Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 round-up

Welcome to my third annual "I have nothing interesting to say about my favourite shows this year so I dressed up as them instead" theatre round-up. Below the link you will find pictured my fifteen favourite shows of 2017, as they would have looked if they had starred me.

15. La Strada (The Other Palace)
Honestly I've got to a point where I would trust Audrey Brisson with my life, I love the shows she chooses to be in. Even if I once more have to face the fact that my theatre addiction has somewhere along the way led to an attraction to clowns. Even if "The Other Palace" is an unbelievably stupid name for a theatre.
14. Othello (Tobacco Factory)
The annual trip to Bristol for my birthday Shakespeare is always a valid trip, but I've rarely come away shaking in fury because of how powerfully I've been struck by the production. I often say you need a great Desdemona to make this play work, and in Norah Lopez Holden we got one of the best I've yet seen. I'll miss Andrew Hilton, but even with other directors at the helm this is still an important day out.
13. Drip (Bush)
As the sun sets on Hull's year of being the official city of culture, I am delighted to be able to include this most purely joyful one-man musical from my favourite Hull-based creator of culture, the always charming Tom Wells.

12. Big Fish (The Other Palace)
There were some really good cast members, some nice songs, a story to make your heart clench and your eyes shine, but primarily and most in need of praise, there was some EXCELLENT design work going on in the costumes and props, everything convincingly hospitally and clearly planned out to the tiniest degree. 
11. The Glass Menagerie (Duke of York's)
I have long loved the play and I thought this production was wonderful, beautifully lit and stunningly performed in all four corners.
10. Bat Out of Hell (Coliseum)
I still don't know what it was hoping to achieve but I award it purely for going about its business with such unbelievable gusto. Roll on a long and healthy life at the Dominion.

9. Hamlet (Almeida)
I still say that Andrew Scott is better than Hamlet, but that doesn't mean he didn't do a brilliant job on the way. I particularly loved the third part of this (unduly lengthy thanks to Robert Icke) production and am happy to include it in my top fifteen.
8. Everybody's Talking About Jamie (Apollo)
What a joyful piece of work! Classic British story, effortlessly diverse cast, cracking tunes, and brilliant performances. If you haven't seen it yet, you need to get your skates on.
7. Ink (Almeida)
I just loved it, a great example of what theatre can be. Any medium can sit you down and tell you a story, but only theatre can push the boundaries of the art form to the extent that it does, and this production took full advantage of that. I was thoroughly absorbed and entertained for the duration.

6. Angels in America (National Theatre)
Probably THE theatrical event of the year, would have been mean to leave it off the list!
5. Barber Shop Chronicles (National Theatre)
The reason I'll never be a proper theatre blogger is half the time I just want to say "look, if you saw it, you'll understand, and if you didn't see it, I can't hope to make you understand". This was a great production, and I'm glad I overcame my extreme antipathy towards the Dorfman (a terrible theatre) to see it.
4. An Octoroon (Orange Tree Theatre)
I like plays that are a bit weird. This was in many ways a bit weird. If you couldn't be bothered trekking out to Richmond, make sure you give it a go when it reaches the Dorfman (even though it is a terrible theatre).

3. Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore (Unicorn Theatre)
I will never apologise for uncomplicatedly loving children's theatre, as long as children's theatre keeps churning out the uncomplicatedly lovely goods like this.
2. Follies (National Theatre)
I didn't entirely get Follies when I saw it ten years ago. But now I am ten years older and ten years more deeply mired in a wasted life, it hammered home a lot more. I know there have been some detractors, but I fell down FIRMLY in favour of this production and I'm glad I have one more trip before it disappears forever.

1. Romantics Anonymous (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse)
The more I love a thing, the less I have to say about it, because I don't want to put the feelings inside me into words and risk bringing them down to a manageable size. This was my least complicated standing ovation of the year and I hope it has a rich future life because I honestly can't bear the thought that I only booked to see it once like some kind of stupid idiot.

Hero of the year
It's no secret that my hero of the year is Vicky Featherstone. In a year where people are finally feeling safe enough and heard enough to speak out about the murky under-surface of the theatre world, no one has made it clearer than Vicky Featherstone that she is listening and she wants to be a part of making a concrete change for the better. Maybe the actions she has taken haven't always gone down well (and maybe it's still up for debate whether she should have taken certain actions at all) but she is Doing Something and constantly working hard to make sure the Royal Court can and does Do Better.

Stinker of the year
Obsession (Barbican)
No. I already gave more words to it than it deserves in this post, all I want now is to be able to forget this abject misery and move on from the rage I still feel.

Thanks to my usual enabling team, and if you want to see any of the pictures better, they have all been heavily filtered courtesy of my Instagram. Until 2018!

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