Thursday, December 31, 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

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