2013 IN PREVIEW: Reviewers' Theatre Tips, Part One!
We asked our UK reviewers what they're most looking forward to in 2013 theatre...here's the first in a series of their thoughts!
If 2012 was a good year for theatre, Viva Forever notwithstanding, 2013 looks set to be even better. The Noel Coward Theatre will see M and Q ditching James Bond for Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland as Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw star in Peter and Alice, and Helen Mirren will return to her Oscar-winning role as Queen Elizabeth II, this time in The Audience.
Tori Amos's fairytale musical The Light Princess has been in development for several years now, but 2013 should see its premiere at The National Theatre. Marianne Elliott is slated to direct, and those of us who still play Little Earthquakes on a loop are waiting feverishly for tickets to go on sale. As with much of Amos' work, it will either be transcendent or a glorious disaster - but her fanbase is large enough to ensure that it will be a commercial, if not critical, success.
Before it's time to for me to take down the tinsel and replace it with the Happy 30th Birthday cards I'm trying not to dread, I want to squeeze the last bit of sparkle out of the festive season. Katie Mitchell is back at the National with Hansel and Gretel and gingerbread houses have never looked so tempting...
It's not easy (in fact, not possible) for me to look forward to London theatre in 2013 - I just don't know what's coming because I never look! That's the way I like it, trusting the extraordinary variety of work on show in the metropolis to give me what I want - it did exactly that 145 times in 2012 and 124 times in 2011 and if it's not broke, I'm not going to fix it!
Notwithstanding my reluctance to consider the specifics next year, I am looking forward to more general developments continuing. Site-specific work has become almost a cliché, but it's still a thrill to see spaces transformed by lighting, by acting and, most of all, by the presence of an audience. There may be plenty of it about, but directors don't always get it right - so there's a real sense of pleasure when they do.
While the buzz of anticipation of a full West End house awaiting the curtain up still sends a shiver up my spine, the intimacy of small venues and the demands they place on actors to get it just right gives me more pleasure these days. That is especially true of singing, unamplified, no more than a few steps away. It's crucial to get the balance of music and vocals right, as the acoustics often work against the musicians and singers - but that challenge just adds to the glorious immediacy of the work.
Finally, I'm looking forward to seeing yet more of the fantastic young talent that just pours out of Britain's theatre schools. In an age of X-Factor-type shows offering a fast-track to glory for a very few lucky - not always talented - individuals, the skills and commitment I see, show after show after show, is an antidote to those who claim that celebrity is the only route to success. Talent will out - and it's all around us. Go and see some in 2013.