Not performing every night has meant I’ve had some time in March to indulge myself. Currently I’m wondering whether I need a hobby that has nothing to do with theatre, as going to the theatre almost every night is an expensive pasttime. But it’s so fulfilling and I still haven’t lost the sense of excitement I feel when the lights go down. It’s been a busy month, so let’s quickly run through everything I’ve reviewed this month; The Glorious Ones at the Landor (4 stars), Shivered at Southwark Playhouse (4 stars), Taming of the Shrew (4 stars) at Richmond, The King’s Speech (4 stars) and Sweeney Todd (5 stars) in the West End, and Mary Rose at the Riverside Studios. And then there’s everything I saw for pleasure, or to support friends; Dracula at Catford Broadway, Star Quality in Bromley, Moon On A Rainbow Shawl and She Stoops To Conquer at the National, Peer Gynt Recharged at Riverside Studios. Elsewhere, the Fourthwall team were at Women of Troy (3 stars) at the Blue Elephant, A Bowl of Cherries (2 stars) in the West End, Someone to Blame (3 stars) and Restitution at the Kings Head, No Picnic (4 stars) at the Tabard, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (4 stars) at LOST, Song of the Seagull (2 stars) at the Menier Gallery and The American Clock at the Finborough.
March has also been the month of the cough. At every performance I’ve been to this month, there has been an audience member with a hacking cough, generally seated behind me. It’s a particularly irritating sound, but not as bad as mobile phones (almost every performance), sweet wrapper rustling (just in the West End for some reason) and the worst offender – talking (ubiquitous). That said, I confess I found the three women behind me at Sweeney Todd quite amusing, as they loudly informed everyone around them, all the way through the show, that it “wasn’t anything like Dreamboats & Petticoats”. Quite.
Looking at that list, you can surmise that the standard of performances has been variable, ranging from the downright turgid to the unmissable, but particular highlights for me were Sweeney Todd, and Moon On A Rainbow Shawl. Not least because two of my best friends were in them, but becuase they exemplified what theatre should be – exquisite, detailed and passionate – there’s nothing quite like it.
So, what’s coming up in April? What treats are in my diary for the coming month, and what are we particularly looking forward to?
Cillian Murphy (left) in Enda Walsh’s solo play Misterman at the National will be a hot ticket, combining two extraordinary talents, while Jung Chan’s Wild Swans flies into the Young Vic. It will be interesting to see how this epic, beautiful biography translates to the stage. It’s a heavyweight month, as David Suchet and Laurie Metcalfe arrive with the eagerly anticipated Long Day’s Journey into Night at the Apollo, directed by Anthony Page. Meanwhile, the new Artistic Director of the RSC, Gregory Doran, brings his critically acclaimed production of Written On The Heart to the Duchess, with Oliver Ford Davies and Stephen Boxer heading the cast. I saw it in Stratford last year and it’s wonderful.
Away from the West End, The New Diorama is a delightfully versatile space, and consistently programmes interesting work. The Dark Room which opens there on the 10th is billed as a cross between Brecht’s The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui and Mean Girls, probably the first time those two have ever been mentioned in the same breath. It should definitely be worth a trip to leafy Euston. Antic Disposition are a company worth keeping an eye on, their A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Middle Temple Hall should be a delicious entertainment for a balmy Spring evening, similarly Veni Vidi Theatre Company, returning to Teatro Technis with their staged radio play Hound of the Baskervilles will be a treat for the senses. For those looking for soemthing extravagant and joyful, CircusFest at the Roundhouse offers the best in comtemporary circus throughout April while for those of a more reserved aesthetic nature, Robert Holman’s moving and haunting Making Noise Quietly directed by Peter Gill will whisper around the Donmar. Alan Ayckbourn directs his own suburban comedy, Neighbourhood Watch, at the Tricycle and talented wunderkind Jessica Swale brings Frank McGuinness’ startlingly brilliant Someone To Watch Over Me to Southwark Playhouse. I last saw this with Jonny Lee Miller and it was a profound experience. Also worth a look is Glenn Chandler who created and wrote Taggart turns his hand to directing his own adaptation of a lost British classic novel, The Custard Boys, at the Tabard.
For the musically inclined, head out to Richmond where stage legend Bonnie Langford and Eastender Todd Carty are ripping it up in Spamalot from 2nd – 7th April before heading off to Aylesbury, Sunderland, Bristol and Bromley for the rest of the month. Or, for something a little more restrained, wend your way to the decadent Wilton’s Music Hall for The Great Gatsby which promises an entire Gatsby experience, with dressing up and period entertainment before and after the show.
Unless you’ve been away you can’t have failed to have heard that I Dreamed A Dream, the Susan Boyle story is on the road too. Starring Elaine C Smith (left with Boyle), it has, perhaps surprisingly, been picking up excellent reviews. It’s at His Majesty’s, Aberdeen, the Alhambra, Bradford, the Liverpool Empire and the Bord Gals Energy Theatre in Dublin. There’s also Tom Morris’ gorgeous actor-musician adaptation of Swallows & Amazons, at the Theatre Royal, Norwich, Marlow Theatre, Canterbury, Lyceum Sheffield, and Cambridge Arts Theatre before seeing out April at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton.
The Globe’s production of Anne Boleyn is on tour, starting at the Theatre Royal, Brighton, before moving on to Hall for Cornwall, the Civic Theatre in Darlington and Malvern Theatres. Also on the road is Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch. This one man show, starring James Kermack, visits a whole football team’s worth of venues throughout April. Steel Magnolias, with Denise Welch, Kacey Ainsworth and Cherie Lunghi brings the laughter and tears, starting their tour at the Theatre Royal, Bath.
Over in Stratford, the RSC take on one of Shakespeare’s more difficult histories – King John, opening at the Swan on April 6th. Incidentally, don’t forget the World Shakespeare Festival begins on April 23rd, an extraordinary, once in a lifetime celebration of our greatest playwright. In Bristol, at the Bristol Old Vic director Simon Godwin presents a double bill of Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape and Pinter’s A Kind of Alaska, bringing together two hugely influential British writers in an intriguing double bill.
But if it’s just laughs your after, may I humbly suggest the fabulous Caroline Reid as Pam Ann who crash lands at the Bloomsbury Theatre in You F’Coffee from April 17th.
That’s all from us at Fourthwall – until next month.