With an Olympic-themed Shakespeare festival (which I'll come back to later) you'd think that would have dominated 2012, but for me what's stood out the most have been the new plays.
IT'S NEW AND IT'S GOOD
The Royal Court (of whom much more later) are of course a nerve centre for new writing, and started the year in a storming way with Nick Payne's Constellations, which was both stylistically and thematically original and beautifully performed, and later transferred to the West End.
Lay Down Your Cross, which I was less convinced by, and the simple but effective One Day When We Were Young receiving their London premieres, and he also turned director for a one-off rehearsed reading of The Starry Messenger. Even more ubiquitous was Simon Stephens, although his premieres this year were heavily reshaped by their directors: When Katie Mitchell staged The Trial of Ubu she did without the actual trial, while I was least impressed with Stephens' collaboration with Sean Holmes and the Lyric Young Company in Morning. The standout of his new plays though was the British/German/Estonian co-production Three Kingdoms, which director Sebastian Nübling rewrote and reshaped into a baffling but memorable nightmare of animal-headed people and partially-dressed Eastern European men.
The Royal Court also saw actor Luke Norris make an imperfect but promising move to playwrighting with Goodbye To All That, while over at the Bush even if the play it was paired with failed to convince me, Caroline Horton's monologue You're Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy was a little gem. Vivienne Franzmann followed the promise of Mogadishu with the excellent and heartbreaking The Witness, which brings me to the first of my occasional awards:
Danny Webb and Pippa Bennett-Warner in The Witness
Still at the Royal Court for Caryl Churchill's latest experiment with form; Love and Information's use of a sketch show format turned out not to be to everyone's taste, but I sided with those impressed by her ambition, and enjoyed trying to pull together the threads of the sketches. Over in Victoria, a new theatre opened in an understated but powerful way with Sandi Toksvig's Bully Boy, while the aforementioned One Day When We Were Young was joined at a pop-up theatre in Shoreditch by Duncan Macmillan's intimate Lungs and Penelope Skinner's amiably eccentric The Sound of Heavy Rain. A hot ticket at the Tricycle was Lolita Chakrabarti's Red Velvet, which also gave her husband Adrian Lester a warm-up for his upcoming Othello. Howard Brenton looked at a period of British history oddly ignored by drama in 55 Days, and DC Moore hid a surprising subtlety underneath the raucousness of Straight. Meanwhile after a quiet start another powerhouse of new writing, the National's Cottesloe, really got going at the end of the year with a double whammy of very different hits: James Graham's history of the 1970s House of Commons, This House, and Lucy Prebble and Rupert Goold's long-awaited ENRON follow-up, clinical romance The Effect.
YOU'VE GOT TO BE ABLE TO ADAPT TO THE SITUATION
Adaptations have been keeping writers and directors busy this year, and audiences have been frequently divided on the results. Emily Mann and Bijan Sheibani stripped back and relocated Lorca's Bernarda Alba; not everyone was convinced but it clicked with me more than past productions of the play. A Clockwork Orange came to the stage not once but twice, first in an unconvincing take at the Arcola, and then at the end of the year in a production at Soho which wins
THE PIPPIN MEMORIAL AWARD FOR ENDEARING WHATTHEFUCKERY:
Alexandra Spencer-Jones' "there's nothing intentionally gay
about 90 minutes of sweaty topless men wrestling, honest,"
production of A Clockwork Orange
I'm not going to include it in the Shakespeare section later because Q Brothers' Othello: The Remix did to Shakespeare what he usually did to every writer before him, completely rewriting the familiar story into something new and kind of wonderful.
Antigone was good, if a bit vague on setting; Mike Bartlett's suburban Medea was intermittently interesting but faltered at the end; the most successful modernisation in my book was Caroline Bird and Christopher Haydon's The Trojan Women at the Gate. Chinese theatre on the other hand is something I have little to no experience of seeing staged here so the RSC creating a new version of The Orphan of Zhao was something different, and memorably good.
I was pleased to see Chekhov get more of a present-day treatment as well; there were many complaints but both Benedict Andrews' Three Sisters, and a less overtly radical but still resolutely modernised Seagull from Anya Reiss and Russell Bolam got my seal of approval. And if taking liberties with a dramatic text is fraught with dangers, how much more so is adapting one of the best-loved novels of the last decade, so the prolific Simon Stephens (also providing the translation for Carrie Cracknell's illuminating Doll's House) really had his work cut out for him with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time but, together with outstanding directing (Marianne Elliott,) design (Bunny Christie) and acting (led by Luke Treadaway) they pulled off one of the shows of the year.
BRING IT ON BACK
New work inevitably brings focus on the writer, but the rest of the creatives get to shine with revivals, and if I wasn't quite as enraptured by Joe Hill-Gibbins' production of The Changeling (successful enough to have returned to a bigger space at the end of the year) as some people, I was still impressed by its bonkers aesthetic. Jacobean tragedy also got the Cheek by Jowl treatment with 'Tis Pity She's A Whore. The Menier's Abigail's Party managed to avoid copying the famous original, while Moon on a Rainbow Shawl provided me with one of the more... interesting comments to a review, when it transpired I only liked it 'cause I'm not racist enough. The Browning Version proved its status as a classic when it returned to the West End; despite David Hare having produced a very good companion piece for the double bill, the Rattigan still overshadowed it. And a very dark play I'd been waiting to see revived for a very long time, Brimstone and Treacle didn't disappoint when it finally returned to London.
Back to Jacobean tragedy in August for a small-scale Revenger's Tragedy with an 80s disco vibe, and just before Cabaret returned to London we got a rare revival of the play that inspired it, with I Am A Camera's performances giving the bigger production a lot to live up to.
SHAKE, BABY, SHAKE
There's not many years that don't feature a good showing for Shakespeare, but 2012 also celebrated the World Shakespeare Festival to tie in with the Olympics, bringing international Shakespeare back to the UK just as the world was chucking its athletes here as well. One of the biggest events was at Shakespeare's Globe, where the Globe To Globe season brought almost the entire canon (minus The Two Noble Kinsmen; no, if you're counting stuff like Pericles which is reconstructed, and Timon which is unfinished, then Kinsmen which comes somewhere around Henry VIII but didn't make the first two Folios, should definitely count too) to the stage in different languages. Alongside the aforementioned remix of Othello I also caught a Greek Pericles and a British Sign Language Love's Labour's Lost. But the Globe's main season disappointed: You know something's wrong if my favourite production of a season is The Taming of the Shrew; most disappointing of all was the long-awaited Henry V, where Jamie Parker was barnstorming but surrounded by a tediously "will this do?" production.
Henry V was the Shakespeare play this year: Propeller showed the Globe how it's done (alongside the best Winter's Tale I've seen,) the Old Red Lion gave it a bit of a structural shakeup, and even the BBC had a go with Thea Sharrock's film forming a wobbly conclusion to the Hollow Crown season on TV (following Rupert Goold's Richard II and Richard Eyre's Henry IV Part 1 and Part 2.) The National Theatre's Shakespeare offering this year was a Timon that got a lot of praise but thoroughly underwhelmed me, and it was down to smaller companies to impress me, like a zero-budget but enthusiastic Dream stopping off at the Almeida pre-Edinburgh.
Of the big companies, the best track record for Shakespeare came from the RSC: A fun trio of modern-day productions visited London, while in Stratford-upon-Avon I caught probably the best Julius Caesar I've ever seen, a more mixed Much Ado but one with that Shakespearean rarity, a Dogberry that works, plus some particularly merry Merry Wives and one of my all-time favourite actors, Kathryn Hunter, as a rewritten Juliet in A Tender Thing. And because infrequently-performed Shakespeare plays tend to come back with a vengeance, a very good revival at the Union was then topped by the RSC's own King John - a memorably high-concept production that I know has more than just me excited for director Maria Aberg and stars Alex Waldmann, Pippa Nixon and John Stahl to reunite for As You Like It next summer.
SHAKESPEARE PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR:
Maria Aberg's King John, bringing celebrity culture to English history
But it wasn't all plain sailing bringing international Shakespeare back to the UK: A Brazilian remix of Richard III replaced character with half-hearted acrobatics and confused that play's Gloucester with the one from King Lear. And a Catalan mashup of the various Forests in Shakespeare lost all context, and all meaning in the process.
Shakespeare might have got the official festival, but among London theatre bloggers and tweeters there was excitement about more of an accidental one, as probably my favourite living playwright, Philip Ridley (who's featured in my yearly top ten lists for the last two years) was omnipresent in the early part of the year, in what we called Ridleyfest 2012, before we set about spotting some of the recurring memes Ridley likes to pepper his work with (chocolate, fairytales, aliens, insect-eating, parents losing their child, badly injured legs...) The Pitchfork Disney, Mercury Fur and Tender Napalm all got revived in London, while Southwark Playhouse premiered two new works: The family show Feathers in the Snow was perhaps trying to do too much, but Shivered was a triumph: Ridley applying many of his familiar concerns to a very different storytelling style than he's used to, and nailing it both in terms of narrative and devastating emotional impact.
HIGH-KICKS AND GIGGLES
Comedy started the year well with the Old Vic's hit revival of farce-within-a-farce Noises Off, but another well-known deconstruction of farce faltered somewhat in Sean Foley's underpowered What the Butler Saw - although the production wasn't without its compensations.
Spymonkey's demented merging of Greek Tragedy with James Bond, Oedipussy won't be one I forget in a hurry (I still hum the Bond-esque theme tune from time to time.) New play An Incident at the Border had the feel of a long-lost absurdist classic; and the script of Joe Penhall's Birthday, though entertaining, didn't quite live up to the play's strong comic conceit. Unfortunately Charley's *unt creaked onto the Menier stage covered in cobwebs, but in contrast the old Christmas tradition of pantomime is feeling fresher than ever at the moment, and I closed the year with both a storming traditional panto at the Lyric Hammersmith's Cinderella, and its smuttier cousin at the Landor's adult panto Get Aladdin. But some of 2012's most memorable comic moments came from the reinvigoration of Restoration comedy: At the National, Jamie Lloyd seemed to be channeling some of Jessica Swale's organised chaos for She Stoops to Conquer.
Then Swale herself returned later in the year to show how it's done, with the long-lost The Busy Body coming across as a comedy classic. This was helped by Swale writing new songs for the show, essentially turning it into a musical. As for actual musicals, 2012 didn't have a Matilda in its back pocket, but it did have its moments. Ghost wasn't exactly musically memorable, but its relentlessness did kind of beat me into submission. Or maybe I was just distracted by... stuff.
Sondheim was represented by a starry Sweeney Todd and the Menier's slightly underwhelming Merrily We Roll Along, while Kander and Ebb were popular this year - alongside the return of Cabaret I also caught their lesser-known Steel Pier and Curtains. But as far as "classic" musicals go I failed to see what was so great about the horribly offensive Carousel and messy as hell Kiss Me Kate. If classics are what you were after Southwark playhouse's Vault was the place to go, with Mack and Mabel and Victor/Victoria scoring hits for Thom Southerland. A more recent musical to get a new lease of life was Boy George's Taboo, coming across rather well in a site-specific production, and the long-overdue London debut of Boy Meets Boy turned out to be a surprise charmer. Promising new musicals in varying stages of development included After the Turn, Soho Cinders and Loserville - the latter a fun show that was unfairly mauled by the critics after arriving in the West End before it was quite ready. As for one of the biggest West End premieres of the year, the least said about Viva Forever the better I reckon.
STARS AND STRIPS
They say you shouldn't choose what to see based only on the cast because if you get an understudy you'll be disappointed, but star casting is undoubtedly here to stay. As well as the big names arriving in the West End, I get excited about lesser-known actors I like. Or want to see partially clothed, which 2012 has been particularly good about to be honest. Marquee names have included Tyne Daly in Master Class - the fact that Richard loved her performance as Maria Callas despite never having seen Cagney and Lacey meant I knew I didn't just like her because of nostalgia. At the National, Cillian Murphy single-handedly filled the Lyttelton stage in Misterman. For my sister, Zach Braff was probably the most exciting US TV star to turn up in London theatreland, but his All New People was a mess. In fact for my money one of the least trumpeted foreign imports may have been the best, with Laurie Metcalf stunning in Long Day's Journey Into Night alongside David Suchet and Kyle Soller.
Meanwhile I was getting excited about a more local star returning to theatre, especially since Sex With A Stranger saw Russell Tovey partially dressed in the tiny Trafalgar 2.
I was just as excited, if not more so, to finally see one of my longest-standing crushes up close on stage. And as Joe McFadden spent much of his time as the flirtatious Ed in his underwear, the Menier's revival of gay classic Torch Song Trilogy didn't disappoint. Except in the sense that we're the same age and he still looks like that, whereas I... disappoint myself in comparison. (Then again I never looked a tenth as good as that so it's an unfair starting point.)
Back to the big international names though where there were some major disappointments: Danny DeVito, Cate Blanchett and Juliette Binoche all gave good performances, but in The Sunshine Boys, Gross und Klein and Mademoiselle Julie respectively, they gave them in misjudged vehicles. Better-served was Julie Walters in The Last of the Haussmans at the National, adding another Harry Potter star to my collection in the process. (Other Potter actors I got to add to my list for the first time this year included Katie Leung in Wild Swans, Matthew Lewis in Our Boys and Alfie Enoch in just about everything. It also turns out Robbie Jarvis from Shivered played Harry's dad in flashbacks. This photo of him has nothing to do with Shivered or Potter but we're having it anyway so shush:
Also, just a couple of days ago I was looking through old programmes my mum's still kept in a cupboard, and it turns out I can also add Bill Nighy, who played Trigorin in The Seagull at the National in 1994; that was presumably also the first time I saw Helen McCrory onstage, although I've since added her many times, including the aforementioned Haussmans this year.)
Haussmans also introduced us to Taron Egerton, whose first entrance crossing the stage in a speedo obviously caught more than just my eye - his name is the most-searched term leading to my blog this year. Other people stripping down to their skivvies included Karl Davies in The Winter's Tale and Toby Wharton in His Greatness, the latter leading to the Finborough promoting the show on Twitter by saying something along the lines of "come see our show, there's a young man in his pants in it." Which I'm taking as a thorough vindication of the angle this blog's reviews sometimes take.
Plenty of people were even less shy (which led to a bizarre competition between Andy and Richard over which of my regular theatre companions could see the most full-frontal naked men on stage. Andy won, by two. Richard got so competitive about it that for next year I've had to introduce actual rules. I've had to agree to the request that every frontally naked man is a point regardless of whether you'd actually want to see him naked; however from now on a point is lost for every vagina that gets a public airing.) Anyway, this past year's exhibitionism included two flashes each from Making Noise Quietly and Three Kingdoms (that's how Andy gained a four-cock lead in a fortnight,) Matthew Pattimore in Equus, Paul Standell in Vieux Carre, William Postlethwaite in Fireface and half the cast of The Judas Kiss - in fact it may well be time for another award, because so far they haven't really represented quite how appallingly shallow my approach to theatre really is.
NEW FACE (and the rest) OF THE YEAR:
Ben Hardy in The Judas Kiss
And then of course there's the Michael Grandage Season, which will be supplying many of 2013's star names, but kicked off at the end of 2012 with Privates on Parade. The big name here is Simon Russell Beale but some of us online theatre fans were more concerned with the actual privates, who include Joe Timms, Harry Hepple and Big Favourite Round These Parts Sam Swainsbury.
The SHOCKA about this show turned out to be that the play's various nude scenes aren't quite as revealing from performance to performance and depending where you're sitting. But because readers of this blog don't care about such things, they won't want to know that the £10 seats include Grand Circle slips on audience left, which have a restricted view of the stage, but do look directly onto the "shower cubicle." About AA18-20 should be good. What do you mean, "did I spend the entire show scoping out ideal perving locations for a future visit?" I would have thought my review made it clear that was exactly what I was doing.
Ahem. This section did start out rather innocently talking about the year's big-name actors, so I'll end it with one of the most memorable star turns. This came during the Royal Court's low-key series of readings at the Duke of York's, which suddenly became a lot less low-key when word got out that Benedict Cumberbatch, who a year or two ago could have walked down any street unrecognised, would be performing in a reading of Look Back in Anger. Suddenly St Martin's Lane on a quiet Friday afternoon turned into a frenzy of Sherlock fans crowding the stage door and blocking traffic. If Jamie is reading this: Imagine about 300 Vickis in one place. TERRIFYING!
AUDIENCES: AN INFESTATION TO BE ELIMINATED
Before I wrap up with a look at the year's under-performers, some of the other big theatrical stories of the year, especially how a couple of theatres seem to have been waging war on their own most loyal audiences. Most famously, and the one I've ranted about the most, the Royal Court which has done quite well out of its numerous West End transfers in the last few years, and responded by turning on the regular audience whose membership fees have helped it in rougher patches. First they restricted the amount of £10 Monday tickets on sale to members (for many, the main reason we bought memberships in the first place, but at least making them 50/50 available to members/day seaters had a fairness to it) before withdrawing members' advance booking for £10 Mondays Upstairs altogether. And then there was The River, Jez Butterworth's first play after the juggernaut Jerusalem, and with a starry cast including Miranda Raison and Dominic West.
By making The River 100% day seats, the RC alienated not only paying members but anyone who likes/needs to plan their theatregoing in advance. In trying to attract new audiences (theatres openly operate in the same way as drug dealers; attract young people with special deals, then hike up the price once they're hooked) they said the booking system was "fair," although not so much on anyone who couldn't drop everything at 9am every morning until they succeeded. To add insult to injury, they followed up The River with a double whammy of Hero and In The Republic of Happiness, both of which would probably have struggled to find an audience without advance sales.
Meanwhile the Donmar Warehouse also bragged about attracting younger audiences with a sponsored seat programme that irritatingly took away from members precisely the seats I'd joined to get (while they didn't tend to mention that the new setup actually meant fewer £10 seats in total than the previous, non-bank-advertising pricing structure.)
THE BAD AND THE UGLY
Last year I automatically chose the one show I left at the interval as my worst show of the year; but I thought that was a bit of a dull way to do things, and besides there's other plays that have lingered more, in a bad way, this year. So I'm just going to flag this one up with a separate non-award: I saw 278 shows this year, and managed to stick it out to the end of 277 of them.
THE EARLY BATH AWARD FOR BEING MARGINALLY
LESS ENTERTAINING THAN WATCHING PAINT DRY:
Utopia at Soho Theatre
Some shows I did sit through, although I'm not always sure why. Above The Stag bowed out ignominiously with the horribly misjudged Sleeping With Straight Men. I rarely wish for others to see bad shows, but The Oresteia was a car crash bordering on the infamous 2010 Southwark Playhouse Henry V, and if other bloggers had caught it I know we'd still be reminiscing fondly about Cassandra attempting to prophesy while rolling around the stage being force-fed fruit. The Conquest of the South Pole was a car crash that didn't even have the decency to be an entertaining one.
One of my longest-standing non-awards is Fram of the Year, in memory of a show that went above and beyond the call of duty in attempting to bore the living shit out of its audiences. Contenders must include Written on the Heart, for picking an interesting subject then focusing entirely on its dullest aspects, and Crow's ability to turn an hour into several weeks. More recently In the Republic of Happiness gave audiences some healthy cardio as they ran for the exit during its endless middle section. But 2012 also included a show that turned Shakespeare into a monotone drone, performed by white actors as faintly racist Native American stereotypes, too busy copying actions in an unrelated movie to engage with the play, audience or each other, so of course it has to be
FRAM OF THE YEAR FOR MOST AGGRESSIVE COMMITMENT
TO CAUSING AUDIENCE TEDIUM:
Troilus and Cressida (RSC/Wooster Group)
It may seem like attractive naked men will make me forgive anything, but it wasn't quite enough to rescue Cruising, Clubbing, Fucking, and worst Olympic cash-in has to be the painfully unfunny Complete World of Sports, made even worse by the cast's continual insistence on blaming the sparse audience for the jokes' clanging failure. The National's Damned by Despair failed to find modern relevance and became a running joke, while the law of diminishing returns saw an annual series of Halloween shows get sloppier by the year, until Terror 2012 finally stopped making any effort whatsoever. The Dark Earth and the Light Sky was a dull mess, The Architects was cash-rich but destitute of imagination, but the show that most angered me was probably the badly-written, almost irresponsible Hero, in which E.V. Crowe seemed unable to deal with the issue of homophobia without going straight to the furthest extreme it could find, then, incapable of properly resolving where that took her story, cheerily ignored the consequences. I know I'm not the only theatre blogger to have actually felt quite pissed off at the Royal Court for giving it the time of day.
Artistic Director Musical Chairs mostly went smoothly, although Josie Rourke's move from the Bush to the Donmar didn't do either theatre any favours in my book: She and her designers immediately brought a fresh new approach to the Donmar space itself, but the actual productions ranged from underwhelming to downright dull, most notably the baffling choice of Making Noise Quietly as the second show in her debut season. Its only saving grace was runner-up in the "New Face (and the rest)" category, Jordan Dawes.
Meanwhile at Rourke's old stomping ground, Madani Younis' first six months at the Bush started with the mean-spirited, misogynistic Chalet Lines, and led up to the painfully amateurish Fear. If it hadn't been for DC Moore and Richard Wilson saving the day with Straight, the venue might have become one to steer well clear of. (But regardless of the quality of the work, there, PLEASE SORT OUT THE QUEUING SYSTEM, BUSH! Having the entrance to the auditorium and the loos in the same place can't be helped, but bunging the box office in the same corner of the (large) FOH area and having bar service there, plus never opening the auditorium more than a couple of minutes before curtain up, is a recipe for a terribly middle class bunfight. Never mind the fact that when you do get in the best seats have been reserved for corporate sponsors - who are you, LOCOG?)
Not everything was outright terrible, but some things were just horribly disappointing: The first Noël Coward play to be staged in his eponymous theatre, a starry Hay Fever got the writer's pacing almost entirely wrong while Sheridan Smith as Hedda Gabler turned out to be a damp squib, and a bunch of big names didn't seem to notice that Chekhov intended Uncle Vanya to have a bit of subtext. And the sheer anticipation for a new Alan Bennett means it was almost destined to be a disappointment, but I don't think anyone foresaw just how much of a muddle People would turn out to be.
But enough of things that didn't quite hit the mark, and on to the stuff that missed it by continents:
THE SHIT LIST 2012:
NICK'S BOTTOM 5 SHOWS OF THE YEAR
5 - Making Noise Quietly at the Donmar Warehouse
4 - The Oresteia at Riverside Studios
3 - Crow at The Borough Hall
2 - Terror 2012 - All In The Mind at Soho Theatre
For my worst show of the year, I've chosen something I might have expected to see staged at the old Above The Stag, something vaguely gay-themed but ineptly put together, that doesn't cost much to get the rights to stage because nobody else wants to put it on. Instead it surfaced at London's biggest powerhouse of new writing, with cast and creatives who should have all known better:
STINKER OF THE YEAR 2012:
Hero at the Royal Court
But enough negativity, as we go straight on to the good stuff. As with the Shit List, my Top Ten doesn't just come from my initial reaction to a show, but also how much it's stayed with me over the months. This year's list is heavy on new plays, and even some of the revivals featured have been tinkered with quite a bit; I was also going to say no musicals feature in this year's Hit List, but then I'd call #7, and arguably #3, musicals.
THE HIT LIST 2012:
NICK'S TOP 10 SHOWS OF THE YEAR
10 - Three Kingdoms at the Lyric Hammersmith
9 - She Stoops to Conquer at the National Theatre's Olivier
8 - Straight at the Bush Theatre
7 - Othello: The Remix at Shakespeare's Globe
6 - King John at the RSC's Swan
4 - The Effect at the National Theatre's Cottesloe
3 - The Busy Body at Southwark Playhouse
2 - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the National Theatre's Cottesloe
Philip Ridley has featured in my Hit List for the last two years. It was perhaps only a matter of time before one of his plays hit the top spot, and what could have been more deserving of it than a new play which bears the playwright's unmistakeable writing style while using a storytelling structure new to him, which he completely nailed. The script works perfectly in its puzzle-like construction and makes sense if unraveled into chronological order; it was thought-provoking, devastating, and funny even in its darkest moments, sensitively directed by Russell Bolam, and performed by a cast who made the slightly heightened reality of the characters come completely to life:
SHOW OF THE YEAR 2012:
Shivered at Southwark Playhouse
And that's it for 2012. With two theatres dominating the entire Top 4, Southwark Playhouse and the National Theatre's Cottesloe share THEATRE OF THE YEAR 2012. Ironic, and perhaps in some way appropriate, that they're both auditoria that will no longer be in use in 2013. Let's hope both find their feet quickly in their new homes, and that the rest of That London's theatres put up a fight to challenge them for the title. I hope you've enjoyed reading my reviews over the year, and, if you managed to get this far, this end-of-year epic. Please join me again very soon as I find out what unexpected joys, and what fresh hells, 2013 has in store.