This is the theatre at its very best and on screen, both productions are gripping, using the camera work to richly convey the abstract shapes and grand vision of its boldly beautiful staging, while allowing the connection between the lead actors to shine.
The first show in the National Theatre at Home programme was the 2011 smash-hit One Man, Two Guvnors, one of the great success stories of the Nicholas Hytner era, a cheeky farce written by Richard Bean and starring National Theatre favourites James Corden and Oliver Chris.
This Uncle Vanya is more roundedly entertaining than other recent productions and while that detracts a little from the emotional undercurrents of the original, the fluidity and richness of Rickson’s production, performed by an excellent cast, ensure a satisfying Chekhovian conclusion.
With plenty to say about the shallow foundations of political leaders hiding behind their PR machines, Jamie Lloyd’s triumphant Evita is raw, fresh and intense – “oh what a show!”
Grief on stage and in popular culture is rarely considered as a psychological state of its own but as a means or driver for other behaviour.
There’s little for the cast to improve because the faults in Aristocrats lie with Friel. This production draws-out all of the core themes but cannot overcome the play’s reliance on heavy exposition and failure to satisfactorily resolve its own questions about the past of these characters.
Stand-out performances in any era are often only judged so in retrospect and modern theatre offers much that will be remembered. But once in a while, you know you’re in the presence of greatness, and Ian McKellen’s King Lear will be talked about for years to come.
Joe Penhall’s new play Mood Music is set in the music industry and examines the complex and tricky personalities whose deep and longstanding knowledge of how the ‘business’ works means they have become adept at manipulating every system.
The business of Summer & Smoke at the Almeida Theatre is handled with such subtly that it allows the deep emotional connection at the heart of the story to flourish. With a magnetic central pairing, Rebecca Frecknall’s production is unmissably beautiful, and the Almeida at its finest.
Ian Rickson’s production is a tense and unnerving experience that utilises all the skills of its excellent cast to reinforce the oddity of one of Pinter’s most performed plays.
Cirque du Soleil have brought another of their spectacular shows to the Royal Albert Hall as they do every January, and this one is going to extend their stay by touring to several venues around the UK as the year goes on. Great news for those who live too far to have seen the Canadian entertainment giants in London, but I do wish they’d picked a stronger show to share than Ovo.
Compagnie MPTA are a regularly returning company to the London International Mime Festival with their forward-thinking and beautifully presented contemporary circus.
A dark new Agatha Christie adaptation has become something of a Christmas tradition, and even though the BBC only started this tradition two years ago with an excellent multi-part interpretation of And Then There Were None, it has fast become an established and much anticipated highlight of the festive schedule.
Naturally, facing what felt like a significant and unbreachable rift, instability and economic downturn was the likely outcome, which for the arts, could only mean one thing – cultural depletion – as audience seek safety in comfort and nostalgia.
The Grinning Man may not be suitable for children (it has an age limit of 12 years), and it’s certainly not a Christmas show in any way, but within the grotesque world that Grose, Morris, Teitler and Phillips create there is a rare and genuine theatre magic.
Because this is an exceptional year, imperfections seem more glaring, plays that haven’t quite found their rhythm are more obvious, and Amy Herzog’s new play Belleville, premiering at the Donmar Warehouse, relies on excellent central performances to cover its dramatic weaknesses.
We are endlessly fascinated by spies and the nature of betrayal. For those who knew the men spying for Russia in the mid-Twentieth Century, more than country or ideology, it is the personal treacheries that still rankle.
It’s a layered story that opens with a pub quiz, setting the scene for the world of obsessive competition fanatics, laying a direct trail from that bar to the gameshow hot-seat.
Network is enthralling, interpreting a strange story in a slick, fast-moving production that manages to reveal the media’s rather shallow relationship with truth and makes profound statements about the concept of collective action, all the while being true to its original movie roots.
The Playhouse Theatre seems to attract a big American star at least once a year; this year it’s the turn of Christian Slater who takes on the lead role in the latest revival of Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet’s brutal two-act story of property salesman in 80s America.