Rounding up the best of the best of theatre 2014 highlights got me reflecting on my own year in theatre.
Having unexpectedly left WhatsOnStage just before Christmas 2013, the shape and pace of my 2014 theatregoing was going to be inevitably different from the previous 16 years. For a time, I wasn’t even sure that legally I could risk being seen at the theatre, let alone an opening night. And, for quite a long time overlapping with that period, I felt as if I’d been abandoned not just by the company I founded but by theatre itself – two entities which, for so much of my life, had been virtually synonymous.
A by-product of loss is that what you truly value becomes crystal clear – and you feel immensely grateful for still having it.
But a silver-lining by-product of loss is that what you truly value becomes crystal clear – and you feel immensely grateful for still having it. Ultimately, rather than put me off theatre, my experience this year has made me need and crave and cherish it all the more.
So today I trawled back through my diary, and was pleased to discover that, despite fear-induced moratoriums, changed job status, restricted funds and being out of the country for more than two of the twelve months, I managed to chalk up 107 shows in 2014.
(Edinburgh-inflated August aside, my busiest months were June and October, during which I saw 15 and 14 productions, respectively. In previous years, this would have been my low monthly average.)
I would like to thank all the producers, publicists, actors, Twitter followers and other friends who continued to make me feel welcome at the theatre
I would like to thank all the producers, publicists, actors, Twitter followers and other friends who continued to make me feel welcome at the theatre and to seek my opinions. Your support has meant more than you will ever know…
From the shows I was lucky enough to see, I’ve drawn up a few Top 10 #theatre2014 lists of my own – Guardian, watch out. Please note, productions on these are listed in alphabetical order, not ranking!
Further down the page, I’ve collated favourites that many of you shared with me on Twitter. Keep your top picks coming on Twitter using the #theatre2014 hashtag to be added to the page – or do it the old-fashioned way by posting User Comments below.
My Top 10 new plays of 2014
1. Eye of a Needle – Southwark Playhouse
2. Hope – Royal Court
3. Invincible – Orange Tree and St James
4. King Charles III – Almeida and Wyndham’s
5. Pat Barker’s Regeneration – Touring Consortium on tour
6. The Distance – Orange Tree
7. The Nether – Royal Court
8. This May Hurt a Bit – Out of Joint, on tour and at St James
9. Visitors – Arcola, Bush and on tour
10. Wonderland – Hampstead
My Top 10 play revivals of 2014
1. ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore – Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Globe
2. Accolade – St James
3. Christmas – White Bear
4. East Is East – Trafalgar Transformed, Trafalgar Studios
5. Fathers and Sons – Donmar Warehouse
6. My Night with Reg – Donmar Warehouse
7. Richard III – Trafalgar Transformed, Trafalgar Studios
8. The Crucible – Old Vic
9. Toast – Park
10. True West – Tricycle
My Top 10 musicals of 2014
1. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – Savoy
2. Forbidden Broadway – Menier and Vaudeville
3. In the Heights – Southwark Playhouse
4. Lord of the Flies – New Adventures on tour and at Sadler’s Wells (okay, I know this is strictly dance but it has crossover appeal)
5. Memphis – Shaftesbury
6. Oh What a Lovely War – Theatre Royal Stratford East
7. Sunny Afternoon – Hampstead and Harold Pinter
8. The Lion – St James Studio
9. Therese Raquin – Finborough and Park
10. Urinetown – St James and Apollo
My Top 10 performances of 2014
1. Beverley Knight – Memphis, Shaftesbury
2. Gillian Anderson – A Streetcar Named Desire, Young Vic
3. Jenna Russell – Urinetown, St James and Apollo
4. John Dagleish and George Maguire – Sunny Afternoon, Hampstead and Harold Pinter
5. Jonathan Broadbent – My Night with Reg, Donmar Warehouse
6. Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid – Bakersfield Mist, Duchess
7. Linda Bassett – Visitors, Arcola, Bush and on tour
8. Luke Kempner – The Only Way is Downton, Trafalgar Studios 1 and on tour
9. Richard Armitage – The Crucible, Old Vic
10. Tim Pigott-Smith – King Charles III, Almeida and Wyndham’s
My Top 10 productions I missed but most wish I hadn’t
I knew at the time I should have seen these ten and, perusing the annual round-ups over the past week has made me mourn those missed opportunities even more. Happily, in the cases of A View from the Bridge (transferring to Wyndham’s in February), Gypsy (transferring to the Savoy in in March) and The Father (transferring to the Tricycle in May), I have concrete second chances in 2015. And with Coriolanus and Skylight, there’s always the chance I could catch an NT Live screening….
So, all I need for second-chance completeness is for someone to organise transfers of the sold-out Assassins and Here Lies Love, revivals of A Human Being Died That Night (along with its original cast, two of my favourite actors, Matthew Marsh and Noma Dumezweni) and a round-trip plane ticket to New York for the Broadway run of Mantel’s two-parter (now running as Wolf Hall Parts 1 and 2).
1. A Human Being Died That Night – Hampstead
2. A View from the Bridge – Young Vic
3. Assassins – Menier Chocolate Factory
4. Coriolanus – Donmar Warehouse
5. Gypsy – Chichester Festival Theatre
6. Here Lies Love – National Theatre
7. Skylight – Wyndham’s
8. The Father – Theatre Royal Bath
9. The James Plays – National Theatre of Scotland at the National
10. Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies – RSC at the Aldwych