Oh yes! Becky Shaw, Season's Greetings, The Heretic, Matilda, Midsummer, and Salad Days!
Which roles would you like to play in any of them?
I'd love to be one of the adult ensemble/swing types in Matilda, or any role in Salad Days.
Which one did you have best seats for?
Let's go with Season's Greetings. On my budget, I can't afford to sit near the front very often, so it's ever so kind of the National to let the first few rows of the Lyttelton go for £10/£12. Second row does me very nicely!