So another 3 months have passed and despite it technically being a quiet period another 34 shows under my belt. This was supposed to be summer so it was time to brave outdoor theatre, although this year these alfresco theatre shows offered wind and rain rather than sunburn.
Its also a season of increased amateur company activity and standards varied greatly – a plea to some companies, please try and be more creative in your choices of material. Yes there is scope for classic musicals but as Gallery Players have shown, there is more than just R&H to perform.
So onto the highlights:
The trend for small being beautiful continued with the Menier’s Aspects of Love nearly making it into the top three and although in a small space the epic Earthquakes in London also just missed out on a gong. State Fair also impressed in the Trafalgar Studios as did Remains of The Day transformed into a chamber musical at the Union. In the open air Into The Woods is the highlight of Sondheim’s birthday year so far.
After much deliberation though the top spots go to
- The Beauty Queen of Leenane – The Young Vic production was intense and dark but utterly gripping.
- Elektra – The Young Vic again in association with Headlong. Tickets may have been free but the show was priceless
- Rent – Gallery Players show that amateur doesn’t mean low standards in a production that would make a pro company proud
There have also been some disappointments. Often these were shows that on paper looked impressive but in realisation something was lost.
Out of Joint’s The Big Fellah looks at American support for the IRA but fails to tackle the subject fully. In Ipswich The Importance of Being Earnest while looking impressive didn’t add anything that hasn’t been seen in countless prior productions. Mark Ravenhill’s The Experiment left more questions than answers.
The bottom three places this time round go to:
- Ghost Stories – Marketing hype doesn’t match the reality in this deeply un scary show
- Danton’s Death – It’s a debate who will die first, Danton or the audience from boredom
- Wolfboy – Lack of any real bite failed to lift this one in audience attention,
So on to autumn and a plethora of new shows to fight for the bouquets