Firstly, I want to thank you for taking the time to read this and all my other posts. Following the creation of The Theatre Twittic in January, many of you have checked out my thoughts, analysis and value for money ratings for productions, alongside commentary on other industry hot topics. There’s also been a few hot ticket deals too.
This year I’ve seen over 50 performances from Edinburgh to Porthcurno in Cornwall. This post is going to run through my top 10 productions of the year from across the country. There’s a range of regional, London and fringe productions, alongside one or two large-scale tours too. All together they show that no matter where you are in the country (or how much you pay) you can get an excellent night out.
So without further ado let’s get on with the show…
10) Comedy About A Bank Robber (UK Tour) at the Birmingham Rep
This isn’t the first time Mischief Theatre production out there but they certainly don’t lose their sparkle. Seeing the show in the Birmingham Rep led to a couple of hours of hilarious moments centered around a fascinating plot. It’s so rare to see a comedy where you don’t stop laughing but at the same time engage with the plot, this manages to do that and at points nearly had me close to rolling into a ball in the isle.
9) Six at the Udderbelly Edinburgh
After checking for tickets and not securing them, it was by chance I managed to secure tickets during the twilight hours when a small batch of late releases went on sale. I heard the buzz it created but was a bit dubious bout whether its worth the hype. The short answer is it does. It contains a soundtrack that remains on my spotify playlist and has some great themes about powerful women that history can underrepresent and they just happen to be rather sassy. It’s something unique and very nicely put together. It’s strange to think it’s gone from being a small student production to a domineering London musical in a couple of years.
8) Holes at the Nottingham Playhouse
Holes marked my first trip to Nottingham Playhouse and it was well worth it. It’s a book I always wanted to see adapted for the stage and it was done in such a creative and entertaining manner. 2018 has certainly been a stand out year for the Nottingham Playhouse and I undoubtedly will be returning in 2019 to see what gems it produces.
7) Quiz at the Noel Coward, London
Quiz is the first of two entries by James Graham in my top 10. The factual story it’s based on was what attracted me to the production but in the end, the story of justice and trial by media is what left me thinking afterwards. It’s something I went away and discussed with others for many weeks afterwards It provoked a reaction and discussion for sure. Being on stage for the bargain price of £17.50 shows that you don’t have to be spending hundreds in London to see a quality production.
6) Build A Rocket at Pleasance Courtyard, Edingurgh
This is another entry I saw at the fringe festival. I think what attracted me to this production was the Stephen Joseph Theatre homing in on the community it sits in and hiring a new writer. Regional theatres has been the discussion of many debates this year and it was pleasing to see one that homed in on the community it serves, while also appealing to others and taking a risk.
5) Kinky Boots (UK Tour) at the Wolverhampton Grand
Kinky Boots contains a pop soundtrack, it’s based on real life and has the under theme of being yourself and being proud. In short it sounds like pretty much any easy going musical out there. While It has been designed to be something entertaining and lightheared what drew me in was the emotional side of this musical. I didn’t anticipate being engaged in the way I did and the take home message is wonderful.
4) Bat Out Of Hell at the Dominion, London
If I went by the reputation that some people gave the production, I wouldn’t have expected it to hit my top 10 productions of the year and neither would I have seen it. Nonetheless, we all love an underdog and I like to give something a try and while its storyline needs you to believe in it, it has a very talented cast and incredible staging that will help you follow it though. This gothic fairytale has one of the best end of act climax I have seen and a set that is exemplary. It’s a shame it is closing next year and but I hope there’s more revs in the UK engine before it’s gone,gone,gone
3) This House (UK Tour) at the Birmingham Rep
There was probably no better year for this production to tour around the country. With a few updates to the script, you could easily believe it’s a production based on the House of Commons today. It was also my first encounter with on-stage seating and it gave me a really unique focus on the performance. The musical, movement and well researched script made it a lighthearted look back at a fascinating part of UK politics.
2) Astley’s Astounding Adventures at the New Vic, Newcastle under Lyme
2018 has been the year of the Greatest Showman but in North Staffordshire, this was the year of Astley, the creator of Modern Circus. This was an incredibly well-rounded production of his life and one that has the wow factor. The New Vic took a very local historic figure and turned it into a spectacular family production that I hope makes a return. This was no cheap production and it must have been a risky programming decision but it was an inspired one that drew in the crowds, many of whom went straight back to the box office to buy more tickets.
1) User Not Found at the Edinburgh Fringe
User Not Found was not only my first experience of site-specific theatre, but also my first experience of a production that encourages technology use, with each audience member getting headphones and a mobile device. I really wasn’t sure what to expect with this production but it not only left me in deep thought but the emotional connection I had with the piece was overwhelming. Whenever people ask me what I’ve seen this year it’s the first production that comes out of my mouth. Breathtaking.