There are some months were my cultural satisfaction has been so low (mainly because I’ve failed to get out of the house or wrestle the remote from mini me, so as a result watched Hi-5 on Netflix on a loop) that I’ve scrabbled around for things to include in my top three. Not so this month where I’ve struggled with how to pick just three. Then I decided: hell I make the rules so I can break ’em. So this month it’s my top four as opposed to top three cultural highlights.
Firstly Dickie Beau’s Re-member Me at the Almeida, directed by Jan-willem van den Bosch. Dickie is an incredible award-winning performer who has been described as an “actor, physical performer and intrepid drag fabulist. He is a postmodern cultural pickpocket, maverick theatre-maker and twisted video star; looting a range of performance traditions, from “low culture” to “high art”, in the creation of distinctive performance experiences.” In this piece he has interviewed many great actors and directors including Ian McKellan and Richard Eyre about the role of Hamlet. He lip-syncs to these interviews and transforms. There are many other exciting visual elements that come into play too and what’s so beautiful is that the journey we the audience take is probably the same as Dickie did in making this show: it starts as being about Hamlet but very gradually it becomes about Ian Charleston whose performance as the Dane stands out in all the interviewees minds. Re-member Me only played for a few nights at the Almeida and I really really hope it gets the further life it so deserved. If it comes back I’ll definitely go and see it again – it was powerful and a whole lot of fun.
Then I saw Guards at the Taj the Bush’s reopening show. What a flag in the sand and what a piece of pure theatre… two men on stage telling a very simple story about humanity and responsibility. A historical piece set in another time and place but so clearly relevant to today asking the question ‘Where do we draw the line?’ The writing gripped, the performances were engrossing and the direction smooth and unobtrusive. If this is a statement of what’s to come in the new Bush I’m very excited.
And yet more theatre comes next (a wonderfully theatrey month) The Velveteen Rabbit at the Unicorn directed by Purni Morell and with Ashley Byam, Jason Carr, David Ganly & Christian Roe. I went for my daughter and loved it as much as she did. The beautiful children’s book is theatrically, imaginatively brought to life. The rabbit is played by a man without a bunny costume – no ears even, he just very simply runs his hands along his imaginary ears at the start and that’s enough. We know what he is – we believe what he is. More gorgeous performances and pure theatricality to brighten my day. And mini me adored the fact an actual real rabbit came on stage at the end. Magical.
And for my bonus number four you guessed it – more theatre! This time north of the border in Scotland. I went to see Girl In The Machine by the brilliant Steph Smith at the Traverse, directed by Orla O’Loughlin. A dark futuristic warning with Black Mirror undertones it’s another example of two actors, one writer and one director (along with an amazing creative team) being able to engross and provoke an audience.
My faith in theatre restored I head into May with lots of exciting things planned including Jez Butterworth’s Ferryman at the Royal Court a trip to Paris for some French theatre and back to Scotland for Glory on Earth at the Lyceum. I’m rubbing my hands in glee – lucky me.