Theatre of 2018

Following on from my wildly successful Theatre of 2017 post, here is my Theatre of 2018 review.

Fun Home | Young Vic | Alison Bechdel | Holy shit I cried and cried and cried and cried and cried. Strong contender for best thing I’m going to see in 2018. The way they do the scene where you see Alison’s house from an outsiders perspective was a phenomenal trick of theatre. All the solo pieces were incredible. Am probably going to start crying again if I think too much about it to write the review

Heathers the Musical | The Other Palace | Okay so it gutted the darkness of the film by basically retelling Mean Girls but with camp violence, but the songs were good and The Other Palace is a great theatre

Machinal | Natalie Abrahami | Almedia | This was advertised by the theatre as “if you liked the writer, you’ll like this”. I liked this much less than The Writer. Really incredible staging but their whole “these are timeless issues that women face” metaphor by changing the era of each scene made it hard to get a grip on the characters.

The Book of Mormon | Generic Massive West End Theatre | Silly, quite funny satire on white Saviour narratives. Was humming the songs for days.

The Writer | Blanche McIntyre | Almedia | Simply brilliant.  Some of the experimental stuff was a bit… Experimental but whatever, was amazing. Would watch again and again.

Summer and Smoke | Tennessee Williams | Almeida Theatre | Really, really great. Enjoyed this much more than last year’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Completely minimal staging, entire backdrop consited of 6 opened upright pianos which were also used for great effect audibly. Got year off to a great start.

Julius Ceaser | Shakespeare |The Bridge Theatre | We got standing tickets to this super cool production in-the-round. Really exciting, probably best Shakespeare production I’ve ever seen.

I, Tonya & Lady Bird

Last week I saw I, Tonya and Lady Bird at the Walthamstow Empire, which is fast becoming one of my favourite cinemas.

   

Both Oscar nominated (with ITonya deservedly winning”Best Actress in a Supporting Role”) both films build their stories around the relationship between a working class young American woman and her mother, and the young woman struggling to fit into an elite world. One of them also involves a lot of ice skating.

I, Tonya‘s skittish pace and editing meant it felt shorter despite being nearly half an hour longer. Its opening disclaimer – that it was based on a true story, but one we don’t really know the truth about – efficiently set up the mood for the compelling 2 hour journey into Tonya Harding’s career. I felt slightly uncomfortable that perhaps the class snobbery and domestic violence – oppressively strong themes throughout the film – were being played for entertainment however ultimately I felt that I, Tonya is an unashamedly entertaining film that features domestic violence and classism, and trusts the audience enough to let them understand that. After watching the film, I immediately devoured the New York Times interview with Harding and recommended you do too.

Lady Bird was a deeply hilarious and affecting comedy about growing up. The film opens with mother and daughter listening to the closing lines of Grapes of Wrath, foreshadowing the films two major themes: A poor woman giving everything she has to care for other people, and a portrait of California outside the common LA/San Francisco stereotypes. The poignancy of Marion and “Lady Bird”‘s shared moment of emotion at the end of the Steinbeck audio book quickly gives way as a fight over not-a-lot breaks out between the two of them, resulting in a comedically juvenile car bailing that results in Lady Bird wearing a bright pink cast for the rest of act one. Lady Bird derives most of its emotion and almost all of it’s comedy from this excellent distillation of the teenage tendency to break into childish fights at the drop of a hat. Saoirse Ronan performance was physically and emotionally brilliant and practically every joke and emotional trap laid in the script worked perfectly. Timothée Chalamet’s pretentious douchebag teen boy was a particuarly cringe inducing mirror on myself at that age (although I wish I was that cool).

The fact that neither of these films won more/higher prestige Oscars mean I really need to see The Shape of Water and 3 Billboards ASAP.