The Lyric Theatre Hammersmith is undergoing renovation and much of it is closed. However, they’ve recruited a company of writers, actors and directors to use what space can be made available throughout the year, not announcing anything until the last minute, hence “Secret Theatre.” The first play was Woyzeck which I saw two versions of last year in The Drowned Man and Berg’s Wozzeck, so I didn’t fancy another. Shows 2 and 3 slipped by but I have had a chance to see this one. It is an update on John Webster’s revenge tragedy The White Devil. Hayley Squires has changed Church and State into Star and State, setting it in the alternative world of Glitterland which works well. The plot is simplified slightly and played with almost no scenery in the Lyric Studio. It uses an interesting mix of the original language and modern gangsta talk which shows interesting syntactic and rhythmic similarities between the two. Inevitably, the small company available means that some of the casting is odd but Leo Bill as the central schemer Nemo (Flamineo) is extremely good and I recommend it to anyone interested in theatre.
The National Theatre was inconsistent again this year but Strange Interlude and Children of the Sun were superb. When I reviewed Othello, I wrote, “I feel pretty certain I’ve just seen the winner(s) of the next Olivier for Best Actor.” It’s too early for the Oliviers but Rory Kinnear and Adrian Lester deservedly shared the Evening Standard Award for Best Actor. The Young Vic shone with A Doll’s House (a strong runner up which I saw in the West End) and Public Enemy. The Old Vic didn’t have any productions that grabbed me until the excellent Fortune’s Fool right at the end of the year which I also strongly recommend. I also enjoyed One Man, Two Guvnors but the West End was otherwise a little disappointing this year.