It’s that time of year again when one tries to justify the humongous expense of theatre-going by trying to seize on a few happy memories in the desperate hope that they justify the outlay.
Yes, it’s the Whingies 2010.
A new category for 2010 and one hotly contested but George Avory of the Royal Opera House (he of the Inter-Mezzo brouhaha) was pipped at the post by Michael Coveney whose two-star review of Deathtrap gave away key plot points and generated such derision that it had to be revised.
Best opening night party
Another new category for 2010 mainly because we didn’t get invited to any in 2009. Mind you we didn’t get invited to all the ones we went to in 2010 Jerusalem, Megan Mullally and on Broadway La Cage Aux Folles all had their charms but frankly none has quite lived up to the first, Legally Blonde, at which there were two Doctor Whos.
Least Worst Play of the Year
Last year we were ahead of the pack raving about Jerusalem which was robbed of an Olivier Award and this year the Royal Court snatches victory again with Clybourne Park – we were so stimulated that we “did a Libby” and gave it 5 full glasses and the critics sensibly followed our lead. So there.
Artistic Powerhouse of the Year
The National had a much stronger year thanks to the wonderful London Assurance, The White Guard and After the Dance but they didn’t have Clybourne Park and then fell at a late fence with Fela! having already blotted their copybook with the appalling Really Old, Like Forty Five and the paper thin Earthquakes in London. Add Tribes into the equation and the Royal Court wins by a very blotchy red nose.
Least Worst Revival of the Year:
Worst Play of the Year:
Really Old, Like Forty Five by a long chalk.
Least Worst Supporting Performance in a Musical
Does Katie Finneran’s hilarious turn which took Promises, Promises to another level qualify? It was on The Broadway but one mustn’t be too parochial about these things. She won a Tony for it anyway so we’re sure she won’t give a darn about our paltry accolade but it would be churlish and insincere to give it to anyone else.
Least Worst Actor of the Year
We almost didn’t recognise Martin Freeman in Clybourne Park; Simon Russell Beale’s foppery won our hearts in London Assurance; Conleth Hill was terrific in The White Guard and of course Mark Rylance was a tour de force in La Bête. We were delighted by Benedict Cumberbatch in After the Dance. So difficult to choose one but we think it must be Simon Russell Beale.
Least Worst Actress of the Year
Rosamund Pike’s subtle and icy Hedda Gabler was cold enough to reverse global warming. Kim Cattrall impressed in Private Lives, as did Michele Dotrice in When We Are Married, Rosaleen Linehan in The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Nancy Carroll in After the Dance, Laura Dos Santos in Educating Rita, and Helen McCrory in The Late Middle Classes. But it was Tracie Bennett‘s incredible Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow that blew us away. Possibly it should fall into the Musical Performance category but EOTR is billed as a play and we have other plans for that category. So Bennett wins.
Least Worst Director of the Year
Most exciting recorded voice in a production
I expect you thought Dame Judi Dench would walk away with this for her Into The Woods giantess but you forget that we saw The Mousetrap this year so Derek Guyler wins hands down for his radio announcer cameo.
Least Worst Musical of the Year
We greatly enjoyed Into the Woods at Regent’s Park and Assassins at the Union but in an act of caprice we shall throw this award to Silence! The Musical at Above The Stag for making us hoot with laughter.
Worst Musical of the Year
No not The Fantasticks. Julie Andrews: The Gift of Music doesn’t qualify. And it’s not even Paint Never Dries. Why kick a dog when it’s down and anyway we gave it more stars than Time Out did. PND can be viewed as a confection of the highest order compared to the carnage that piled up in the Menier in the form of Paradise Found.
Best Entertainment of the Year
Worst Entertainment of the Year
Least Worst Performance in a Musical:
Probably Anna-Jane Casey in Bells Are Ringing at the Union actually
Least Worst Supporting Actor/Actress:
Perhaps unsurprisingly we were drawn to Claire Higgins literally luscious Gertrude in Hamlet. We particularly enjoyed Pip Carter in The White Guard (actually ALL the cast of The White Guard), Nick Sampson in London Assurance, Hilton McRae in End of the Rainbow and Caroline Blakiston in An Ideal Husband but it is WEW-fave Adrian Scarborough‘s shifting portrayal of the shiftless savant in After the Dance that most sticks in our minds. Quite extraordinary.
Least Worst Designer
Bunny Christie for The White Guard beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Best “What The…?” Moment
As Bunny Christie has already won something we’ll not give her this award too although her amazing set change in The White Guard was breathtaking. So this award must go to the four (four!) beheadings which were the only reason for sitting through Danton’s Death.
Mind you, then everyone got in on the act and suddenly the currency of heads being chopped off got a bit diluted. Daniel Radcliffe lost his on QI.
Biggest Debt Most Likely To Be collected:
Unless The Savoy Theatre burns to the ground again there are only 14 days before the Whingers can collect on their “bet” with Baz Bamigboye who misguidedly offered the Whingers £100 if Legally Blonde was still running in a years time. Since the government plan to have cashpoints begging us to make charitable donations, Baz’s idea that we donate our winnings will be even harder to refuse when we escort him to the nearest hole in the wall on January the 14th. Boo, sucks.
And what about the Whingers’ year?
Arts historians of the future at former polytechnics will – if they are really scraping the bottom of the barrel for something to write about – probably identify 2010 as the year in which the Whingers peaked.
Rumours that the Whingers were “in decline” in 2010 led to the Whingers desperately dragging themselves up by their sock suspenders to lurk at the nipsy of the Times’ “Luvvie Power List”, a shocking inclusion which caused them them to puff themselves up to even bigger blouse sizes than is usual and dance around doing The Sprinkler. And all because in February they finally came up with a decent gag.
The whole Paint Never Dries fuss grumbled on throughout the year and with nary a whiff of WikiLeaks the Whingers were flushed out into the open and forced to don masks or budget-stretching make-overs for appearances in yer actual media.
If that wasn’t enough those tiresome words started to turn up in quizzes. Frankly we were surprised that for Lord Webber’s relaunch of the show earlier this month he didn’t just rename the show and have done with it.
But infiltration seemed to be the key word for 2010 and the Whingers snuck in to the Critics Circle Theatre Awards, the WhatsOnStage Awards and became the Banquo’s ghosts at a series of opening night parties – just like Biggins does except that he is invited.
April saw the Whingers stranded by the ash cloud in New York. Something must indeed have been in the air as it made Phil go quite skittish and girly, asking Kelsey Grammer if the Whingers could crash at his place, stopping just short of offering to sign a pre-nup.
Not content with that Phil’s mouth got him into trouble again with the Green Day/Green room incident. Meanwhile Andrew knawed at his knuckles fretting that we wouldn’t make it back to blighty in time to check whether Debbie Reynolds was indeed Alive and Fabulous.
But sadly, for some, we did make it back and showed producers how to throw a proper bash despite not offering free drinks or fancy little nibbly things at the 4th Annual West End WhingersParty.
What larks. Oh well, all downhill from here.