When you travel 200 miles to see a stage version of one of your favourite films, the cost of transport, theatre tickets and hotel soon adds up. Thankfully £21 (restricted view) was a bargain for any birthday treat. And the fact Groundhog Day not only recrafts Bill Murray's best film for the stage but enhances the source material was a present I never expected.
This was a special production, too, in that the parts of Shakespeare's 'Mechanicals', the working men of Athens who stage the play-within-a-play at Theseus and Hippolyta's wedding feast, were played by actors from local amateur dramatic groups in each region visited by the tour, and the parts of fairy attendants being played by local schoolchildren.
Les Liaisons Dangereuses really is such a terrific play. Christopher Hampton's adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos' novel is just so good - full of passion, intrigue, betrayal, loss and gender politics. And all these themes wrapped within this well-known story of a pair of schemers in pre-Revolutionary France.
The interpretation is risky, yes, but theatre should be risky. And for all the theatrical spectacle and the clever tricks, you feel for Nancy, you really do. You're rooting for her and at the climax, when she understands what it is she truly needs, it's a great feeling. Tipping the Velvet is a bright, witty production - but it also has a heart.
Benedict's Hamlet is sarcastic, mean, aloof to his girlfriend and vicious to his mother. He also hams up the supposed mental illness for all its worth, causing much laughter in the auditorium as his Hamlet mocks himself up as a toy soldier brought to life just to confuse and baffle those around him.
Hallelujah! Josie Rourke has finally staged an original play written by a woman at the Donmar Warehouse. Until now, all the original works staged during her tenure have been written by men<. But now we have Splendour, an early work from the very talented Abi Morgan (Suffragette, The Iron Lady) and it's a gem.
Its premise is simple but layered with complexity. Jackie (Ricardo Chavira) is out on parole and back in the arms of the woman he's loved since he was a teenager, Veronica (Flor De Liz Perez). And this time he's going to make a go of it. He's given up the drug dealing for a job as a security guard and he's got a sponsor to help with his addictions. This time he's going to get it right.
What is hang about? I cannot tell you. What happens in it? Even after watching it, I do not know for sure. Everything in this play is a little elusive. Facts, motivations, even names, place and time. Yet this is a play that plunges headlong into a dark situation where victim's justice is taken to its farthest point.