I was absolutely determined to do a proper top ten theatre list for 2014. I wasn't going to let my procrastination or my indecision or my ANYTHING stand between me and a "top ten theatre of 2014" list. And although a lot of indecision took place, I have ultimately managed to put together a top ten list and a handful of honourable mentions, and it's still 2014! However it was NOT easy, and as this is MY blog, I'm going to take a little time to explain why.
As I'm sure you may well be aware, a production opened in 2013 that I was very excited for at the time and ended up seeing three times, when it's rare that I'll see anything more than once and usually I manage to stop at twice. This production was originally only going to run until the end of 2013 so wasn't going to impact my 2014 at all. Until it extended into 2014. Which still wouldn't have affected me, except in February I decided to go again. And again and again and again and again, all the way until it finally closed forever on the 6th of July. I do refer, of course, to Punchdrunk's The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable.
I tried not to let my obsession with The Drowned Man affect the rest of my year. Even without it I still went to the theatre 178 times, which is 4 more than the previous record set in 2012. But of course, when you lose yourself that thoroughly to a single production, there will be consequences. I took my list of non-Drowned Man productions and started marking off productions I remembered loving, and a pattern began to emerge. Most of the plays I remembered loving were plays I saw during the five month period that I was also regularly attending The Drowned Man. And although I know I was entertained, heartbroken, impressed, enraged, and occasionally even repulsed by shows since then, I just don't really feel anything about 'em now. For me, it's apparently easier to emotionally engage with shows when I'm in a near-constant state of being emotionally engaged by a show anyway. And then, once it's gone, everything just sort of fades to grey.
But WHAT a show to be emotionally engaged with! In February, I held a woman's hand as she died. In March, I spent an evening in the company of a toy-shop-owning misfit who eventually rewarded my loyalty by covering me head-to-toe in blood. I shared whiskey with the angriest man in town, and became the confidant of a desperate man whose life wasn't going the way he'd wanted it to. In April, I fell into mutual admiration with a kind, beautiful, and generous red-head. I followed a fading star's fall from grace all the way to his death. I fell for the loneliest man in town, who may have grown angrier and angrier as the run progressed but whenever I was in the building was at least a little less alone. I faced my fears and was rewarded with, well, further reasons to fear. In May, I gave my attentions to characters who I'd always felt repelled by and discovered exactly why others found them so seductive. I started to get to the bottom of what was going on in Temple Studios, and I was made more and more aware that I was a part of the machine, not just a powerless audience member. In June, I had my soul removed by a sexy and supernatural woman. I met characters I'd never thought I'd have the opportunity to meet. I fell into mutual admiration with a different kind, beautiful, and generous red-head. And in July, I started saying my goodbyes, all the while still experiencing things for the first time.
I gave a lot to The Drowned Man. My time, my money, my energies, my emotions, my devotions, and my heart. But I got a lot out as well. I met new people, I overcame new fears, I found new ways of looking at familiar stories, I got to see some of the most fabulous performers from extremely close-up, I own quite an unrespectable stash of memorabilia, I'm infinitely more likely to go to a production of modern dance, and although there are songs I can now never hear without feeling instantly sad that I can never go home anymore, if I ever have to build a memory palace, then oh BOY do I have the most vivid memories of the most expansive and detailed and wonderful building I've ever had the privilege to spend more than 75 hours in.