Monday, 7 October 2013

What angel wakes me from my flowery bed? Noel Coward Theatre : LOCAL LOVES

Eeek! On Friday I spent another brilliant night at the theatre. I've been excited about this one for well over a year now...
A Midsummer Night's Dream starring Sheridan Smith and David Walliams!

Not only is it probably one of my fave Shakespeares but check out that casting! David plays Bottom, a part I'm guessing he's been wanting to play for many years, and Sheridan plays Titania, queen of the fairies. The show is part of the now legendary Michael Grandage Season, at the Noel Coward Theatre in London's West End.

Michael was the artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse for ten years and is a true theatre gem. I was lucky enough to be at his final night at the Donmar - his closing show was Richard II starring Les Mis hunk Eddie Redmayne. It was a cracking play and the after party wasn't too bad either!

Now, a few months after gracefully bowing out of the Donmar Michael announced a season of five plays at the Noel Coward and these were...

Privates on Parade starring Simon Russell Beale. Simon was then in a show I worked on a few months later - The Hothouse. It was part of the hugely successful Trafalgar Transformed season, with renowned director Jamie Lloyd, and Simon was just lovely.

Peter and Alice starring Dame Judi Dench and Ben Wishaw. It was an absolute honour to see them on stage together and I'm luckily getting the chance to work on Ben's next show which is Mojo at the Harold Pinter Theatre, which also stars Rupert Grint, Brendan Coyle and Daniel Mays. I'm trying my best not to go all major fan girl on this one. But oh-em-gee it's going to be fantastic.

The Cripple of Inishmaan starring Daniel Radcliffe - yep, Harry Potter! I didn't get to see this one unfortunately but the reviews were pretty damn good and Daniel was mobbed at stage door every night.

Now it's the turn of A Midsummer Night's Dream. BRILLIANT.

I went with Catriona, who you've come across before (mega babe, old school glam) because she is a genius and booked a pair of £10 tickets to each show of the season. See - high quality West End theatre - cheap and accessible! I told you it was possible :) We popped to Notes down the road for a quick glass of bubbly and a mezze platter before the show - it's a really lovely little restaurant. By day it's a coffee shop, by night it's a wine lover's dream.

We then poured into the theatre with the rest of the excited audience and took our seats for, at a run time of two hours and fifteen minutes, a pretty pacey Shakespeare.

I loved the set - a dilapidated stately home, with a crumbling back wall revealing an almighty and ever-present moon. Take a look at that bad boy!

Now, what I particularly like about this production is Michael's nurturing of young and new talent - and this is something that he is becoming very well known for. Stefano Braschi, who plays Demetrius, was in Richard II at the Donmar and, more recently, Peter and Alice. Another great thing about Stefano is that he also has a cracking pair of legs which caused half of the audience to swoon as he ran around the stage after Helena wearing just his pants. Quentin Letts (the theatre critic for the Daily Mail) put it quite wonderfully -  "Lysander and Demetrius have the looks and limbs of Calvin Klein underpant models. They duly strip to their smalls." The rest of Quentin's five star review is here.

Other notable newbies are Stefan Adegbola and Alex Large who both only graduated from Guildhall School of Music and Drama this summer - imagine working with such theatre greats so soon after flying the nest of drama school!

So what does this London Luvvie recommend?

- Follow theatre seasons. It's great to see a group of works put together by one director - it gives you a sense of their style, artistry and agenda.

- Again - make use of theatre deals! Over 100,000 tickets were sold for £10 to the Michael Grandage and all seats on Mondays at the Trafalgar Transformed Season are £15. I personally prefer the Trafalgar method - all of the £10 Michael Grandage tickets were released in one go when the season went on sale so were pretty tough to get your hands on, whereas the Trafalgar Mondays only go on sale at the start of each month so you've always got another chance to get a deal.