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Wednesday, 23 July 2008

My Favourites So Far

It seems when you review things people begin to believe you are an expert in that field, so I'm getting asked - a lot - what I recommend seeing at the Festival. I don't like to recommend any one thing because there are many reasons why I choose to see a particular play - I may like the story, or the director, or the cast, or even the composer - and theatre-going is such a personal, subjective experience (for me, anyway).

So my short answer is: See everything you can.

Even if you've seen Hamlet 50 times before, every new cast and director will plumb its depths with fresh eyes and attitudes and that will reveal utterly new things about it - it's like learning something new and tittilating about an old friend. Even if you've never heard of Fuente Ovejuna, go see it because it is unfamiliar and you'll invariably catch a glimpse of drama from another culture. If the thought of sonnet poetry makes your eyes roll, you've never heard it properly - I never had - but Simon Callow's There Reigns Love will correct that. If you think the film versions with Liza Minnelli and Robert Preston just can't be topped, I think you'll be surprised - and perhaps shocked - with both stage versions of Cabaret and Music Man.

I see everything on stage during the season and I invariably come away with favourites that I return to see later on. But asking me to choose a favourite or to recommend just one show? I can't! But I will tell you that even though I did my honours thesis on Taming of the Shrew, Peter Hinton's production made me feel as if I didn't know the play at all, and that Cabaret made me weep uncontrollably the last time I saw it. But I've already seen others a second time, and I'll be coing back for seconds and possibly thirds on yet more.

I can't be more specific than that - but I hope you enjoy and are moved by whatever shows you choose to see.


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