After all that sherry and stir fried turkey, you can now read my theatre picks of 2015, a belated Christmas gift. The four productions I have chosen, are brand new works performed in London in 2015, that made a big impact on myself. I would also love to hear your thoughts, on what really captured your imagination this year.
This new musical was the headliner of the From Page to Stage Season of New Musical Theatre, at Tristan Bates Theatre this autumn, produced by Aria Entertainment. It shone like a beacon for many reasons. The Stationmaster is written by Susannah Pearse with music and lyrics by Tim Connor, this is a duo I would very much like to see in the future as the combination was electrifying. With a wonderfully fast pace direction from Bronagh Lagan, this fifties era piece of how a well ordered life can crumble around you in the blink of an eye, was engaging and fresh. It’s two leads, Nigel Richards as The Station Master and Emily Bull as his downfall Anna, were exquisite. With a supporting cast brimming with strong performances, this was a must-see.
The White Feather
Sometimes you watch a production that defines a genre, in fact you could say redefines a genre. The White Feather Musical at Union Theatre by Ross Clark and Andrew Keates absolutely astounded, it touched and it certainly achieved something great. A musical that manages to capture the sense of grief and despair of the Great War, not to mention the effects of PTSD, is something I have never witnessed before and was a privelige to be in the audience. Abigail Matthews as Georgina, the determined and spirited sister of a young man Harry, whose life is ruined by World War I and fights for justice to clear his good name, is spellbinding. Andrew Keates direction, paired with a sumptuous score that includes the haunting ‘Set Them In Stone’ is a result that is pure magic. Katie Brennan, one of the finest actresses in London right now, is pure joy as Georgina’s best friend Edith and a special mention to Adam Pettigrew’s wonderfully subtle performance as the mentally tortured Harry.
And Then Come The Nightjars
Topical and affecting are two words that don’t always come to together in equal partnership, Bea Robert’s play And Then Come The Nightjars at Theatre503 managed this exceptionally. Describing the pain of one farmers life being destroyed by the 2001 foot and mouth crisis and his friendship with a powerless vet, this two hander was exceptional. Paul Robinson captured the intimacy of the two men perfectly, with his sensitive direction. David Fielder as Michael the plain speaking farmer, was deservedly nominated for an Offie and Nigel Hastings as the aimable Jeff were brilliant casting, with some genuinely humorous moments, as well as heartwrenching ones. With an authentic set design, the audience were transported to a barn full of enchanting moments in the West Country, thanks to Max Dorey.
The State vs John Hayes
In one word..Outstanding. This one woman play at King’s Head Theatre, written as well as performed by Lucy Roslyn and directed by Jemma Gross and produced by Epsilon Productions, was one of the best I have ever had the pleasure to watch. A set of just a bed in a prison cell was all that was needed, as Lucy Roslyn gives that performance as Elyese Dukie, a double murderer riddled by sexual oppression and deep rooted childhood issues. The State vs John Hayes shows an often unrepentant American killer, but also a fragile and complex human being. Roslyn and Gross have certainly created a masterpiece, I look forward to seeing what Epsilon Productions do next in in 2016.