Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Winter Marathon 2011 Roundup

Right, so we've managed to make it to the end of what was a very exciting week for us at Tipsy Hippo HQ. We've seen a total of six shows this week and have loved traipsing around London in the cold and blustering beginnings of winter to make them all.

In case you missed any of our reviews, we saw Matilda (*****), Through the Night (**), Audience (***), Haunted Child (***), The Pitmen Painters (****) and Noises Off (*****). We thought that it would be a good final roundup to take a look back at the highs and the lows of the week and mention a few things that we felt were perhaps a wee bit out of place in the reviews themselves. It's only a short piece but a nice way to sign off nonetheless. 

There have been a number of highlights during the week, sandwiched between two outstanding five-star shows. 'Matilda' was simply outstanding and the song 'Naughty' has become something of an anthem over the last week. If anything is to be taken from this, it's that Bertie Carvel shouldn't be allowed to be as talented and funny as he is and that Tim Minchin should write more for musicals. Some of the lines in 'The Smell of Rebellion' had a distinctly Sondheim quality about them and were very intelligent indeed. And catchy. So damn catchy...

One criticism that can be levelled is at the Cambridge Theatre in itself and primarily at the front of house staff. It was something that annoyed us on the day and became a regular irritant throughout the week. Making sure everyone is seated when the action on stage begins is one of the principal duties of the ushers. After the interval for 'Matilda', however, there were stragglers coming in as late as ten minutes into the action and those of us seated near the back missed a substantial amount of what we can only assume was very funny stuff because of silhouettes walking across in front of us like a pirated DVD of an awful film. Not that we've ever seen a pirated DVD, of course. 

The ushers at the Finborough on the following night were also disorganised, calling us to enter the theatre from the bar while someone at the entrance to the theatre was telling us we could wait downstairs for the doors to open. This lasted a good five minutes before we were actually let in and wasn't an auspicious beginning. Though the Old Vic were as good as usual and one man in the Duchess ticket booth was particularly kind, I don't know what took the Duchess staff so long to start the show but it took what felt like ten minutes from when they closed the curtains around the doors to actually start the show. Perhaps this is something that needs to be worked on throughout the West End. Tidy up the front of house logistics and make sure you're efficient and prompt.

It's certainly not all doom and gloom, however. There were far more good things than bad and after seeing 'Audience' I can promise you that no trip to the theatre will be quite the same again. There will always be a sideways glance at the other audience members to see what they're up to and to try and discern their thoughts and character from their appearance. They've certainly succeeded in giving theatre an entire dimension that was missing before. At any show, whatever it is, the audience will now also be a show in themselves to those willing to look and see what they can find. Though, having said that, it's probably not a good sign if the show on stage is driving you to these lengths. Maybe something for the interval, then.

If there is anything this week has shown us it is that there is a wide variety and seemingly endless wealth of talent and joy to be found in the London theatre scene at the moment. Looking back over the last year and a half, we are prompted to agree that this isn't a new thing, either, and that the future is bright as well. There are so many reasons to go to the theatre in the coming months that it would be futile to try and list them all but they are all good and positive.

We enjoyed the marathon so much that we've already baked up the idea for another serving of marathon madness so in a few months when the weather once more turns its favours around and we can look forward to some sun on the horizon we'll be planning to bring another week of jolly jaunting to London's theatre highlights. We hope to see you then! Remember to keep following our weekly updates and, since the New Year is almost upon us, be ready for our annual Tipsy Hippo Theatre Awards that will be coming out first thing in January, giving a rousing round-up of everything we've seen this year!



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