Best Play Revival
I decided not to create a separate category for Shakespeare productions, and in the final analysis I’m glad as it meant that I was comparing the merits of them against the other plays that I saw in a much more rigorous fashion. And the revival that impressed me the most was Cheek By Jowl’s Russian production of The Tempest at the Barbican. Nothing less than a radical reinvigoration of the text that set the bar too high for any of the other Tempests I saw this year, it made complete sense from start to finish – no mean feat for Will – and exuded a bracing energy that had me recommending this to people from the moment I left the theatre and got about 14 people along to see it – Barbican, I await my commission!
Honourable mention: Comedy of Errors (Propeller)
I still make no apology for the Shakespeare-heaviness as Propeller’s interpretation of The Comedy of Errors managed that rare thing of creating genuine laughter and proper comedy in a ‘Comedy’. Absolutely jam-packed with innovations and funny business both clever and puerile, this was never less than hilarious from start to finish. And I’ve just about recovered from being snubbed, twice, by Dominic Tighe, my proposals of marriage were not sufficiently enticing 😉
Best Musical Revival
A show that simply filled my heart with glee from its very first moments, Andrew Wright’s choreography kicking into top gear from the off and the evergreen score of such classic songs, striking a wondrous chord of unfettered joy. I never thought I’d ever be so happy to get splashed as much as I did in the theatre and I am so happy that the show will be transferring into the West End very soon: I’m not sure if I’ll go again though as the memory I hold of the show from my front row set is just perfect.
Honourable mention: Company (Crucible)
The last show I saw in 2011 but what a cracker. A top-notch ensemble, crowned by Daniel Evans’ musical debut at the theatre where he serves as Artistic Director, made magic on the open stage of the Crucible in a production which whilst firmly rooted in the 1970s, breathed a fresh new vitality into the show making it a great year for regional Sondheim’s, alongside Chichester’s Sweeney Todd.