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Year in Review: Matt Merritt’s performances of 2016

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Touring by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

2016 is nearly over and, despite not getting to see nearly as much theatre as we’d like at Sitting in the Cheap Seats, we’ve seen lots of performances that we will long remember. We couldn’t list all the people who have really impressed us over the past year but the folks below brought their characters to life with performances that made us laugh, cry and kept us thinking long after we left the theatre!

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KING LEAR – RSC, Barbican Centre

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For many actors Lear is the ultimate role, hence the proliferation of productions that appear every year. In 2016 alone we’ve had Timothy West, Don Warrington and Michael Pennington all pop up in the role and Glenda Jackson is currently giving us a female perspective over at the Old Vic. RSC stalwart Antony Sher’s take on the role has been something we’ve been waiting a few years for… so how does he do?

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THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS – Touring & West End

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Kenneth Grahame’s story of Ratty, Mole, Badger and the irrepressible Toad have been a favourite of many for longer than they can remember – I grew up delighting in the stop-motion version and have long been a staple for adaptation on both stage and screen, Grahame’s skilful evocation of a pastoral England that no longer exists (and may never have) is infinitely comforting and inviting.

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CYMBELINE – Barbican Centre (RSC)

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I’ll confess to being unsure how well audiences would take to a play that – on the page at least – is a complete mess with no discernible central plot. Thankfully, director Melly Still and her team have largely kept the story flowing and, with the help of some inspired casting choices, enabled us to be drawn to characters that can all too often be unlikeable.

Love’s Labours Lost / Much Ado About Nothing – Chichester & West End

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A couple of years ago the Royal Shakespeare Company paired Love’s Labours Lost with Much Ado About Nothing (renamed Love’s Labours Won) in a gorgeous setting amidst the Great War to much acclaim. This year they’ve revived the productions, with many of the original cast and have brought it to Chichester Festival Theatre ahead of the West End.

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DOCTOR FAUSTUS – RSC, Barbican Centre

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It’s a rare feeling to sit in the audience for a play and feel you truly don’t know what to expect – in the age of social media, it’s impossible not to have a good idea what to expect, but when two men walk onto the stage at the beginning of Faustus, stare each other in the eye and light a match cast, crew and audience will all find out together who will take the titular role.

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What we’re looking forward to in Chichester Festival’s winter season

In Musicals, News, Opinion, Plays, Press Releases, Regional theatre, Touring by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

We’re confirmed fans of Chichester Festival Theatre here, and for us their announcement of a new season is a bit like Christmas! The Winter 2016 season has a great range of entertainment and there’s sure to be something for everyone’s tastes! Edward Fox, Liza Goddard, Amanda Holden, Felicity Kendal, Robert Powell, Reece Shearsmith, Ken Stott and Imogen Stubbs are among the stars appearing in plays by writers from Alan Ayckbourn to Ronald Harwood, alongside contemporary work from Frantic Assembly and Spymonkey

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FRACKED – Chichester

In Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

Fracking is something of a contentious subject in West Sussex, so where better to stage Alistair Beaton’s new comedy Fracked! (or: Please don’t use the word). Littered with references to very recent events (including Boris Johnson and Southern trains) you can’t help but feel the playwright is hidden in the theatre somewhere