In theatre, just like in life, it’s good to occasionally be taken out of your comfort zone and this is something I’ve had to learn over the last two years.
Given the choice, my ideal viewing is and always will be an all singing all dancing musical, but recently my eyes have been opened to a whole world of theatre, which I had no idea could be quite so enthralling.
Like film and television, it’s sometimes the darker material, which has more of an impact, so, rather than shows with tap shoes and plenty of vibrato (my preferred theatrical lot), this week has been filled with powerful portrayals and productions I would never normally choose to see.
It’s great to experience a full range, but you do need to make sure you’re emotionally robust (which I’m not!) before you visit and my delicate state was well and truly tested right at the beginning of the week with a trip to Thomas Hardye School.
I was invited to see the A-Level Drama students perform their examination pieces and although there was a wealth of exceptional talent on display, some of the subject matter, which they had chosen was horrific; boundary pushing in every sense and worryingly thought provoking.
My next theatre trip wasn’t much cheerier either as I headed off to Southwark Playhouse to see The Diary of a Teenage Girl. I like to go in cold when it comes to theatre and try not to read too much about shows before my visit and so, I had in my mind that the production was going to be a, kind of, girl’s version of Adrian Mole.
How wrong could I be? It turns out very. Although the play is a comedy, it’s actually about a girl being sexually abused, so I failed to see the funny side. That said, it was very well done and as a critic, you have to take into consideration the quality of the production, not just your own personal taste when you are reviewing something.
Next on the list was a visit to the Harold Pinter to see Imelda Staunton and co in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. The multi-award winner was absolutely majestic throughout, but I have to admit that I had no idea what was going on for most of play.
I then trooped down to the Old Vic to see Daniel Radcliffe in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, which although wordy and at times a little baffling, provided the light relief I had been longing for all week.
All of the plays were extremely well done and kept me on the edge of my seat, but I couldn’t help but yearn for a musical to lighten my mood and leave me with a spring in my step.
I will start to scratch my musical theatre itch again very soon however, as I’m about to get back on the stage myself. I’m ecstatic to be joining the cast of Spamalot in Axminster and will start rehearsals in May.
The hilarious musical comedy, based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail will be staged at the Guildhall in September and I’m playing the coveted role of the Lady of the Lake, a part which has been played by the likes of Bonnie Langford and Jodie Prenger, so I’ll be sure to ask their advice before I start.
Next week I’m off to see a play called Seventeen at the Lyric Hammersmith-which sees a cast of veteran actors take on the role of a group of teenagers-before I get to have a look at the newly reopened Bush Theatre.
I’m then off to see Stepping Out, which stars Amanda Holden and has had a last minute cast change due to Tamsin Outhwaite breaking her foot. Her replacement is a highly acclaimed musical theatre performer called Anna-Jane Casey, someone I have a huge amount of admiration for, so I’m actually really pleased I will get to see her. As she is an outstanding dancer, I’m hoping her twinkle toes will help to ‘Tap my troubles away’.
You can read all of my reviews and interviews on our websites londonnewsonline.co.uk and viewnews.co.uk or you can follow me on Twitter for regular updates @NickySweetland