Friday, December 31, 2010

Review of the Year - 2010

We managed to see over 50 shows in 2010 – a bit of a drop from the last couple of years. While that may reflect that there were fewer shows that grabbed our attention, it’s also due to the fact that we had fewer available evenings this year. Time constraints also curtailed my trips to “A Play, A Pie & A Pint” at Oran Mor and we really struggled to find much to interest us at this year's Edinburgh Fringe. Even so, we were unable to fit in a number of shows we had been really keen to see this year such as Grid Iron’s “Spring Awakening”, DC Jackson’s “My Romantic History” and the NTS’ “Beautiful Burnout”. Of course, that still leaves us with a lot of great theatre that we did get to see…

Back in March the Citizens production of “Backbeat” left me with the feeling that it didn’t quite manage to gel its separate elements, but ten months later it remains one of the most striking shows I saw – full of visual style and featuring some excellent performances – particularly from Isabella Calthorpe. The Citz also gave us their brilliantly entertaining “One Million Tiny Plays About Britain” with its energetic cast, and their Community Company’s harrowing “The Grapes of Wrath”. It was also at the Citz that we caught the ingenious and delightful "The Event".

The National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Douglas Maxwell’s “The Miracle Man” formed part of their ‘tfd’ season aimed at teenage audiences and was a wonderful piece of theatre for those of any age - a perfect balance between hilarity and heart-wrenching moments.

I was particularly disappointed not to see more of the Tron’s Mayfesto season of ‘political’ theatre as the one show I managed to see – “Address Unknown“ provoked a surprisingly powerful personal response and featured fantastic performances from James MacPherson and Benny Young. In a much less serious moment, but still packing an emotional punch, the Tron’s outrageous production of “Valhalla!” left us laughing all the way home.

The Tron were also involved in what was unquestionably the best piece of theatre we saw in 2010. It’s had plenty of plaudits in places much more significant than our little blog, but we need to add our own recognition of what “Roadkill” achieved. Written with restraint by Stef Smith, creatively directed by Cora Bissett and performed by a wonderful cast it was a flawless piece of theatre that took audience ‘engagement’ to a level I didn’t think existed.

John Kazek’s performance in Roadkill was the finest we encountered this year – transforming chameleon-like from vicious pimp through concerned policeman to a loving African father. Marianne Oldham’s quirky portrayal of “The Girl in the Yellow Dress” at the Citz also made a big impression, while Richard Magowan showed the impact a genuine stage presence can have as Sky Masterson in Theatre Guild Glasgow’s “Guys and Dolls”. Another performance that really impressed us was Joanna Tope in "Promises Promises" and we were completely won over by Janette 'Krankie' in "Aladdin".

Thanks to all those involved in the shows we've seen this year, and also to all of you who have shared your thoughts here. We'll be back in a week or two with our plans for the first half of 2011.