“I could have been a contender”: the year’s theatrical achievements the Oliviers overlooked

Hattie Morahan and Pip Carter in The Dark Earth and the Light Sky. Photo Alastair Muir

Hattie Morahan and Pip Carter in The Dark Earth and the Light Sky. Photo Alastair Muir

Awards, especially the announcement of the nominees, follow a familiar pattern: anticipation and excitement followed by incredulity. It’s a well known fact that, despite being irresistible and so much fun, awards always get it wrong. Having said that, this year’s Olivier nominations got almost everything right: there is little I would object to, at least not with any conviction. Tomorrow’s award ceremony would be unique in that respect, I can route for almost everybody.

But inevitably, with the quality of London theatre, many productions missed out. Following the rule of the Kermodes (no one nominated for an Olivier is eligible), here are my awards for the past theatrical year. With an additional category or two. Because they are my awards and I can do what I like.

Best Actor: Pip Carter is an actor of minimalistic explosiveness, often doing very little and usually stealing every scene he is in. Taking the lead in Nick Dear’s The Dark Earth and The Light Sky, he brought poet Ed Thomas to life in a performance of reticent vivid pulsating desperation. He made it look easy, too easy in fact, hence the absence of award recognition. Runner Up: I had to think long and hard about this one and John Heffernan missed by a whisker: three plays (She Stoops to Conquer, Love and Information and The Physicists), an impressive range and a light touch that brings depth and humanity to all his roles mark him out as an exceptional talent. Edward II at the National next. After that, the sky is the limit. Continue reading

Casting news: David Tennant in Richard II, Paul Ritter in The Audience and more

David Tennant as Hamlet. 2008. Photo Ellie Kurttz

Let’s take a moment to savour this: David Tennant as Richard II directed by Greg Doran. There have been rumours for a while but lately the discussion has been louder and it seems it will happen: David Tennant will play Richard II at the Royal Shakespeare Company some time in late 2013 or early 2014, under the direction of Greg Doran in the new artistic director’s first season. David Tennant is in no small part responsible for my theatre obsession the last few years and my excitement for this news is unfettered. I will be clearly spending the next eighteen months dreaming of the Deposition Scene and who will play Bolingbroke. Chiwetel Ejiofor is my choice. It’s perfect and it needs to happen. Continue reading

Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the National Theatre

Paul Ritter (Ed Boone) and Luke Treadway (Christopher Boone). Photo Manuel Harlan

The National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is directed by Marianne Elliott, adapted by Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s best selling, much loved book. Clearly much of the praise that will follow (and there will be lots of it) belongs to them. But also I wanted to get their names out of the way, because, as with the best productions, plays and stories, I don’t want to talk about writers and directors. I want to talk about the story itself and the world it has created.

It is often said that The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a story through the eyes of Christopher, a teenager who has Asperger’s syndrome. The play is not so much the world through his eyes but his world: a tangible, emotional, supremely interesting world, with many things still beyond his experience. This world is so richly realised that we, the audience, don’t want to leave it behind: the consensus among my friends was we didn’t want the play to end. Continue reading