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Bear with me: Stitches @TheHopeTheatre

What if your teddy bear could talk? My ten-year-old self would think that to be excellent. My more recent self would think it was a high-concept buddy movie with Mark Wahlberg. But in Stictches, Jonathan Blakeley's monologue, which he has written and performed, traces the life of his beloved Chloe, from when she was first given to him by her grandmother, wrapped with a red ribbon. It becomes a story not just about a cute bear (or maybe that should be rough, shaggy-looking bear given the performer’s appearance) observing life but an exploration of life and all of its stages. It's currently playing at the Hope Theatre .  The bear is not warm and fuzzy; he is a bit of a character and tough-talking, but also a bit anxious about being accepted and then discarded as nothing. But he is there to bear witness as she navigates the complicated facets of growing up and having a life. Ultimately, the bear has to deal with being consigned to a box with her other memories until circumstances

Comment: Remembering and recognition for awards Season in Theatre... including #alsorecognised

Awards and accolades are a great way of remembering some of the great performances of the past year. Assuming that you can remember them...

There is so much stuff that is great to see in London that whittling anything down to a shortlist of three or four seems a tad cruel.

Still it is great that there is a small but growing group of awards to recognise. The Oliviers and The Whats On Stage Awards cover the big end of town, but there is also the Also Recognised Awards.

It's less glamorous than those two and winners only get to pose with a selfie. Set up by My Theatre Mates Mark Shenton and Terri Paddock, they celebrate lesser-known but worthy talent in fields overlooked by other awards bodies. This year's winners included a number of winners or nominees from the Olivier Awards. But there were also some differences.

Bugsy Malone, which lost out to Gypsy for Best Musical Revival at the Oliviers, won for Best Ensemble Performance.

Kenneth Branagh’s production of The Winter’s Tale received the award for Best Shakespearean Production. And another Branagh production, All On Her Own, saw Zoë Wanamaker win for Best Solo Performance.

Natalie Dew, nominated for Best Actress in a Musical at the Oliviers, took the award for London Newcomer of the Year for her musical debut in the leading role of Bend It Like Beckham.

The Phantom of the Opera won Best Twitter Engagement and Peter Pan Goes Wrong won Best Show Trailer. Best Show Poster went to the imagery used to advertise Stephen Adly Guirgis’ play The Motherfucker With the Hat.

The Donmar Warehouse won Theatre Event of the Year for its live election night broadcast of James Graham’s play The Vote.

And in a new category Best Musical Cabaret, went to Scott Alan and Cynthia Erivo for their intimate cabaret evening at the St. James Studio.

But with so much talent on stage in London, perhaps we need more awards categories to recognise other crucially important aspects to enjoying the theatre.

Hair, make-up, lighting and costumes never seem to get the recognition they deserve for shows. Ditto shows that rely on visual or sound effects, or projections.

Then there are the specific traits actors have to have to fulfill the requirements of a role. Whether they are playing a character with an accent or staying in shape. Best accent or fittest body could be a fun shortlist.

There is also the venues themselves. Some of the theatres in the West End are a delight to visit. The St James Theatre in Victoria is worth a visit just to admire the marble staircase. The Vaudeville Theatre, where Hand To God is playing, had a great bar refurbishment. And the Adelphi, currently home to Kinky Boots, has a terrific set of refurbished urinals (modern yet in keeping with the look and feel of the place).

Something to consider until next year. Along with giving the Oliviers a proper live broadcast when it moves to Royal Albert Hall...

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