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My Top 15 Theatre Trips Of 2015

So at the end of my second (and first full) year of discovering theatre I feel the need to create my top fifteen experiences of 2015.

I had the pleasure of attending a different theatrical experience on 127 occasions (mostly in Northampton) during the year. These included plays, musicals, storytelling, music, magic, dance and variety nights. So I now present to you in reverse order my top picks of 2015!

At Number 15...

No Way Back by Frantic Assembly at The Core at Corby Cube

Frantic Assembley are masters of physical theatre and this year they went home to Corby and created with local people a physical and emotional package of a show like no other. Created from the performers personal experiences, a piece of stunning quality was the result. I saw the matinee and I stayed to see it again in the evening as it was that good.

At Number 14...

King John by Royal & Derngate Made In Northampton

For myself an acknowledge non-fan to put a Shakespeare play on my list takes some doing. However King John did Shakespeare very different, a church atmosphere with candles, music and fighting in the aisles. This transcended Shakespeare and became all about an experience like no other Bard performance ever before. Yes, it is on my list and if I was a Shakespeare fan it would be very much higher, as it is deservedly on many others.

At Number 13...

Lillies On The Land by the Masque Theatre

I could probably place any of the Masque Theatre productions this year at this point as they have a very consistent quality of production and performance. However for me Lillies On The Land just takes the prize for the realism of the performances and a simple but effective direction. It helps of course that the material is of such quality. However no matter how good that is, it is nothing without the actors and Lillies had four performers that were just perfect for their individual roles. Poignant, powerful and perfection.

At Number 12...

I Forget What I've Forgotten by Catherine Garlick in the Flash Festival 2015 at Looking Glass

The Flash Festival is the place for those University of Northampton students to show what they can do. This is their third year dissertation where everything is on the line. In general they hit the target with confidence and of my two years so far I have seen many a magic moment. None however has been as emotional and absorbing a show as that created by Catherine Garlick this year. Fusing personal experiences into a forty minute solo piece, it deservedly packed out the Looking Glass venue on three occasions. That simple coat and hanger scene remains one of the abiding memories for me this year.

At Number 11...

Kontakt by the Royal & Derngate Young Company

Watching plays is never tiresome (unless on the odd occasion you get a stinker). However what if you could be in the play? Yes you have no skill, that's why you sit in the audience. However the Royal & Derngate Young Company gave us all the chance to shine in Kontakt as we were fifty percent of the show. A conversation, a dance and a snack (crisp sandwich anyone?) with someone many years your junior looks insane on paper. It couldn't work! In reality it provided one of those magic moments of the year and postcards with a drawing of you on.

At Number 10...

Sister Act by the Northampton Musical Theatre Company at Royal & Dernagate

South Pacific in 2015 was really rather brilliant, however Sister Act surpassed that with ease, through its performances and a set of tremendous scale. The show itself doesn't have the most memorable tunes for a musical, however the lyrics were sublime and incredible funny and with this hugely talented cast it made a joyfully entertaining evening. A production of professional quality once again from this hugely talented group.

At Number 9...

Lights! Camera! Improvise! by Mishief Theatre

Mischief Theatre via their two "Goes Wrong" plays have taken theatre by storm with slapstick and disastrous genius of epic proportions. Even getting them onto the Royal Variety Performance (and the best bit) with their comic antics. However this year I managed to get to London once to catch their sideline performance, an improvised movie of the audience suggestion. The film I saw was 'The Worm That Turned' and it was incredible to see it evolve in front of my eyes. Laugh? I nearly died!

At Number 8...

Light by Theatre Ad Infinitum

Light was quite a surprise. I knew little of what to expect on arrival at the theatre, however for seventy minutes Theatre Ad Infinitum created one of the most inventive pieces of theatre I saw in 2015. With startling use of light it vividly told a story of future technology and evolution of our society, it was indeed a show that had to be seen to be understood. Short yes, masterful yes, a piece like no other.

At Number 7...

Orientation by the University of Northampton BA Acting students

The students offer a constant supply of quality production, be they through their Flash dissertations or the group productions such as this years Royal shows. However nothing has quite come to the level achieved by the current third years show Orientation. Breaking new levels of polish for a show with comedy, characterisation and dynamic choreographed pieces. It provided a thrilling and chilling murder mystery set in the mundane office environment, garnished with delicious black humour. On this evidence, next years Flash Festival is going be a thing of beauty.

At Number 6...

The ELO Experience

Yes I am a fan of ELO, so I might be biased placing this here. However as tribute acts go, the ELO Experience nails it on absolutely every count. The music, the singing, the repartee with the crowd, everything is there in super high quality. If you are even a remote fan of ELO, there simply is no better way to experience their music. Very possibly even better than the real thing.

At Number 5...

Brave New World by Royal & Derngate Made In Northampton

Made In Northampton at Royal & Derngate always offers quality productions (and that recognition is growing nationally now) and for me the best this year was Brave New World. A dynamic and clever interpretation of Huxley's novel by Dawn King with some of the best of director James Dacre's work. Amazing tech and excellent performances cleverly created the futuristic (or not so) world to life before our eyes.

At Number 4...

Peter Pan Goes Wrong by Mischief Theatre

The Play That Goes Wrong from Mischief Theatre is now a legend in theatre and to have the opportunity to see the sequel in my home town was a delight. Yes it was slightly odd to see different people playing them oh so perfect characters, however this second cast still nailed every joke, every pratfall. Yes it was more of the same, however when you have created magic, why not continue with the same trick. Laugh? I haven't stopped!

At Number 3...

The Lorax at the Old Vic

Creating Dr. Seuess's strange environment on a stage may seem impossible, however The Lorax proves that with skill anything can be done and in this case to an exceptional level. With simply stunning musical numbers, wonderful puppetry work and a cast of exceptional talent, it was one of the simpler five stars I had to award this year.

At Number 2...

Xanadu at the Southwark Playhouse

As already witnessed, the music of ELO is where my heart lies. However Xanadu took that music and a frankly poor film and created a musical of campness of cosmic proportions. Perhaps it was over the top for some, however if you didn't enjoy, it was probably because you didn't get what it was trying to do. There was personally only one better night in the theatre than I spent in the Southwark Playhouse watching Xanadu and those rollerskating stars.

and at Number 1...

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time

Choosing the best theatre experience of over a hundred is a challenge and while there were many strong contenders, I think I always knew which would be honoured with the top spot. Not only relaying an important social message, Curious transcends appeal to a theatre goer across every generation. It is perhaps as good as theatre can get and could sit at the top of my list just for that London journey scene alone, the best single scene I have ever seen. A visually powerful mix and a play that tells us much of how we should act better around some members of our community while just keeping us just thrillingly entertained. A must see for absolutely everyone.

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