This is Tim Crouch’s retelling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night through the eyes of the
blighted and picked-upon puritan, Malvolio. It’s the fourth time Crouch has written such an adaptation, which he hopes will “unlock Shakespeare for young audiences”.
Determining a Top 10 has become increasingly troublesome what with the amount of work reviewed by guest critics and the even larger amount that we get invited to but aren’t able to see. So, rather than a more traditional ‘best-of’ list, here’s a totally subjective list of a few of my favourite things – in no particular order – from theatre and performance in 2019.
I’m greeted exuberantly by one of the actors, who are mid-yoga warmup when I arrive. Though I try my best to quietly enter their rehearsal space, I’m flustered by a series of train and tube delays that mean I arrived nearly half an hour after I intended and it’s impossible for me to not be noticed. I self-consciously wave, smile, and settle into the chair that’s closest to the door. There are musical instruments, costume, sound equipment and lots of ‘stuff’ everywhere in their Tooting rehearsal room overlooking a school’s playground. And indeed, glitter.
The Paines Plough Roundabout is the most reliable, new writing venues at the fringe. With a collection of work that represents the width and breadth of the UK both geographically and thematically, this year’s offerings are universally strong. From a family musical to a one-man show about a stalker, and everything in between, there is a great selection of shows for audiences looking for new work in a great venue that tours around Britain.
Over the August bank holiday weekend, people of West Indian heritage have been celebrating their history and culture in the face of racial oppression since the 1960s. Bright colours, elaborate costumes, loud music, dancing, and lashings of rum mark the Carnival that’s now one of the largest in the world. In her female-led, debut play taking place over a day at Notting Hill Carnival, Yasmin Joseph pays homage to the people, young and old, that make up the event’s vibrant landscape and give it its soul.
There’s an annoying trend among artists to draw explicit parallels between historical texts and the present day, tossing around words like ‘prescient’ and ‘timely’, and finding hints of Brexit in Arthur Miller plays like religious fanatics spotting the face of Jesus on toast. That’s not to say, however, that we can’t find broad reflections of our world in old stories: people are still people, just as interesting, lovely, and ugly as they ever have been.
Changez and an American tourist sit in a cafe having a cup of tea at the best cafe in Lahore. As they wait for their drinks, Changez narrates the story of his life in America as an Economics student at Princeton University and an analyst at one of the top consultancies in New York City. As a young man, he had the world at his feet. His world is very different now.
Ramps to the Moon’s Our Country’s Good delivers a production that seamlessly integrates actors with and without disabilities to produce excellent all round performances. Originally written by Timberlake Wertenbaker in 1988, it tells the extraordinary true story of a group of convicts in Australia, who in 1797 with the help of an officer, rehearse and perform a play despite the odds being stacked against them due to strong opposition from the other officers at the settlement.
A newborn lamb lies on the ground. It’s dead. It’s mother will soon follow, but there are others that are still alive or yet to be born, and they need help. Bec and Anna fight for the survival of these tiny creatures as if their lives depend on it.