So its been a while since I last blogged – I’ve been busy with an English MA, which I passed! I’ve also moved from Blogger to WordPress, as my small protest about the Google policies.

It was my birthday yesterday and I’ve been feeling poorly – nothing serious, just one of the various bugs that’s doing the rounds – and I’m feeling quite sorry for myself as birthday plans have had to be cancelled or postponed. So I’ve been trying to cheer myself up by thinking about some of the good things that I’ve done so far this year and thinking about the great plays I’ve seen so far, and the great plays that I’m going to see as the year progresses. As one of the things that really turns me on is really great live performance be it music or theatre and one of the blessings that came from my years with the OU is a great theatre buddy, which means, as long as she’s not on call and can bribe her eldest daughters into babysitting, I generally have a theatre date.

So far, since completing the MA in January, I’ve seen

The Importance of Being Earnest – The Theatre Royal, Haymark
She Stoops to Conquer – Olivier, National Theatre
Waiting for Godot – Talawa Theatre Production, Albany Theatre, Deptford
Collaborators – Cottesloe, National Theatre
Bingo – Young Vic
Duchess of Malfi – Old Vic
Antigone – Olivier, National Theatre
Love, Love, Love – The Royal Court
Betrayal – The Crucible, Sheffield
Crow – National Theatre at The Borough Hall at Greenwich Dance
Dr Dee – The Coliseum
Ragtime – The Open Air Theatre, Regents Park
Noises Off – The Novello Theatre
A Doll’s House – Young Vic

There are a couple of interesting things about this list, there are only two productions in a West End Theatre, one, Noises Off, was a transfer from The Old Vic and both are revivals.  In fact there are only two new plays on the list, Collaborators and Love, Love, Love.

There also are three music/dance pieces, Crow, Ragtime and Dr Dee. I’ve never really been a fan of music with my theatre. I remember being forced to see Annie while I was at school and my Mum had a thing for Howard Keel, so I was exposed to Kiss Me Kate, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers etc., from a young age – I may have been scarred for life, sorry Mum. In any event I’m not a fan of opera, ballet, or modern dance.  I’m afraid that Crow confirmed my prejudices, I love the poem, loved the puppets, but the interpretative dance left me cold. In contrast I quite liked Ragtime.

I think the thing that people find most shocking is that I loved, and I mean, I LOVED Dr Dee. I was drawn to the performanced I’m interested in the period and interested in Dee, and friend of mine had seen Damon Albarn’s previous opera Monkey: Journey to the West and raved about it.  I loved Dr Dee so much that I saw it twice – no mean feat bearing in mind the short London run and the ticket prices. Having looked at the theatre critics, one of the main criticisms of the piece seem to be that its not really an opera, which is probably why I loved it.  But it pushed all my buttons, falling in love with the wit of the staging from the opening parade of the English, through the hoisting of Elizabeth I to the rafters during the the Coronation – using her elaborate train to frame the action, the use of front and back projection, to Dee’s death and the appearance of the three ravens at the end. There also wasn’t a weak performance on either night.

So what were my favourite performances?

Dr Dee is definitely my top piece of music and theatre.

Noises Off is the best comedy, my sides ached from laughing for days afterwards, and I still laugh whenever anyone says ‘sardines’.

As for the others, there are three revivals that top my list, Betrayal, A Doll’s House and Waiting for Godot, these are probably my three favourite plays of all time,  and I can’t separate the performances and staging. Although Antigone and She Stoops to Conquer should merit a special mention.

Of the new plays, Collaborators just tops Love, Love, Love but only just, and that may be down to Simon Russell Beale’s entrance that anything.

I’ve now stopped sulking as I’ve got a warm glow just thinking about these performances and looking at the list of things already booked for the remainder of the year.

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