- Trainspotting – Oxford Playhouse, 10th March 2006
A brand new production of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, adapted and directed by Harry Gibson, which was on a national tour. The cast featured Ruaraidh Murray as Tommy. It received very good notices, if I remember rightly.
- Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo – Peacock Theatre, London, 1st and 8th April 2006
The Trocks hit the Peacock theatre for a two week run, featuring two programmes; we saw both – starting with Programme 2! That consisted of Les Sylphides, a mystery Pas de Deux, Go for Barocco, The Dying Swan and Raymonda’s Wedding. The following week, Programme 1 showed Swan Lake Act 2, the Pas de Deux, Le Grand Pas de Quatre, The Dying Swan and Paquita. Favourite performers Paul Ghiselin (Ida Nevasayneva), Robert Carter (Olga Supphozova) and Raffaele Morra (Lariska Dumbchenko) were all present. Fantastic as always.
- Titus Andronicus – Wildcard Theatre Company at the Burton Taylor Studio, Oxford Playhouse, 12th April 2006
The Burton Taylor Rooms are a tiny theatre at the back and upstairs at the Oxford Playhouse, that go in and out of favour as a venue; and at the time it was very much in. I can’t remember too much about this production of Titus Andronicus, except that it was full of guts and gore (but that’s like most productions of Titus Andronicus!) At the time Wildcard were the resident touring company of the Wycombe Swan – but I don’t think they are any more. A very small cast covered a multitude of roles, including Andy Wisher as Titus, and Charlotte McKinney as Lavinia.
- Nymph Errant – Lost Musicals at the Lilian Bayliss Theatre, Sadler’s Wells, London, 16th April 2006
I’d heard about Ian Marshall Fisher’s Lost Musicals but never got around to booking to see one – that is, until I heard they were doing Cole Porter’s Nymph Errant, which has songs I was brought up on as a kid, so it was a no-brainer that we had to see it – and it was a truly delightful experience, and one we kept going back to again and again. A large and talented cast sat in a semi-circle and performed a relatively unknown musical, and it worked a treat. Nymph Errant featured Thelma Ruby, Issy van Randwyck, Gay Soper, Stewart Permitt, Matt Zimmerman and James Vaughan. Loved it.
- The Taming of the Shrew – Oxford Shakespeare Company at Wadham College, Oxford, 15th July 2006
Next, we saw Jerry Springer the Opera again, at the Milton Keynes Theatre, great fun again and disappointingly few protests! After that, having enjoyed our two trips to the OSC the previous year so much, this year we did three! First was their production of The Taming of the Shrew, notable for the fact they used the Christopher Sly framework in full – which worked very well; fairly slapstick in its approach but very good.
- Strangers on a Train – Milton Keynes Theatre, 2nd August 2006
Craig Warner’s stage adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s thriller novel embarked on a UK tour, with a cast featuring Alex Ferns, Anita Harris and Colin Baker. Classy and well done, but it lacked a little oomph somewhere along the line.
- The Importance of Being Earnest – Oxford Shakespeare Company at Wadham College, Oxford, 12th August 2006
Proving that they don’t just do Shakespeare, the OSC’s Importance of Being Earnest was a complete delight, with John Brenner in particular a magnificent Lady Bracknell. One of their best productions.
- The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Parts I and II – Chichester Festival Theatre, 19th August 2006
An old favourite, having recorded the TV presentation of the RSC’s landmark production over twenty years earlier, it was fantastic that Chichester brought back David Edgar’s magnificent 8 hour production of Nicholas Nickleby; we saw both halves of it on a glorious sunny day. One of the twentieth century’s most significant dramatic creations, it had lost none of its vigour, humour, savagery, and sheer drama. Daniel Weyman played Nicholas, Hannah Yelland Kate, Leigh Lawson Ralph, and David Dawson was particularly fantastic as Smike. What theatres are made for.
- The Overwhelming – Out of Joint and the National Theatre co-production at the Oxford Playhouse, 8th September 2006
Passing over a return visit to see the Oxford Shakespeare Company’s production of Macbeth (but this time at the amazing venue of the hall at Hampton Court Palace), our next show was J T Rogers’ play The Overwhelming. The programme was the play text; I quote: “seizing the opportunity to research a book, Jack Exley uproots his family from Illinois to Rwanda in early 1994. Alarmingly out of depth, Jack begins a fervent search for his dear and missing friend while his wife and teenage son find trouble of their own. As Jack involves himself in the local politics, he discovers a pattern of brutality and beliefs that jeopardizes the lives of everyone around him. A gripping story of a country on the brink of genocide.” A very strong play, given a great production, and an amazing cast featuring Lucian Msamati, the wonderful Tanya Moodie and the great Jude Akuwudike.
- The Hollow – The Agatha Christie Theatre Company at the Milton Keynes Theatre, 20th September 2006
Passing over a visit to the BBC Proms in the Park for the Last Night of the Proms in Hyde Park, with Lionel Richie topping the bill (excellent), our next play was Agatha Christie’s The Hollow, presented by the Agatha Christie Theatre Company in their first ever appearance. This was Christie’s own original play version of her notable book. It starred Kate O’Mara, Tony Britton and Emmerdale’s Frazer Hines. I enjoyed it, as I like Christie. Mrs Chrisparkle, however, hated it and made me promise never to take her to an Agatha Christie Theatre Company production ever again! So I haven’t!