The Little Things We Do Together
Our theatre-going report on 2018
What an up-and-down sort of year it was! We started with a severe winter, a very long, hot summer and a climate of political and economic uncertainty. The theatrical scene reflected some of the latter worries, but fortunately allowed us some much-needed escapism as well.
The Beast from the East forced us to cancel our visit to Hampstead Theatre for Dry Powder, on the advice of the coach company, but we were still able to offer 58 different shows across 60 trips throughout the year. And some of these were so popular that we had to go more than once!
The year started with the sumptuous production of The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House (and this year there were no technical hitches; the Christmas tree did grow, unlike last year!) and Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella had us dancing out of the theatre.
However, the Donmar’s Belleville, with James Norton, the electrifying Julius Caeser, with David Morrisey and Ben Whishaw, and the stunning Long Day’s Journey into Night, with Jeremy Irons and the mesmerising Lesley Manville, all excited in a different, more serious way.
We still had musical treats in store, with the unexpectedly memorable and very moving Girl from the North Country, an emotional and spectacular The King and I, the sensational Tina, and a new spin on Stephen Sondheim’s classic Company.
Our ballet fans enjoyed our visit to Giselle, Manon and Elite Syncopations, but a major disappointment this year was the Royal Opera House’s sudden curtailment of group offers. We had all loved the sensation of entering the Orchestra Stalls and the aura of glamour there, but the true balletomanes among us discovered that in fact the view of the full stage is even better from the Amphitheatre.
As the year continued, it seemed that productions on offer were more serious, and despite the high quality of performance, they failed – and so did we, in some cases – to attract the audience they deserved. Nina Raine’s controversial Consent with power-house acting from Claudie Blakeley and Stephen Campbell Moore, Brian Friel’s supreme Translations with Ciaran Hinds and Colin Morgan and even Aidan Turner revealing his comic talent in The Lieutenant of Inishmore deserved more support from our group. (However, I must admit that there were one or two shows when I was relieved that we hadn’t sold more tickets; nuff said!).
We ran two visits without coach transport, to see the programme of one-act plays that comprised
Pinter One, and to the long, two-part (and therefore expensive) epic drama The Inheritance. This was a new venture for us, and is something we may develop in the coming year, for shows which may not make bringing a coach viable.
Our theatre group has been running for 36 years now, and some of our friends and loyal supporters over the years have found that they can’t continue to join us on our journeys and late nights. We miss them, and wish them well – and hope that they may come occasionally in the future.
I’m often asked what was my favourite show of the year. How could I choose between Girl from the North Country which moved me to tears, and Marianne’s Elliott’s take on Company that moved me to cheers? Or Pack of Lies, with raw performances from Finty Williams and Chris Larkin, and The York Realist when Ben Batt and Jonathan Bailey broke my heart each time I saw it (3 times)?
I prefer to think of moments that brought me to the edge of the seat: Lesley Manville’s rancour in Long Day’s Journey into Night; all the songs in Girl from the North Country, but especially Shirley Henderson’s totally unexpected Like a Rolling Stone; Jonathan Bailey’s hysterical show-stopping Not Getting Married Today, and Patti LuPone’s blistering The Ladies Who Lunch, both in Company, the carefully crafted and impeccably performed scene between Martha Plimpton and Sebastian Viveros in Sweat, and the confrontation and ensuing brawl in the same play that drew gasps of horror from the audience. I revelled in the shafts of brilliance fired in the script of The Inheritance, and was reduced to rubble by the devastating endings to the first act in Part 1, and by the ending of Part 1 itself.
But what were your outstanding memories of the year’s theatre-going? Do let us know. You can click to a page which lists everything we saw in 2018 HERE.
Our thanks as always to our box-office colleagues, especially at Delfont Mackintosh, the Donmar, The Royal Opera House and Hampstead Theatre for their help and patience; to Cook’s Coaches and Compass Travel and their drivers; but most of all to our customers who make up the most important part of the theatre: the audience.
We look forward to seeing you again soon. There are exciting shows lined up for you already, and we look forward to welcoming you aboard the coach, or meeting you at the theatre. There is a small problem that we have to deal with - central London becomes a Low Emission Zone at the start of April, and because of the expense this involves for the coach companies, I’m afraid our coach fares will have to rise. We’ll do our best to look for good deals and continue to give you value for your money.
With best wishes, and Happy Theatre-going,
Fredo & Mike
Here are some suggestions if you would like to present some awards this year -
My Personal Favourites for:
Best Supporting Actress
Best Supporting Actor
Miscellaneous (something that really pleased you – a complete performance, or a scene, or just a moment)
LET US KNOW YOUR CHOICES.