It’s time for my best plays of 2018 overall, gleaned from everything I’ve seen – large productions and small, commercial theatres, subsidised and fringe:
Misty, Trafalgar Studios
A play which put the pulse back into the West End and as a result was a breath of fresh air.
A Monster Calls, Old Vic
I was nervous about seeing a stage adaptation of a much-loved book but the creativity with which it was staged combined with the performances meant I was an emotional wreck by the end. So much of an emotional wreck, I had to walk around for a bit afterwards to compose myself.
Queens of Sheba, Underbelly, Edinburgh Fringe
A play about the dual prejudice of sexism and racism encountered by black women that succeeded in being both angry, uplifting and empowering. It left me feeling teary in a happy/sad/exhilarated way and ready to march if the call came. There is another chance to see it at the New Diorama Theatre, from 30 January to 3 February 2019, as part of the Vault Festival.
Notes from the Field, Royal Court
It was an uncomfortable, seat-squirming, horrifying joy to sit and experience and I gave it an unprecedented six stars. Yes, six stars.
Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Donmar Warehouse
I still remember the moment that Lia Williams swept onto the stage in vibrant red captivating her ‘girls’ and the audience but that was just the beginning for this seductive and dangerous character.
Nine Night, National Theatre
A great family drama, a story about a Black British family coming together to mourn, full of rich characters, tension, drama, humour and warmth.But more than that it attracted a diverse audience both in ethnicity and age, an audience that was fully engaged and not afraid to show it. It’s what a night at the theatre should be and has transferred, for details see the National Theatre website.
Summer and Smoke, Almeida Theatre
I loved its powerful delicacy, its growing tension and heartbreak. It’s put Patsy Ferran in the awards spotlight and deservedly so and has transferred to the West End (until Jan 19).
The Great Wave, National Theatre
An extraordinary and gripping story that perfectly demonstrated how truth is stranger than fiction.
York Realist, Donmar Warehouse
God’s Own Country crossed with My Night With Reg, it was full of sexy flirtation and putting the kettle on – what more could you ask for?
Girls and Boys, Royal Court
Carey Mulligan is understandably attracting awards attention for her solo performance in what was a gripping and surprising play.
Ladykiller, Pleasance, Edinburgh Fringe
Writer Madeline Gould has created a perverse figurehead for female empowerment in what is a pitch black comedy about a woman who uses gender stereotypes to get away with murder. Loved it.
It’s having another short run at the Vault Festival, Leake Street, Feb 27-Mar 3.
Julius Caesar, Bridge Theatre
I’m sceptical about immersive theatre and I don’t like standing but Julius Caesar converted me on both fronts, so much so when I went back to see it from the seats I was jealous of the people standing.
It was a powerful piece that put ‘groundlings’ in the heart of the action whether that was at a gig, a political rally or full-blown war.
Check out my least favourite plays of 2018 and for more fringe plays that I liked, I’ve picked out 10 of the best.
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