2014: a year in theatre

James Dryden in Beached, the first play produced by The Marlowe. Photo by Tim Stubbings.

James Dryden in Beached, the first play produced by The Marlowe. Photo by Tim Stubbings.

Today we wish you a happy new year, full of health, happiness, and – of course – some wonderful theatre-going!

We’ve been reflecting on the last year and all the brilliant theatre we’ve seen, both here and elsewhere. Some of our staff let us know their highlights from the year.

I was able to fulfill a long-held ambition in 2014: I finally saw War Horse.

So many people I know have seen it and raved about it and as much as I wanted to get along myself, I just couldn’t/didn’t get round to booking. My lovely parents knew this and for my birthday gave me and my daughter tickets!

On the big day, I did wonder if War Horse would really live up to the hype – and my expectations. I needn’t have worried: it was above and beyond everything I expected. So  much has been written about the play over the years, and I won’t add any more here. All I will say is if you haven’t seen it, please do.

Sarah Munday, Press Officer

One of my main highlights was singing along to Say Hello, Wave Goodbye and Tainted Love performed by Marc Almond (special guest of Jools Holland).

There have been so many fantastic theatre productions. I was moved by the beauty of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, with the choreography, creative sets and imaginative lighting. Another highlight for me was the irresistible, eccentic Rum Tum Tugger from the musical Cats shaking his mane, and singing about being on the wrong side of every door with mewling kittens at his feet.

So many fabulous moments. I could go on!

Janette Eyres, Front Of House Assistant

Having a four-year-old daughter, most of my theatre-going in the last year has been to children’s shows.  There is some great children’s theatre being made which, when at its best, can movingly capture the wonder and woes of childhood in ways that can chime with an adult too. I am going to cheekily choose two shows that achieved this.

The National Theatre’s Elephantom was a clever and very funny story about a dream elephant invading a suburban home.  My joint highlight was Long Nose Puppet’s Arthur And His Dreamboat, which featured lovingly crafted hand-made sets and puppets, with some catchy and touching songs by Tom Gray, who is part of the band Gomez. (You can see this at The Gulbenkian on Saturday 24 January)

My Marlowe highlight was Jasmin Vardimon’s Park, a dance piece that felt completely original and new, with moments that have stayed with me long after seeing it.

John Baker, Head Of Marketing & Communications

My favourite of 2014 was probably One Man Two Guvnors. It was just hilarious and I loved the guy that played Francis. He played it so very well, you didn’t even realise his plants in the audience were just that!

If Katie [Leeann’s daughter] was answering your question, I know she’d say Peppa Pig’s Big Splash! She really loved it and I loved how much she enjoyed it too.

Leeann Frost, Finance Officer

My Marlowe highlight must be Fine Chisel’s Dumbstruck – an intricately-woven story incorporating ideas of freedom, rebellion, communication and intimacy. I was totally swept up in the narrative and constantly found myself surprised by some new clever conceit of staging or the next infectious song that the supremely talented cast broke into. Not a musical, nor a conventional play, Dumbstruck succeeded in broadening my horizons, not least of all by improving my knowledge of bioacoustics.

Elsewhere it’d be Nick Payne’s Incognito from nabokov. A piece for four actors with what must be something like 16 characters, in three interwoven narratives set in three distinct time periods, Incognito was a stunning work of narrative structure. That the framework is employed to tell a fascinating, meticulously-researched story of mental illness, shifting identity, and brain theft is what elevates the play beyond merely clever and into the realm of brilliance. I was spellbound. Masterful storytelling compellingly brought to life.

Adam Wood, Studio Manager

My Marlowe highlight was Evita – a lovely company and a great show. My other theatre highlight was Miss Saigon. I’ve been listening to it for years and it was awesome to finally see it.

Will Millar, Deputy Stage Door Keeper

I would say, easily, Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More in NYC. The best theatre experience I’ve ever had and so different to the conventional way of watching theatre. I think we’ll see more and more of the interactive theatre in the future.

A Marlowe one must be Matthew Bourne’s Lord Of The Flies and the intensity that production had. I was amazed at how quickly and well the Canterbury-based boys learnt the routine. (And if we are including gigs, Richard Navarro is a spectacle to watch).

Helene Skoge, Multimedia Designer

It’s an obvious choice but my highlight from here would have to be Beached, the first play produced by The Marlowe which also enjoyed a Soho Theatre transfer. It was a career highlight to be involved in this process but also it was just a genuinely brilliant piece of work – funny, insightful, and with an outstanding lead performance from James Dryden.

My absolute theatre highlight of 2014 has to be Paines Plough’s Lungs by Duncan Macmillan. This tiny two-hander gives you the intimate details of an everyday relationship while taking you on an unexpected, lifelong journey. It’s just so very real. You’re not thinking about how well it’s written because you’re just there, with them, and you laugh and your heart breaks and you just wish everyone could see this beautiful piece of theatre.

Amy Smith, Marketing Officer

Tweet us your highlights of 2014 to @marlowetheatre!

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