Monday, 2 November 2009

Best of 2009 Thus Far

Here are the best of the new plays I have seen in London in the past year. Many comment on contemporary issues in challenging ways -- they make one think and question. At this stage in my life, I am far more interested in new work than more revivals of plays I have seen many times before.

1. THE GREAT GAME: AFGHANISTAN (Tricycle Theatre). Fourteen one-act plays on the history, politics and people of this country in three three-hour segments which one could see in a day. One of the best theatrical experiences in recent memory. Excellent ensemble cast performed all the plays.
2. ENRON. Lucy Prebble's almost Shakespearean drama of the rise and fall of this corporation and its leaders in a perfect production by Rupert Goold. Five star performances from Samuel West and Tim Pigott-Smith. Why isn't this playing in the US? Saw it at the Chichester Theatre festival. Now at the Royal Court (the run is sold out) and soon to be on the West End.
3. WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING. Andrew Bovell's poetic drama of love and forgiveness. Almeida Theatre. Soon to be in New York.
4. JERUSALEM by Jez Butterworth. What has happened to mythical Olde England and Shakespeare's green world. The 21st century Falstaff is a drunken, drug-addled lover to teenage girls, but also a rebel against conformity and mediocrity and perhaps possessing magical powers. Funny and sad simultaneously. I'm not always a fan of Mark Rylance but he's brilliant in htis one. Royal Court. Will transfer to the West End in January.
5. PORNOGRAPHY by Simon Stephens. A series of monologues on the days leading up to the July 5 bombings in London. Far more arresting than it sounds. Stephens is one of my favorite contemporary playwrights. He's fascinated with the anger and violent impulses behind the surface of ordinary citizens. Tricycle Theatre.
6. TUSK TUSK by Polly Stenham. A scary, touching picture of feral children trying to hold together in the absence of parents. Amazing cast of young actors. Royal Court.
7. THE PRIDE by Alexi Kaye Campbell. Three actors playing characters from the 1950s and the present. In the past a doomed affair between an artist and a terrified married man. At the center is the man's wife who is betrayed by both husband and gay friend. In the present, on Gay Pride, a sex addict grows up. Royal Court.

BEST REVIVALS -- in no particular order
TIME AND THE CONWAYS by J.B. Priestley in a production by Rupert Goold at the National.
THE WINSLOW BOY by Terrence Rattigan at the Rose Theatre, Kingston. A lesson in how to craft a play.
SONG AT TWILIGHT by Noel Coward at the richmond Theatre. Coward's last play and one of his few candid treatmment's of homosexuality.
AS YOU LIKE IT at Shakespeare's Globe. Perfect production.

No comments:

Post a Comment