I’ve been a frequent theatre goer since I was little, and one of the reasons I wanted to start this blog is that I see so many productions that it’s easy to forget details about them, so I thought that writing mini reviews would help with that. I have been incredibly lucky to see some more great theatre during 2015, and I thought I would mention some of my favourites as it’s New Year’s Eve. I won’t be mentioning any shows that I’ve seen at work (I work as an usher at a theatre) unless I actually paid to see them!
First of all, here’s a list of what I can remember seeing in 2015, including NT Live productions.
The Beaux Stratagem (NT Live), Ar Waith Ar Daith, Coriolanus (NT Live), Henry V, A Murder is Announced, A Doll’s House, Broadway to the Bay, Land of Our Fathers, Of Mice and Men (NT Live), The Shawshank Redemption, The Winter’s Tale (NT Live), Jane Eyre (NT Live), Hamlet, Shakespeare in Love, Treasure Island (NT Live), Love’s Labours Lost, Love’s Labours Won (both NT Live), Death of a Salesman, Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Dead Simple, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, The Elephant Man, Dirty Dancing, Oklahoma.
Here are my favourite five, in no particular order.
Ar Waith Ar Daith, Wales Millennium Centre
This was an outdoor performance to celebrate the Centre’s 10th birthday. It was based on the story of Taliesin, and it featured Shan Cothi as the witch, with huge puppets, choirs, quad bikes, rowers and fireworks. It was wonderful, and I felt so happy and proud that Wales gets and creates experimental theatre of this high standard. It was also refreshing that the Centre did something different to celebrate its birthday, rather than a more traditional concert.
Broadway to the Bay, Wales Millennium Centre
Another part of the Centre’s birthday celebrations, but this time more traditional. The Centre has had similar ‘Night at the Musicals’ concerts before but this was bigger and better! Featuring West End stars such as Kerry Ellis, Ruthie Henshall and John Owen Jones, it was an evening of musical favourites from all the big shows like Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked to name but a few. What I loved most was at the end of the show the stars ‘passed the baton’ to the next generation, starting with students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama down to children from local drama groups, singing Our Time by Sondheim. With an orchestra and dancers, it was a fantastic evening. I’d love it to be an annual event!
Land of our Fathers, Weston Studio
This was a play about 6 miners who got stuck underground. It was intimate, moving, funny and extremely memorable. There was strong characterisation in the writing and the performances. Brilliant.
Shakespeare in Love, Noel Coward Theatre
This was an excellent adaptation of the film, telling the story of William Shakespeare being suddenly inspired again following writer’s block after falling in love. It was fun to spot all the references to Shakespeare plays during the performance. Romantic, funny and a dog. Wonderful.
Jane Eyre, NT Live
I’ve put this last not as it’s the most recent, but because as I saw it via NT Live I’m aware it’s never quite the same as seeing it live in a theatre, although it’s definitely the next best thing. The most impressive element of this production was the staging, it was very simple but it managed to convey all the different settings of the story effectively. There were only 6 actors playing all the parts, with Madeleine Worrall playing Jane from a child to an adult. There were some very funny moments, including an actor playing a dog, and all the best dialogue from the novel included. It was very moving, and has made me want to reread the novel.
I hope I’m as lucky to see as many great productions in 2016!