My 10 favourite shows of 2018

And so here we are, at the end of another year where I broke the 300 show mark despite wanting to see less. (I had a very quiet December by my standards at least…) Now where’s the vodka stingers…?!

1 Pericles, National Theatre
Pretty much everything I want theatre to be, a rhapsodic, true celebration of community. From the joyous riffing on Shakespeare through song and dance to its over-riding spirit of bonhomie, it takes something this inclusive to show you how exclusive so much theatre can be.

2 Jellyfish, Bush Theatre
Sometimes, reviewing can’t help but be personal and Ben Weatherill’s minor-key masterpiece for the Bush touched me incredibly deeply, making me (re)consider so much of my own experiences. It has to come back, it just has to. 

Company, Gielgud Theatre
Marianne Elliott’s production was so much more than the gender-swap that led the headline, the smartness of her adaptation making the work speak to today in ways you might not have thought possible, and delivered by one of the best companies you could have hoped for. 

4 Sunshine on Leith, Leeds Playhouse
I was entirely seduced by the film so the opportunity to finally see the musical was one I wasn’t going to give up lightly, and the trip to Leeds was well worth it, I don’t think I cried in happiness this much at a finale in ages. I’d love for a tour to come back and visit more English venues.

5 The Inheritance, Young Vic/Noel Coward Theatre
It says something that I was willing to go back to what is probably one of the most emotional pulverising theatrical experiences of my life. And the Part 1 finale was possibly even better second time around, the highlight of an exceptional new landmark piece.

6 To Have To Shoot Irishmen, Omnibus Clapham
Coming completely out of left field, this play with songs was a devastatingly moving work that had me completely gripped. I won’t be missing any of Lizzie Nunnery’s shows in the future.

7 Bury the Hatchet, Hope Theatre
On a criminally scorching evening, Out of the Forest Theatre made me forget the heat for a hugely entertaining hour which I could have watched right again then and there.

8 Nine Night, National Theatre/Trafalgar Studios
Taking the Dorfman, and then the West End, by storm, Natasha Gordon’s passionate family drama was as educative as entertaining, as well as utterly enthralling by the relevatory final scenes.

9 Hadestown, National Theatre
I booked to see this a second time before I’d even gotten home from the first – it was that enjoyable. 

10 Sweat, Donmar Warehouse
Sneaking in at the last moment, this delivered the Christmas message you didn’t know you needed. Brutally affecting.

Shows 11-25 under the cut Continue reading “My 10 favourite shows of 2018”

Review: To Have To Shoot Irishmen, Clapham Omnibus

A play with songs that works in the most achingly beautiful way – To Have To Shoot Irishmen is quietly stunning at the Clapham Omnibus

“Some things are worth fighting for”

Too often, the term ‘play with songs’ is abused by marketing types to avoid using the word musical in all its apparent divisiveness. So what a blessed relief to find that Lizzie Nunnery’s To Have To Shoot Irishmen is pretty much a perfect representation of the form. A suite of original songs composed by her and Vidar Norheim are sprinkled throughout the play almost as bookends to scenes, enriching the text with their eloquent lyrics and folk-tinged mood.

They don’t progress the narrative for that is not their purpose. Nunnery’s story is as shattered as the set on which it takes place (considered design work from Rachael Rooney), a Dublin neighbourhood ripped apart by the Easter Rising. There, a young mother named Hanna searches anxiously for her husband, the writer and activist Francis Sheehy Skeffington, with a growing sense of dread; and at some point in the recent past, we follow Frank’s experience being held by the British army. Continue reading “Review: To Have To Shoot Irishmen, Clapham Omnibus”

Full list of 2017 UK Theatre Awards winners

The full list of winners of this year’s UK Theatre Awards have been announced and you can find them below:

Best Presentation Of Touring Theatre
Nuffield Southampton Theatres for the world premiere touring musical production of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox

Best Show for Children and Young People
The Snow Queen, New Vic Theatre

Best Director
Gemma Bodinetz, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse new repertory season
Continue reading “Full list of 2017 UK Theatre Awards winners”

Radio Review: Anna’s War, Radio 4

“Some of your publications aren’t exactly patriotic” 

Sadly, the oppressive nature of the ruling Russian regime is nothing new, as journalist Anna Politkovskaya found out to her cost when she was murdered in 2006. Up until then, she had been truly fearless, in a way that few of us could ever hope to dream of, in exposing and investigating the murkily complex relationship between Russia and Chechnya. Lizzie Nunnery’s play Anna’s War dramatizes five key moments from her life, demonstrating the personal cost of so courageous a life.

Nunnery’s bite-sized approach makes it an ideal fit for the 15 minute drama slot on Radio 4. So we see her experiences as an investigative journalist helping to evacuate nearly 100 people from an abandoned old people’s home and then discovering the atrocities committed by Russian soldiers on Chechen mountain villagers, to the perhaps better known terrorist attacks on a Moscow theatre and the siege of Beslan school – her reputation for relentless truthseeking and opposition to the Chechen conflict increasingly making her a target. Continue reading “Radio Review: Anna’s War, Radio 4”