Arts Review of the Year

Our Arts & Culture writers give a low-down of their cultural highlights of the last academic year!

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This year has been a fantastic year for culture. In London, Hamilton has taken the west end by storm, and there have been some brilliant broadcasts from the National Theatre, that have brought the best of London theatre to Lancaster. The Dukes has continued to innovate and enrich our community with plays such as Blackout. On campus, Lancaster Arts continued to offer a huge variety to students and VETO have managed to create a buzz around their original productions.

My personal cultural highlight in Lancaster this year was The Vagina Monologues, which was powerful, daring, and important. My highlight from outside of the University, has to be the BBC Two broadcast of Hamlet at the Harold Pinter Theatre, starring Andrew Scott. This was a modern, sleek take on Shakespeare’s most popular play, that was the greatest adaptation of the bard’s work I have ever seen. It was subtle, and beautifully acted. This year as Arts and Culture Editor has been a fantastic one, and if you have never considered writing for us, I reccomend you do so next year, if only for the chance to go to the theatre for free. Here are some of the Arts and Culture team’s highlights of the 2017-18 academic year. – Jonathan Herbert, Arts and Culture Editor

National Theatre Live: Julius Caesar – The Dukes

My cultural highlight from this year has to be the NT Live of Julius Caesar. It was a fantastic production with some exceptional actors. I especially loved the way they managed to take a lesser known Shakespeare play, unmistakably set in ancient Rome, and still, make it prevalent in contemporary politics and warfare. Its use of immersive staging was also really skilful, as it showed how quickly the audience could be swayed. Let’s hope to see more of this innovative theatre in the coming year! – Ruth Walbank, Deputy Arts and Culture Editor

Courtesy of Manchester Royal Exchange

Jubilee – Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre

I would choose Jubilee at the Manchester Royal Exchange from back in November. It was an outstanding hour and a half piece of experimental theatre, it pushed every boundary possible and was truly thrilling to watch. It tackled a whole variety of sociopolitical issues in really creative ways through monologues, song, dance, visual art and all-round anarchy. A particular highlight was the flamboyant Travis Alabanza in the lead role. Also, I weirdly found entertainment in watching all the old people around the room, squirm in their seats in shock, not expecting this taboo breaking performance, in what is normally a traditional theatre! – Toby Cooke, Carolynne Online Editor 

Périclès, Prince de Tyr (by Cheek By Jowl) – The Barbican

I was a bit skeptical about going to watch a Shakespearean adaptation performed entirely in French, but this play surprised me a lot! It was so much funnier than I expected and the meaning and messages of the play were easily conveyed despite the language barrier. The stage was minimal but very effective and the actors each played several different characters, which showed how talented they were, as the audience perceived them completely differently without the need for a costume change. – Conor Giblin, Music Editor

Image courtesy of Jonathan Herbert

Hamilton: An American Musical – Victoria Palace Theatre

My cultural highlight is a popular one for good reasons, Hamilton at the Victoria palace in London. The show is virtually perfect, with a score and story that could make for an incredible night of theatre on their own, paired with an ensamble that brings the whole show to an unprecedented level. The direction and the choreography in the show are unlike anything else I’ve ever seen, and the incredible cast that we have in London brings it to life effortlessly and beautifully. It’s one of those show that I wish everyone could see at least once in their life. – Fiamma Curti

National Theatre Live: Cat On A Hot Tin Roof – The Dukes

It may be my love for Tennessee Williams or the fact that Paul Newman played in the 1958 film adaptation. But “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” was definitely my highlight of the year. Benedict Andrews presented an updated version of the play while proving that it’s also a timeless classic. Both Sienna Miller and Jack O’Connell scaled the heights of their acting skills. The play may be quite heavy sometimes but it’s because it shows complex, yet real, human relations. All of that makes you think about it for a long time after seeing it. -Berenika Balcer

Image courtesy of the European Broadcasting Union (via Wikimedia Commons)

Eurovision Song Contest 2018

I mean you can never go wrong with Eurovision. There’s something about a ridiculous singing contest bringing together people all over Europe (and Australia, for some unknown reason that no one questions) that you just can’t replicate. Highlights included stairs on fire and vampire wannabes, vikings and gay Irish men. However with the good also comes the bad, this year in the form of cringey couples and the typical awkward host interactions. None of that stopped it from being an evening where Europe came together to laugh at acts and enjoy themselves in the way that only Eurovision can do. – Lucy Malaihollo-Sheppard, Deputy Screen Editor