In my round-up of theatre in 2017, I warned 2018 that it had “big shoes to fill”. Not only did 2018 not need the door to be opened, but it also didn’t even need anyone to hold its coat.
“The inheritance of wisdom, community and self” – Matthew Lopez. Each year, around March, I think of a brilliant way to start the Best of the Year list. Each year, around December, I forget it. In the year when football nearly came home and the UK has been stuck on a political pause, theatre has been the lodestar.
In all of the hot air, there’s been lately about the 25 greatest plays since Angels in America, I cannot argue against the decision to include An Octoroon high on the list.
An Octoroon at the Dorfman Theatre at the National remains as incendiary as the day I first saw it. In fact, it has grown in magnificence.
I really am incredibly excited about this month’s line up. And it was one of those months where it was a real battle to whittle the contenders down to my ten favourites.
When it comes to looking at racism and what it is to be black, we are currently in a phase of importing US stories rather than encouraging and platform black British writers.
Casting has been announced for the new National Theatre season, with highlights include Colin Morgan and Ciarán Hinds in Brian Friel’s Translations.
Well, we made it, just. 2017 passed by with just the 346 visits to the theatre, I don’t really know why I do it to myself! Out of those, 33 were return visits to shows I’d already seen and I got out of London for 32 shows – not too bad considering I don’t do Edinburgh and no one is covering my travel expenses!
I’m not usually crazy about rankings and hierarchy in the creative arts so, please, see this as more of a summary of all the shows that really shook me. Except for the Number One. I’m all about cheerleading that star at the top of my own personal Christmas tree. But I loved each of these shows and, if you caught them, I hope you did too.
You wouldn’t have put money on Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre becoming the destination for some of London’s more radical theatre leanings but with Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon, it has done it once again.
This is phenomenal. And pretty wild. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s An Octoroon is the most intelligent and most theatre-savvy play on today’s London stage: it is a satire on staging race, an account of black identity, a criticism of plantation life, a celebration of genre fun and a tribute to a forgotten work from the Victorian era.
This list is looking a little further afield to shows I hope to get to throughout the year from Bolton to Manchester, Sheffield, Woking and several Off-West End and fringe venues.
Paul Miller announces the remaining productions in his third season as Artistic Director of the Orange Tree, which will include the UK premiere of Pulitzer Prize nominee Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ OBIE Award-winning ‘pertinent new play about race’ An Octoroon, directed by Ned Bennett.