Five Fave Featres

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A few critics/bloggers have been writing about their favourite theatres and so I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and list mine. I’ll limit myself to 5 though.

This is an extremely subjective list, based not just on the building but the memories of productions I’ve seen in them too.

In at number one without a shadow of a doubt is The Royal Opera House Covent Garden. My first visit there was last year. It is such a magnificent building that has all the grandeur and impressiveness you expect.

Impressive outside

Resplendent inside too

It just oozes atmosphere and spectacle. I love the way the lights are beamed out of the central rose in the ceiling which closes up when the production is not on. I’ve seen several amazing productions here, most memorable were Manon and La Traviataboth last year. The Royal Opera House Orchestra are the best in the world in my opinion and so any visit to hear them play is worth it. I recommend everyone goes the ROH at least once, it’s a whole experience. I love it.

2) The National Theatre

I know it was described as looking like a nuclear power station by Prince Charles. What goes on inside this venue though is what counts.

The beauty lies underneath

I first visited this theatre back when I was in junior school, on a school trip to see Sylvester McCoy as the title role in The Pied Piper. Since then I’ve been back many times, seeing Wind in the Willows in the 90’s, I saw Every Good Boy Deserves Favour a few years ago and that re-ignited my regular attendance there. Other recent memorable visits include, London Road  and The Cherry Orchard.

One of the best things about The National Theatre is its food and drink options, I especially love the Terrace Bar. It also houses my favourite bookshop of all time. If you have an interest in theatre make the effort to visit their bookshop, I can often be found perusing its shelves.

3) The Miller Centre Theatre – Caterham

Know this place like the back of my hand.

Again not the prettiest from the outside but inside it’s a gem of a theatre. For an amateur theatre it is kitted out better than some professional theatres. I know I’m biased as I’m part of the production committee. This theatre is special to me. I’ve learnt much by being involved in its running and was there just this morning picking up some scripts for our 2013/14 season. I’ve met some wonderful people here, many who I count as close and special friends. I’ve also witnessed some extremely funny things happen here, both onstage and backstage – but best to keep those to myself 🙂

4) Theatre Royal Bath

There are many reasons to visit Bath, but the Theatre Royal is one reason I repeatedly go back there.

This theatre and its studio theatre The Ustinov and children’s theatre The Egg I went to regularly when I lived in the area. It puts on a varied and diverse range of theatre. I owe a large amount to this theatre as I developed my passion and appreciation of theatre seeing productions here. I especially liked being able to see plays preview here before going to the West End at half the West End ticket price! Hedda Gabler was the last production I saw in the main house. I must book a trip down to Bath soon!

5) The Abbey Theatre – Dublin

I was fortunate enough to visit Dublin last year and this theatre was a highlight of my time there seeing Translations. A vibrant, modern theatre that was buzzing the night I visited. Again I look forward to when I can next see something there.

Great City, Great Theatre

So that’s my top five, plenty almost made it into it, and perhaps if I do the list in a few years time, they’ll make their way into the top five. For now though that’s it.


One thought on “Five Fave Featres

  1. My absolute favourite is the RSC’s Courtyard. Home of The Histories, which I spent 3 years and 2 long weekends becoming fully absorbed/obsessed by. I love its no frills honesty, the smell of new wood, and the way they can create magical worlds with such little scenery and some severely limiting space restrictions above, below and behind the stage. So many good productions have been on there in its short lifespan.

    Second favourite is just down the road at The Swan. It has so much character and personality but that always disappears into the background once the plays start – even when the lights barely go down. I’ve seen far too many good productions to single any out, though I’ll indulge in a shout out for the current King John. It manages to be both intimate and epic, and although the seats and legroom can be cramped, and the sightlines from the second row on the balconies can be awful, I always feel a childlike sense of excitement when I visit.

    I haven’t fully warmed to the new RST yet, so that won’t make the list. In third place, therefore, The Crucible. Sheffield’s too far away for me visit as often as I’d like, but for several years it’s had consistently good, brave programming with excellent casts for those of us who follow the careers of theatre rather than TV actors, and it has a skyscape of starry white lights, so what’s not to love?

    So following three thrusts, let’s square the circle. In fourth place, Bristol’s Tobacco Factory. To be honest, I go twice a year to see the wonderful Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, although I have seen one or two other productions there. It’s usually configured in the round, there are supporting pillars which must have an inch thickness of paint on them by now, the ceiling is way too low which calls for some genius lighting, and the wooden church pews have gradually been replaced by utility plastic chairs – and then cushions were added! Finally they’ve raised enough money for basic air con so people rarely faint now. But I’ve spent hours melting and with my posterior totally numb watching some of the most inventive Shakespeare productions ever. Not weird and wacky inventive, but the sort of inventiveness a small studio demands. The fairies in Dream wearing sunglasses when they were invisible to humans was genius! And it’s so friendly and about as far from pretentious as it’s possible to get.

    Fifth place is difficult, but I’ll go for Coventry’s Belgrade. A proscenium? Well, yes, but a modern one, and the studio’s lovely (and configurable), but tickets are cheap, productions are excellent and amongst the inevitable crowd pleasers are some absolute gems of brave programming, as well as plays with a local interest (I have no connection to Coventry, but I love theatres that draw in their communities).

    London? In no order: Young Vic; Hampstead; Donmar; Lyric Hammersmith; Soho.

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