LOOKING BACK ON 2015
Deliberately scaled back this year, with the average
weekly haul only three reviews.
But plenty of wonderful memories to share; here's a
baker's dozen of performances I would happily have re-visited … and
in some cases did so.
Nicely spread between London and the provinces, Essex and
the rest, professionals and amateurs.
In Warwickshire, two very different pieces: Oppenheimer,
with the always admirable John Heffernan, and the beautifully
re-imagined Edwardian Love's Labours Lost [and Won].
Much more of the Bard at Shakespeare's Globe, but I've
picked out All The Angels – about the genesis of Handel's Messiah,
and the deliciously entertaining Nell Gwynn, now transferring [like
Farinelli and the King] to the West End, but not, alas, with Gugu
Mbatha-Raw in the title role.
Up and down the A12 to Colchester and Hornchurch, both
enterprising producing houses still. The Elephant Man at the Queen's
was superbly done, and Bully Boy made an auspicious opener at the
Mercury's newly re-fitted studio.
Plenty of tasty seasonal fare this winter – my favourite
perhaps The Little Match Girl at Sadler's Wells, due to travel up to
Ipswich after the Christmas break.
Small- and medium-scale tours continue to bring theatre to
all parts of the country. [And how wonderful to see Flintlock join
their ranks !] Let The Silver Sword stand for them all.
Chichester Festival Theatre – getting a new Artistic
Director in 2016 – fielded excellent musicals again this year –
but the unexpected discovery was Somerset Maugham's For ServicesRendered, faultlessly revived in the Minerva.
A musical revival, not from the Chichester stable, was the
Old Vic's hit of the year, High Society, with the bonus of Joe
Stilgoe at the grand piano.
Classic musicals from local companies too: CTW's
powerfully intimate Sweeney Todd, and a phenomenal Cats from CYGAMS
in the Cramphorn, who also gave us a great Hairspray in the Civic.
And in the tiny, hard-working Brentwood Theatre, many
impressive productions, including a beautifully realised Pinter
Birthday Party from the College Players.
production photograph of CYGAMS' Cats by Barrie White-Miller