Here’s our Top 10 list for 2019 with three musicals – Come From Away, Curve’s West Side Story and the touring production of Amelie dominating the top spots.
Mates blogger: Not Exactly Billington
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Nikolai Foster and co. have wrung West Side Story for every last drop of emotion, intellect and topicality. It has been given the full blooded revival it merits and I would love to see this production have further life beyond this initial run.
Winsome Pinnock’s 2005 play One Under has been revived in a co-production by Graeae and Theatre Royal, Plymouth, now touring the UK.
Bijan Sheibani’s production of A Taste Of Honey is entertaining without being flashy, showcasing Shelagh Delaney’s text in all its humour, honesty and melancholia.
In a co-production with Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Everyman Theatre Cheltenham and Leeds Playhouse, Nikolai Foster and the Curve company’s adaptation of My Beautiful Laundrette has shone a spotlight on the wrongs of yesteryear at a time when, more than ever before in my lifetime, the country seems to be in a state of sinfully wilful regression.
The National Theatre production of Michael Morpurgo’s novel War Horse is both the most visceral depiction of war I’ve seen on stage and a masterpiece in theatrical storytelling.
Nikolai Foster’s 2016 production of Grease returns to Curve as part of a major tour, and, while it doesn’t quite have the pizzazz of three years ago, the show remains a solid, thoughtful and energetic version of a much loved classic.
The Entertainer is an interesting state-of-the-nation play, and although a period piece, it’s undeniably a prescient time to revive it.
Not Exactly Billington has set themselves a challenge to read a new (to them) playtext every week. In August, their #ReadaPlayaWeek titles included John Osborne’s Luther, Christopher Shinn’s Dying City, Abi Zakarian’s This is Not an Exit, E.V. Crowe’s I Can Hear You, and Alice Birch’s Revolt. She said. Revolt again.
Making use of the intimate studio space, director Siobhán Cannon-Brownlie recreates the indie movie theatre setting of the play, while a cast of locals dive head-first into the dazzling world of Bollywood.
What’s so great about Jack Thorne’s play The End of History (as well as his consistently interesting use of stage directions) is that it has made me pause to think but is all wrapped up in this absorbing family comedy.
Celie’s journey from despair to belief, love and hope is, in T’Shan Williams’ hands, a believable and rewarding experience in The Color Purple.
Kenneth Lonergan’s 2009 play The Starry Messenger has opened at the Wyndham’s starring Matthew Broderick and Elizabeth McGovern. Longergan’s work has enjoyed a series of Tony-nominated revivals in New York over recent years.
Not Exactly Billington has set themselves a challenge to read a new (to them) playtext every week. In May, their #ReadaPlayaWeek titles included Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brothers Size, Roy Williams’ interpretation of Antigone, Olwen Wymark’s Find Me, Michaela Coel’s Chewing Gum Dreams, and Kenneth Lonergan’s This is Our Youth.
Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet is a wakeup call to the conscious and unconscious abuse of children and adolescents – psychological, sexual, physical – that plagues our society.
This production of Death of a Salesman will become the stuff of legend, hopefully setting a precedent for future ‘classic’ revivals.
Not Exactly Billington has set themselves a challenge to read a new (to them) playtext every week. In April, the #ReadaPlayaWeek titles included Valerie Windsor’s Effie’s Burning, Rose Leiman Goldemberg’s Letters Home, Maureen Duffy’s Rites, and Claire Luckham’s Trafford Tanzi.
I’m coming to Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls (1982) afresh. Well, sort of. I read the play a few years ago, but I’ve not seen it and wasn’t born until 10 years after its original production at the Royal Court.
Following Melly Still’s moving and visually stunning production of The Lovely Bones last year, I had high hopes for her latest literary adaptation, Louis de Bernières’ Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (1994).
Barber Shop Chronicles is a celebration of friendship, tradition and heritage. Ellams skilfully toes the line between sentiment, gaucheness, sincerity and wit while exploring issues of racial, social and gender identity with a keen eye for human foibles.
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