Seems strange to kick off a new blog with a round-up post, but I doubt this will be the strangest thing I do on here.
As a functioning theatre addict I went to the theatre 148 times in 2016. It would have been higher but illness (mine or someone in the cast) meant I didn’t hit 150. I’ve never been keen on round numbers anyway, plus I didn’t know how close I was until I sat down and put all my shows into a spreadsheet about an hour ago. Theatre nerd alert!
Unlike a reviewer I pay for my theatre tickets so I tend to go with a ‘I want to enjoy my night’ mindset. I think this is an important distinction because I’ll be tuning in to all the good things, not on the hunt for things to criticise in order to look clever and justify my salary (not meant in a “meow what a bitch” way, just being pragmatic). I have no theatre related income, it is very much a one way trip with money flowing out not in.
In January I kicked off the year with Grey Gardens at the Southwark and just yesterday I finished my theatre year with Dead Funny at the Vaudeville. Two very enjoyable ways to start and finish the year.
Having created a very sophisticated (read basic) personal star rating system I managed to identify the 30 shows I loved the most over the last 12 months. These are shows that resonated with me at a level that even now, in some cases almost a year on, they are still teasing the corners of my mind. There are many shows I really enjoyed that didn’t make this list, I had a really good year theatre-wise. But here are the crème de la crème according to my own personal taste, out of the 148 shows I saw (there are many shows, some which were phenomenally well reviewed and have already won awards, that I did not see, as fellow theatre addicts will attest you can’t see everything and in the end it is the luck of the draw).
One other caveat is regarding KING LEAR. I adore King Lear. This year I was lucky enough to see 4 productions. None of these are included below. I will do a separate post regarding these, because my reactions to productions of this play are always complicated by my mild obsession with it. All I will say is, I was a very happy Lear fan.
Right here goes, my top 30 plays of 2016 are (in chronological order of my seeing them):
- Grey Gardens – Southwark Playhouse
- Escaped Alone – Royal Court
- The Pianist of Willesden Lane – St James
- Iphigenia in Splott – National
- A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing – Young Vic
- Cleansed – National
- The Solid Life of Sugar Water – National
- Les Blancs – National
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream – The Globe
- The Threepenny Opera – National
- Richard III – Almeida
- Unreachable – Royal Court
- Groundhog Day – Old Vic
- Yerma – Young Vic
- Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour – National
- The Emperor – Young Vic
- Good Canary – Rose Theatre
- Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts1,2&3) – Royal Court
- Travesties* – Menier Chocolate Factory
- Girls – Soho Theatre
- Boys in the Band – Park Theatre
- A Man of Good Hope – Young Vic
- Oil – Almeida
- Amadeus* – National
- Comus – Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (Globe)
- Harry Potter Parts 1&2* – Palace Theatre
- Peter Pan* – National
- The Duke – Soho Theatre/Royal Court
- Nice Fish* – Harold Pinter
- She Loves Me* – Menier Chocolate Factory
It was a great year for me at the National with 7 of my favourite shows on there (I pine for the Shed though, source of such joy for me). The Royal Court and Young Vic also shone with 4 of my favourite shows each. However, it is important to factor in that these venues have multiple spaces, which gives them a bit of advantage, so I also wanted to shout out the great work being produced by the Menier Chocolate Factory and the Almeida. Each were home to two of my favourite shows (it would have been 3 for the Almeida if I’d done my top 31 as I loved their Uncle Vanya)
You would think, given the above, the National must be my favourite place to see theatre but if I’m honest it isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I will be joining the legions of rabid theatre-goers trying to secure tickets for Angels in America come January (it is in the diary, along with when Hamilton priority booking opens). However the more time I spend going to the theatre, the more I appreciate the smaller, more eclectic spaces. So my favourite theatre of 2016 was actually the Soho Theatre. But that is another story, for another post
*Shows that you can still see in 2017 should you be moved to. More details in comments below