Winners of the 2019 Black British Theatre Awards

An important addition to the theatre award calendar, the winners of the inaugural Black British Theatre Awards can be found below

Creatives Group

BEST DIRECTOR FOR A PLAY OR MUSICAL
WINNER – Lynette Linton; Sweat: Gielgud Theatre
Roy Alexander Weise; Nine Night: National Theatre
Nancy Medina; The Half God of Rainfall: Kiln Theatre

BEST PRODUCER
WINNER – Tobi Kyeremateng; Babylon Festival: Bush Theatre

BEST CHOREOGRAPHER 
SPONSORED BY HARLEQUIN FLOORS
Rachael Nanayonjo; Sleeping Beauty: Theatre Royal Stratford East
Alesandra Seutin; Boy Breaking Glass: Sadlers Wells
WINNER – Shelley Maxwell; Equus: Theatre Royal Stratford East Continue reading “Winners of the 2019 Black British Theatre Awards”

Full list of 2019 UK Theatre Awards winners

The UK Theatre Awards are the only nationwide Awards to honour and celebrate outstanding achievements in regional theatre throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. And looking at this list of winners, it was a great day for Sheffield Theatres!

Best New Play
WINNER LIFE OF PI adapted by Lolita Chakrabarti from the novel by Yann Martel – a Sheffield Theatres production
THE WATSONS by Laura Wade – a Chichester Festival Theatre production
ULSTER AMERICAN by David Ireland – a Traverse Theatre Company production at Lyric Theatre, Belfast

Best Musical Production
THE COLOR PURPLE
directed by Tinuke Craig – a Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome co-production
WINNER STANDING AT THE SKY’S EDGE directed by Robert Hastie – a Sheffield Theatres production
WEST SIDE STORY directed by Sarah Frankcom – a Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester production Continue reading “Full list of 2019 UK Theatre Awards winners”

Nominations for the 2019 UK Theatre Awards

The UK Theatre Awards are the only nationwide Awards to honour and celebrate outstanding achievements in regional theatre throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and they have just announced the nominations for the 2019 awards, the results of which will be revealed at a ceremony on Sunday 27th October. It’s always interesting to see a different perspective on award season, particularly one that doesn’t focus on London productions, but it does make me wish I’d could have taken in a few more of these UK-wide shows from this year.

Best New Play
LIFE OF PI adapted by Lolita Chakrabarti from the novel by Yann Martel – a Sheffield Theatres production
THE WATSONS by Laura Wade – a Chichester Festival Theatre production
ULSTER AMERICAN by David Ireland – a Traverse Theatre Company production at Lyric Theatre, Belfast

Best Musical Production
THE COLOR PURPLE
directed by Tinuke Craig – a Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome co-production
STANDING AT THE SKY’S EDGE directed by Robert Hastie – a Sheffield Theatres production
WEST SIDE STORY directed by Sarah Frankcom – a Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester production Continue reading “Nominations for the 2019 UK Theatre Awards”

Nominations for the 2019 Black British Theatre Awards

Creatives Group

BEST DIRECTOR FOR A PLAY OR MUSICAL
Lynette Linton; Sweat: Gielgud Theatre
Roy Alexander Weise; Nine Night: National Theatre
Nancy Medina; The Half God of Rainfall: Kiln Theatre

BEST PRODUCER
Tobi Kyeremateng; Babylon Festival: Bush Theatre

BEST CHOREOGRAPHER 
SPONSORED BY HARLEQUIN FLOORS
Rachael Nanayonjo; Sleeping Beauty: Theatre Royal Stratford East
Alesandra Seutin; Boy Breaking Glass: Sadlers Wells
Shelley Maxwell; Equus: Theatre Royal Stratford East Continue reading “Nominations for the 2019 Black British Theatre Awards”

Review: The Magic Flute, ENO at the Coliseum

“Is it me who’s hard of hearing,
there is no-one volunteering”

The ENO’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute returns to the Coliseum for what will be its final ever performances. And in this Engilsh-language version – now remarkably 23 years old – originally directed by Nicholas Hytner with this revival with Ian Rutherford and James Bonas at the helm, the combination of fairytale adventuring, earthy comedy, magical instruments and glorious singing still casts an enchanting spell of huge enjoyment.

I particularly love that seeing the show reminds me of what to me, is one of the biggest incongruities in opera. One of the most famous tunes from The Magic Flute, possibly one of the most recognisable arias in all opera, is the Queen of the Night’s second act aria is “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” whose crystalline trills are impeccably, gorgeously sung here by Kathryn Lewek and generally sound just heavenly. But the title actually translates as “Hell’s vengeance boileth in mine heart” and in it the Queen urges Pamina to kill a man or else she won’t consider her her daughter any more – not quite what one might have expected from listening to the gorgeous coloratura. Continue reading “Review: The Magic Flute, ENO at the Coliseum”

Re-review: Damon Albarn’s Dr Dee, ENO at the Coliseum

“This is the language of heaven”

It wasn’t intention to revisit Damon Albarn’s Dr Dee now it has arrived at the ENO’s home at the Coliseum, but as I haven’t learned to respond to any offer along the lines of “I have a spare ticket…” in anything but the affirmative, that was where I ended up tonight. I actually caught this show last year when it premiered as part of the Manchester International Festival (review can be read here) and though my feelings were decidedly mixed, they were generally positive, especially given that the work was still raw and fresh, only having recently come out of workshopping. A year down the line, changes have been made to the show, but I have to admit that my feelings were still largely quite ambivalent.

Based on the historically significant, if neglected, figure of Elizabethan Dr John Dee, Albarn and director Rufus Norris have created something of a spectacle, but even after the refinements that have been made, it remains something of a perplexing piece. Dee’s biography reads as a thing of great fascination, a key advisor to Elizabeth I, he was a man whose extraordinary breadth of knowledge took in astrology, alchemy, philosophy, mathematics and much more besides but when this unquenchable thirst lead him to increasingly dabble in the occult, he sowed the seeds of his own downfall. But you would be hard-pressed to gather much of this from the events onstage. Continue reading “Re-review: Damon Albarn’s Dr Dee, ENO at the Coliseum”

Review: Don Giovanni, Heaven

“I showed you a life outside of the closet”

Kylie once told us ‘you’ll never get to heaven if you’re scared of getting high’ which in all honesty is less an effective way to open a review than to finally shoehorn one of my favourite pop lyrics onto this blog. The tenuous link is that this gender-switching reimagining of Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni is occupying the rather unlikely surroundings of legendary gay nightspot Heaven, situated under the arches at Charing Cross on Sunday and Monday nights for the next couple of weeks.

Though one of the most popular operas in the world, it is safe to say that you probably haven’t seen a Don Giovanni like this one in Dominic Gray’s marvellous production. Relocated to the heady nightclub scene of London in 1987, this Don is more interested in tenors than sopranos and so David Collier’s book flips the gender of the majority of the characters, mixes in all kinds of sexualities in a heady brew, yet still emerges with a coherent, clear narrative for this recast story. What really makes this work spark though is Ranjit Bolt’s rejuvenated libretto. Continue reading “Review: Don Giovanni, Heaven”

Review: Carmen, King’s Head

“Come on Carmen, this is a joke”

OperaUpClose scored a huge success with their Olivier-award-winning production of La Bohème and since then have continued with their mandate of creating a more intimate, accessible style of opera to try and entice new and more diverse audiences. Their latest production at the King’s Head sees them turn to Bizet’s ever-popular Carmen, which has been uprooted from Spain and relocated in a modern-day North London in a world of gang-related crime. Rodula Gaitanou and Ben Cooper have penned an abbreviated new English libretto and Elspeth Wilkes’ musical direction pares the score down to piano and guitar but in the search for brevity, accessibility and relevance, far too much has been lost.

This Carmen lives in a cluttered bedsit with a group of seemingly-bohemian types who run an Oliver-style pickpocketing racket. She forms an instant connection with security guard José (who breaks up the initial singing in the pub) but when boyfriend Escamillo breaks out of jail and hatches a criminal masterplan, she is torn between the two men, between the chance of going straight or continuing a life of crime. But even with the truncated running time, the story struggles to come through. There’s little clarity in the new book, a woeful lack of characterisation to make us care about either man or Carmen for that matter and a series of question marks that plague the production, like the complete lack of explanation given for the Spanish-influenced music – having ex-con Escamillo singing ‘Toréador’ over and over is just simply bizarre. Continue reading “Review: Carmen, King’s Head”

Review: Don Giovanni – Soho Theatre

“How’s your moral compass doing now?”

After the Olivier Award winning success of La Bohème and spearheading a whole new trend in fringe opera, OperaUpClose have collaborated with Soho Theatre for this new production of Mozart’s classic, Don Giovanni, in a new version (and English translation) by Robin Norton-Hale who also directs.

Updating and streamlining the story of the titular ruthless lothario to a pre-credit crunch London, this version makes Johnny a city trader looking for easy pickings to add to the endless notches on his multiple bedposts and searching for ever more high-stakes thrills. Accompanied by the ever-faithful Alexander, the original’s manservant being translated a little tenuously to an intern here, they move from Sloane Square dinner parties to Soho nightclubs, Johnny leaving hearts broken and lives destroyed in his wake but not even he can avoid having to pay the price. Continue reading “Review: Don Giovanni – Soho Theatre”

Review: Dr Dee – Palace Theatre, Manchester

“You know I cannot see, nor scry”

Continuing to stretch his wings, Damon Albarn returned to the Manchester International Festival, where his Monkey: Journey to the West was quite the success, with another quasi-operatic work, this time based on a mysterious Elizabethan figure – Dr Dee: A Very English Opera. Doctor John Dee was a man of varied talents whose influence was such that it was he who chose the optimum day for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation: he also dabbled in philosophy, astrology and alchemy at a time of great new learning, but personal demons and temptations ultimately led to his downfall.

With a story as rich in potential as this – Dee is reputed to have been the inspirations for both Marlowe’s Faustus and Shakespeare’s Prospero – it then feels surprising that so little attempt has been made to develop a narrative. It was made worse on a personal level by employing someone as good as Bertie Carvel – so very good in Matilda and soon to return as Ms Trunchbull – to play Dee but then leave him with so little to say – I was very much looking forward to another barnstorming performance. Continue reading “Review: Dr Dee – Palace Theatre, Manchester”