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Has The Donmar Lost Its Spark?


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#1 Titan

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 12:53 PM

I dont mean for this to be a slagging off thread, im just curious. Id sort of actually forgotten it existed lately. It doesnt seem to generate the hype it once did, it doesnt seem to attract the stars/actors or productions transfer and the productions dont generate the buzz

I used to be a member but stopped because i wasnt getting to london like i once did and also the productions didnt interest me so much.

#2 exuberantlyblue

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 01:23 PM

Hmm, I haven't felt like going to see Trelawny of the Wells, but I loved Julius Caesar and The Recruiting Officer, thought Richard II was great, and was pleasantly surprised by Making Noise Quietly. The Donmar's one of my favourite theatres.

That said, I only moved to London and started going in late 2011, so I don't have perspective on "how it used to be".

#3 armadillo

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 01:57 PM

View Postexuberantlyblue, on 24 March 2013 - 01:23 PM, said:

Hmm, I haven't felt like going to see Trelawny of the Wells, but I loved Julius Caesar and The Recruiting Officer, thought Richard II was great, and was pleasantly surprised by Making Noise Quietly. The Donmar's one of my favourite theatres.

That said, I only moved to London and started going in late 2011, so I don't have perspective on "how it used to be".
  Like everything else, it was much better in the old days. Apparently...

#4 Backdrifter

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 02:45 PM

Lawks a mercy. I just checked and saw that I haven't been since Rii, late 2011. Didn't go at all last year! I liked the sound of the Caesar and was sorry I missed it.

Like the Royal Court, I think the DW's an example of a venue that fell off my radar after it changed its booking practices. At the RC, I relied heavily on the £10 Mondays as part of wanting to keep costs down in a busy extensive schedule. When they made it bookable only on the day for non-members, I didn't feel like changing my approach to fit with this, so since then I've seen virtually nothing there. I think it might be similar with the DW - things like this Barclays Front Row system make me heave a sigh and think, ah I won't bother. I book for lots of stuff, theatre and concerts, and I'm getting weary of booking practices that mean you have to join an unseemly scramble at some zero-hour, resulting in disappointment for about half the time.

In some ways these venues might have achieved their aim - when I wrote to ask the RC why they changed to the bookable-on-the-day system, one of the reasons they said was to "diversify the Monday audiences" and avoid it being heavily weighted to dedicated theatregoers who are switched on enough to book for things months in advance - i.e. me. So they succeeded in my case as it pretty much put me off completely. The gradual trend towards similar approaches suggests other venues are going down the same kind of road. Whether that is indeed the case with the DW I'm not sure but I have a definite sense of "can't be bothered" about it now. Some of the rep doesn't feel as enticing too so maybe that's part of it as well.

It's also partly me, I suppose. I go to loads more fringe/off-West End now, I'm using my BFI membership more, I didn't bother renewing memberships at the Barbican and NT and almost never go to either of those now, have drifted away from previously regular haunts such as the DW and Almeida... But for me, to an extent yes I think it has lost some its appeal, which isn't necessarily the same as losing its spark.
Turn up the signal... wipe out the noise

#5 fringefan

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 02:58 PM

I certainly ceased to be a regular some time ago, when the DW introduced the membership scheme and then (as I see it) weighted things increasingly heavily in favour of members.  And I do like to be able to plan ahead, to make the best use of my time and money, so being unable to book before the day rarely works for me.  As Backdrifter suggests, these newer schemes might diversify the audience but as there will only ever be the same number of seats available, it's swings and roundabouts or perhaps robbing Peter of his seat in order to offer it to Paul.

#6 Stevemar

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 03:05 PM

I agree that the theatre is looking at different audiences, so (for me) it has lost some of its spark. I am a member and did recently still renew my membership, but for the first time since being a member (in 5+ years) haven't booked the latest play. Also, it think it was so successful that a side effect is that Michael Grandage and Jamie Lloyd now have their own companies taking the West End. Being a bit lazy, I am quoting something I wrote on the Trelawny of the Wells thread a couple weeks ago:
I would agree that the Donmar definitely needs to up its game. The buzz around the place has gone, mostly due to the wish to programme something different, but maybe that was because I admit to having been drawn to the star names and American/European classics and the whole "Donmar style" that Michael Grandage championed. I just feel that the plays so far since Josie Rouke has taken over have been mostly forgettable and the emphasis on more ensemble casts (and less star ,names) has meant that there has been less emphasis on "meaty" roles which are usually more memorable.  

#7 Backdrifter

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 03:11 PM

View Postfringefan, on 24 March 2013 - 02:58 PM, said:

it's swings and roundabouts or perhaps robbing Peter of his seat in order to offer it to Paul.
Perhaps - but they seem to prefer Paul to have the seat so if that's what they are after, and is what's happening, they're probably quite pleased, assuming you and I are not isolated cases.

How this affects the seats that, as previously established, are permanently held over for the Queen, Mick Jagger and Alan Rickman, I've no idea.
Turn up the signal... wipe out the noise

#8 Lynette

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 03:26 PM

Interesting: I booked for the new McPherson the other day in the priority time I have with the level of membership I have. I couldn't get the seats I wanted because they are saved for the Barclays scheme. I'm all for diversity and bringing in the young uns to the theatre. But why not reserve the back row? Or a few in each row? Sitting in the front isn't a prestige thing for me, it's an eyesight thing and my other half has a hearing problem ( yep we make a great pair) I am happy to pay a membership scheme to enable me to get the tix that suit me best. But now I am not able to do that. So where does it leave me? In the third row!
I've enjoyed most of what the Donmar has offered lately. I liked the Irish one and Julius Caesar. And The Recruiting Officer.

#9 Latecomer

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 03:35 PM

I'm with you Lynette, liked all those three!
I am a member but don't know why I bothered. Didn't like the £10 scheme but hey I'll roll with the punches and have been successful with it so am planning on using that instead of paying full price with membership.
I am not very excited about the Irish plays coming up but the Caesar was so fab will forgive quite a lot!

#10 Lynette

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 03:46 PM

Latecomer, give The Weir a try and let us know what you think. I loved it first time round when it won the Olivier.




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