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.

Kadhim Shubber Markov Text Generator

Well, it’s Christmas so I’m taking on stupid self invented programming projects, much like last year with Selenabot. This year I’ve decided I’m going to create a Markov Text generator that recreates the work of a Young Kadhim Shubber (YKS).

I’ve decided to scrape all Kadhim’s work on Felix that’s available in non-PDF form (for now… if this becomes very easy perhaps I’ll try and automate PDF reading so we can even get his frozen hot-takes on world politics from 2008).

First order of the day is making a markov text parser and generator that work in python3. I forked an old python2 code I found on github into Markov_text3, which is a python3 module for generating Markov chains of text from a given source (saved as a .txt file).

Now we have Markov_text3, I need to get the source material. Having a quick look at Kadhim’s page on Felix (http://felixonline.co.uk/authors/ks607/) he has around 140 articles online, although not all of them published under his name are written by him (he used to be editor and thus I guess uploaded other people’s stuff). It appears to be material from pages 6 & 7 (his later work) so I’ll scrape that material manually.

Mid-Jan Update: I got busy over the xmas holidays and this project fell by the wayside, the main problem was that I have completely forgotten how to use Beautiful Soup properly and thus couldn’t easily get a list of all the articles that Kadhim had written. This was stupid because I managed to get a Markov Generating script going quite nicely.

 

Theatre of 2017

Don’t want to forget all the theatre I’ve seen this year so I’m going to list it all with a brief description/review, in reverse chronological order.

  • Belleville |Donmar|It was good right up to denouement, which was uninspired and disappointing.
  • The Lady In The Sea|Donmar| Booked shortly after seeing Knives in Hens, really enjoyed it. Straightforward plot but in a good way and the staging was great.
  • Knives In Hens | Donmar | Yael Farber | Really good, first time at the Donmar which I really liked too. 90 minutes no interval was refreshing after last two plays. Two incredibly attractive male leads. Kinda weird sex dream scene involving a bag of flower, but like, it worked.
  • Cat on A Hot Tin Roof | Apollo | Sienna Miller and Jack O’ Connell | Like, okaaaay maybe above average but the second half was so damn long. Set design was cool.
  • The Ferryman | Gielgud | Jez Butterworth, Paddy Considine, Sam Mendes | Probably best thing this year. The scene with Auntie Faraway maybe a bit self-indulgently long by 20 minutes but whatever it’s a Greek myth retold as part of The Troubles. I reckon Top Three Things I’ve seen.
  • Woyzeck | Old Vic | John Boyega | Absolutley guttingly, John Boyega (whose name & face took up most of the poster) was ill, so we got the understudy. Who tbh was great. Play was good, plot was a bit straight-forward. Staging with the weird meat walls (seriously) was excellent.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead | The Old Vic | Daniel Radcliffe | I enjoyed it, I’d never seen Stoppard before. Got the cheap seats at the Old Vic which meant that I had to pretty much imagine what was happening on stage but the tiny sliver of action I saw was great, Daniel Radcliffe was too.
  • Salome | The National | Yael Farber | Didn’t help that I saw this on the hottest day of the heatwave but Fuck me I literally fell asleep, “hey you know what will make this play great? Extensive scenes exclusively in Aramaic” said no one ever.
  • Twelfth Night | The National | Tamsin Grieg | I liked this, but I have fond memories of Twelfth night which stem exclusively to a specific year 9 English lesson with Mrs Birkett where Toby Jackman and I had to act out the “Some Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them” scene where Toby, as Malvolio, overacted so dramatically I cried laughing and we got told off. To be honest, was a very run-of-the mill Shakespeare semi-modernisation which resulted in some weird anachronisms. Tamsin Grieg was excellent though.
  • Hedda Gabler | The National | Ruth Wilson| Really excellent. Most effective use of tomato juice as a prop in living memory.