Emma Clarendon selects her favourite theatre productions of the year…
10. Soho Cinders, Charing Cross Theatre: Warm, funny and genuinely good fun, this revival of Stiles and Drewe’s contemporary take on the classic fairytale Cinderella is immensely good fun from start to finish.
9. The Bridges of Madison County, Menier Chocolate Factory: While it may have received some mixed reviews, I found that this production was profoundly moving and engaging to watch unfold. This was not only down to the brilliant performances from Jenna Russell and Edward Baker-Duly in the leading roles but also to the romantic wistful quality of Trevor Nunn’s production.
8. Education, Education, Education, Trafalgar Studios: Funny and filled with plenty of nostalgia, Wardrobe Ensemble’s comedy looking at the way in which education has evolved since the 90s and the issues that have arisen due to the increasing lack of funding was brilliantly energetic and thoughtful to watch.
7. Blues in the Night, Kiln Theatre: In the height of summer there was no better way to spend an evening than being serenaded with blues by a talented cast which included Sharon D Clarke in an atmospheric production by Susie McKenna. With each song offering a different character’s perspective on life and love, this was an intriguing and lovely way to spend an evening.
6. Fiver, Southwark Playhouse: In an industry that is crying out for new British musicals, Fiver was a brilliantly conceived and thoughtful new musical that introduces the audiences to new characters as a five pound note ‘travels’ around London. It was certainly a heartfelt production and hopefully it won’t be too long until it is back on stage again.
5. When the Crows Visit, Kiln Theatre: Chillingly intense, this haunting production grabbed the attention from the earliest moments all the way through to its gripping conclusion. Featuring strong performances from all of the cast, it ensured that Anupama Chandrasekhar’s play stuck with you long after the curtain had come down.
4. The Watsons, Menier Chocolate Factory: Funny and refreshing, Laura Wade’s enjoyable play reimagining Jane Austen’s unfinished novel was brought vividly to life at the Menier Chocolate Factory. It has a quirky appeal to it that will delight both fans of Austen’s work and those experiencing the story for the first time.
3. Come From Away, Phoenix Theatre: The year began with a glorious and heartwarming trip to see this (now) Olivier Award-winning musical based on true events in the aftermath of 9/11. It not only restores your faith in humanity but also leaves you with a feeling of hope that everything will work out in the end – a sentiment that is needed even more these days.
2. Fiddler on the Roof, Playhouse Theatre: having had a successful run at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Trevor Nunn’s production deservedly received a West End transfer. It was beautifully staged, with the set wrapping itself gloriously around the audience allowing us all to feel as much a part of it as possible. The choreography, the cast and the music all worked in perfect harmony in this production.
1. The Son, Duke of York’s Theatre: Powerful and painful to watch Florian Zeller’s raw look at a father and son relationship was so extraordinarily vivid that it was hard to take your eyes off what was happening. The performances were all immensely impressive – not least Laurie Kynaston as Nicholas who captured the character’s inner torment with great insight and sensitivity.