2013: The facts and figures

As 2013 moves towards its conclusion, Civilian Theatre has delved into the back of the cupboard for some last little snippets for the year. There was no intention to see quite so many plays last year – and certainly not to end up writing up quite so many – it just ended up working out that way. It is only when there is time to sit back and reflect does one begin to find the surprising nature of what does/doesn’t make a post popular, and the fact that people may come from all over the world to read them. It was surprising to discover that Shakespeare made up only 17% of the plays that I saw this year – and only just holds off musicals (although Kiss Me, Kate is an adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew so it is 50:50). I also had to check that over a 1/3 of plays were new works, as these always seem as if they pass Civilian Theatre by. Less surprising but slightly depressing is that only six could be claimed to be pretty much entirely original texts.

47: Plays Seen      

38: Plays Reviewed

This includes:
8 Shakespeare Plays (17%)
7 Musicals (15%) + 1 Opera
17 were new works (36%), of which 6 were not based in existing literature or historical events (13%)
4 were in a foreign language (8%)


Most popular posts of 2013

1. Peter and Alice

Judy Dench, arguably one of the greatest female actors Britain has produced, and Ben Wishaw, spellbinding in the BBC’s Richard II, joining forces to take on the real-life counterparts of two of literature’s most enduring and imaginative childhood creations. It should have been perfect. It wasn’t.

2. Sweeny Todd / WAG: The Musical

Proving once again that bad publicity is better than no publicity at all, and Civilian Theatre’s first experience of having a review filleted for *ahem* unrepresentative quotes. WAG: The Musical is the unwanted gift that keeps on giving.

3. Mojo

Ben Wishaw (again), Rupert Grint, Colin Morgan, That guy off Downton Abbey, Daniel Mays (something for the theatre fans). I cannot guess why this made it into the top 3. I did also learn not to underestimate the twitter power of Colin Morgan fans.


Top 10 Countries by Visitors (thanks guys!)

  1. United Kingdom
  2. United States
  3. Australia
  4. Canada
  5. France
  6. Germany
  7. Russian Federation
  8. Belgium
  9. Republic of Korea
  10. Ireland
  • Civilian Theatre was visited by people from 87 countries in 2013.  This represents 45% of all countries recognised by the United Nations.
  • However 20 countries only visited a single time. This includes China, which has an estimated population of 1.35 billion. So clearly room for improvement there.
  • Other countries with just a single visit include the Democratic Republic of Congo,  Kazakhstan and Guatemala,

The worldwide reach of Civilian Theatre

Visitors 2013

The 2013 playlist

  1. The El Train – Hoxton Hall, December
  2. The Shape of Things – Arcola Theatre, December
  3. Henry V – Noel Coward Theatre, November
  4. The Scottsboro Boys – Young Vic, November
  5. Passing By – Tristan Bates Theatre, November
  6. Mojo – Harold Pinter Theatre, October
  7. The Events – Maria Room @ Young Vic, October
  8. Hamlet de los Andes – The Barbican Pit, October
  9. The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui – Duchess Theatre, September
  10. Edward II – National Theatre, September
  11. Fleabag – DryWrite @ Soho Theatre, September
  12. The Secret Agent – Theatre O @ the Young Vic, September
  13. All’s Well That Ends Well – Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford, August
  14. The Same Deep Water As Me – Donmar Warehouse, August
  15. Jekyll & Hyde – Red Shift & Flipping the Bird @ Maltings Art Centre, July
  16. Where the White Stops – ANTLER @ Battersea Arts Centre, July
  17. Circle Mirror Transformation – Royal Court @ Rose Lipman Community Centre, July
  18. Death in Venice – English National Opera @ Coliseum, June
  19. Mission Drift – The Shed @ National Theatre, June
  20. The Cripple of Inishmaan – Noel Coward Theatre, June
  21. Trash Cuisine – Belarus Free Theatre @ Young Vic, June
  22. Merrily We Roll Along – Harold Pinter Theatre, May
  23. Public Enemy – Young Vic Theatre, May
  24. Orpheus – Little Bulb Theatre @ Battersea Arts Centre, May
  25. Fraulein Julie – Barbican, April
  26. Macbeth – Trafalgar Studios, April
  27. Ubu Roi – Cheek by Jowl @ the Barbican, April
  28. Gibraltar – Arcola Theatre, March
  29. This House – National Theatre, March
  30. Peter and Alice – Noel Coward Theatre, March
  31. Watt – Gate Theatre Dublin @ the Barbican, March
  32. Mydidae – Trafalgar Studios, March
  33. In The Beginning Was The End – dreamthinkspeak @ National Theatre, February
  34. Rhinoceros – Théâtre de la Ville–Paris @ the Barbican, February
  35. Old Times – Harold Pinter Theatre, January
  36. Julius Caesar – Donmar Warehouse, January
  37. The human being’s guide to not being a dick about religion – Matt Thomas at the Canal Cafe Theatre, January
  38. Kiss Me, Kate – The Old Vic, January

Not reviewed (at least not yet)

  1. American Psycho – Almeida Theatre
  2. Richard II – Barbican
  3. Coriolanus – Donmar Warehouse
  4. Othello – Olivier @ National Theatre
  5. Candide – The Swan @ Royal Shakespeare Company
  6. Metamorphosis – Lyric Hammersmith
  7. Matilda: The Musical – Cambridge Theatre
  8. The Hot House – Trafalgar Studios
  9. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – Wimbledon Theatre

For all the 2013 reviews click here

Butterworth retains his Mojo (after nearly 20 years)

Mojo – Harold Pinter Theatre, booking until 25 January 2014

It is 18 years since Mojo made its debut at the Royal Court, and saw a 25-year old Jez Butterworth walking off clutching Olivier and Evening Standard awards and being hailed as an important new voice in British theatre. In 2013, four years after the brilliant Jerusalem cemented Butterworth’s reputation as a playwright of rare talent – one of the small band of writers who have left behind a play that will long outlive them – his early triumph has been revived for the West End.

It is tempting to try and unpick the threads that brought Butterworth from Mojo to Jerusalem, to peer into the murky past and find the path that links then to now. However watching this starry, TV-friendly revival at the Harold Mojo - Full Cast, Daniel Mays, Rupert Grint, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Coyle, Colin Morgan, Tom Rhyss HarrisPinter Theatre, one is more struck by how there is little in the play that suggests a playwright of such talent that they would eventually produce a modern tragedy on a parallel with King Lear and The Cherry Orchard.

There is no doubting the quality of writing on display in Mojo. If somewhat unadventurous in scope, it is sparky and genuinely funny. Butterworth’s writes high farce that crackles with a tension that hints at an underlying danger; the best of which often revolve around Ben Whishaw’s live-wire Baby. Baby’s recurring ‘Kiss my pegs’ motif is the play’s standout moment and in these scenes it feels that Butterworth is channelling the shifting energy that make Pinter’s early plays seem preternaturally alive.

However there is no doubting  the figure that looms largest in the background of Mojo; David Mamet. There are points when it seems that Butterworth has actually set himself on a mission to create an anglicised Glengarry Glen Ross. Mojo is a play that has far more in common with Mamet’s 1984 Pulitzer-prize winning play than with the emerging voices of the new wave of British playwriting in the early 1990s.

With the hugely satisfying film adaptation coming out in 1992, it is hard to believe that it wasn’t Butterworth’s mind and what we have is a very British take on the classical muscular American model; a distilled, slightly quaint version of the American dream, all a world away from from the In-Yer-Face stylings of Mark Ravenhill and the rest of young playwrights determined to send shockwaves through British theatre

The set-up seems to be a deliberate homage to Mamet’s original play, with the entire piece being set in two locations. The first half is set in a cramped office room above a club, reflecting and intensifying the underlying tension; the cast trapped and prowling like caged animals, their arguments bouncing off the walls and creating a claustrophobic atmosphere of distrust and fear. The second half replaces this with the main club; a far more expansive set that seems to disappear into the wings. It is a setting where the characters appear to expand in the new-found space, dreams are made and plans set in motion, and Butterworth’s accompanying dialogue is given room to grow and breathe.

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