Friday, 27 March 2015

Hytner's National - a brief retrospective

A little Twittery bird has pointed out that today is Nicholas Hytner's last day at the National Theatre. Although I didn't really start regularly attending the National until 2008, five years into his tenure, I've nonetheless seen a fairly respectable 111 unique National Theatre productions in seven different spaces in the NT complex (and a few outside), and have spent an absolutely incalculable number of hours besides in that lovely great concrete block. I've seen trends come and go - remember how great the Lyttelton was in 2010? And how tippety-top the Cottesloe was in its dying days? - and I've experienced a FULL range of emotions in that building, for better and for worse.

People with more knowledge and eloquence than I have will be producing proper articles about the great things that have been achieved since Hytner took the reins in 2003 so I'm not even going to try. What I have done instead is quickly bash together my top ten NT productions from the Hytner regime. And my bottom five, because I'm a massive proponent of the idea that our theatres should have the freedom to fail. It's always better to be able to take risks that sometimes go horribly wrong than to trundle along respectably but unremarkably, and it's worth celebrating that even if I'm doing so by producing a short list of tedium and rage. The fact I have some productions to actually rank as bottom rather than just "nothing special but okay" is one of the many things I love about the National Theatre.