After my two-week Christmas roadtrip in the US, I’m finally back at my desk and able to catch up on all the 2015 UK theatrical year round. Have you been keeping up in my absence?
Fear not either way, because once again – and as promised on Twitter – I’ve rounded up the round-ups to give you a quick overview.
Of this year’s round-ups, my personal prize for “Best of the Best Ofs” goes hands-down to The Stage, whose Year in Review coverage is absolutely unrivalled. Below, I’ve included a very potted summary – including the top show picks from joint chief critics Mark Shenton (also, of course, my My Theatre Mates co-founder) and Natasha Tripney – but do log on to The Stage website for much, more more on all aspects of what’s happened in our industry over the past 12 months. Excellent stuff.
But back to the shows of the year analysis: this includes picks from national newspaper critics Michael Billington, Lyn Gardner, Mark Lawson, Henry Hitchings, Fiona Mountford, Paul Taylor, Dominic Cavendish, Ann Treneman and Dominic Maxwell and many others.
Across the board, two plays really stood out for critics in 2015: Robert Icke’s reimagining of Aeschylus’ Oresteia, a bloody (nearly four-hour) saga that opened the Almeida Greeks season before transferring to the West End’s Trafalgar Studios; and the world premiere of Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen, now transferred from the Royal Court to the West End’s Wyndham’s Theatre.
These were closely followed in terms of frequency of mentions by: Florian Zeller’s play about dementia, The Father; Chichester Festival’s revival of Broadway musical classic Gypsy, starring Imelda Staunton; and transferring from the National to the West End this March, Headlong’s premiere of Duncan Macmillan’s rehab drama People, Places and Things.
Amongst the many other productions that garnered multiple mentions are:
- PLAYS – Man and Superman, The Motherfucker with the Hat, Young Chekhov (Platonov, Ivanov and The Seagull), Oppenheimer, Photograph 51, The Skriker, Barbarians (Tooting Arts Club), Eventide, Everyman, Farinelli and The King, Four Minutes Twelve Seconds, Husbands and Sons, The Encounter, The Winter’s Tale, Violence and Son, Bull, Carmen Disruption, Death of a Salesman, Fake It ‘Til You Make It, Golem, Hamlet, Iphigenia in Splott, Jane Eyre, Lela & Co, Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, Measure for Measure, Peter Pan, Pink Mist, Rebecca, Temple, The Ruling Class, Mr Foote’s Other Leg and American Buffalo
- MUSICALS – Funny Girl, Kinky Boots, Bend It Like Beckham, Anything Goes, Bugsy Malone, Carrie, Sweeney Todd (Tooting Arts Club), Tommy and Xanadu.