Saturday, 21 March 2020

The Basic Theatre Awards 2020 - The Results!

Hey readers!

It has officially been 6 weeks since voting for the Basic Theatre Awards began, and I am overjoyed to at last be able to reveal the winners. It has been a great year for theatre across the globe, and it is great to have the opportunity to reward some of this year's strongest performances. I would like to thank all of those that kindly took the time to vote and spread the word; such effort is much appreciated. Without further delay, here are this year's winners...

Winning with 32% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Play goes to...

Aimee Lou Wood in Downstate as Effie in the West End!

As with the entire cast of Downstate, Aimee Lou Wood was absolutely brilliant in Downstate. Her time on stage was limited, but despite this fact her performance still left a lasting impact. She provided much needed comedic relief in what was otherwise a very serious play, and had brilliant comic timing.

The other nominees were:
  • Monica Dolan - All About Eve
  • Cecilia Noble - Downstate
  • Rana Roy - Ink
  • Rosalind Eleazar - The Starry Messenger

Winning with 34% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Play goes to...

Giles Terera in Rosmersholm as Andreas Kroll in the West End!

Giles Terera's portrayal of pompous conservative Governor Andreas Kroll was well and truly outstanding. The way in which he showed the character's pragmatism made for a really interesting juxtaposition with the show's leading character (portrayed by the spellbinding Hayley Atwell), who happened to be more of a romantic, and he was therefore able to conjure up a really unique dynamic onstage. It was an all-round excellent performance, and Terera is clearly a highly skilled actor. 

The other nominees were:
  • Mark Benton - Glengarry Glen Ross
  • K. Todd Freeman - Downstate
  • Francis Guinan - Downstate
  • Bertie Carvel - Ink

Winning with 40% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Production of a Play goes to...

All About Eve in the West End!

All About Eve was a theatrical event unlike anything I had previously encountered. It was extremely ambitious, with director Ivo van Hove attempting to combine film and theatre in one. Such an approach was extremely innovative, and I admired the show's creativity. The show also has a gripping story to it, and I was on the edge of my seat throughout. If this weren't enough, All About Eve also includes a number of remarkable performances (Gillian Anderson, Lily James and Monica Dolan were all fantastic, just to name a few), and features some really extraordinary music. It was an evening at the theatre that I am unlikely to forget. 

The other nominees were:
  • Downstate - West End
  • Betrayal - West End
  • Ink - Broadway
  • The Son - West End

Winning with 54% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical goes to...

David Hunter in Waitress as Dr. Pomatter in the West End!

When I saw Waitress in February 2019, it was David Hunter's portrayal of Dr. Pomatter that stole the show. It is a brilliant role to begin with, but he really took it to the next level. Hunter nailed the comedic part of the role, and had the audience in stitches throughout. His comic timing was well and truly impeccable. He also excelled at the more serious aspect of the character as well, giving a powerful rendition of 'You Matter To Me'. 

The other nominees were:
  • Andy Grotelueschen - Tootsie
  • John Behlmann - Tootsie
  • Erich Bergen - Waitress
  • Ephraim Sykes - Ain't Too Proud

Winning with 44% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play goes to...

Tom Hiddleston in Betrayal as Robert in the West End!

Tom Hiddleston is an actor with many skills, and the role of Robert provided him with the perfect platform to showcase this. He too excelled at all aspects of the role, flawlessly executing both the humours aspects of the role as well as the more tragic elements. Hiddleston is gifted with a natural stage presence, and was utterly captivating to watch. Additionally, he had an electric chemistry with his talented co-stars, Charlie Cox and Zawe Ashton.

The other nominees were:
  • Jonny Lee Miller - Ink
  • Michael Shannon - Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune
  • Ian McKellen - Ian McKellen on Stage
  • Laurie Kynaston - The Son

Winning with 73% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical goes to...

Alex Brightman in Beetlejuice as the Titular Role on Broadway!

The idea to cast Alex Brightman as Beetlejuice was inspired; he was not someone that I would have necessarily imagined in this role, and yet he was utterly perfect for it. He is filled with charisma from head to toe, and was captivating to watch. In addition to this, Brightman is also naturally funny, and delivered jokes faultlessly. There can be no doubt that he gives it his all from beginning to end, and gives a remarkably dynamic performance with maximum energy throughout. It is noteworthy that this win has set the record for the highest percentage of votes for any Basic Theatre Award nominee ever, so congratulations to Mr. Brightman!

The other nominees were:
  • Kelsey Grammer - Man of La Mancha
  • Santino Fontana - Tootsie
  • Will Roland - Be More Chill
  • Derrick Baskin - Ain't Too Proud

Winning with 41% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical goes to...

Lauren Wared in Dear Evan Hansen as Cynthia Murphy in the West End!

Lauren Ward puts so much raw emotion into her portrayal of Cynthia Murphy, and it really does pay off. There is so much feeling and warmth in her performance, and she was very believable in the role of this grieving Mother. Her interpretation of the character had multiple layers to it, and she was definitely one of Dear Evan Hansen's high points. All in all, it was a genuine and very moving performance. 

The other nominees were:
  • Lilli Cooper - Tootsie
  • Sarah Stiles - Tootsie
  • Caitlin Houlahan - Waitress
  • Angie Schworer - The Prom

Winning with 32% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actress in a Play goes to...

Lily James in All About Eve as Eve Harrington in the West End!

In the role of Eve Harrington, Lily James shone. She clearly evidenced Eve's rising ambition throughout the play, and cleverly showed the character's sudden mood swings. In particular, Eve's more volatile scenes proved to be rather gripping. James was particularly talented at showing the ways in which Eve changed and developed throughout the course of the play, and this made for fascinating viewing. 

The other nominees were:
  • Gillian Anderson - All About Eve
  • Zawe Ashton - Betrayal
  • Audra McDonald - Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune
  • Hayley Atwell - Rosmersholm

Winning with 49% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical goes to...

Aimie Atkinson in Six as Katherine Howard in the West End!

Atkinson's extraordinary portrayal of Katherine Howard had an infectious energy to it like no other. It was an utterly enchanting performance, and she was transfixing to watch. Six is full of extraordinarily talented performers, and yet it was Atkinson that stole the show; this in itself is a major achievement. Atkinson is an especially gifted singer, and her rendition of 'All You Wanna Do' is astonishing. She is also a skilled dancer, making her a certified triple threat. 

The other nominees were:
  • Katharine McPhee - Waitress
  • Adrienne Warren - Tina
  • Sophia Anne Caruso - Beetlejuice
  • Beth Leavel - The Prom

Winning with 54% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Production of a Musical goes to...

Six in the West End!

Whilst inspired by real-life events, Six is an entirely new and original musical and is not based off of any prior source material; on this basis, the show deserves a lot of commendation. The concept behind it is ingenious, and it is arguably one of the best new British musicals in quite some time. The musical score is astonishing, and I have listened to the original cast recording a number of times; the songs are extremely well-written and prove to be rather catchy. In relation to creativity, the choreography, costume designs and orchestrations are all superlative, and the cast are sensational. 

The other nominees were:
  • Beetlejuice - Broadway
  • Tootsie - Broadway
  • The Prom - Broadway
  • Dear Evan Hansen - West End

Winning with 58% of the votes cast, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Understudy goes to...

Vicki Manser in Six as Anna of Cleves in the West End!

The role of an understudy, swing or alternate is absolutely vital one, and therefore this award always tends to be one of my favourites to give out. Manser is very deserving of this title, and she gave a wonderful performance. She has a fantastic presence about her, and had a force of personality. She fully immersed herself in the role, and pulled out all the stops. In addition to this, Manser has an excellent singing voice, and delivered a memorable rendition of 'Get Down'. 

The other nominees were:
  • Josh Lamon - The Prom
  • Chris Bennett - Only Fools and Horses
  • Marcus Harman - Dear Evan Hansen
  • Mark Peachy - Dear Evan Hansen

And on that note, yet another Basic Theatre Awards season comes to a close. Congratulations to all of those that won, and once again thank you to everyone who took the time to vote. 

These results unfortunately come at a difficult time for the theatre industry, and these are proving to be rather uncertain times for each and everyone working in entertainment across the globe. Nevertheless, I am confident that the industry will bounce back in due course, and it is exceedingly important that we remain optimistic in these testing times. I wish everyone good health, and urge people to stay strong. We will fight this, and we will return stronger than ever before. 

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Review: The Visit

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of The Visit.
In the town of Slurry, New York, post-war recession has bitten. Claire Zachanassian, improbably beautiful and impenetrably terrifying, returns to her hometown as the world’s richest woman. The locals hope her arrival signals a change in their fortunes, but they soon realise that prosperity will only come at a terrible price.

The Visit, originally written by Friedrich D├╝rrenmatt and adapted by Tony Kushner, follows an intriguing story and explores a variety of interesting themes. In particular, the central character of Claire Zachanassian is fascinating, and there is a lot to be learnt from her. Zachnassian could in theory be used as a case study, demonstrating the many ways in which life-long resentment and holding grudges against those that have scorned us in the past can negatively influence our lives. The character becomes consumed with wrongs that were committed against her several decades ago, and will not rest until she has received "justice". Zachnassian's obsession with vengeance is fascinating, and makes for an absorbing narrative. The themes explored within the play are equally as compelling, with matters relating to social science and philosophy explored in detail. The Visit shows us the ways in which a love of money can be the root of society's evil; it demonstrates that money can really alter one's perspective on life and turn people against one another with great force. The show also demonstrates how billionaires are so easily able to buy influence and power over our society. With recent allegations that certain individuals have been trying to buy the American Presidency, this message is particularly striking. In relation to philosophy, the show also delves into Jeremy Bentham's Act Utilitarianism. This ethical theory ultimately encourages people to seek the greatest amount of pleasure for the greater number of people. Utilitarianism favours the majority of people, so The Visit explores what happens when the pleasure of the majority must come at the expense of a minority. Such themes were well-explored, and definitely provided food for thought. The only slight downside to The Visit is its long running time, which stands at 3 hours and 30 minutes. Whilst the time did go by relatively quickly, there are a number of scenes which do feel somewhat prolonged. It would therefore likely benefit the piece if it were trimmed by 10-15 minutes. Nevertheless, it was still engaging throughout, which is an impressive feat when taking into account its long running time.

In the leading role of Claire Zachanassian was Lesley Manville, and she was utterly outstanding; her performance was complete and utter perfection. She was very believable, and really threw herself into the role. Manville had an excellent characterisation, perfectly balancing Claire's vindictive nature with her inner-sadness and pain. Hugo Weaving, as Alfred Ill, was also very good and proved well-suited to the role. He was very convincing, and his descent into near-madness was portrayed exquisitely.

The scenic design, by Vicki Mortimer, was grand and proved rather impressive. At the beginning of The Visit, the set is unglamorous, showing the extent to which the town is run-down. As the play progresses however and Claire Zachanassian begins to provide funding for the town, the set becomes much more extravagant. This was a clever yet subtle way of showing the way that money had begun to impact the town, and was extremely effective. Therefore, the set was masterfully designed.

Now for my final verdict on The Visit. I give The Visit...

Despite its long running time, The Visit is a very interesting piece of writing, bolstered by two fantastic leading performances. 

Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer