I’ve always enjoyed going to the theatre, and have done so for a while, but this year I definitely made a conscious effort to start going more often. Living in the countryside in the middle of Scotland, it’s not exactly like I can just pop out to a West End show whenever the fancy takes me, but that’s not to say that theatres within reach of me don’t still put on some fantastic performances.
With tickets booked for quite a few shows next year already, I thought it was worth seeing if anyone else out there within the bookish blogosphere has an interest at all in theatre (it is merely another form of storytelling, after all), as if there was, I may well do some reviews/wrap ups next year so we can chat about the shows we’ve been enjoying.
To give you a feel for what some of them will be, upcoming shows I’ve already got tickets to see include: Strangers on a Train, a play based on the crime novel by Patricia Highsmith about two people who meet by chance and each agree to kill someone on behalf of the other; the musical, Miss Saigon, a tragic love story set during the Vietnam War; a ballet adaptation of The Little Mermaid; a ballet from Matthew Bourne called Highland Fling, about a man drawn into a strange world by a beguiling gothic fairy (with a Scottish twist); The Last Witch, a suspenseful play about a woman in the 1700s accused of witchcraft; and War Horse, the hit show based on the book by Michael Morpurgo about the bond between a young boy and his beloved horse that has been taken into service during World War I.
As for some of the shows I’ve most enjoyed this year, here are a few thoughts on them.
The Red Shoes
This ballet (also by Matthew Bourne) is based on the classic film, and in turn the original fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. It’s all about life imitating art, with fateful consequences. It boasted fantastic staging and wonderful set design – some of the best I’ve seen in a ballet. The music and costumes were also wonderful, and really helped to set the scene and create an immersive atmosphere. The storytelling achieved through the choreography was excellent – it can be tricky to know what’s going on in a wordless dance show if you’re not already familiar with the story, but things were always made clear and easy to follow in this production. It was full of humour and warmth, but had a powerful and moving ending that was executed brilliantly. I’ve seen a fair few ballets by now, and this easily ranks amongst my favourites so far.
This adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s play was more intriguing than scary, despite technically being a ghost story, but I did find it atmospheric and very much enjoyed it. I read the playscript shortly before going to the show, and found it much more humorous on stage than had been apparent on the page, thanks to the good performances from the cast. The story itself centres around a young woman who disappeared as a child, eventually returning with no concept of having been gone, but seemingly changed somehow by the experience. The simplistic staging and props meant there was little fuss, and the emphasis was always on the characters, though I felt the climax and ending weren’t played out as clearly as they could have been, feeling more ambiguous than was necessarily intended, and I must confess that had I not read Barrie’s descriptions of what was going on beforehand, I may have come away feeling a little lost.
Scottish Ballet Does Stravinsky
In this show of two halves, we got to see two contrasting ballets, both set to powerful music by the renowned composer, Igor Stravinsky. The first, The Fairy’s Kiss, about a man lured away from his true love by a predatory fairy, had a very classical feel in terms of the music, choreography, costumes and story. It was the second, The Rite of Spring, that made the biggest impression, however. Featuring just three dancers (two men and one woman), this was much more abstract and contemporary in tone; a breathless, raw and visceral story about violence, masculinity, religion and escapism. You could have heard a pin drop in the quiet moments, the audience were so captivated and on edge, and I must say hats off to the dancers for their committed performances, one of whom in particular must have taken a real physical and emotional beating.
Singin’ in the Rain
Based on the classic movie, this musical about the arrival of ‘talking pictures’, and a silent film studio’s attempts to jump on the craze by creating their own musical, was utterly joyous and the epitome of feel-good entertainment. The cast were all fantastic, with particular props to Helen Mallon who had the audience in stitches with her fabulous turn as the squeaky-voiced diva, Lina Lamont. Catchy songs, excellently slick dance routines, hilarious and heart-warming storytelling; what’s not to love? When leaving the theatre at the end, everyone was visibly on a high, humming the show’s title number to themselves, and I think that says it all really.
A bit of a different post today, but I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless! Let me know if you’d be interested in seeing more theatre based posts next year, and also what shows you’ve seen and enjoyed recently, or hope to see soon.