Monday, 31 December 2012

Tom’s Theatre Shows of the Year 2012

Here's my top ten favourites from all the theatre I've seen in 2012.

1. All New People 
Written by Zach Braff
Directed by Peter DuBois
King’s Theatre, Glasgow, February

This play had its flaws certainly. In particular I thought the filmed excerpts revealing the characters' back stories was big time cheating. Michael Billington in The Guardian gave it a scathing review and to be honest I wouldn't really disagree with anything he says.  However, I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end, it worked well playing as 90 minutes without an interval and was engaging throughout. It's by no means the best written play on this list but it was probably my most enjoyable night at the theatre this year.

Here's a more positive review of it from the Telegraph. Below is Zach Braff being interviewed by STV.

2. Chalet Lines
Written by Lee Mattison
Directed by Madani Younis
Bush Theatre, London, April

A great all-female cast and a very funny script. The show covers five decades in the life of one family who celebrate family events at the same holiday camp.

Below is playwright Lee Mattison talking about the play.

3. Surprises
Written and Directed by Alan Ayckbourn
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, July

Alan Ayckbourn's 76th play, this was set in the future and deals with the subject of people living longer. This and 'Absurd Person Singular' featured probably the best ensemble cast of any show I've seen in 2012. Seeing them do two different productions in two nights (with a matinee in between) only increased my admiration for them. Everything you could possibly want to know about 'Surprises' you can find on this page at the excellent Alan Ayckbourn website.

4. Absurd Person Singular
Written and Directed by Alan Ayckbourn
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, July

In repertory with 'Surprises' was a revival of Ayckbourn's 'Absurd Person Singular'. Set over three Christmases in the kitchens of three couples it mixes poignancy with hilarious farce. Again, masses of information on this play from the Alan Ayckbourn website.

Below is a video of the impressive set changes that take place during the two intervals.

5. Absent Friends
Written by Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by Jeremy Herrin
Harold Pinter Theatre, London, April

The third Ayckbourn on the list, another revival, with a fantastic set. Elizabeth Berrington was the stand-out in the cast for me, although when Reece Shearsmith finally arrives he's terrific. Below is a video of the cast talking about the production.

6. Bullet Catch
Written by Rob Drummond
Directed by David Overend and Rob Drummond
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, August

A thoroughly compelling hour in the theatre as Rob Drummond's William Wonder chooses a volunteer from the audience to shoot him. The night I saw the show the volunteer pulled out at the last minute which made it all the more exciting. His broken glass trick that precedes the actual bullet catch was arguably more thrilling.

Trailer for Rob Drummond's Bullet Catch (2012) from The Arches on Vimeo.

7. Steel Magnolias
Written by Robert Harling
Directed by Jim Ewing
Bookends Theatre Group, East Kilbride Arts Centre, January

The first of two non-professional shows on the list and the second play with an all-female cast. I've always liked the film version of 'Steel Magnolias' and Bookends did a great job with the play. The two stand-outs in the cast being Louise KS Stewart and Fiona McLaren.

8. Rolls in Their Pockets
Written by Rob Drummond
Directed by David Overend
A Play A Pie and A Pint, Oran Mor, Glasgow, March

The second appearance for Rob Drummond on my list, this is a conventional play set in a Glasgow bar. A very funny three-hander with an excellent cast of Laurie Ventry as Norman, Lewis Howden as Laurie, and Jordan Young as George.

Below is Rob talking about the play.

9. Bottleneck
Written by Luke Barnes
Directed by Steven Atkinson
Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh, August

A compelling one man show set around a young Liverpool fan's ducking and diving to get a ticket for a big game. When we realise the game he's at is the 1989 FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough the atmosphere changes significantly. The most effecting part of the show is when James Cooney's character is fighting for his life while looking for his pal on the terracing.

10. All My Sons
Written by Arthur Miller
Directed by Deborah Mair
Strathclyde Theatre Group, Cottiers Theatre, Glasgow, November

The second non-professional production on the list. The show had a fantastic cast throughout, but the stand-outs for me were Barry Ward, Natalie Clark and especially Peter Williamson who brought some real compassion to the character of Joe Keller.

Tom's Films of 2012

Here's my films of the year. Thirty in total this time, as has been the custom over the last few year I have nothing to say about them. Not having written blog posts about them at the time it's difficult to try to have something relevant to say about 30 films all in one go, but anyway here you are.

1. God Bless America (UK release date 4th July)
Written and Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait
Starring: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr, Mackenzie Brooke Smith and Melinda Page Hamilton


2. Killing Them Softly (UK release date 21st September)
Directed by Andrew Dominik
Screenplay by Andrew Dominik
Based on the novel ‘Cogan's Trade’ by George V. Higgins
Starring: Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn

3. Moonrise Kingdom (UK release date 25th May)
Directed by Wes Anderson
Written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman and Bob Balaban

4. Seven Psychopaths (UK release date 5th December)
Written and Directed by Martin McDonagh
Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken and Tom Waits


5. Argo (UK release date 7th November)
Directed by Ben Affleck
Screenplay by Chris Terrio
Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman


6. The Dark Knight Rises (UK release date 20th July)
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan
Story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Morgan Freeman

7. The Hunt (UK release date 30th November)
Directed by Thomas Vinterberg
Screenplay by Tobias Lindholm and Thomas Vinterberg
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Alexandra Rapaport, Thomas Bo Larsen and Lars Ranthe


8. Sleepwalk With Me (No UK release)
Directed by Mike Birbiglia
Screenplay by Mike Birbiglia, Ira Glass, Joe Birbiglia and Seth Barrish
Starring: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, Carol Kane and James Rebhorn

9. Wild Bill (UK release date 23rd March)
Directed by Dexter Fletcher
Screenplay by Dexter Fletcher and Danny King
Starring: Charlie Creed-Miles, Will Poulter, Sammy Williams, Iwan Rheon, Liz White and Leo Gregory

10. Sightseers (UK release date 30th November)
Directed by Ben Wheatley
Screenplay by Alice Lowe, Steve Oram and Amy Jump
Starring: Alice Lowe and Steve Oram

11. The Descendants (UK release date 27th January)
Directed by Alexander Payne
Screenplay by Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash based on the novel 'The Descendants' by Kaui Hart Hemmings
Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Beau Bridges, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard and Robert Forster

12. The Giant Mechanical Man (No UK release)
Written and Directed by Lee Kirk
Starring: Jenna Fischer, Chris Messina, Malin Akerman and Topher Grace

13. Shame (UK release date 13th January)
Directed by Steve McQueen
Screenplay by Steve McQueen and Abi Morgan
Starring: Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan

14. 2 Days in New York (UK release date 18th May)
Directed by Julie Delpy
Screenplay by Julie Delpy and Alexia Landeau
Starring: Chris Rock, Julie Delpy, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau and Alex Nahon

15. Skyfall (UK release date 26th October)
Directed by Sam Mendes
Screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan
Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney and Judi Dench

16. Undefeated  (UK Release date 3rd August)
Directed by Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin
Starring: Montrail 'Money' Brown, O.C. Brown, Bill Courtney and Chavis Daniels

17. Silver Linings Playbook (UK release date 21st November)
Written and Directed by David O. Russell
Based on the novel by Matthew Quick
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver and Chris Tucker

18. The Master (UK release date 2nd November)
Written and Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams

19. Looper (UK release date 28th September)
Written and directed by Rian Johnson
Starring: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo and Jeff Daniels

20. Shadow Dancer (UK release date 24th August)
Directed by James Marsh
Screenplay by Tom Bradby based on his novel
Starring: Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough and Gillian Anderson

21. Young Adult (UK release 3rd February)
Directed by Jason Reitman
Written by Diablo Cody
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth Reaser, Patton Oswalt, Emily Meade and Collette Wolfe

22. Chronicle (UK release 1st February)
Directed by Josh Trank
Screenplay by Max Landis and Josh Trank
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Dane DeHaan, Ashley Hinshaw, Alex Russell and Anna Wood

23. The Oranges (UK release 7th December)
Directed by Julian Farino
Screenplay by Ian Helfer and Jay Reiss
Starring: Leighton Meester, Hugh Laurie, Alia Shawkat, Catherine Keener, Allison Janney, Adam Brody and Oliver Platt

24. Dark Horse (UK release 29th June)
Written and directed by Todd Solondz
Starring: Jordan Gelber, Selma Blair, Christopher Walken and Mia Farrow

25. Your Sister’s Sister (UK release 29th June)
Written and directed by Lynn Shelton
Starring: Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass, Mike Birbiglia, Jeanette Maus and Mel Eslyn

26. Ted (UK release 1st August)
Directed by Seth MacFarlane
Screenplay by Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild
Starring: Mila Kunis, Mark Wahlberg, Laura Vandervoort, Seth MacFarlane, Giovanni Ribisi, Patrick Warburton

27. Shut Up and Play the Hits (UK release 7th September)
Directed by Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern
Starring:  James Murphy, Chuck Klosterman, Pat Mahoney, Tyler Pope, Al Doyle,Gavin Russom and Nancy Whang

28. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (UK release 16th March)
Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Screenplay by Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Ercan Kesal
Starring: Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan, Taner Birsel, Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan, Firat Tanis and Ercan Kesal

29. The Imposter (UK release 24th August)
Directed by Bart Layton
Starring: Adam O'Brian, Anna Ruben, Cathy Dresbach, Alan Teichman, Ivan Villanueva and Maria Jesus Hoyos

30. The Grey (UK release 27th January) Directed by Joe Carnahan
Screenplay by Joe Carnahan and Ian Mackenzie Jeffers
Starring Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, James Badge Dale, Dallas Roberts, Joe Anderson and Frank Grillo

If you want to see what made the list from 2004-2011 you can do so below.

Tom's Films of 2011

Tom's Films of 2010

Tom's Films of 2009

Tom’s Films of 2008

Tom’s Films of 2007

Tom’s Films of 2006

Tom’s Films of 2005

Tom’s Films of 2004