OOOO it’s that time of year!!! It’s the big one. The post where we all try and condense the whole year of theatre-going into a list. Do we agonise over it? Yes. Do we still do it anyway? Also yes.
I saw over 130 shows this year (!!!) and I’m just…tired. I just about managed to scrape together my ten favourites, and let me tell ya it was quite hard because, well, I’m just not feeling it this year. Maybe I’m getting (even more) cynical but I didn’t come out of many shows this year like reeling like I used to.
ANYWAY here’s my ten favourites – in chronological rather than a ranked order.
Dust, Soho Theatre
I came out of this show a bit of an emotional mess. The show just got to me, maybe it was because of the honesty that came out of it in combination with Milly Thomas’ performance. This show addresses mental health in young people, which I think is important(is that word used too much?). Just a brilliant captivating performance.
Summer and Smoke, Almedia Theatre
tbh, really fancied John (Matthew Needham) in this. This show was incredibly sultry/sexy, all down-in-the-dirt with some gorgeous lighting beaming down on the performers. The set-up of the pianos is just lush, and Patsy Ferran is a phenomenal actor – everything she does is evoked in the eyes (was a pleasure to speak to her when we did a q&a as part of Almeida for Free).
Beginning, Ambassadors Theatre
I missed this whilst it was as the NT and I’m so glad I saw it in the West End. Ffs, I just love shows which are in real-time. I just love when it’s one loooong conversation and you can just watch. You don’t have to fill any times gaps in, you just watch this *moment* take place, and the *moment* in Beginners is just, so mundane and yet so brilliant to watch. The silences are just delicious and used super well, I loved the awkward dance part, and the set was lovely too.
Fun Home, Young Vic
YAAAAAS – when is this going to the West End?
Dance Nation, Almeida Theatre
You all know how much I love Dance Nation – so much I’m gonna make a ZINE about it (yes! i’m bringing it back! dm me for more info)! I know that the show has some faults or things it perhaps didn’t tackle right – why was it at the Almeida? Why didn’t we just get teens to play the roles? – but overall, Dance Nation just lit this little flame inside of me. I don’t know if it’s because I used to dance (some competitively) when I was younger so had all these memories flooding back, or because I’d just come back from Fringe and this was the first thing I saw, but something about the show just made me book to see it again. Shout out to Kayla Meikle’s monologue because it is full of FIRE and easily the best part of the show.
Company, Gielgud Theatre
An exquisite production, translated for 2018. Bunny Christie’s design is gorgeous, Johnathan Bailey is a standout, Patti Lupone is a legend, Rosalue Craig shines, and I would like to have balloons that big on my birthday, please.
Lands, Antler Theatre (Bush)
Yes, I saw this in 2017, too, but it stood out to me again this year. It’s just clever. It gets into your skin and irritates you whilst watching but you also can’t help but love these characters. A well-crafted script about…well, it could be anything, but for me it’s mental health.
Lights Over Tesco Car Park, Poltergeist Theatre (NSDF/EDinburgh)
I have a lot of love for this company. This was ultimately my favourite show of the National Student Drama Festival and I forced all of my pals to see it at Fringe. An energetic and creative young company; I’m very excited to see what they do next.
Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999, James Acaster (Vaudeville Theatre)
James Acaster is my favourite comedian. There, I said it. I like the tone in which he tells his jokes, and that he doesn’t resort to offensive humour or necessarily talking about politics/big serious things. Acaster’s show is cleverly written, and Act Two is definitely something to behold – a brilliant storyteller. I think that’s the sort of comedy I like, the kind that tells funny stories rather than one-liners and put-down jokes. Ultimately, Acaster is making a comedy show out of something quite serious, which I applaud him for.
Glittery Clittery, Fringe Wives Club (Assembly, Fringe)
This cabaret-comedy-sketch hybrid is just awesome. It not only features three highly talented and musical women with the sparkliest outfits I have ever seen, but teaches sex education and dives into topics such as toxic masculinity? A feel-good show which teaches? Yes pls.