Best of 2010

Theatre: Shakespeare

1. Romeo and Juliet (RSC).

2. King Lear (RSC).

3. As You Like It (West Yorkshire Playhouse).

4. Measure for Measure (Almeida).

5. The Winter’s Tale (RSC/Roundhouse).

6. Henry IV part 2 (Globe).

7. Macbeth (Globe).

8. Antony and Cleopatra (RSC).

9. Antony and Cleopatra (Liverpool Playhouse).

10. Hamlet (The Crucible, Sheffield).

11. King Lear (Donmar).

12. Henry VIII (The Globe).

13. The Tempest (Old Vic).

14. As You Like It (Old Vic)

15. Macbeth (Belt Up/York Theatre Royal).

Theatre: Not Shakespeare

1. Jerusalem (Apollo).

2. After the Dance (National).

3. An Enemy of the People (Sheffield Crucible).

4. Women Beware Women (National).

5. London Assurance (National).

6. Enron (Theatre Royal, Newcastle)

7. The Habit of Art (National Theatre).

8. Corrie! (Lowry, Salford)

9. The Real Thing (Old Vic).

10. Canterbury Tales (West Yorkshire Playhouse/Northern Broadsides).

11. La Bete (Comedy Theatre).

12. Death of a Salesman (West Yorkshire Playhouse).

13. Three Sisters (Lyric, Hammersmith).

14. The Misanthrope (Comedy Theatre)

15. Beating Berlusconi. (York Theatre Royal).

  

Exhibitions

1. Gauguin (Tate Modern).

2. Van Gogh (Royal Academy).

3. Renaissance drawings (The British Museum).

4. The Book of the Dead (British Museum).

5. Venice. Canaletto and his rivals. (The National Gallery).

6. Sargent and the Sea (Royal Academy).

7. Rude Britannia (Tate Britain).

8. Summer Show (Royal Academy).

9. Beatles to Bowie (National Portrait Gallery).

10. Chris Ofili (Tate Britain).

  

Books

1. Andrea Levy The Long Song.

2. Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall.

3. AS Byatt – The Children’s Book.

4. Rose Tremain – Trespass.

5. Colm Toibin Brooklyn.

6. Ian McEwan  Solar.

7. Paul Magrs Diary of a Doctor Who Addict.

8. Tony Blair The Journey.

9. Kate Atkinson Started Early, Took My Dog.

10. Alexander McCall Smith The Double Comfort Safari Club.

TV

1. Coronation Street –  especially for Jack’s Death and the Live episode (ITV).

3. Ashes to Ashes (BBC1).

4. Doctor Who – The End of Time part 2 (BBC1).

5. Doctor Who – especially for the eleventh hour (BBC1).

6. Downton Abbey (ITV1)

7. I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here (ITV1).

8. Macbeth (BBC 4).

9. Luther (BBC1).

10. Silent Witness (BBC 1).

and my guilty pleasure of the year

Peter Kay at the Studio, Lowry (and again at the Manchester Evening News Arena).

King Lear (Donmar Warehouse, 11th December 2010)

As we climbed the stairs up to the Circle at the Donmar, we could feel the heat hit us the higher we went.  Wearing several layers of clothes because of the cold weather outside, it was clear that we were going to be hot through the production.  It was very strange watching King Lear feeling so hot on a cold winter’s day.  Sat right at the back of the circle, I felt at a distance from the production, even though the Donmar is such an intimate space.  How you feel, and where you view the production from, has an impact on how you experience it. I think being hot and high up made me think of the performances in a way I might not have if I’d been in the stalls.
 
The focus was on the language of the characters and not on clever stage devices.  I liked the way that the production was well paced and only three hours long.  I also liked the white cube minimal set design, as it seemed to emphasise the bleakness, but it also gives space for the language to create the sense of place.  The black shadows on the stage walls were like the carrion on the publicity material, which was a nice effect.  There was also some very clear verse speaking from some of the lead characters.  Indeed, all the reviews say that  this production is a great production, and Michael Billington said that Jacobi was one of the great  Lears of all time.  I would say that Jacobi’s central performance was very good indeed.  Overall the production just  didn’t take my breath away. Some performances stood out such as Gina McKee who was a good Goneril, but without the temper that Kelly Hunter has brought to the role in the RSC production (now at the Roundhouse).  The final scene was very moving  and Jacobi made a good attempt to bring the body on stage, but had to be helped to set the body down.  At the very end and just before the curtain call, the lights come up and the sun shines for a moment presenting an image of hope. 
 
I will see this production again at NT Live. It will be interesting to see the production close up on the big screen. I am sure this will be a very different viewing experience, and I will miss being in the theatre witnessing a live performance.
  
Reviews and Previews

The Stage / Reviews / King Lear

Sir Derek Jacobi: King Lear, the mountain you h…

King Lear Reviews at Donmar Warehouse – London …
FT.com / Arts / Theatre & Dance – King Lear, Do…

The Guardian review

Twelfth Night (The Donmar in the West End, Saturday 14th February 2009)

It was Valentine’s day when we went to see Twelfth Night at the Wyndham’s Theatre, and we’d spent the day in London, which had been decked out with red hearts, so it was a very appropriate day to go and watch a love story. Though Twelfth Night explores different relationships and different forms of love.

So Orsino is in love with Olivia or so he thinks, but he is more in love with the idea of being in love. Olivia is in mourning and at first is refusing to fall in love… until she meets Viola dressed as a boy (Cesario) and falls in love with Cesario. Then Sir Toby sets Sir Andrew up to think that Olivia will marry him and Malvolio is duped into thinking Olivia is in love with him. Sir Toby falls in love with Maria and we think that Antonio, the sailor, may have a thing about Sebastian and .. yes it is all complex and muddled and this is why Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare’s mature comedies.

The stage floor is like the deck of the ship and the nautical theme runs throughout the production and not just in the shipwreck scene. We are always reminded that we are by the sea, and we hear the seagulls flying above and the lapping of the sea at points, The overhearing scene is on a beach and Sir Toby, Maria and Sir Andrew observe Malvolio from behind a windbreak. Viola and and Sebastian wear sailor attire and when Viola is shipwrecked she wears a stunning green dress reminiscent of the sea with the suggestion of a mermaid’s tail.

The play starts as a dark play. We are in a world where siblings have died and characters are in mourning, but the play lightens up and this was reflected in this production in several ways. Olivia changed from her black mourning suite into a very elegant light beige outfit and as the play progressed sunlight started to flicker through the shutters until these were opened up and in the end moved to reveal a blue background.

The strom starts the production and there is a flash of light as Orsino enters through the curtain front of stage. The background storm clearly reflecting Orsino’s mood.

Victoria Hamilton played Cesario very naturally and didn’t act masculinity as Imogen Stubbs does in the Trevor Nunn film version. There are real tears when she speaks the ‘patience on a monument’ speech. She is clearly uncomfortable delivering Orsino’s speech to Viola because these are not her words.

Malvolio is not a clown. It is because he is so serious that he is funny and that we find ourselves caught out laughing at a character that is actually treated very badly at the end of the play. Derek Jacobi’s timing was wonderful. He appeared as if he would never rush anywhere and when he dresses in his yellow stockings, he does it in such a way that it isn’t over the top, but just so out of character.

Samantha Spiro was fantastic as Maria and worked with the lines in such away she made their meaning very clear and we could laugh at jokes that may have become obscure through the years.

Orsino proposes to Viola as she is still dressed as a boy and Orsino still confuses Viola and Sebastian at the end of the play. Same sex desire is not overplayed but it is clearly an important element of this production and we are left to wonder what happens to certain characters. Did Orsino really fall in love with Cesario? Did Antonio love Sebastian? As the happy couples leave the stage together, other characters leave alone and we realise that even though there is a happy ending all is not necessarily well in Illyria.

Reviews and Previews

David Tennant’s excuse was a bad back but why d…
BBC NEWS Entertainment Tennant’s Shakespear…
The Stage / News / Donmar leads the way with 13…
Michael Billington: The Oliviers have snubbed H…
Brief Encounter With … Ron Cook What’s on Sta…
The Oxonian Review » Star-Crossed
Donmar & La Cage Lead Olivier Nomination Tallie…
Twelfth Night, Wyndham’s, WC2 – the Sunday Time…
La Cage aux Folles steals the spotlight at thea…
Critics honour Donmar Warehouse The Official …
Twelfth Night, Donmar, London
Simply Cindere…

Lots of actors in the running for an Olivier, b…
Drag race for the Olivier awards News
Tennant shares top actor prize – Scotsman.com News
I’ll never be ready for Christmas – so bring it…
The Stage / Reviews / Twelfth Night
CBBC Newsround TV/Film Tennant scoops award…
David scoops Critics’ Circle Hamlet award – Daily Express
Photos: Donmar Turns Out in Force at Critics Aw…
Derek Jacobi : Olivier, Burton and me – Telegraph
A Bow to Kenneth Branagh -Times Online
Donmar & La Cage Lead Olivier Nomination Tallie…
David Tennant misses out on Olivier Awards nomi…
People: Tennant misses out on Olivier Award N…
David Tennant scoops top theatre award – The Da…
Tennant’s Hamlet misses out on Olivier award – …
Critics hail Tennant for part-time Hamlet News
BBC NEWS Entertainment Arts & Culture Gam…
David Tennant excluded from voting for Laurence…
Twelfth Night The Official London Theatre Guide
Twelfth Night at the Donmar at Wyndhams – revie…
David Tennant shares Critics’ Circle award with…
Playbill News: August, La Cage, Tennant and Mor…
David Tennant misses out on Olivier award nomin…
First Night: Twelfth Night, Wyndham’s Theatre, …