We all know how we feel about 2021. What we need to do is celebrate what made it fabulous so here is my pick of what the year had to offer.
‘The right show in the right place at the right time’: OZ – Bristol
Pins and Needles Productions, in league with Bristol’s Tobacco Factory Theatre makes a reliably bold move by taking something familiar and confounding expectations every step of the way.
‘Transporting us by engaging the heart, mind & soul’: How theatre-makers adapted in 2020
Here are Shane Morgan’s picks of how 2020 in theatre has continued to do what it does best: transporting us by engaging the heart, mind and soul.
‘Finding the meeting point between language & understanding’: ADVENTURES WITH THE PAINTED PEOPLE – Pitlochry Festival Theatre (Radio review)
‘If a theatrical phoenix is to rise post-pandemic, it could do a lot worse than to look and sound as resplendent as this.’
‘A lean, swift & feisty political thriller’: CORIOLANUS – Donmar Warehouse (Online review)
To take a play as epic in scale as Coriolanus and find a natural home within the intimacy of London’s Donmar Warehouse takes a skill and lightness of touch that is not only rare but all so often missed.
‘Each piece is bold in its message, brave in its execution & a thrill to watch’: BETTER IN PERSON – Burn Bright (Online review)
‘There is no doubt that this is the first of many events from the Burn Bright family. A family that has staked it very existence on the fact that we need a seismic shift in the way we create, present and support theatre.’
Why is theatre so London-centric… even online? 11 must-watch streams from beyond the M25
‘Theatre is everywhere. It is regional. It is rural. It is poor. Now it is in your front room, it can be from anywhere.’
‘Akin to a beautifully composed piece of music’: THE SON – West End
The Son is akin to a beautifully composed piece of music. A perfect balance of light and shade with an inevitable surge to a heart thumping climax.
‘A dynamite piece of theatre’: SWEET LIKE CHOCOLATE BOY – Touring
Sweet Like Chocolate Boy is a majestic cultural odyssey that melds genres, storytelling techniques and timelines into a high octane, often incredibly moving, very funny and sharply observed 120 minutes of theatre
Best of the Blogs: The Mates give their verdicts on Bitter Wheat, Present Laughter, On Your Feet & more
Carrying on a new series, our editor Lisa Martland has picked out her Top Picks from the last week including Anne Cox’s thoughts on Present Laughter, while Aleks Sierz reports from Bitter Wheat.
‘A clear favourite to be one of 2019’s best offerings’: THE HUNT – Almeida Theatre
The Hunt is not easy viewing. It will certainly divide opinion and it is loud and clear in its desire to provoke discussion. It is also an intelligently written adaptation steeped in theatricality whilst providing a nod to its source material.
‘A heady mix of theatre & performance art’: DRESSED. – Touring
dressed. is an unflinching, deeply personal, deeply political insight into the horror of assault, both physical and psychological.
‘Geographical & emotional odyssey’: BARBER SHOP CHRONICLES – Touring
Barber Shop Chronicles is a bold and inexorable march towards changing the way we share stories, shifting the mainstream narrative and dealing with both joy and pain in equal measure.
‘Under the skin of a sporting hero’: THE LONG WALK BACK – Touring ★★★
In Dougie Blaxland’s fascinating new play, The Long Walk Back, currently on a national tour, we see former England cricket international Chris Lewis (Martin Edwards) contemplating his life from his prison cell alongside his cellmate/angel/devil on his shoulder (Scott Bayliss).
‘Utterly compelling storytelling’: THE CANE – Royal Court Theatre
A finely tuned, rapid fire and utterly compelling 100 minutes of theatre. The Cane challenges, provokes and entertains
‘They captured my heart, engaged my mind & punched me in the gut’: In Praise of Theatre in 2018
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.
‘Inspiring, beautifully told & full of heart’: CHASING BONO – Soho Theatre
Chasing Bono is inspiring, beautifully told and full of heart. Inspired programming and highly recommended.
‘One of the most captivating productions of the year’: CUCKOO – Soho Theatre
Lisa Carroll’s Papatango shortlisted debut Cuckoo has the subject of identity stamped on its DNA. It raises questions about the value of where you are from and what does moving away from there do to you.
‘Yields many strong performances’: HENRY V – Touring
Whilst Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory’s latest offering yields many strong and a couple of exceptional performances, the ambition and scale never really extends beyond the four pillars of the theatre.
‘A theatrical triumph’: TOUCHING THE VOID – Bristol
Touching The Void is a theatrical triumph. David Greig, Tom Morris and the team have created a piece of theatre that excels beyond mere adaptation.
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