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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Review of the Year

.............an alternative view
Been doing this theatre blog since the summer of 2011. 15,700 hits to date, so some pernickety folks read it. Since giving out my much prized inaugural gongs (3/6d on eBay) in July 2012 I have seen about twenty five more theatrical offerings. Doesn’t sound an awful lot but, for this creaking gate, it is living life in the bacchanalian fast lane. Whilst many folks whizz around the world seeking adventure, I curl up and read my Racing Post. Welwyn and Hatfield is the nearest I get to dangerous outer reaches. Doesn’t do to be too brave. Except when giving your theatrical opinion. Now that is really foolhardy.
ACT’s Still Life snaffled my first dubious plaudit last year, don’t think they sent it back, so I thought it was about time I had a second go. More fruitful than peeling turkeys or stuffing sprouts, so I am told. Besides, practically everyone, with the possible exception of knitting pattern compilers, does a review of their particular year. So why not me? Except, quirky sod that I am, mine is a year and a bit. Brings me up to date. August 2012 – December 2013. Buy three for the price of two or, almost, buy one opinion and get one free. Bogof as some would justifiably say. I think I will but, before I do, read the following. You won’t learn anything but you might have a bit of fun disagreeing with me. Or failing that, go and stuff some brussels.

Didn’t see everything on offer, can’t stand visiting Luton’s Library Theatre these days, so my list is pretty selective. But I did take in 11 of the 12 offerings by Dunstable Rep and Wheathampstead Dramatic Society, only missed Little Voice, so few excuses there. A dozen or so others, from Welwyn to Hitchin, from Eaton Bray to Sidmouth, were also scooped into my arbitrary net. Any miffed locals, steaming at omission of their faultless offering, have a ready excuse. I didn’t see it. My New Year Resolution should be to widen my net to take in Hitchin (Bancroft Players), St Albans (Company of Ten) and Welwyn (Barn). But I don’t do New Year Resolutions. Resolved not to, long ago. I broke everyone I ever made, including lighting up three minutes after I vowed to quit smoking. I have no backbone. Never have. But I do have an amazingly bloody cheek. Here it is, in chronological disorder. My best of my elongated reviewing year:-

And Then There Were None (Dunstable Rep – October 2012)

Calendar Girls (Wheathampstead – February 2013)

Children’s Hour (Dunstable Rep – May 2013)

Into The Woods (St Andrews – May 2013)

Spring Awakening (Icarus Theatre Company – May 2013)

Hay Fever (Hitchin Queen Mother – June 2013)

Twelfth Night (ACT Theatre – July 2013)

Some others scored notable individual performances (see below) but the above productions, for me, had that extra collective grip which creates a completely satisfying evening of theatre. If I have to single out any, why not, I will give my joint 3/6d eBay gong to And Then There Were None (Director-Alistair Brown) and Hay Fever (Director-Nicki Pope) for productions which were virtually faultless. I am sure they will live it down.

As a large chunk of the actors on the above list impressed, I am going to get picky in the interest of brevity. No gongs here, aint fair, just a few from the above plus special mention for other thespians who stood out in the memory, and still do, from productions lower down my pleasurable scale. A lot of women figure which says a lot about my age. Or my tablets. Here goes, whether you want it or not.

Irene Morris (Helen – Wheathampstead)

Peter Carter Brown (Hamlet – Dunstable Rep)

Barbara Suggitt (Calendar Girls – Wheathampstead)

Mandy Lindsay (Steel Magnolias – Eaton Bray)

Angela Goss (Female of the Species – Dunstable Rep)

Anna Carter-Brown (Children’s Hour – Dunstable Rep)

Jenny Ryder-Oliver (Into the Woods – St Andrews)

Becky Leonard (Hay Fever – Hitchin)

Malcolm Farrar(Twelfth Night – ACT)

Sarah Brindley (Educating Rita – Wheathampstead)

Honourable mentions should also go to Stephanie Overington (Hamlet), Kim Allbone, Rona Cracknell, Victoria Moyle (Children’s Hour), Emma Orr (Into the Woods), Natalie Gordon, Laura Eason, Paul Wade, Charles Plester (Hay Fever), Adam Lloyd Jones, James Trapp, Miranda Larson (Twelfth Night).

So that is it for 2013 folks. Been a busy year. Apart from blogging I have trod the boards (Wilde’s An Ideal Husband) and waved the director’s baton (Ayckbourn’s Table Manners). I was of course brilliant in both roles. Not that you will read that here. Far too modest.

Happy New Year.

Roy Hall














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