The Goodmonkey Awards 2017
They’re here. Called by “The Stage” newspaper the “awards we’ve never heard of, and wouldn’t cover if we did,” by the Society of London Theatre’s Olivier Awards Committee, “the only theatre awards in West End that our governing body actively deny,” and the only awards in the world where the “nomination envelopes” are marked “return to sender,” here they are, anyway, as is traditional, most important first:
Theatremonkey Gold Medal of Honour. To Disney Theatrical Productions and Delfont Mackintosh Theatres. On June 13th 2016, a vigil was held outside the Prince Edward Theatre in Soho, in memory of victims of the Orlando Killings. Despite it being a vitally important performance of new musical “Aladdin,” Disney and the theatre owners replaced all electronic canopy signage with the Pride flag, and organised a silence within the building, matching the one outside.
A silk Kigurumi: To the make-up team at “Linda” at the Royal Court. It elicited a genuine gasp from me as the skunk outfit fell to reveal… very, very impressive.
The Kidney and Ball Valve: to Charlie Russell for that sequence every night during “The Comedy About A Bank Robbery.” Concurrently, a bar of Lifebuoy and toothbrush to the noxious 10 year old boy (seated behind me) making a disgustingly crude “skill to pay the bill” remark during said sequence at the performance I saw.
A personal “You, dear Boy” from the Great Man himself: to Duncan Macmillan and Barbara Marten of “People, Places and Things.” Writer, and characters of doctor / mother, neither got the Olivier they should’ve, so should get to be told in person.
A copy of “Zen and the Art of Stage Management”: to “In The Bar of a Tokyo Hotel” for a minimalist scene change. During the (unnecessary) interval, a stage hand comes on and exchanges the flower on an upstage table with one on a table downstage. That’s all, folks! Concurrently, a copy of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” to the London Coliseum crew at “Sunset Boulevard,” who put on a proper “Laurel and Hardy” act when trying to use too short a ladder to retrieve a streamer left hanging centre stage after act 1’s “New Year’s Eve” sequence. They did it, and the great British public duly rewarded them with an ironic round of applause.
The Oliver Twist Bowl (and Spoon) for classiest beggar: to Gemma Arterton, for her beautifully polite appeal for donations at the end of “Nell Gwynn.” Her leading man was running the marathon the next day, and hadn’t done much about sponsorship. Ms Arterton stepped forward at the end of the show and “knew that tickets were expensive” but “could we spare some loose change or notes.” No politics, just a plea for help. I went out of my way to do so.
A Dali Sketch (for most surreal complaint): to the person behind me at “Show Boat.” Julie was in the middle of singing “Bill,” when there was a rustling of a couple standing, and an elderly voice exclaiming, “we are moving because we can’t stand the smell of your onions.” Concurrently, the Fawlty Moose-Head for Inexplicable Behaviour to the person, several seats away in a row behind me, who managed to flick a hair-band across my eye-line during the battle scenes at “Henry V” at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.
Livingstone Newt (For subtly concealing racism): to Lez Brotherston and team, for dropping the “N” word from the libretto of “Show Boat,” but cleverly replacing it with a Confederate Flag. Chilling and inspired staging.
“Two Paws on Shoulders’ (for nicest welcome to a theatre): to the Front of House teams at the Playhouse and Palace Theatres. At the Playhouse, warm first words for every customer at the door, ticket checked, and directed to the exact staircase – plus (on request) the nearest gents’ – all in not just efficient but a “glad you are here” way. At the Palace, a delightfully witty lady usher engaging everyone with a charming line in chat – and also a security team who assisted me with what could have been a slight issue regarding my bringing an essential dietary pack with me. Pre-arranged and worked on the day, deeply appreciated. Every theatre should be like this.
Dyson-Kenevil Wheelie for innovation: to Howard Panter and Adam Speers for the first ever attempt at West End “Stunt Writing” by getting Matthew Perry to pen “The End of Longing.”
Hyacinth Bucket Bouquet: to the Savoy Hotel for “moving on” an early arriving day-seater for “Funny Girl,” who was eating his breakfast on a pavement (owned by them) in front of the theatre while he waited. Their street, their rules, apparently…
The Shenton Suggestion Box, for review idea of the year: On the ticket agency londontheatredirect’s website, a “Show Boat” customer reviewer posted: “”The 4 main singers / actors were outstanding. Staging was good & cleverly used. Our seat with restrictions was great at the price . Shame there was not a final sing along at the end.” That was in July. Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II and Florenz Ziegfeld will have stopped whizzing round in their graves by now… probably.
The Rose (Bruford) for Most Fragrant Actor: To Joanna Vanderham (Lady Anne in “Richard III” at the Almeida). Her choice of toiletries continuously delighted the nostrils of all sitting along the aisles through which she made her entrances and exits.
The Keys to Arthur Daley’s Lockup: to the Theatre Royal Haymarket, for ingenious “dynamic pricing” of programmes. In July 2016, a “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” programme cost £6 Monday to Thursday… £8 Friday and Saturday. Hilarious! And hope it doesn’t catch on.
A melted Lego Brick (for terrible “blocking”): to Tom Sutherland for placing a key song in Southwark Playhouse’s “Allegro” on a high ladder… so that the view from my seat (A10) had an uninterrupted view… straight up singer Ms Katie Bernstein’s skirt. I looked away of course, but placing the platform just a few inches more centrally would have spared blushes all round.
An NHS Contract: to “A Pacifict’s Guide to the War on Cancer” for selling a programme, complete with hospital notes cover sleeve. If only the show had been half as inventive and interesting…
The Al Murray “Landlord’s Wave”: to Christina Bianco and the house manager at the Charing Cross Theatre. The performer tried bravely to incorporate a sozzled beyond reason woman in row C, into the show, before being rescued at the interval, when the house manager managed to convince the drunk to leave – peacefully and with almost imperceptible persuasion. There’s skill on both parts.
And that’s about it. Probably the only 2016 awards not to give Harry Potter anything for the actual play, but it’s about the whole experience. As audiences run riot, there’s still plenty to reward, so here’s to next year. See you in the stalls…