The Ike Award Hall of Fame: 2016

Skip to: Jurassic Park, Of Mice and Men, The Bookbinder, Dancing in the Dark, The Jungle Book, Le Bossu, Consuming Passions, The Season Ticket, Frankenstein, How Did We Get To This Point?

And so, we come up to the final year of the list for now. When first set off doing this, I had planned to do these articles all the way to the present day, but I found as I went along it was more fun doing this as a retrospective, in particular wondering what these artists who impressed me are doing now. So I’m going to stop here for now and continue in real time. The Ike Award Hall of Fame 2017 will be done next year, 2018 the year after, so that there will always be a 3-4 period to reflect and see what happens next.

But before that, the outstanding plays of 2016, and this is a long list. It was probably chance more than anything, but amongst the plays I saw in 2016, the standard was exceptional. As a result, there are ten of you who’ve kept me busy writing this up:

Jurassic Park / Dinosaur Park / The Jurassic Parks

What is the best thing you can hope to get from the Edinburgh Fringe. Some might say a Fringe First, some might say wall-to-wall five-star reviews, but there is surely no greater honour than everybody at the fringe saying how great you were. At the 2015 fringe, I lost count of the number of times people saying how good Jurassic Park was. So I took the opportunity to work this into my visit I checked it out for myself (now called Dinosaur Park), and found out it is indeed as good as everyone said, and more.

Continue reading

A masterpiece of Mice and Men

George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck’s classic Of Mice and Men is just as moving now as it was in the Great Depression; and the production from Birmingham Rep and Touring Consortium fully does it justice.

Credit crunch? Austerity? Pah! All pales into insignificance against the Great Depression of the 1930s, bringing poverty to the United State unimaginable today. But whilst the hardships may be long forgotten, John Steinbeck’s masterpiece from this era lives on. Of Mice and Men is set in the world of the migrants, the American men who travelled west looking for any work they could find. A big theme throughout the play is loneliness of the migrants who travel alone. But two main characters in the story, George and Lennie, travel together and have each other.

The friendship of George and Lennie is fundamental to the story. Lennie is strong but simple-minded, and frequently gets them both into trouble; George would do better without him, but he accepts this burden – perhaps it is because he knows Lennie would never betray him. One might think of Lennie as gentle giant who wouldn’t hurt a fly, but sadly, that isn’t quite true. Lennie likes to hold tightly on to things he likes, which is how many unfortunate mice met an untimely end. We hear of a misunderstanding regarding a lady’s dress Lennie took a liking to that almost spelt the end of both of them. Alas, in spite for George’s efforts to protect Lennie from himself, this trait of his will bring their friendship to the ultimate tragedy. Continue reading