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: The Teind, London Horror Festival at Old Red Lion

ONEOHONE’s The Teind takes the London Horror Festival into the world of long-form interactive theatre to great effect

“tHeY aRE very

DanGerOus”

One of the more inventive entries into the London Horror Festival was ONEOHONE’s The Teind, a one-on-one interactive horror story stretching out over three weeks. Over Whatsapp, text messages, phone calls, Twitter, blogs and even face-to-face meetings, you’re drawn into a strange and slightly surreal world of darkly-tinged fairytale.

As a choose-your-own-adventure, The Teind is entirely individualised (there’s at least eight different endings) and so I won’t be giving anything away about the story, that will be for you to discover when next the show emerges. But there’s still lots to talk about in Asia Osborne and Eleanor Rushton’s creation, not least the amount of invention it contains. Continue reading “Review: The Teind, London Horror Festival at Old Red Lion”

Review: On Your Head Be It, London Horror Festival at Old Red Lion

My first foray into the London Horror Festival sees me take in On Your Head Be It at the Old Red Lion Theatre

“Do you want to be caught by the police?”

There’s nothing quite like being smacked around the head by the brilliance of a theatre company and that was my experience the first time I saw Out of the Forest Theatre with their striking take on the story of Lizzie Borden – Bury the Hatchet. So of course I was delighted to find their newest show popping up as part of the London Horror Festival at the Old Red Lion.

Written by and starring Joseph Cullen and Sasha Wilson, On Your Head Be It – A Cautionary Tale is the story of a couple trying to enjoy a bit of holiday in deepest Wales, a break from the old routine. After a rocky journey there and a few bottles of sauvignon blanc have been downed, it soon becomes clear to what extent Stuart and Eleanor are no ordinary couple though. Continue reading “Review: On Your Head Be It, London Horror Festival at Old Red Lion”

Review: Bury the Hatchet, Hope Theatre

A fearsomely talented company light up the stage of the Hope Theatre in Lizzie Borden meta-musical Bury the Hatchet 

“Your mama’s gone away and your daddy’s gone astray”

The story of Lizzie Borden is one that has proved endlessly fascinating for many people and has inspired many a work of art, with rock musicals, TV series and Hollywood films appearing this decade alone. Out of the Forest Theatre’s contribution to the genre comes in the form of Bury the Hatchet, self-described as a “true crime podcast meets bluegrass musical” and all sorts of fun with it.

Tried but acquitted of the murder of her father and stepmother in rural Massachusetts in 1892, Lizzie’s destiny of apparently immortal infamy was set. And over the hour or so here, it is as much this that writer Sasha Wilson focuses on than the details of the case itself. So we re-examine the evidence that remains and speculate about possible motives, but we also probe into society’s fascination with uplifting notorious (alleged) criminals and with the genre of crime itself.   Continue reading “Review: Bury the Hatchet, Hope Theatre”