Hi, it’s me. Crawling back from the depths of the blogger graveyard with a listicle because it’s all my brain can cope with right now. I do plan on returning to writing regularly in the new year so watch this space!
A note on the top 10 – this year I’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of West End shows for free because of my job, meaning that I haven’t seen a lot of fringe theatre, so this list reflects that.
Anyway, here’s my top 10 – and if you’re interested I’m going to do a list of the decade, too.
10. Lungs, Old Vic Theatre
I managed to see this two-hander by Duncan Macmillan thanks to the Old Vic’s PwC preview scheme, meaning you can get £10 tickets for preview performances. Starring The Crown duo Claire Foy and Matt Smith, the show was a masterclass in keeping an audience riveted with just your words, as well as having some pretty solid things to say about climate change and relationships, too.
9. Noises Off, Garrick Theatre
For some reason I always thought that Michael Frayn’s Noises Off was a hard-hitting working class drama, and clearly I was wrong. If you’re a fan of The Play That Goes Wrong then you should definitely see this, it’s hilarious predecessor. Noises Off is extremely witty – incorporating both wordplay and physical comedy – and cleverly shows both the mess happening on and offstage. I laughed so much I had tears streaming down my face.
8. Present Laughter, Old Vic Theatre
Andrew Scott really is a gift, and after seeing him at his most dramatic in Hamlet and Sea Wall, it was nice to see him show off his comedy chops.
7. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bridge Theatre
I saw three productions of Shakespeare’s comedy this summer with this immersive interpretation at the Bridge being my absolute favourite. Not only was it beautifully designed and included some gorgeous aerial sequences, but I enjoyed the switching of Oberon and Titania’s stories (Oberon is instead the one who falls in love with a donkey). Shout out to Hammed Animashaun as Bottom, one of my favourite performances of the year.
6. Really Real Teenz, Yard Theatre
The Queen’s Yard Company teamed with The Famous Lauren Barri-Holsetin to create a daring, inventive piece about being a teenager today. Clear images from the show still remain: pads and tampons floating in a red liquid-filled paddling pool, a fish being gutted, a watermelon thrown and smashed from the balcony, and the collection of ‘mess’ towered high. More theatre like this by/for young people, please!
5. 17 by Wildcard Theatre
After lots of recommendations I saw this short piece at VAULT Festival, which details the lives of two sixth-formers and what happens when sexual videos of you are both taken and shared without your consent. Containing spoken word, this show was not only poignant at the right moments, but inventive, funny and authentic.
4. Emilia, Vaudeville Theatre
I am so glad I saw Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s fierce, funny and fiery play – I just wish I’d seen it more than once! It contained everything I enjoy in a show: a spotlight on little-known figures from history, an all-female cast, and a cracking final jig. Burn the f*cking house down, indeed.
3. & Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre
I always knew I’d enjoy this new jukebox musical, as a lover of both Shakespeare and cheesy pop, but I didn’t realise quite how euphoric I’d feel watching the show. Being in the audience of & Juliet is like having little glitter hearts raining on you constantly. It really is a celebration of all types of love and being confident in yourself and your decisions. It’s also filled with powerhouse performances, showstopping vocals and cracking puns.
2. Shook, Southwark Playhouse
I love it when you know nothing about a show and it proceeds to completely blow you away. Samuel Bailey’s Papatango Prize-winning play explores men in a young offenders’ institution, their hopes and fears, and why they’ve been shut away by society. The play is a breath of fresh air and it’s always good to see working class characters (or those without a typical RP accent) written properly, rather than reduced to stereotypes. If this comes back I highly recommend you seeing it. [You can read my review here]
1. Come From Away, Phoenix Theatre
On paper, a musical based on the tragedy of 9/11 doesn’t sound like a good idea, but this really is a five-star show. Telling the story of what happened when 37 planes were diverted to the small Canadian town of Gander on that fateful day with equal doses of heartbreak and hilarity, the musical includes a beautiful score and clever choreography – the small cast use only chairs, tables and a select few props to tell the story of hundreds. The show is sure to leave you hopeful about the kindness of humanity, and you’ll be singing “Welcome to the Rock!” the whole journey home.
Shows I wish I had seen: Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, A Very Expensive Poison, Downstate