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How Green is my Voucher?

February 21, 2018

To great fanfare, one theatre last year announced it was going “paperless.” Gone are the cardboard tickets. Instead, you can just show the image on your phone (with a machine-scannable QR code – the dotty box thingy). Same goes for pre-paid programme vouchers (that I find easier, as it means not fishing for change on the day).

The other good news is that if you don’t have a smartphone (I don’t), you can get your tickets and vouchers emailed to you, print them out and bring them along. Bearing in mind that the season before last either that theatre’s ticket despatch agents or the Royal Mail managed to lose an entire season of tickets I’d bought, causing me to have to arrive ridiculously early and stand in line at the box office every time to get a re-issue… and every single time have something go wrong in the way of “can’t find it / forgot the programme voucher / someone in front having real trouble holding up the line until seconds before start time when we’d all been waiting half an hour already” variety, I was pretty happy. In a way…

Of course, in practise, the fun begins when someone who is firmly in the “let them eat lentils if they want to, but respect my right to steak” brigade drills down beyond cuddly “save the bunny” thinking into reality.

Let’s kick off with the visitor experience. Guess what… the system doesn’t actually cope… with anything at all… So, you try and be as green as they would like them to be, and play along by printing off your ticket and programme voucher on two sides of a single sheet of paper (“Save The Trees” and all that). First, they want to keep your voucher when you collect your programme – can’t, the ticket is on the other side, and nobody said to print them separately. Hardly green, anyway – two sheets of paper when one will do? Second, they can’t read the QR code as there is no wifi to all parts of the theatre to operate the readers. It can be sorted, but it’s a hassle.

The interesting point, though, is the last bit – “readers.” And here, for me, is where all the “Green” stuff falls apart. For decades, I’ve found it hilarious that those preaching the “Green Gospel” – Green Party, various organisations like the BBC etc and all the individuals, yes, even David Attenborough – have massively, and I do mean massively, larger “carbon footprints” than I ever do or will. They own massive amounts of property and items, take holidays by car and plane etc, etc, etc. I don’t. So, who is actually being “greener” and saying nothing about it?

Moving back to “green theatres” it struck me as soon as the “paperless ticketing” thing was announced that in fact, the environmental costs of all the equipment to service the policy was going to be far higher than a few bits of ticket paper and a single mainframe computer system. All those phones the audience have, the extra hardware the theatre staff all need, the power to run it all… got to be more than one tree’s worth of paper stock and post carrier sweat per year, surely?

A quick look at an article on spectrum.ieee.org gave me confirmation of my thoughts, though I’m not wasting more time going even deeper.

All I am trying to get at is that once again, please think twice about the real value of such active campaigns. I’d love to see the data to back up the savings, so feel free to send it to me any time, but I’m betting that common sense may just be the best bet… Meanwhile, sorry, but if you think I’m falling for the hype, well, you really are greener than I am.

 

Strictly Ballroom: Press Launch. 14th February 2018.

February 14, 2018


The Café de Paris in Coventry Street, London, was the chosen venue. Historic, with a fabulous circular dance floor and twin curved staircases, nowhere could be finer to introduce this new West End show to the large invited crowd.

The odd flute of champagne and tray of canapés to begin, then Mr Will Young (who will play Wally Strand in the show) himself struck up with Cyndi Lauper’s classic “Time After Time” as Jonny Labey (Scott Hastings) and Zizi Strallen (Fran) swept down the stairs and took to the dance floor in a demonstration of ballroom holding the room enthralled. Adding to the display, various other members of the cast, the ladies in particularly sumptuous gowns (Catherine Martin) formed a tableau behind, framing the scene.

Mr Young then admitted that a West End musical is a new departure for him, and that though he personally feels himself inferior to the film, he can’t wait to start.

He then introduced Carmen Pavlovic of producer “Global Creatures.” Originally founded in Australia 10 years ago, their aim is to develop shows in Australia that can be exported worldwide. “Muriel’s Wedding” was one, and they have “Moulin Rouge” opening in Boston in July, “King Kong” on Broadway this autumn and “Walking With Dinosaurs” in arenas in the UK this year too.

“Strictly Ballroom,” though, is the project for the West End, and the excitement is building for them. Baz Luhrmann (who couldn’t make it today) and Catherine Martin originated the show in Australia, and feel that 25 years after the original movie, the themes remain relevant – indeed the ideas of remaining true to beliefs and ending dictatorship are even stronger now.

For the team, the idea of Spanish immigrant families like Fran’s are fascinating. Those families ran Australia’s bodegas (corner shops) and have tight communities. Scott’s entry into it, and the idea of Fran’s father – Rico – introducing him to it is a key story element. The casting of Fernando Mira, who originated the role, highlights the importance of flamenco in the show, underlining the origins. A brief performance today previews a highlight to come.

Noting this authenticity, Will Young remarked that his own family have Australian roots, with one a Governor in Australia. He then went on to introduce 4 Academy Awards, 5 BAFTA and 1 Tony award winning Catherine Martin, adjusting the microphone for her stature… causing the tiny Ms Martin to have to collapse it back down to her real height, very quickly…

Catherine Martin opened by saying that Baz Luhrmann felt the line “I have been with your father for twenty-five years – do you think I get bored? Of course I do!” resonates still, and that the story of youthful rebellion grows stronger as the years pass. The show itself originated during her time at NADA, before she met Baz. In her second year it won “best play” in Bratislava, due to the theme of dance on stage – the feeling of NAFOD (National Federation of Dance) resonating with the country.
It is the spirit of introducing dance steps and not living in fear when individualism triumphs that means the most.

Choreographer Drew Mconie then spoke about his own first encounter with the film. A working class Birmingham boy, he saw a young voice leaping forwards. Drew himself was a forgetful ballroom competitor at a young age – substituting his own steps when he couldn’t remember the right ones (to the dance tutor’s chagrin). Dancing alone in his bedroom to “Time After Time” made Drew want to choreograph and “do his own thing, and he hopes that the energy of the show will land with London audiences and carry them along for the evening.


The event concluded with Zizi Strallen and Jonny Labey, together with the other dance pairs taking to the floor for Will Young’s vocal “Love Is In The Air.” An appropriate way to end the presentation.


With a quick thanks for a rather marvellous “goodie bag” (save a little for the merchandise stall at the theatre), this looks to be something special for Spring in the West End.

 

“Strictly Ballroom” previews from 29th March, opening on 24th April 2018 at the Piccadilly Theatre, London.

 

 

Photo credit (top – the group, and middle – Jonny Labey, Ziz Strallen, Will Young): Jay Brooks. Used by kind permission.

The Hamilton Hundred

February 14, 2018

Pre-e-commerce, I worked for a charter air ticket company. We rented aircraft and flew them many times a week, UK to Malaga, at a cost to us of £50 per ticket, return. We had a printed brochure, and those who phoned and quoted the prices got them – £79 to around £189, as I recall. Those who didn’t… “dynamic pricing” applied. One horrible January, customers phoning on Thursday to fly at the weekend got two seats for £40. Come May Bank Holiday week, the phoneroom held a contest for who could sell the last tickets at the highest prices. My team won, getting £390 for a single seat – probably the last out of the Britain that weekend (well, the Eurovision Song Contest was on TV that night, so it sort of made sense).

It doesn’t take a business genius to work out that prices were always calculated so that the peaks off-set the troughs and kept the company running year round. As it was, many companies lost the bet that year as a poor summer translated into closure before August for many. The fact is, though, that these days everything above applies to theatre, which is why I’m more phlegmatic than most about the recent “Hamilton” pricing revelations.

There’s a number of angles to take. First, had those palpitating over the £250 premium and £100 top non-premium seats been doing the job I do, they will have known that several huge musicals were charging similar prices for considerably more of the theatre (all three levels in some cases, certainly some really not great seats) right through the festive period. That’s the “off-setting the quiet patch” thing, meaning your favourite show runs longer for you to go back and see it, and everyone involved gets to pay their mortgage / rent and maybe even eat for another month.

Second, it’s psychological. The stink when “Sunset Boulevard,” and before it “Chess,” announced their original prices at £10 more than the top prices way back then… “Hamilton” has moved from £89.50 to £100 – just £10.50 more (the cost of a drink at the interval or a souvenir programme, really). It’s the third figure, though, that hurts. Also, the scare that other shows will follow suit. They will, that’s inflation.

Third, the show has actually been pretty careful. More than most will realise. When “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” at the Palladium got amazing press night reviews, the following day all the prices shot up. “Hamilton” simply put a single extra month on sale at the original prices – and in fact revised those prices slightly to incorporate what the now knew about sight-lines. This time out, there have been further revisions and even the odd price-drop, meaning there are some decent tickets out there.

Fourth, and possibly most important: just because they set those prices, doesn’t mean they will get them. No producer likes an empty seat, and if a ticket won’t sell at one price, it may well sell at another. “Dynamic Pricing” cuts both ways.

Fifth, going by reader feedback, it isn’t the lack of prices that is really the main issue – it’s comfort and view, neither of which bear that much relation to price paid. There are some cheap seats with a great view and decent legroom, and some expensive ones that are really cramped and not raised high enough to see over the row in front, it seems. Indeed, I generally have time to see shows only once, but “Hamilton” I am seeing again later this year. Not because it was my favourite show, but simply because I was so uncomfortable last time (moved from comfy stalls to cramped circle due to the cancelled preview problem) that this time I want to be able to really concentrate.

Finally, like most things in life, you really do have a choice. Beyond those fixed costs of buying a ticket and travel fares, the rest is what you choose to make it. For me, I stretch my theatre budget by not buying more than a programme usually, never refreshments and so keep the costs down all the way. I select cheaper seats unless I really want to see something “close up” and in general, well, “budget” in all areas of my life. A bit old fashioned, but it works – as Mr Hamilton himself may well feel.

And that’s it, really. It’s about everybody operating within the economy. A quick check when I wrote this blog also shows that for the same date I’ll be attending in London, the New York production would set you back $549 for the equivalent £100 UK seats. Further, most of the remaining tickets are “secondary market” sales for $1018 in those £100 seats, or $519 to sit in the back of the mezzanine (£37.50 equivalent seats here). In other words, not so bad, really, is it…

True Talent, Equal Access?

February 7, 2018

On the tube home from “Barnum,” something very interesting happened.

Fairly near the end of the line, my section of the carriage was empty, except for me in the corner… I suspect that my new choice of deoderant wasn’t quite the sucess I’d hoped with the travelling public. Anyway, at the next station,  a group of 8 or so late teenage boys got on. Pretty much the type of urban bunch you’d expect to find, if you are a reader of certain newspapers. Mostly black, with 2 or 3 white who adopt the same speech patterns, attitudes and behaviour.

They were bantering as boys do, about how they crashed the ticket barrier without paying (yeah, I bought that one – not), how they’d be getting off at the next stop, who had done what to whom, etc, etc. Oblivious to me, yet registering the middle aged male presence in the corner. And no, I wasn’t concerned in the least. Not THAT long ago since me and my friends must have appeared very similar to those now approaching retirement age.

Suddenly, one switched on the speaker on his phone. A little clapping from then all, then 2 started using the handrails as gymnastic poles, 2 more simply danced to the music. Anti-social behaviour? Perhaps… but…

Fact: this was raw talent, purest and simplest form.

Fact: I’d have paid to see it.

As it was, I was similing and laughing. The boys noticed, and included me in the film one of them was taking on his phone.

They got off at the next station, with a cheerful wave (reciprocated).

I was left energised and elated, a piece of private street theatre of the highest quality – and unless there is a youtube of it somewhere, it’ll never be seen again.

About 10 seconds later, though, I almost drowned in a bath of depression.

Think about it. Those young men were (and I’m going to make a HUGE assumption, which I really, really hope I am wrong about) quite probably “typical.” No particular education, no particular direction to go in. Genuinly decent young men…

…. with the kind of talent that would have any professional theatre maker with any sense drooling. For movement, for “performance” (yes, they knew damn well the show was for both theirs and my benefit) and for improvising.

At that moment, I suddenly understood just how hard it is for anyone outside of those already “inside” to not just begin a career in the arts – but to actually even know that it a potential option, or to find the guidance to bring it to fruition. “Diversity” and similar acts delighted thousands every night at the Palladium last Christmas – and these guys, well, several of them, honestly had the potential. And I say that with my own “professional” hat on, as someone who passes opinions on live performance for a living.

I don’t have a clue how this can be channelled, but I do know it has to be a fairly cheap to create way of giving hope, interest, even employment to a section of society beneath the radar. There probably are some “outreach” workers engaged on this at the moment, I hope so, and that there are more to come.

Meanwhile, if I were a casting director or drama school admissions supervisor, I just might be grabbing a travelcard rather than a copy of “Spotlight.” There is more to performing life than is dreamed of in your philosophies, Hamitonio…

 

 

Barnum: Menier Chocolate Factory

January 31, 2018

(seen at the afternoon performance on 28th Janaury 2018)

Some shows you are just a little sentimental about.  For me, this is one of them. Didn’t get in at the Palladium, was disappointed “live” at the Victoria Palace when Mr Crawford revivied it… but that was all a long time ago… The showing on BBC1 one Christmas of the same show, recorded for TV, suddenly sparked something – and that’s never left. Paul Nicholas at the Dominion, Brian Conley at the New Wimbledon, and now one Marcus Brigstocke becomes the latest to face the female of the species, alone and unaided.

On the face of it, a huge visual musical is a rum undertaking for the tiny Menier. This attempt, as it turns out, is rather good. Fully “in the round,” with a low central podium and strings of lights, they make the most of the space, even before the show begins. Trust the monkey, arrive early, first admire the exibits, and then stand near the bar at the far end of the foyer, to evesdrop at the door… and on leaving, spare a glance at the glass case as you go by…

 

In the centre ring itself, Brigstocke recieved a coolish welcome back in December. The monkey can only conclude that it was “early days.” Being honest, his singing voice really is “adequate” at its very best. His musical theatre acting is a grade or so above that, and he doesn’t come out blustering and blistering as every other Barnum before him right from the start. He gets along the wire at the second attempt, with sardonic humour after the first (but who else in the theatre could do it at all?). And yet, and yet. As the show goes on, he proves a rather more tender man, his relationship with Charity (Laura Pitt-Pulford) deeper and more intimately portrayed than many before him. By the end, he had won me over (and not just with the free humbug handed out to get him elected either).

 

For her part, Pitt-Pulford brings her usual strong-under-sweet skills, her “Colours of My Life” truly those of the earth, with a light glisten of shining dew.

The extra glory of this production lies in the choice to use the original script. We get to hear cut song “So Little Time” from Barnum himself, and a few previously “deleted” scenes. It all rather proves, in the second act particularly, that the changes made for the last national tour were not really for the better, I feel.

If that isn’t enough from director Gordon Greenberg, the outstanding Rebecca Howell choreographs a beautifully chosen ensemble to perfection. There’s also a wonderful Philip Gladwell lighting moment bringing out the emotion during the final “Colours of My Life” reprise.

Ringmaster Dominic Owen and his crazy sidekick fool around until the lightbulb turns red (yes, it was spotted), Kelsey Jamieson enjoys being thrown around by husband Preston (it’s OK, they’re married) and Tupele Dorgu proves that she can sing the blues with the best – and is the youngest looking old woman ever.

 

Celinde Schoenmaker is a smiley Jenny Lind, Harry Francis a balletic Tom Thumb of towering dance ability; and there is lovely work from the rest in some notable dance numbers and tableux – the final farewell being quite something as the ghosts gather on balconies.

In short, those proclaiming the end of the golden years of Menier Christmas shows need to take another look. It probably took a few weeks to get the show into true shape, but this is now a circus worth running away to see.

 

4 stars.

 

Photo credit: Nobby Clark, used by kind permission.

The 2017 GoodMonkey Awards

January 24, 2018

And it’s that time again. Voted for by the actual public – well, just me actually – and thus bias-free, all those things that no other awards ceremony wishes to cover, as their voters are too busy watching the stage – or are simply too sane. So, let The 2017 GoodMonkey Awards ceremony begin:

The serious bit:

The Theatremonkey Gold Medal. To the Front Of House Team at the Barbican Theatre at “The Tempest” in July 2017. Somebody was taken seriously ill in the stalls during the first half. An ambulance was summoned, and the surrounding audience quietly filed out of the row mid-scene to let a paramedic deal with the situation. The play continued, all carried out without fuss or most being aware at all. Well done to them, and indeed the audience members around the poor person. Concurrently, for the same reason, to the team at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue in September 2017, with an Oak Leaf to Sienna Miller for remaining “in character” yet choosing to ask from the stage if the person was all right.

The Theatremonkey Silver Medal. To the Front of House Team at the Alban Arena, and Elaine Paige. During “Elaine Paige In Concert” a young woman with clear special needs approached the stage mid-show to say “Welcome to St Albans, Elaine, and thank you so much for such a wonderful show.” Unruffled, Ms P replied, “thank you, but I’m only half way though the show, glad you are enjoying it.” At which point security quietly escorted the youngster back to her seat, and let her stay for the rest of the show. Also a note for the senior lady usher was not only delightfully friendly to everyone, but was a little ‘ninja,’ ducking into rows to deal with photo takers and phone users throughout the show.

 

And now the fun stuff:

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery Safe (for craziest security policy) to: The Old Vic Theatre. Who carefully search those coming in through the front door… forgetting that you can use a side entrance to their underground bar, and walk straight up the main stairs from there into the foyer – unchecked…

Decorated Storyboard to: The Donmar Warehouse for putting a “Visual Story” download on their new website for autistic visitors.

Vidal’s Sassoon (for sexiest haircut) to: Gemma Arterton’s hairdresser, for the cut she was given in “Saint Joan.” Wow.

A Tetrapac milk carton, for consistently infuriating, but popular, design: to Bob Crowley. A designer whose imagination suits nobody in the stalls, this genius who blocked the view of the final sequence at “Love Never Dies” does it again, this time denying all effects to the stalls for the entire length of “The Glass Menagerie.” Concurrently, the “Theatrical Corpse” for unexpected stage hilarity. At key night moments, a fin rose from the orchestra pit, and lit up. “Jaws Goes Disco” (and we need a bigger boat). A moon, or just a guest appearance from a Great White in neon? Your guess is as good as mine.

Poundland Mop and Bucket to: the Royal Court. As they don’t have one. At the interval of “The Ferryman” someone spilled wine in the aisle. All the usher had was a handful of paper napkins to mop it up with.

Pippa Middleton Wiggle (for Best End) to: “Out There On Fried Meat Ridge Rd.” Simple, and simply brilliant. Say no more.

The Golden Needle (for best on-stage costume change) to: Kate Fleetwood for changing into a dress centre-stage during “Ugly Lies The Bone.” An unforgettable and deeply moving piece of acting that said volumes in a few minutes and vocal notes.

The Abbot Radio Script (for stupidity in numerical comprehension) to: The pair of idiots sat on the fire-exit step at the Donmar Warehouse Theatre. As I opened the doors to leave, one failed to understand the concept that the 200 following me down would do more damage than just the 1 person sensibly advising him to stand while he still could…

The Harold Lloyd Sledgehammer (for a physical stunt breaking the fourth wall) to: “Bat Out Of Hell.” SPOILER ALERT. Driving the car into the orchestra pit, then having angry musicians climb out on the pit with broken instruments onto the stage to berate the cast made the monkey’s night. SPOILER ENDS. Concurrently, a Native American Trading Post for swapping “audience opinion” market research surveys for a magnificent poster, for those lucky enough to be asked to complete one.

The First Call Memorial Phone (for box office innovation) to: Kevin Wilson and ATG Tickets, for inventing the “al-fresco” box office on the street outside the Playhouse Theatre on the hottest night of the year, to allow Press Night guests to collect their tickets in comfort – or get a suntan trying…

Br’er Rabbit’s Giggle (for best new Laughing Place) to: Steve Tompkins and Roger Watts of Haworth Tompkins Architects. They designed the auditorium for the new Bridge Theatre, and came up with a place that simply loves audience laughter. Well done, gentlemen. Concurrently, The ‘Miss Congeniality’ sash to the whole team for a friendly welcome, caring manner with access guests, and delicious madeleines.

A Fraggle Rock (for worst audience) to: Wyndhams Theatre, stalls, matinee, 19th August 2017. In a 90 minute play, more than a dozen people managed to disturb everybody by needing to leave for the toilets – some after just 20 minutes. Consecutively, a Doozer to the idiot ushering staff member directing leavers straight across the sightlines of other audience members. Consecutively, a blunt pencil to the person totally missing the point of the complaint afterwards. Also note… same ushering staff member proved equally inept on a later visit, marching around during the performance for no good reason and providing a one-person disruption with a (suspected) much practised skill.

And finally:

Stan Flashman reversible Raincoat (for inept ticket touting) to: the genius on Ebay who was selling a “priority booking access code” for “Hamilton” tickets for $60. Problem was, priority booking had closed the week before…

 

And with the awards presented for another year, the monkey thanks those who attended, and looks forward to a 2018 full of stuff it can use to fill a blog article. Thank you all.

Review of 2017

January 17, 2018

First Entry of the new year, and it’s a simple run-down of the best and worst I saw in 2017. Subjective as ever, and leaving out a few “re-visits,” the list runs as follows:

 

Out Of This World (SO – Standing Ovation)
Much Ado About Nothing (Theatre Royal, Haymarket)
See Me Now (Young Vic) (SO)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Harold Pinter Theatre) (SO)
An American In Paris (Dominion Theatre)
42nd Street (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane)
Hamlet (Almeida) (SO)
Out There On Fried Meat Ridge Rd. (Trafalgar Studio 2)
The Ferryman (Royal Court) (SO)
On The Town (Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park) (SO)
The Kite Runner (Playhouse Theatre)
Penn & Teller UK Tour 2017 (Apollo Hammersmith)
Angels In America Part 1: Millennium Approaches (Lyttelton Theatre) (SO)
Angels In America Part 2: Perestroika (Lyttelton Theatre) (SO)
13 (Ambassadors Theatre) (SO)
Yerma (Young Vic Theatre) (SO)
Oslo (Lyttelton Theatre) (SO)
The Knowledge (Charing Cross Theatre)
Follies (Olivier Theatre) (SO)
Beginning (Dorfman Theatre) (SO)
The Woman In White (Charing Cross Theatre)
Jack and the Beanstalk (New Wimbledon Theatre)
Let’s Rock Christmas – The 1980s Retro Show (Wembley Arena)
Dick Whittington (London Palladium) (SO)

 

The Wonder Years
Love’s Labour’s Lost (Theatre Royal, Haymarket)
The Girls (Phoenix Theatre)
Saint Joan (Donmar Warehouse)
Hedda Gabler (Lyttelton Theatre)
Evita (New Wimbledon Theatre)
The Glass Menagerie (Duke of York’s Theatre)
The Life (Southwark Playhouse)
Carousel (London Coliseum)
The Braille Legacy (Charing Cross Theatre)
Lettice and Lovage (Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre)
Ballroom (Waterloo East Theatre)
Ugly Lies The Bone (Lyttelton Theatre)
Bat Out Of Hell (London Coliseum)
Working (Southwark Playhouse)
Committee (Donmar Warehouse)
The Tempest (Barbican Theatre)
I Loved Lucy (Arts Theatre)
Ink (Almeida Theatre)
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (Menier Chocolate Factory)
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill (Wyndhams Theatre)
Queen Anne (Theatre Royal, Haymarket)
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue)
Starlight Express Concert Workshop Performance (The Other Palace)
Metropolis The Musical (Ye Olde Rose & Crown Theatre)
The Lady From The Sea (Donmar Warehouse)
Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle (Wyndham’s Theatre)
Albion (Almeida Theatre)
Cilla The Musical (New Wimbledon Theatre)
Labour of Love (Noel Coward Theatre)
Elaine Paige In Concert (The Alban Arena)
Hamilton (Victoria Palace Theatre)

 

California Dreams
Art (Old Vic Theatre)
Death Takes A Holiday (Charing Cross Theatre)
Wish List (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs)
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Old Vic Theatre)
The Frogs (Jermyn Street Theatre)
Limehouse (Donmar Warehouse)
Obsession (Barbican Theatre)
Consent (Dorfman Theatre)
The Treatment (Almeida Theatre)
Annie (Piccadilly Theatre)
Killology (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs)
Blondel (Union Theatre)
Road (Royal Court Theatre Downstairs)
Mosquitoes (Dorfman Theatre)
Apologia (Trafalgar Studio 1)
Young Frankenstein (Garrick Theatre)
Young Marx (Bridge Theatre)
Inside Pussy Riot (Saatchi Gallery)
Big Fish (The Other Palace Theatre)

 

Saved By The Bell
Promises Promises (Southwark Playhouse)
The Wild Party (The Other Palace Theatre)
The Miser (Garrick Theatre)
Woyzeck (Old Vic Theatre)
Don Juan In Soho (Wyndhams Theatre)
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Donmar Warehouse)
The Philanthropist (Trafalgar Studio 1)
A Tale of Two Cities (Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park)
Venus In Fur (Theatre Royal, Haymarket)

 

Bug Juice
The Wind in the Willows (London Palladium)
Girl From The North Country (Old Vic Theatre)
Against (Almeida Theatre)

 

 

A vintage year, I’d declare. Very few out and out disasters, very little mediocre in general, and some wonderful surprises. In musicals, “Bat Out Of Hell” being the loudest and most obvious, but the beauty of “An American In Paris,” the sparkling revival of “42nd Street,” the energy of the young cast in “13,” and the resourcefulness of “The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole” all registered.

In plays, it’s a five-way tie in new writing between “The Ferryman,” “Oslo” “See Me Now,” “Out There On Fried Meat Ridge Rd.” and “Beginning.” As for revivals, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” “Hamlet” and “Yerma” are all up there – with “The Knowledge” as best adaptation.

Just in general, I also got to see three musicals I never thought I would. “Blondel,” “Metropolis” and “Ballroom,” thanks to the wonder that is the London fringe. And finally, “Penn and Teller” at the Apollo Hammersmith. My 30 year wait over, and in what style.

And on that magic note, onward 2018, and next week the “GoodMonkey Awards” rewarding the sort of things that the Oliviers prefer not to mention…