Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The 2014 fosterIAN nominations

Hurrah, I made it to the end of the year. And despite repeated protestations that I'm cutting down on how much I'm seeing, this year saw me break all records in seeing 383 shows (technically it will be 388 but I'm not counting my Broadway trip in these figures). It's been hard-going at times, and hugely delightful at times, but I'm glad to have done it and thank you all for coming along with me.

As ever, I have used the label 'best', the categories should really be considered 'favourite' as that is what the fosterIANs (fos-tîr'ē-ən) are, the acting performances that stood out for me, the ones that made me sit up, and sometimes stand up. So please find below the 2014 fosterIAN award nominations.


11 of my top moments in a theatre in 2014

I’ll be doing a regular top 10 alongside all the other end-of-year totting up of the theatrical delights on offer in 2014 that will eventually be written up but I thought it might be interesting to first look at it from a slightly different angle, thinking about the single moments – rather than the productions as a whole – that took my breath away (or were hair-raisingly good...) Undoubtedly there will be some crossover between the two lists, but there are things here that crop up the mind just as often as the plays I’ve labelled my favourites so here we go – naturally, some production spoilers abound…


(c) Jan Versweyveld
The final scene of Ivo van Hove’s A View From The Bridge
I don’t think anyone who saw this would disagree that this was one of those hugely special moments of theatre that will pretty much live forever in the memory. An outstanding 1 hour 40 minutes had already passed by this point - marking out what I’ve been saying for a while now about the extraordinarily vision van Hove brings to his work - but the final scene crystallised all the operatic grandeur and scorching emotion in one excoriating, sense-assaulting image that I dare not spoil even now – the perfect confluence of Jan Versweyveld’s design and light, Tom Gobbin’s sound and an exquisitely cast company. Book for its return to the West End now and experience it for yourself, this will sell out. 

Waltzing at The Grand Budapest Hotel, courtesy of Secret Cinema 
My first experience of Secret Cinema was one of the atypical ones in that we knew in advance what the film would be – Wes Anderson’s
The Grand Budapest Hotel in this case – but it didn’t stop me from having a top night out, rounded off by one of the most thrilling moments of the year. Just before the film started, we were gathered in the circular hotel lobby and though I don’t recall exactly how it began, those of us on the ground floor started to waltz round and round as flurries of snow fell from the sky. It was a hugely gorgeous moment, not least because I’d never waltzed before (and intriguingly enough for me, I was the waltzer rather than the waltzee, which is how I always thought it would play out!)   

Monday, 29 December 2014

Review: Maria Stuart, Stadschouwburg Amsterdam

“Gelukkig is het einde nu in zicht”

One of the joys of Toneelgroep Amsterdam running a repertory company is that over the few years I’ve been following their work and the few opportunities I’ve secured to see them, I’ve been able to gain a real appreciation for the actors as familiar faces reappear. Two of my favourites – Chris Nietvelt and Hans Kesting – stood out in the life-changingly good Roman Tragedies and so the chance to see them again in the same play made another trip to Amsterdam a no-brainer.

That it is Ivo van Hove directing Maria Stuart certainly didn’t hurt either and sure enough, the mastery of his theatrical vision is fully in evidence once again. Schiller’s regal drama sets up two opposing queens, the protestant Elizabeth I and her Catholic cousin Mary Queen of Scots, as their deadly rivalry comes to a head but for all their disagreements and differences, van Hove shows us how they are as much the same as different, two sides of the same coin trapped by the political machinations of men. 

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Review: Medea, Stadschouwburg Amsterdam

“Omdat het kan. Omdat ik me herinner hoe het voelde toen ik het ontdekte, van jullie twee. En ik wil haar laten zien hoe dat voelde.”

There is something hugely exciting about the way that Simon Stone works. His contemporary recasting of The Wild Duck ruffled some feathers when it played at the Barbican in October and now it is Euripides’ turn to be excavated and explored as Stone makes his directorial debut at Toneelgroep Amsterdam with a scorching interpretation of Medea. With Ivo van Hove as Artistic Director and a long-standing repertory company of immense talent, Toneelgroep are surely one of the most exciting companies around – hence my regular trips to Amsterdam to see them – and collaborating with Stone here simply enhances their prestige with such a punishingly powerful production.

Where Stone so fearlessly succeeds is in the discarding of any notion of classical fidelity, opting instead to distil the story to its very essence and then reframing it for modern audiences. So here, through improvisation work with the company, the age-old tale of Medea is interwoven with the true life case of Debora Green, a US mother who attempted to poison her husband and succeeded in killing two of their three children. The result is a combination that simply cannot be ignored, the dismissive unreality of ‘Greek tragedy’ is pulled kicking and screaming into our world, the terrible deeds of this mother – renamed here Anna - made harrowingly believable in this striking new context.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

DVD Review: I Give It A Year

"Is it possible that some people just aren't supposed to be married" 

Joseph Millson having a threesome and Jane Asher swearing are the main high points in Dan Mazer’s I Give It A Year, a film that could do with a whole lot more. The sheen on Nat and Josh’s whirlwind marriage has worn off a little, leaving them facing serious questions as they approach their one year anniversary. With former loves reappearing, new current attractions popping up and friends and family placing bets on whether they’ll make it to the landmark 12 months, the odds seem unlikely.

Which adds up to the film’s major problem, a distinct lack of any real dramatic imperative in hoping that Nat and Josh stay together. Rose Byrne does her best with a thanklessly constructed part who seems solely designed to frustrate Rafe Spall’s hangdog novelistic intentions but as the film opens with a fast-forward through the heady days of early romance, we’re not left with anything to convince us that we should be rooting for them to actually make it to a year, hell, even the end of the film!

Cast of I Give It A Year conitnued

DVD Review: Hawking

“Galileo was wrong, St Albans is actually the very centre of the universe”

One of those random coincidences (of sorts) sees likely Academy Award rivals Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne going up against other this year with Redmayne taking on a role – Stephen Hawking – that Cumberbatch has already played. Peter Moffat’s Hawking aired on the BBC back in 2004 and I have to say I remember it quite vividly, though I don’t imagine anyone could have predicted the career that was to come for its star!

This biopic focuses on Hawking’s early years at Cambridge University as he battled his newly diagnosed motor neurone disease, he was initially given two years to live - and set about the research that would lead to him to discovering the origins of the universe. Having detested physics at school, I can’t pretend that much (any) of the science really sank in but it doesn’t matter as director Philip Martin focuses on the illuminating glow and inspiration it gave to Hawking himself and in Cumbersnatch’s hands, it is a joy to watch.

Cast of Hawking continued



Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Review: City of Angels, Donmar Warehouse

"One Joe who swore, he's single
Got me sorta crocked, the beast
I woke up only slightly shocked
That I'd defrocked a priest"

I quite often have problems with plays and musicals that are thusly described - "one of the acknowledged greats of twentieth century musical theatre" - especially when I've not heard a note of it. I've always preferred finding my own route into liking something and so such labels rarely help, the note of hyperbole indeed a little off-putting. So the buzz around Josie Rourke's production of the Cy Coleman, Larry Gelbart and David Zippel musical City of Angels proved something of a double-edged sword for me.

This was actually my second viewing of the show - I decided to leave writing up a trip to a late preview whilst suffering from a bad cold as I wasn't sure how constructive I could be whilst feeling so rough. But even on second viewing, the show struck as a peculiar beast indeed. A dip into the world of film noir with a play-within-a-play structure, City of Angels has quite a cold heart and a clinical feel to it as a novelist tries to make it big in Hollywood with his story of a hard-boiled detective working on a big case.

Cast of City of Angels continued



Monday, 22 December 2014

Re-review: Visitors, Bush

"I wish I could put a pin in my life and say, this is the moment I became myself. This is the scene my life was about"

A last cheeky visit to the theatre before the Christmas break and hardly the most festive, given the subject matter at hand. But whilst a play about dementia might not seem like the most joyous of fare, Barney Norris' Visitors - first seen at the Arcola earlier this year - is hugely life-affirming, joy-inducing and yes, tear-jerking in its sheer beauty. Linda Bassett and Robin Soans deliver what feel like career-best performances as an elderly couple coming to terms with her failing mind and Eleanor Wyld and Simon Muller complement them well as her carer and their son, also dealing with their own dilemmas in a world stripped of certainties. My original review says it all here, I highly recommend you book now.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Review: The Merchant of Venice, Almeida

“You know someone said that’ the world’s a stage”

One almost wishes that Rupert Goold had gone the whole hog and renamed this The Merchant of Vegas – Portia’s Turn, so complete is the re-envisioning of Shakespeare’s work here that it almost deserves the new title. The Merchant of Venice is commonly considered one of the problem plays and so it is not too unusual to see grand concepts imposed upon it and that is certainly what Goold has delivered here in this modern-day Sin City-set adaptation. Naturally it doesn’t solve all the issues about the play and it does introduce some problems of its own but with its verve and vision, it is a breath-taking experience. 

Much of this comes from a genuinely sensational performance from Susannah Fielding as Portia, who is in many ways at the centre of this interpretation, the character foregrounded in a way I’ve never seen before. In this gaudy world of all-night casinos, Elvis impersonators and reality TV, she is the star and ultimate prize of a gameshow called Destiny, caskets remaining in situ as no-hopers compete for her hand. But once the cameras are off and she aims squarely for Bassanio’s heart, the complexity deepens considerably as Fielding lays this woman bare in all her insecure vanity and condescending cruelty – there’s no doubting how this Portia feels about Jews as she patronises Jessica and vilifies Shylock.

Cast of The Merchant of Venice continued



Re-review: Made in Dagenham, Adelphi

“You can’t try and bamboozle me with choreography”

A third visit back to this most heart-warmingly lovely of shows and a fine festive occasion it turned out to be. Review #1 and review #2 can be read here and there’s little much to add that hasn’t already been said. There’s much about Made in Dagenham that is indubitably charming and the breadth of David Arnold’s score has a lovely distinct tunefulness that has really worked its way into my memory (meaning I’m the one humming along!).

Additionally the leading performances of Gemma Arterton and particularly Adrian der Gregorian have really blossomed into something quite touching – I’d always been impressed by Arterton’s Rita but der Gregorian seems to have found a new emotional level as her husband Eddie. It’s also interesting to see where the nips and tucks have come in the show - the quip about Sandra’s dad liking whiskey and Monty’s redemption are two I noticed, and Rita’s daughter’s bolstering presence during ‘We Nearly Had It All’ is also now sadly gone. 

Cast of Made in Dagenham continued




Cast of Made in Dagenham continued




Saturday afternoon Christmas music treats

Christopher Howell, Sophie Isaacs + Harriet Thorpe – Reindeer Wives (from the MAD Trust Christmas Album)


Monday, 15 December 2014

Review: Tiger Country, Hampstead Theatre

“Try not to care so much”

Whilst other people wind down for the end of the year, Nina Raine is certainly keeping busy as her self-penned and self-directed Tiger Country returns to Hampstead Theatre, in advance of Donkey Heart – written by her brother Moses and also directed by her – transferring to Trafalgar Studios 2 in the New Year. Declared one of Hampstead’s most popular commissions, I must confess to being a little surprised to see this 2011 play return as it didn’t stick out as particularly memorable but with the promise of a new cast, I was interested to see how it stacked up nearly four years later.

And it seems that some time away has done it some good - the play feels cleaner, sharper and less encumbered with expository dialogue clearing a path through the medical terminology. I don’t know how much the script has been updated or edited but its spin through the state of the modern NHS feels as keenly observed as ever, visiting the stresses it imposes on those who work within it as well as those who use its services. Raine’s production recaptures the frenetic energy of a hospital and its staff at full stretch – metaphorically, physically, emotionally.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

CD Review: The West End goes MAD for Christmas

“I don’t need to ask for much this Christmas”


One of the more worthwhile festive releases this year is also pleasingly one of the more interesting. The Make A Difference Trust brings together the British entertainment community and its audiences to raise funds to support people living with HIV and AIDS and with The West End Goes MAD For Christmas, has brought together a host of new musical theatre champions to offer up a compilation of Christmas songs that offer a fascinating alternative to the age old carols and standards that proliferate at this time of year.


And producers Nikki & Joe Davison at Auburn Jam Records have done a brilliant job in matching composers to performers across the eight songs, curating pre-existing tracks and new, and shining a light on some serious talent. The plaintive simplicity of Stuart Matthew Price’s self-penned ‘This Christmas’ is characteristic of much of his oeuvre of classic songwriting, Gina Beck’s crystalline soprano dances beautifully around the timeless melody of Alexander S Bermange’s ‘Praying For You’ and Nadim Naaman‘s ‘A Soldier’s Christmas’ treads an equally emotive path, sung charmingly by Gerónimo Rauch and Naaman himself.


Cast of The West End goes MAD for Christmas continued

Cast of The West End goes MAD for Christmas continued



CD Review: Renée Fleming – Christmas in New York

“I have no thought of time”

Opera star Renée Fleming has dipped her toe into non-classical repertoire before and though she was tempted to take the classical route for her Christmas album, it is to jazzy lounge music that she has turned with somewhat mixed results. Her voice remains an undoubted pleasure but the insistence on maintaining the Christmas in New York jazz clubs feel makes the arrangements all feel too similar and lacking as they are in festive spirit or a real connection to Fleming herself, it’s disappointingly nondescript. 

Too often, the music just feels flat, with little engagement either between Fleming and the music, or between Fleming and her duet partners. The ever-reliable Kelli O’Hara has all her personality leached by the deadly pace of ‘Silver Bells’, the gulf in singing styles between her and Rufus Wainwright never settles in ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’, the jazz take on ‘Winter Wonderland’ sits very uneasily with both Fleming and her instrumentalists with an unusual amount of awkwardness.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Review: Accolade, St James

“Everybody has one vice..."

An interesting choice of revival rounded off the One Stage season for emerging producers that has been taking place at the St James Theatre in Emlyn Williams' Accolade. Previously seen at the Finborough back in early 2011, it won awards and critical acclaim as it formed part of Blanche McIntyre's rise to one of the most eagerly watched directors working in British theatre and so despite the delay, it does seem like an astute decision from producer Nicola Seed to nurture this back onto the stage.

And something I hadn't appreciated was how different it would feel in both a post-Leveson and post-Yewtree world. Will Trenting's huge success as a novelist has seen him be awarded a knighthood despite the salacious nature of his fiction but the night before he is due to receive it, secrets and scandals come creeping out of the woodwork. For Trenting has taken the maxim 'write of which you know' most seriously and enjoys a regular dose of orgies in Rotherhithe on the side of his otherwise happy family life and a participant at one of them is discovered to have been underage.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Review: Cats, Palladium

“These modern productions are all very well..."

Taking your seat in the Palladium to see the musical theatre behemoth that is Cats – now 33 years old and receiving a 12 week revival here in one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s own theatres – is an act of strangely calculated nostalgia. Famed for being one of the longest-running shows both on Broadway and the West End, its feline frolics remain entirely evocative of the 80s and as it reunites the original creative team – director Trevor Nunn, choreographer Gillian Lynne, designer John Napier – that should come as little surprise.

For those unfamiliar with the show, it was actually a feat of some daring. A through-sung, through-danced piece with no real narrative, save that taken from T.S.Eliot’s book of whimsical poetry, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. In essence, we meet the key characters of a tribe of cats who have gathered in a junkyard for a special night where one of them will be selected to be reborn into a new life in cat Heaven (or more accurately, be part of a rather dodgy bit of stagecraft, almost as naff as those cats' eyes at the beginning). 

Cast of Cats continued



Cast of Cats continued



Review: Pomona, Orange Tree Theatre

“This isn’t conversation. It’s just you telling me about your dick”

Paul
Miller’s reign at the Orange Tree looked to be an interesting one from the moment he announced his debut season as Artistic Director, mixing the classic revivals for which the Richmond venue has long been known with a more cutting edge approach to its new writing policy, inviting new directors too to open up the theatre to new eyes. But not even he can have anticipated the veritable Twitterstorm of good publicity that flew up among online reviewers when Alistair McDowell’s Pomona opened last month.
Unable to resist going along (and with the distinct possibility of being able to use the above gif not too far from my mind) I was able to fit it into the diary but not ‘til right at the end of the run. Which given how close we are to Christmas, how little free time I have and the level of weariness that has set in after overdoing just how much theatre I managed to see this year, means I’m going to limit myself to the briefest of comments about a play and a production, directed by Ned Bennett, that deserves more thorough thought and investigation.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Review: The Full Monty, Theatre Royal Brighton

“You've got knockers and we're after knobs”



Who knows why the West End run of The Full Monty lasted barely a month, I suspect the truth will never fully be known. But that was far from the end for the show, which is now midway through an extensive UK tour which does feel more like a natural home for Simon Beaufoy’s play – for me, jokes about knobs and knockers sit better on the seafront here than they ever would on Shaftesbury Avenue.


Which isn’t meant as a diss, just recognising the varying tastes of audiences and they were the key to my enjoyment of this evening – a carefree, whooping barrel of laughs coming left right and centre from a theatre full of people simply enjoying themselves. It’s a special thing to feel this sort of connection and I’m not sure if we get it that often in London theatres, or at least the ones I go to.

Cast of The Full Monty continued



Short Film Review #61

A wryly amusing look at the demands placed on one particular actor during an audition, Tom Edmunds’ Beard is lots of fun indeed – Tim Steed giving some great facial hair work and Oliver Chris and Katie Brayben adding quality as the auditioners.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

‘Sharon Rooney and the Henrys’ release their cover of Glasvegas’ ‘Daddy’s Gone’

“Right now I'm too young to know
How in the future it will affect me when you go”

One of the most striking moments in Phyllida Lloyd’s recent production of Henry IV for the Donmar Warehouse was Sharon Rooney’s extraordinary take on Lady Percy, skewering previous notions of the character to make her a vibrant and passionate equal to her husband. And as she bade him farewell, a lament struck up to the tune of Glasvegas’ ‘Daddy’s Gone’, capping off a performance provoked as much thought about Shakespearean gender roles as did the overall all-female casting.

It’s a really lovely tune in its own right but this rendition did feel like something special so it was great hear that it has been recorded under the name of Sharon Rooney and the Henrys and it is now available to download from iTunes here. Profits will benefit organisations that the company have been working closely with like Clean Break Theatre Company and Justice for Women, as well as the Donmar's outreach work to help women and girls find their voices, exemplified by the company performing Henry IV at the Mulberry School for Girls in Tower Hamlets next week.

It’s a cracking tune enlivened by Rooney's Glaswegian accent, it’s for a cracking set of causes and remember, you don’t want to be the lonely one sitting on your own and sad… Here’s the link again.



Review: The Sound of Music, Curve

“My heart should be wildly rejoicing”

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s undeniable classic of a score, Paul Kerryson’s outgoing musical production as Artistic Director, a shining light of the British musical theatre taking on an iconic leading role – the ingredients are certainly there for something magical to appear this Christmas in Leicester. But to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t help but feel just a little disappointed by this version of The Sound of Music, whilst recognising that it is perhaps a choice in terms of failsafe festive programming. 

Kerryson has been responsible for some brilliant reimaginings of West End stalwarts – most recently Chicago and Hairspray – but it is immediately apparent here that this is going to be as traditional as they come, even old-fashioned in its insistent reliance on flying cloths in Al Parkinson’s pastel-hued design. They undoubtedly have a spatial grandeur (the stained-glass reflections in the abbey in particular) but they also sap the pace of the production terribly as they’re wangled into place time and time again.

Cast of The Sound of Music continued



Review: Hopelessly Devoted To You, Roundhouse

“I’m gonna speak to them about getting you out of here”

Hotfooting it back from a Leicester matinée to make a 7.30pm start at the Roundhouse is not a journey I’ll be challenging myself with again in a hurry, but I was glad to have done it on this occasion as it meant I was able to catch the final performance of Kate Tempest’s Hopelessly Devoted For You as Paines Plough toured it for a third time in quick succession since its premiere in September last year. Tempest’s star has long been on the rise but a well-deserved Mercury Music Prize nomination for her album Everybody Down and a new volume of poetry Hold Your Own are capping off a remarkable year for her. 

Hopelessly Devoted… was born out of Tempest’s own experiences visiting Holloway Prison - Sheila Atim’s Chess and Demi Oyediran’s Serena are two young women who have forged an intense relationship through sharing a cell and lengthy sentences but change is on the horizon. Serena is up for parole and Chess’ musical talent is being nurtured in a singer/songwriter class run by Franc Ashman’s Silver, a woman fighting her own demons. They each have their own struggles – dealing with the outside world, a lack of self-confidence, drug addiction – but the redemption they’re all looking for is the same. 

Review: Dick Whittington, Lyric Hammersmith

“Are you fond of cake?
‘Definitely, I’m northern’”

How come there haven’t been any pantomime reviews on here this year?
I’m not going to go to any pantos this year.

Oh yes you are.
Oh no I’m not. Well, maybe one or two. This one is written by Tom Wells after all.

He’s behind you.
No he isn’t, he was sat in the stalls last night though and we were in the circle.

DICK!
Pardon me,

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Review: Off the Page – Microplays 4-6 from the Royal Court and the Guardian


“I believe in being open to all cultures” 

There’s something a little perversely ironic about Tim Price’s PPE being one of the more effective microplays (SHORT FILMS!) of the Royal Court and Guardian collaboration given how it is a wordless piece. Directed by Hamish Pirie with movement choreographed by the excellent Ann Yee, it plays off the trademark physical gestures that politicians have become known for using as an emollient to the relentlessly grim messages that they’ve had to deliver in recent years. David Annen, Cyril Nri and Eileen Walsh do a cracking job as leaders of different parties and just through physical expression, manage to hypnotise and hoodwink a whole host of supernumeraries standing in for the too-willing electorate. It’s not a world entirely without hope but it’s a powerful indictment of how much of contemporary politics is stagecraft that we just lap up. 

Chloë Moss’ Devil In The Detail focuses on the world of fashion, something that director Christopher Haydon laughingly admits to knowing little of but as a multi-million pound enterprise, there’s much more to it than just knowing which handbag is currently de rigueur. Moss picks up on the way that fashion can be used to bolster a person’s mood and self-belief – as Pippa Bennett-Warner and Vanessa Kirby’s characters get ready for award shows in the atelier of a hot designer – but also how the world of fashionistas can wield it as a vicious weapon as Lucy Ellinson’s killer stylist (such lipstick, so colour, many wow!) corrects the assumptions they’ve made, casually dishing out humiliation and obsequiousness which shatters the mood that playing dress-up had cultivated between the pair. 

Saturday afternoon Christmas music treats

Anna Kendrick – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas


Rebecca Caine, Gina Beck + Annalene Beechey – O Holy Night


Friday, 5 December 2014

Review: Wind in the Willows, Vaudeville

“Let my creatures rise again”

Adding to the diversity of festive offerings on the stage, The Wind in the Willows was the Royal Opera House’s first venture into the West End last December and now returns for a second year of adventuring through the riverbank, the Wild Wood and beyond. It might not be the instinctive choice for a Christmas show – a dance version of Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s novel - but it has a gently persuasive charm that ought to appeal to all ages. 

A wonderfully charismatic performance from Cris Penfold brings Toad to manic attention-seeking life - likewise Sonya Cullingford’s meek myopic Mole, Martin Harvey’s rakish rowing Ratty and Ira Mandela Siobhan’s bonny bright Badger – and through Will Tuckett’s expressive choreography and direction, their stories come to life. Solely through the medium of dance, all four offer a wonderful sense of character and camaraderie through their series of jocular japes and journeys.

Once the musical - new trailer released


"Cause this is what you've waited for"

It will have been hard to miss Ronan Keating making his West End debut in Once the Musical a couple of weeks back and garnering some pretty decent reviews in the process (as well as some made-up tabloid stories, a sure sign you've made it!). And now, you can get a little taster of his work in the newly released trailer below. Ronan Keating and Jill Winternitz are now leading the cast of this award-winning musical through to the end of its run on 21st March. Keep up to date with news, deals and other exciting tidbits on the show's Facebook and Twitter.



Thursday, 4 December 2014

Review: ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore, Sam Wanamaker

“I must speak or burst”

Short and sweet cos it is in the last week and I’m running out of time… the Globe’s production of John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore got the kind of publicity money can’t buy when TfL banned their posters for being overtly sexual (in a way that David Gandy’s underwear ads are apparently not) but it was sufficiently good a piece of theatre that one imagines it would most likely have sold out the candlelit atmosphere of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse regardless.

Michael Longhurst navigates the complex plot expertly to give us a clear-sighted view of what is going on but completely free from judgement, even as the goings-on are pretty scandalous. Annabella and Giovanni are fiercely in love, a passion that gets her pregnant – only small catch is that they are siblings with varying motivation. And the society around them that bubbles with hypocrisy and sexuality also has its complexity portrayed – there’s good and evil in us all, it’s just about what you can resist.

Women in Theatre - November 2014

The headline figures

% of women in the 35 shows seen in November

Actors: 50%
Writers: 34%
Directors: 34%
Designers: 60%
Light: 6%
Sound: 15%

Number of shows with 50% or more women in the cast - 17


Shows
With 50% or more women
Total Cast
Women
%
Writer
Director
Designer
Lighting
Sound
Jan
35
11
327
126
39%
29%
40%
29%
23%
13%
Feb
27
12
265
97
37%
50%
54%
55%
23%
5%
Mar
31
16
288
134
47%
35%
23%
38%
18%
14%
April
30
14
241
102
42%
17%
40%
52%
10%
17%
May
34
14
310
126
41%
21%
35%
22%
10%
10%
June
36
15
319
135
42%
39%
42%
49%
25%
18%
July
29
13
268
114
43%
34%
31%
32%
8%
26%
Aug
24
12
267
111
42%
29%
29%
29%
9%
21%
Sept
37
11
312
133
43%
38%
24%
28%
16%
23%
Oct
47
20
553
237
43%
26%
34%
38%
16%
16%
Nov
35
17
395
198
50%
34%
34%
60%
6%
15%