Top Shows of 2017.

Top shows of 2017.

Happy New Year! What better way to reflect on the past year than in theatre, so with much further ado, here are my top shows that I saw in 2017. I usually do them in order, however I saw so many shows this year, that the best I could do was rattle it down to my equally top five.

Sweeney Todd at the Barrow Street Theatre

Sweeney Todd 
Barrow Street Theater

I saw this a couple of weeks ago, just before I left New York. It was, surprisingly, the first professionally done Sondheim musical I’ve seen. I was surprised as you are! It was a brilliantly immersive piece of theatre, definitely aided by our cheeky upgrade from a very nice usher from $30 seats to $200 seats, right in the middle of the action. The acting was fantastic, and I was both terrified and thrilled throughout the whole show.

Torch Song

TORCH SONG
By HARVEY FIERSTEIN
2ND Stage

I saw this at the right time in my life I think. It was what I needed to see. The acting was brilliant, and I loved the whole story. The attention to detail from the neon sign of the title to the motif in sign language of “I love you, but not enough”. The simplicity of the show and the symbolism made the punch that more powerful. I think it’s an important piece to be shown, and it was very moving. It had an air of melancholy, however still left you with a tiny bit of hope to reach out for at the end.

Dear Evan Hansen

ap_17163052478915_wide-2a31b8b8ade54f82e40d59e9a5989d1fb11a0788-s900-c85It’s no surprise that this made my top five this year. Again I think it’s one of those shows that you have to see at the right time in your life. I was very lucky to see the original cast, and I enjoyed the show immensely. It is no surprise Ben Platt won a Tony for his performance. It’s a contemporary story, that flourishes within the music and the production aspects of the piece. The production designer did a brilliant job of capturing a limbo of technology.  was a melancholic, funny, technical wonder, with a hint of hope strung throughout it.

Much Ado about Nothing

Much-Ado-About-Nothing-Shakespeares-Globe1-700x455

This being my favourite Shakespeare I was thrilled to see it at the Globe Theatre. This production was full of life, love and colour. The Mexican revolution breathed new life into the show, encouraged by the cast that was completely in sync, and the vendetta against Americans. I love the play and I loved this production. It’s Shakespeare in the Shakespeare Globe, what could be better?

Once on this Island

04onceisland1-superJumboI loved this show, because it felt different from the other things I had seen on the New York stage. Probably due to the lack of white actors, and western narrative, that despite all the cries from diversity on the west end and broadway stages, still seems to dominate the theatrical world. The cast were extremely talented, however the stage and costume design of the production is really what shone for me. Starting with simple ideas they flourished into a fully immersive set and colourful array of costume. This show was dripping with passion, culture, life and colour.

Honourable mentions. There are so many shows that I just couldn’t leave out. 

Woyzeck – An intense and foreboding production, with brilliant acting from John Boyega.

The Mad Ones–  A Brilliant off-broadway coming of age musical, with sweet music and a moving narrative.

Spongebob Squarepants– I know, I know, but it was surprisingly good, and weirdly political. The music was fantastic and the production value was insane.  Ethan Slater, Spongebob, made the show.

Life of Galileo– A beautiful show, with the stars, science and politics interwoven into the production. “Truth is in the trial of a moment, not in the past”

Amadeus – A whirlwind of human emotion and the madness of genius, with a very contemporary look on a very classic story.

Hamlet – Fantastic acting from Andrew Scott, with a darker and more modern outlook on a classic Shakespeare.

Trainspotting – A Brilliantly immersive and inherently Scottish production, with brilliant acting and a dingy and dark feel to it.

Twelfth Night – A fun, fantastical, detailed production.All the gender-bending it made the show into a colourful queer-fest, with a brilliant, and practical set.

Best Wishes into the new year, and I hope it is full of Happiness and Theatre!

Advertisements

Much Ado About Nothing – Globe Theatre

I genuinely have so much love and appreciation for this play. I’ve been through a lot with it, so it’s only fitting that the first play I see at The Globe Theatre, is this one. I will warn you now, I love this play so much, that I could probably see a terrible production and still love it, so I may be a tad bias, but I’ll try my best.

This version of Much Ado is set in the 1910 Mexican revolution, which just brings so much colour to the show. In the set, costumes and the whole tone. Even though the show is primarily a comedy, the Mexican culture breathes new life into it. In the form of the music, the costumes, all the scene transitions, and the vendetta against Americans- which did make me chuckle, especially with the large volume of Americans surrounding me.

I tried to look at this production, with an extra-critical eye to compensate my love for the play. At the beginning I thought that perhaps, Matthew Needham, Benedick, and Beatriz Romilly, Beatrice, were lacking in chemistry. However, as the play moved along, I was quickly proved wrong, they were fantastic. They managed to get the balance between comedy and gravity, which is very tricky in most Shakespeare comedies. The rest of the cast cannot be dismissed at all. They all worked effortlessly together. I hope that one day I could be a part of a cast that is so in sync.

It was also surprisingly enjoyable watching it from the yard. I thought I would hate standing for three hours, but also didn’t want to shell out £40+ for a ticket. It reminded me what theatre is about, because there was 700 or so people standing in the yard together, we all ending up talking about the play. It got people talking and socialising. It’s one of the reasons Theatre was so popular in Shakespeare’s time.

And on a final, and more personal note it brought back a lot of feelings for me, of various things that have happened, and everything the play meant to me. By the end of it, I was very emotional, however, I am almost fairly certain the tears were from laughter.

I’ve tried to keep this short and sweet, but definitely go check it out if you can. And I would say the Yard tickets are the best way to go – £5, same price as lunch at McDonalds. And far better for you!

Amadeus – National Theatre

Tonight I went to see Amadeus, at the National, after trying to get a ticket for ages. Amadeus by Peter Shaffer, follows the story of Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the 1700s.

The music, as expected, was spectacular. Having the musicians on stage is a great touch, and blurred the lines between theatre and concert.  The musicians also made up the chorus, and the ensemble movement pieces, were a nice touch, stopping it from becoming a two-man show. Speaking of the two men. Lucian Msamti, Salieri, was great, his powerful stature, meant that he addressed the audience with confidence, and in the second half, truly had power. Adam Gillan, Mozart, brought the youthfulness that the show needed, with it being set in the 1700s, this was all aided by the little modern elements, that were shown every once in a while. Where Msamati spoke to the audience, Gillan, commanded the audience, or he pandered to them – I honestly can’t tell. I loved it though. It lightened up the piece, and the language, felt more 21st century, rather than 18th.  On the other hand, Karla Crome, Constanze, was also brilliant, her presence was more subtle than her counterpart, Gillan, however just as powerful. Also Fleur de Bray, Katherina, had a glass shattering voice.

The musicians stayed on stage, for most of the show, in an orchestra set-up. The centre of the stage dipped for the performances of the operas. There was also a permanent secondary stage located at the back of stage, and in moments of climax it was pulled forward, shrouding the audience in some sort of angelic light. Michael Longhurst, the director, made no effort to hide that it is a theatrical production, with the costumes visible on stage, and the vintage, operatic style, backdrops.

 

Overall a very modern look, on a classic story. Showing a rollercoaster of human emotion and human life. The madness of genius.

Wish List – Royal Court

I went to see Wish List today at the Royal Court Theatre. Wish List, directed by Mathew Xia, provides a commentary on the benefits system and lack of care for people facing mental health issues in the United Kingdom.

The play was staged in Traverse, which I personally love, as it is so much more intimate and intense, than traditional staging. The set was simple, but effective, with the left shrouded in boxes, representing the factory, and the right, showing a simple kitchen and bathroom. The centre was left empty, and was adapted to depending on the scene. The scene transitions were inventive and fun – keeping the pace of the show fast and to the times. The music aided the transitions, keeping the show light at some times, however, almost unbearable to watch at other times. It portrayed the franticness of someone dealing with mental issues, without relying solely on body language.

The show made me feel very anxious and left me frazzled as I left the theatre. Erin Doherty (Tamsin) and Joseph Quinn (Dean) shone through their respective roles, important, as the show mainly depended on them. The comedic elements, were timed well, and a welcome break from the intensity of the show. However, there were, at times, I felt the play was trying to tackle too many problems at once, and lost the focus and message of the play.

There were lots of little details that I loved, such as the symbolism of the hair gel, or the fact the bathroom doors had no handles on the outside, so it could only be opened from the inside. Overall, I didn’t feel good coming out of the theatre. I felt anxious, scared, upset, and frazzled. I didn’t like how I was feeling, which was important. I didn’t enjoy the show, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. I loved it.