2014: The favourites and highlights

Wow what a year for theatre! 2014 has flown by in a complete blur and according to my calculations and well used diary, I have seen 121 productions in the past 365 days…making my top ten incredibly difficult this time round!

I have basically spent the majority of my year inside a theatre having worked for five different companies in one capacity or another and spending my spare time checking out what Cardiff and the surrounding area have to offer, as well as a wonderful Fringe filled summer and a few trips to the Big Smoke!

I’ve followed soldiers over the top of a trench in Usk, watched stand up comedy in a pub basement, and watched circus performers whilst eating my dinner… it’s been a pretty great year for theatre so thank you 2014! Here are some of my favourites: my top ten of the year, some which made an impression, made me cry or made me cackle with laughter and all of which you should all look out for if they ever tour again!

Maudies Rooms: Roar Ensemble in co-production with Sherman Cymru
An incredibly enchanting and touching production from start to finish, with wonderful performances allowing the audience to interact with the weird and wonderful characters of the past.

Lungs: Paines Plough
An honest, heartfelt and witty production which had the audience laughing and crying as one. My one standing ovation of the Fringe festival!

Once: Phoenix Theatre, London
A subtle and beautiful Irish folk tale of a musical which left me an emotional wreck, proving that not every musical needs jazz hands and a flash dance routine.

Travesti: Unbound Theatre Company
Incredibly thought provoking and heartfelt verbatim theatre which knocked me sideways slightly – embracing a subject matter which others have previously shied away from.

Gwyn: Cwmni Fran Wen
Full of giggles, bright colours and enchantment against a truly gorgeous set design: a true reminder of how magic children’s theatre can be!

Mametz: National Theatre Wales
An immersive and emotional journey back in history, entering the hearts and memories of those lost at war in a beautiful setting in the middle of Usk.

Bianco: Nofit State Circus
A crazy concoction of beauty, chaos and amazing skill: Bianco left me in complete awe and wanting to watch again and again!

Dark Vanilla Jungle: Supporting Walls
Full of power and passion: A completely on it and bare faced performance from Gemma Whelan, portraying the highs and lows of one girls life.

A Streetcar Named Desire: Young Vic (via NT Live)
A gripping and tragic portrayal of the classic Tennesse Williams play with incredible performances from all cast members: brought to cinemas nationwide via the magic of NT Live.

And last but by no means least…. Tiger: Barrowland Ballet
A beautifully unconventional piece of dance and physical theatre which left my mouth in a wow kinda shape at this years Fringe.

And there you have it, my favourites of the past year for you all.  I’ve already started my wish list for next year and I can not wait to see what else is round the corner.  The theatre and arts scene in Cardiff is going from strength to strength, and it’ll be great to see what The Other Room has to offer, as well as the exciting programmes lined up for the Sherman, the Centre and National Theatre Wales amongst many others.

Happy new year all and I will see you in 2015!

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12 reasons to love Edinburgh during the Fringe

Just twelve of the gazillion reasons to fall in love with Edinburgh during the beauty and chaos of the Fringe festival, compiled over the month on Twitter…

1. The friendly and welcoming new people that you meet every single day

2. Signs like this one:

Not all who wander

3. The novelty of using a knife and fork and sitting at a table to eat!

4. Singing along to B*witched and High School musical in the Tron at 1am

5. Patisserie Valerie at midnight for a birthday treat!

6. Casually walking down the Grassmarket to the sound of bagpipes and fireworks

7. The meadows on a beautiful sunny day

8. Walking to the end of your road to be greeted by a circus tent (Kudos to the incredible Nofit State!)

9. Having to double take when seeing this… (The best thing I’ve ever seen)

InvisibilityCloak

10. Being able to play the ‘costume or real clothes’ game at every opportunity

11. Any show on the party bus (Courtesy of The Three Sisters, Cowgate)

12. All of the food places. All of them.

More than just a circus show

That’s right, NoFit State are back in their hometown for the next few weeks and there was a great buzz around the big top circus tent, situated just steps away from the hustle of Cardiff city centre. Following it’s success around the world from Edinburgh to Australia, Bianco is back full of energy and skill to wow it’s audiences once again.

And wow it did. Easing the audience in gradually, the performers wove their way through the crowd and slowly began to pull the focus to the centre of the big top where two hours of top energy, immersive performances captured the audience members attention and imagination. Swinging, spinning and leaping through the air, the strength and the agility of the performers was instantly noticeable as they made every movement look effortless, even when suspended from a rope or holding on to a bar only by their feet. Each piece oozed excitement and thrill, yet each created an individual mood whether it be a hint at romance, a slice of cheekiness or a little bit of danger.

Combined with an incredible live soundtrack from the in-house band, the production had me amazed from start to finish. The finale was particularly stunning, as the big top turned in to a snow globe, snowflakes fell from the sky and the trapeze artist swung elegantly through the air, leaving the audience gasping in amazement and partially covered in snow/foam!

Full of magic and excitement, NoFit State and their beyond talented group of performers have the audience entranced by each leap, step and spin. A crazy concoction of beauty, chaos and amazing skill: Bianco left me in complete awe and wanting to watch again and again!

Bianco plays in Cardiff until the 7th June and then continues it’s tour with venues including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. For full tour dates and more information see the NoFit State website.