Besides all the free tickets and often free booze that go with being a reviewer for Everything Theatre, what makes it such an amazing experience is that it gives you an opportunity to experience shows you might never have otherwise tried. We all know what we like, and so if we’re paying for a show, most of us will stick to that. But as a reviewer you can take a risk and get along to a show that you might have overlooked if you were buying a ticket. And with that in mind, I thought I’d highlight the diversity that I’ve been lucky enough to experience in the past twelve months.
My personal preference is always for those dark modern dramas, those plays that examine and explore our society. There is plenty such fare on the London fringe, but when I think socially meaningful drama, the first place that comes to mind is Theatre503, an absolute gem of a venue tucked away a few minutes’ walk from Clapham Junction. I’ve actually tried to avoid reviewing there this year to avoid over-exposure, but thankfully I did get to see The Dark Room, an emotionally heart-breaking piece of theatre that examined society’s failure to look after the most vulnerable.
But wishing to avoid spending my reviewing life worrying about society, and to take full advantage of all that London theatre has to offer, I will risk something different now and again. Something fun like Underbelly’s summer on the Southbank, which this year served up Catch Me. Switching from drama to performance pieces like this is not easy, but I hope that the joy of watching such shows shines through in the review. Catch Me ranks as one of the most amazing visual experiences of my year, as performers literally walked up walls with the aid of a trampoline. It is now my benchmark for acrobatics.
Another strand of theatre that deserves a mention is youth theatre. It’s all too easy to imagine second rate college level performances, but for those willing to try something different it can be a revelation. And if one piece of youth theatre is good, then a whole week of it, as provided by Battersea Arts Centre’s Homegrown Festival, can only be better. I attended for an evening double bill, and whilst these were not strictly all youth performed, seeing the place abuzz with teens all excited to watch schoolfriends or family performing, would have been enough in itself to make the evening worthwhile. It’s certainly a festival that I will encourage Everything Theatre to cover again next year.
London really offers a range of theatre that caters for everyone, and the only shame is that it is just impossible to explore even a fraction of it in one lifetime!