top ten (ish) theatre of 2016

The full list:

The Winter’s Tale (Garrick)
Cymbeline (Globe)
Hangman (Wyndhams)
The Dazzle (Found111)
Guy & Dolls (Savoy)
Waste (NT)
Bend it Like Beckham (Phoenix)
Miss Saigon (Prince Edward)
Pericles (Globe)
Miss Atomic Bomb (St James)
Twelfth Night (Globe)
The Painkiller (Garrick)
Reasons to be Happy (Hampstead)
The Winter’s Tale (Globe)
The Caretaker  (Old Vic)
The Flick (NT)
Into the Hoods (peacock)
Romeo & Juliet (garrick)
Threepenny Opera (NT)
Taming of the Shrew (globe)
The Deep Blue Sea (NT)
Henry V (Regents Park)
Richard III (Almeida)
Henry V (Southwark)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Globe)
Queens of Syria (Young Vic)
Groundhog Day (Old Vic)
Macbeth (Globe)
The Entertainer (Garrick)
Imogen (Globe)
The Boys in the Band (Park Theatre)
No Man’s Land (Wyndhams)
Amadeus (NT)
Julius Caesar (Donmar/Kings Cross)
King Lear (Old Vic)
Red Barn (NT)
One Night in Miami (Donmar)
Little Matchgirl (Globe)
Once in a Lifetime (Young Vic)
Mary Stuart (Almeida)

Anyway, in no particular order, the top 10 were:

The Painkiller (Garrick) – two room hotel farce about an assassin and a suicidal divorced bloke with an adjoining door.  So much ridiculous physical comedy and perfect timing.
The Flick (NT) – strangely affecting, all silences stretched until the audience cracks up and passions and details of lives going nowhere while they eulogise a dying medium.
Into the Hoods (Peacock) – Fairytales mashed together in a council estate in glorious hip hop of wolves that dress up as Granny, a prince with a soundtrack of 90s slow jam sleaze, and it turns out Rapunzel is totally Nicki Minaj.
Henry V (Southwark Playhouse) – OMG.  if Merely Theatre come south again, SEE IT. tiny cast, french and english denoted by swapping football jerseys, lots of rushing offstage to swap outfits, crackles along brilliantly, actual new filthy shakespeare jokes, and it got interrupted during the second half due to the girl playing Montjoy fainting.
Julius Caesar (Donmar/Kings Cross) – 2nd of the Donmar female prison Shakespeares that I’ve seen.  And they get better.  New light cast on things, brilliant performances, heartbreaking, especially when prison stuff intruded on the play itself.
The Deep Blue Sea (NT) – sorry, Helen McCrory is being awesome and tragic and despairing in a London flat and I have no time for your concerns.
Macbeth (Globe) – I like a good Macbeth.  This was a good, well-staged, inspiring Macbeth with good use of the Macbeths’ child, great acting and spooky awesome music.
Groundhog Day (Old Vic) – perfect film is turned into perfect musical of AMAZING sets and genius nuttiness of repetition that gives different details each time, with fabulous tunes and lovely performances.  Also there’s a rodent and a car chase. Gimme cast recording.
Imogen (Globe)- Cymbeline refocused, set in East London with added dance and grime tunes.  East end accents work perfectly with shakespeare stylings and posturing, it was funny, some seriously ouchy violence, and the glory of the 27 endings and the Roman officer going ‘hello? over here?’ and when Imogen slammed her foot on Iachimo’s throat it was a thing of joy and beauty forever. And do the jig to Skepta’s ‘Shut Down’ to bring the house down.
Queens of Syria (Young Vic) – Syrian refugee women telling their stories in their own words and talking about the experience of talking to the media getting people to listen (the bit where they were going ‘apparently we can get the west to listen if we do it as theatre because they respect it? okay, worth a shot’ raised a lot of giggles), woven in with bits of the Trojan Women. heart in stomach stuff.

The worst (avoid like the plague)

The Caretaker (Old Vic)- theoretically good acting.  I was so BORED.  Unbelievably tedious, silences and unending whining that went nowhere.  Apparently this is a Pinter thing. Timothy Spall and George MacKay couldn’t save it.

The Entertainer (Garrick) – supposed to be about actor at dead end of the vaudeville scene and his family crushed down and wanting social change. Except it just showed that the dead end of vaudeville needed euthanising and everything else was just inarticulate.

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