Tuesday 17 May 2016


Book review: Curtain Call – A Year Backstage in London Theatre by Matt Humphrey and John Schwab

My two biggest passions are books and theatre, hence the name of the blog. It doesn't happen often though that those two come together, but the gorgeous new Curtain Call – A Year Backstage in London Theatre coffee table book by photographer Matt Humphrey and actor/director John Schwab is a marriage made in heaven. Filled to the brim with an incredible collection of behind-the-scenes photographs as well as insights and stories chronicling a year in West End theatre, this is a true treat for theatre geeks and casual theatre-goers alike.

I go to the theatre a lot but before I received this hefty book for review, I didn't realise quite how many different plays and musicals we're lucky enough to have on our doorstep in London every single year. There is an incredible variety of productions included within this book and each is illustrated by exclusive behind-the-scenes photographs and interesting tidbits, to allow us as readers to get closer to these plays or musicals than every before.

Some of the productions featured within the book include Matilda, Gypsy, The 39 Steps, Kinky Boots, Hamlet (Barbican), The Audience, Billy Elliot the Musical and A View From the Bridge. And people that are depicted in the photographs include Imelda Staunton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alex Gaumond, John Simm, Matt Cardle, Nicole Kidman, Beverly Knight and Rufus Sewell.

With a foreword by David Suchet CBE, this isn't only a book displaying some stunning photography, there are also interviews with the likes of actress Kate Fleetwood and Artistic Director of the Royal Court, Vicky Featherstone, as well as interesting and fun quotes from a wide variety of cast and creatives of the theatre productions featured within Curtain Call – A Year Backstage in London Theatre.

Rather than reading this in alphabetical order from cover to cover, this is the perfect book to dip in an out of. I've really enjoyed casually flicking through it these last few weeks until my eyes caught something of particular interest that I would then read into more detail. And as the shows and plays within the book are categorised in alphabetical order, it's also very easy to find a particular production if there's one you're particularly keen to read more about.

You don't have to be a theatre connoisseur to be able to appreciate the incredible detail within the over 400 pages in this book nor the depth the photographs portray. My words really can not do justice to how incredibly gorgeous this book is or how richly it is packed with stunning photos and fascinating theatrical insights, so definitely pick up your own copy so you too can relish the beauty within the pages.

Whether you love theatre, photography, or you simply appreciate a beautifully put together book detailing fascinating insights, the stunning Curtain Call – A Year Backstage in London Theatre is a visual feast for the eyes that should be a part of your collection. You can purchase it for £45 on the Curtain Call website, where you can also learn more about the book and creators Matt Humphrey and John Schwab. If you prefer to purchase it in person, you can find the book at the V&A and the National Theatre bookshops.

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