Theatre in 2017

2017 is almost over. For various reasons, I had to cancel some of my theatre plans and therefore never got to see a number of the productions that, I’m certain, would’ve easily made my list of favourite shows of the year. Still, I managed to see quite a lot, with a more or less healthy balance between West End and Off West End shows and with plays dominating over musicals, even though a couple have somehow found themselves among those that I enjoyed the most. Choosing between some of the shows was a bit of a nightmare so they’re almost even. What’s really fascinating (and that’s why you shouldn’t make your lists if you still have new stuff to see) is that three (technically 4) of the productions I saw in December have made the cut!

First of all, I had to exclude Hamilton from the list because it’s virtually impossible for anything else to beat it and just not fair. Of course I loved it, of course it’s everything I wanted it to be. I won’t say anything about it that hasn’t been said before. My favourite song is still my favourite, my favourite line gets the biggest cheer and my favourite character is safe in Jason’s Pennycooke’s hands. Lin-Manuel Miranda created something that’s going to outlive him, and this show is definitely not to be missed, no matter what you think of musicals. Then there’s a matter of Sunny Afternoon UK Tour, but we all know that I loved it and that I’m still missing it and the cast A LOT, so yeah, it just goes without saying.

Now on to the actual list…

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Top 10 shows of 2017

 

10. Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s Globe

One of the reasons for not putting Hamilton on this list was to give way to this production. I’ve seen several versions of this play, but Romeo and Juliet directed by Daniel Kramer is definitely my favourite and the one with I which I feel most connected. I booked it because I wanted to see the ever wonderful Kirsty Bushell and Edward Hogg on stage, but then I kept returning for the whole company and loved it more each time I was there.

9. An Inspector Calls, The Playhouse Theatre

One of my most favourite plays ever and it took me this long to finally see it on stage, which is even more surprising, considering how often Stephen Daldry’s production has visited London and toured the country. We all know the story: a well-off family celebrates engagement of their daughter and the son of one of their competitors when a mysterious man who introduces himself as Inspector Goole arrives. There’s nothing I didn’t like about this production: from set design to how well-paced it was to Liam Brennan as the Inspector. I’d gladly see it again, given a chance.

8. Twelfth Night, Shakespeare’s Globe

Emma Rice’s last Shakespeare as the Globe’s AD was the most joyous Twelfth Night I’ve ever seen. I ended up seeing it 4 times, including Midnight Matinee when Debbie and I couldn’t stop giggling while clutching to the stage. It was good to see some familiar faces and to be introduced to a host of new ones. Katy Owen was hilarious as Malvolio, but that’s hardly surprising, considering it’s Katy. Lines-turned-songs were one of my most favourite things about this production and I still have them stuck in my head, nearly 6 months after last watching the play. Marc Antolin is definitely the one to watch for me now and I’m so glad I managed to catch him in more than one production this year.

7. A Christmas Carol, Old Vic

Apart from the fact that this production is just magical and delightful, it was good to see one of my favourite actors in a 3rd different production this year and being so well cast for a change. John made me cry again, which hasn’t happened since his Sunny Afternoon days. Dickens can be a bit boring, but not in this case. Mince pies and carols, wonderful company, stage adaptation that really works and two hours that fly by and no one leaves the theatre unmoved. It was also great to see Rhys Ifans on stage again. It’s a short run and I wish I had a chance to see it again, but I’m glad I managed it at least once.

6. Romantics Anonymous, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

One last production for Emma Rice at the helm of The Globe. Considering the way she’d been treated by the board, but she showed pure grace and class by producing the only musical that’s made my Top 10 this year. It was wonderful to see Carly Bawden as the leading lady, with her impeccable comic timing and lovely voice. Her chemistry with Dominic Marsh is a joy to behold. Another couple of familiar Summer of Love faces made it even better: Marc Antolin is hilarious as ever and Gareth Snook really can sing. The show made this year a bit more bearable and I left the theatre feeling a bit happier, despite a cold December evening.

5. The Ferryman

I saw it 2 weeks ago, I’m still processing it and I’m gutted I never got to see the original cast with Paddy Considine or, indeed, the original Royal Court’s run. It’s one of those productions when no matter what you say about it, you won’t be able to do it justice. It’s well over 3 hours long, but it’s so gripping and intense you barely register it. There’s a live goose. And a live rabbit. And a live baby (which started wailing during its first appearance when I went to see it and was swiftly replaced by another one, a few months older by the looks of it). It’s hard to register The Ferryman’s sheer scale until the very end when the seemingly quiet rural life erupts like a volcano and puts everything that’s happened before in perspective. Mind you, I went to see Hamilton straight after that, so had very little time to be in a state of shock. I have a script I’m going to read, maybe that’ll help me process the whole thing at last and say something remotely coherent.

4. Ink, Almeida Theatre

I bloody love James Graham. Of the modern playwrights he’s definitely my favourite, and his name alone is enough to make me book tickets, no matter the cast and everything else. In this case, my eagerness to see the play was supported by a couple of actors I’m happy to see in everything because I know how good they are. Bertie Carvel and Richard Coyle are just wonderful, with Coyle being the star of the production for me (and many others). Carvel is a chameleon and having seen him in a number of different roles over the last 5 or 6 years I can only applaud his ability to morph with the characters he gets to play. I have finally laid my hands on the script and am looking forward to reliving the experience of enjoying Graham’s writing again.

3. This House, Garrick Theatre

OK, I know I’m cheating here. It’s a bit of a delayed revival and I was sure I’d love it because I’d seen it a few times during its original run and both cast versions at the National, plus it’s another play written by James Graham and I’ve said many times that it’s one of my most favourite plays of the decade. Still, I saw it again in 2017, got to sit on the Labour bench on stage again, saw some of the same cast I’d loved first time around when it opened in 2012 – and I had the best of times. I’m confident that James Graham should just write everything (which is pretty much what he’s doing with 3 new plays in 2017 and one that’s due to open in Hull in 2018, plus stuff for the telly and so on) and looking forward to hopefully seeing This House on tour in 2018 – another Labour bench seat beckons, I think.

2. The Kite Runner, Wyndham’s Theatre and The Playhouse Theatre

Right, we’ve reached the most difficult part. The Kite Runner could’ve easily become number one but something else came along and it’s only number two. I’d watched the film when it came out a while ago but I’d never had time to read the book as it came out when I’d just started uni and I had other things to worry about, so I went to see the play in January only vaguely knowing that I’d probably cry for a couple of hours sitting in the front row. In the weeks that followed, I read all three of Khaled Hosseini’s books, talked a lot of people into seeing The Kite Runner with or without me and got attached to the wonderful cast that had been there since the show first emerged a few years ago and created those characters. The best thing about this production is that the main attraction is the story and it couldn’t have been more relevant now. I saw the new-ish cast when the show transferred to The Playhouse in June and was really looking forward to the tour but never got round to catching it this year. I’m curious to see the mostly new cast next year when the tour resumes although I’m still mourning the departure of people who’d been the best in their roles (and whom I’ve already seen in other productions – they’re not getting rid of me just yet.

1. Life of Galileo, Young Vic

How do I know I’m in trouble after I’ve seen a production? I start talking about it to everyone who would and wouldn’t listen and look at my schedule trying to figure out which shows I can ditch to see it again and again. Life of Galileo was an unlikely competitor for me: I’m not that fond of Brecht, don’t have a very good track record with the Young Vic (it’s one show I like for two shows that make me want to leave the auditorium not even halfway through), and Joe Wright as director has never been among my favourites (he’d worked on RTD’s Bob & Rose which I loved, so it’s not that bad). And yet… I ended up seeing it three times in one week, crying loads every time, being shaken to the core by the whole thing, trying not to blink and breathe sometimes so not to miss anything and barely noticing the running time close to three hours. It introduced me to Billy Howle and Brendan Cowell (and I even made sense when I was talking to both), and it was great to see some of the familiar faces, Anjana Vasan and Joshua James in particular, again. Plus music and the puppets. And don’t even get me started on all those projections. I’m gutted it never transferred anywhere, but it’s not easy to think of a bigger place where it’d feel so at home as in the Young Vic.

Like I said earlier, I never got to see a number of productions that would’ve been more than welcome on my list, but I hope to catch up in 2018. I don’t know how often I’ll be able to travel now as my new job takes a lot of time and I can’t take time off whenever I want it, but then it means I’ll be more careful in choosing things to see and next year’s list will be even more difficult to compile. I already have a couple of things booked to see the people I know and there’s  a few shows I need to book, mostly outside London, to my surprise. I hope that 2018 will be a good one theatre-wise. Stay tuned.

 

 

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Theatre Overview: February 2017

February’s been and gone and it’s time for my second theatre overview of the year. Can’t say I got to see a lot this month, it should’ve been a bit different, but I had to cancel a trip to London (and York) so the list looks less impressive than it might’ve done and this post will be shorter than the last one.

February was a month of mostly repeat visits: of my 12 theatre trips, only 2 were brand new, 7 happened to be to see Sunny Afternoon in Oxford and Liverpool, 2 were some of my favourite plays in their new homes, and I had to see The Kite Runner again, especially since I got a chance to see a different take on Amir by David Ahmad who was word perfect and did the character justice. I’ll be back to see this play in March before it leaves the West End and gives way to Don Juan in Soho starring someone called David Tennant. Sunny Afternoon tour is still my pride and joy, I can never get tired of them and, even though we’ve pretty much planned our final week with them in Plymouth, I’m dreading the day I’ll have to say goodbye to them. Touring cast is, undoubtedly, my cast, which will make partying with them even more difficult than waving goodbye to the show in London. But it’s not happening for another 2,5 months so I’m trying not to think about it too much. For now, my February theatre adventures in chronological order.

Fantastic Mr Fox (Lyric Hammersmith)

Billed as a family show, Fantastic Mr Fox is just a tad more than that. The auditorium is filled with families with kids, that’s true, but Roald Dahl’s story is so universal grown ups have nothing to worry about: they will find something to relate to, plus some of the jokes will go over their kids’ heads while being appreciated by the parents. The cast is incredibly strong and I can’t help but marvel at their energy and enthusiasm, considering how physically demanding the show is. It’s hard to single out anyone, but Richard Atwill (Rat/Bean), Raphael Bushay (Badger/Boggis) and Gruffudd Glyn (Mole/Bunce) deserve a special mention for doubling as animals and farmers as it requires some very quick costume changes. It was also a great pleasure to see Lillie Flynn on stage again and hear her sing so much. Fantastic Mr Fox is rather fantastic and a lot of fun for kids and adults alike.

This House (Garrick Theatre)

Ever since I saw This House at the National Theatre in 2012, it’s been one of my most favourite plays of the decade. It doesn’t really matter how much (or little) you know about the 70s and coalition government, this play is surely an extremely piece of theatre and I’m glad I had another chance to see it and sit of the Labour bench once again. This is a proper ensemble show led by strong performances from Nathaniel Parker and Steffan Rhodri. It’s uncanny how timely the play sounds these days. I saw James Graham at the Hampstead Theatre Festival this month and he mentioned how different lines find resonance among today’s audiences and how some people even ask him how much of the text he’d changed for this revival. The answer is nothing has been altered, it just rings truer today than ever while remains immensely entertaining and enjoyable.

The Boys in the Band (Vaudeville Theatre)

I loved this play so much when I saw it at the Park Theatre last year I decided to come back to its West End home and see it once again. While it was still the same charming and heartbreaking productions, at times I couldn’t help thinking that maybe I should’ve stayed away this time. Yes, it’s excellent, yes, its cast is strong and very well cast, but the intimacy felt at the tiny theatre in Finsbury Park was somewhat lost and I didn’t feel like sitting there, in that room anymore. It’s not a bad thing, but I was a bit upset that this sense of involvement had become weaker. Still, it’s a wonderful and important play and I’m glad I got to see it more than once.

Promises, Promises (Southwark Playhouse)

I love Burt Bacharach and when the casting for this show was announced, the deal was sealed. I can list a host of reasons why I can’t say I was overjoyed by this production (from evidently low budget to it being one of the most dated things I’ve seen recently), but I didn’t dislike it. Chuck Baxter, played by Gabriel Vick who is perfect for the role, may not be your average hero – he is trying to advance his career by aiding senior executives of his company in cheating on their wives by letting them use his apartment – but it’s hard not to sympathise with him when you get to know him better. He’s charming and caring and a true gentleman when it comes to the woman he loves. I went to see the show because of Gabriel and I can say he was definitely worth it as well as the musical itself.

Like I said, February wasn’t too busy for me, but March is shaping up nicely and I have some really exiting plans for the next month, hope they’ll live up to my expectations.

Musical of the Month: Sunny Afternoon (UK Tour)

Play of the Month: This House (Garrick Theatre)

Theatre Overview: January 2017

Just over a month ago I published my resolution of sorts to write more about theatre. Now that January is almost done and dusted, it’s time for my first “Theatre Overview”. My initial plan to choose one show of the month had to be revised as I can’t really rate musicals and plays in the same way.

Over the first weeks of the year I’ve been to the theatre 17 times: I got to see 13 different shows, 9 of them were new. Not bad, considering I’m a repeat attender, but I have a feeling the situation’s going to change dramatically because Sunny Afternoon tour is back on the road after their early January break and I have some plans regarding my visits to various locations to see it. Anyway, first things first: my January theatre shenanigans and some thoughts on the productions I saw.

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Lin-Manuael Miranda and cast and creatives on In the Heights in London

I started 2017 in the rather cold King’s Cross Theatre watching Lazarus. David Bowie’s musical became an important part of my life and I’m glad I saw it 3 times, including my final visit on Bowie’s birthday. It really is a remarkable production and it’ll stay with me for a long time, at least in the form of the cast recording. Of other repeat visits I should mention School of Rock, a love child of Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Julian Fellowes. Considering I’m not exactly keen on either, it’s interesting that this show is now on my list of things to see to cheer me up, and I think it’s something everyone should see. It’s fun, it’s loud and it has a great story – something many productions can learn. Another important repeat visit was to see In the Heights. Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to the wonderful London version, and I’m slightly kicking myself for taking my time to see it and missing out on seeing other cast variations. Still, 11 visits and some time in the same room as Lin-Manuel Miranda happened to be some of the happiest times I’ve spent in any theatre. And, of course, there’s Sunny Afternoon tour. I caught them in Cardiff on their last day there and I am so glad I decided to go – it was definitely the best venue of those I’ve been to so far and the Saturday night show exceeded all expectations. I’m happy to see the tour going from strength to strength and looking forward to seeing them again very soon.

I may say I’ve been lucky so far in terms of new productions. Of the 9 shows I’ve seen, only one made me wish I had booked something different and one left me uncertain of what I’d seen. Here they are, in chronological order.

The Red Barn (National Theatre, Lyttleton)

David Hare’s adaptation of George Simenon’s thriller would probably work much better as a film: even though scene changes and flashbacks don’t make it difficult to follow the story, they slow it down and take some of the intended suspense out of it. Bunny Christie’s set is definitely the star of the show, however, I have a feeling it might’ve been difficult to see some of the scenes from the sides of the auditorium. I went to see it because of Mark Strong, having seen him in a couple of other productions and knowing he’s worth a trip to the theatre. He is very good, no doubt, but the story lacks in novelty and power, I could easily predict what was going to happen a few scenes later and at the very end. It’s meant to be a gripping thriller, but it somehow fails to keep you on the edge of your seat.

RENT (St James Theatre)

This 20th anniversary production of Jonathan Larson’s musical would make its author proud. It has some of the strongest performers I have ever seen, both main characters and ensemble work as a whole, showing excellent chemistry between cast members. Philippa Stefani is a standout as Mimi, totally believable and heartbreaking. Scenes between Layton Williams’s Angel and Ryan O’Gorman’s Tom Collins won’t leave a dry eye in the house. This is my first production of RENT and I’m glad it’s this one. Should I ever see another version, it’ll have a lot to live up to.

Half a Sixpence (Noel Coward Theatre)

Half a Sixpence is a proper feel-good show, full of heart and excellent musical numbers. It’s hard to leave the theatre without feeling impressed by the mood the show sets, despite its simple story. Charlie Stemp is probably the brightest young musical theatre star at the moment. He spends almost all of the time on stage acting, singing, dancing, playing his banjo, sometimes simultaneously, and making it look like the easiest task there is. I’ll be very much surprised is he’s not recognised for his performance at this year’s Oliviers.

Dead Funny (Vaudeville Theatre)

With names like Steve Pemberton and Katherine Parkinson in the cast you’d expect the show to be a hit, but it’s more of a miss, with a half-empty auditorium. It’s not not-funny, it has its moments, however, the below-the-belt jokes lose their appeal 30 minutes into the first half and become slightly weary post-interval. It’s not necessarily bad, the cast are on top form, with the above mentioned Pemberton and Parkinson proving that they’re true comedy geniuses, capable of drama performances as well, but we already knew that from their other works. However, they get a little bit lost amidst the general chaos, good as they are.

Nice Fish (Harold Pinter Theatre)

This West End transfer of the play co-written by Mark Rylance and Louis Jenkins sees the former being good as usual at seemingly effortless performance. The play may not be the most action-packed or straightforward production in London at the moment, but it’s enjoyable nevertheless. Simplistic set and clever use of puppets help create the atmosphere of a distant ice-fishing spot. It’s funny at times and touching in other scenes, and it leaves you with a smile on your face without trying too hard.

Art (Old Vic)

Probably some of the most enjoyable 90 minutes I’ve spent in any theatre in the last few years. Billed as a comedy, Art proves this for almost an hour, with the story revolving around three friends, one of whom spends a lot of money on a questionable piece of art, leading to his friends’ disbelief and mockery. However, Art’s high point is Tim Key’s performance as Ivan, who, despite being a little looked down upon by Serg and Mark (Rufus Sewell and Paul Ritter respectively), turns out to be the most multi-dimensional character and wins the audience over in one of the key scenes.

Wild Honey (Hampstead Theatre)

For someone not exactly keen on Russian literature I spend a lot of time watching Russian plays in English. However, Chekhov has always been one of the more enjoyable writers for me and I was glad to get a chance to see Geoffrey Streatfield on stage again. The performance I saw involved a rather last-minute replacement for Howard Ward, who had been taken ill a couple of days before, so the character was played by Simon Slater with an aid of the script as he’d only had a day and a half of rehearsals. However, it didn’t diminish the effect and it was still an enjoyable evening, making Wild Honey an enormous fun and one of the more cheerful stage adaptations of Russian plays I’ve seen, as much cheerful as it’s applicable here, of course.

The Kite Runner (Wyndham’s Theatre)

(NB: This was written after my first visit to see the play, I’ve been to the Wyndham’s twice already and will definitely be back again, more than once.)

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The Kite Runner at the Wyndham’s Theatre

It was a last minute decision as I prefer reading books before seeing their adaptations, but I decided to break my own rule and see the play. I know it’s only January, but everything else I’m going to see this year will have a tough job getting anywhere near the bar set for me by the Kite Runner. It’s a universal story of friendship, loyalty, hope and redemption. I see a lot of different productions, but I won’t lie if I say that I’ve never seen anything so powerful. I spent most of the time weeping in the front row and I can tell you I wasn’t alone. Ben Turner as Amir is the heart and soul of the production, changing between playing a little boy in Kabul and a narrator, a grown-up version of that kid. He’s on stage all the time and he is the sight to behold. Andrei Costin as Amir’s childhood friend and servant Hassan, and later Hassan’s son Sohrab, is making his West End debut and it’s not something I’ll forget soon, if ever. I cried my eyes out over his characters and I hope both Turner and Costin will be recognised for putting everything they’ve got into The Kite Runner.

She Loves Me (Menier Chocolate Factory)

My friend and I keep breaking theatres: on the day we went to see She Loves Me, they had problems with revolves and had to change choreography and blocking to adapt to the circumstances. It might’ve added a little chaos, but the cast did their job and delivered an excellent performance. My standouts are Dominic Tighe and Katherine Kingsley as Stephen and Ilona. My cheeks ached from laughter and it was such a pleasure to see them on stage together and hear Dom’s wonderful singing voice again. Mark Umbers and Scarlett Strallen are hilarious as Georg and Amalia, they’re perfect together when they both argue and become friends. It’s a wonderful show for cold winter days when something uplifting and cheerful is needed.

That’s about it for January. I have some rather exciting plans for the next month, although they mostly involve repeat visits of sorts, but I’m determined to keep going and hope to have a lot to say about shows that are yet to come.

Musical of the Month: Half a Sixpence (Noel Coward Theatre)

Play of the Month: The Kite Runner (Wyndham’s Theatre)

Theatre in 2016

Everyone will tell you this: 2016 has been tough, incredibly so. However, looking back, it seems I’ve been pretty lucky in terms of theatre this year. I know it’s not over yet, but I’m not seeing any new productions in the next 12 days, so I might as well think of something to say about my theatre year. I don’t blog about productions I see, even though I probably should, even just for myself. Anyway, I do have something to say, so…

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By the end of the year I will have been to the theatre 146 times, which is almost twice as many as in 2015 (it was 75), and I’ll end up seeing 54 different productions (massive improvement on about 20 in 2015). As you can guess, most of those visits were dedicated to a certain Sunny show: both in London and on tour. As a matter of fact, the tour is going to be my last show of the year – which is how it should be. There have been other shows I ended up seeing more than once, for different reasons: Hangmen, In the Heights, Kinky Boots and The Globe’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, – so it’s not just one production.

Like I said, I’ve been very lucky this year but there’s a couple of shows that turned out to be below my usual standards. The worst production I had to endure was All or Nothing, by miles. I never got round to seeing it during its initial run at the Vaults so I can’t say if it got better or worse by the time I saw it in August, but it was the one time this year when I was thinking of leaving in the interval, which I never do, no matter how awful the production I’m seeing is. I saw it through, however, to make sure it was as weak as I’d been told. That said, I tried to be as unprejudiced as possible, it wasn’t that hard. I love The Small Faces, it’s one of my most favourite bands, and it pains me to see their story treated in such an immature way. The show may have its potential, but its book needs to be rewritten and some of the characters should be recast. I don’t know how it sounded in bigger venues, at the Vaults musical design seemed non-existent and I couldn’t hear any of the vocals, which is not a good thing. You should be able to hear Steve Marriott, I couldn’t, although it’s not the only problem with this show.

I was slightly disappointed by the UK tour of the Commitments, I don’t like the changed ending which comes out of nowhere and makes no sense to me, plus it didn’t feel to me like it was the same show I’d seen in London. I’m also not quite sure about Buddy: the Buddy Holly Story. It’s a fun show, but it doesn’t have much of a story (not their fault, obviously), it might’ve worked better as a shorter show without an interval. It appeals to certain audiences and it’s still enjoyable, though. There have been some other productions I’m not particularly keen on, I knew it might happen and it doesn’t mean they’re bad – just not my kind of shows.

However, 2016 has been a very good theatre year for me. Some shows opened in 2015 but as I saw them this year, they’re on my list. I stopped avoiding musicals and, even though I may not be coming back to see most of them, I happen to enjoy and appreciate some productions. Without further ado, I give you my Top 5 shows from 2016.

  1. In the Heights (King’s Cross Theatre)

It took me a while to get to see it, I missed its original run at the Southwark Playhouse and only went to the King’s Cross Theatre in May – and I fell in love. It’s a wonderful production, its simple story is full of heart and never fails to make me laugh and cry. I’m going to be sad to say goodbye to it in January, but I’m glad I got to see it and spent some time enjoying it.

  1. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Globe)

One of my least favourite plays and one of the best productions I’ve seen at the Globe. I’m grateful to Emma Rice for her first season and for this particular version of the play. It’s fun, it’s mad in the best way possible and it introduced me to a number of actors who quickly became some of my most favourite people. And don’t get me started on some of Emma Rice’s casting decisions: Debbie wrote a great feature on Helenus and I can only second everything she said, Katy Owen as Puck is my role model now, and Ewan Wardrop happens to be the Bottom that doesn’t set my teeth on edge but makes me cry with laughter. I’m annoyed and irritated by the board’s decision to get Emma Rice to step down in 2018, but I’m glad we still have one more year with her.

  1. Lazarus (King’s Cross Theatre)

2016 deprived me of one of the most important people in my life. Bowie’s legacy lives on, no doubt, but it’s the thought of not having anything new that’s devastating. I’m happy that Lazarus found a home in London and glad I got to see it. I’ve heard different opinions and reviews, to me it’s one of the most personal things I’ve ever seen on stage. It may be weird to some, to me it’s one of the strongest theatre experiences ever. I couldn’t stop crying for almost two hours and was visibly shaking when I was leaving the theatre. It’s so Bowie you could almost feel his presence. And don’t get me started on the cast, Michael Esper as Valentine is something to behold. My only regret is that I booked just one ticket when they went on sale, I’m going to see it again in 2017 – in fact, it should be my first show of the year – but having watched it from the middle of the front row, I want to see it from there again.

  1. Red Velvet (Garrick Theatre)

This was my most favourite production of the whole Branagh season at the Garrick – quite possibly because Branagh had nothing to do with it. It’s a timely story told by a top-notch cast, it’s Adrian Lester at his best. Productions like this stay with you for a very long time. I wouldn’t call it groundbreaking or use any other big words – it just makes you stop and look around you, and see that not that much has changed in 150 years. It’s a shame it had such a short run, but I’m so so glad I saw it in February.

  1. Hangmen (Wyndham’s Theatre)

To my shame, I missed Hangmen at the Royal Court in 2015, timing just wasn’t right (it was on around Sunny cast change, you know…) and then it was sold out so I couldn’t even try and risk cancelling something I’d already planned. However, I made up for it when it moved to the West End. I saw it 3 times and if I’d had a chance it would’ve been far more than that. There’s nothing I don’t like about this Martin Mcdonagh’s play, I could probably go on and on about it forever and I keep everything crossed that one day it’ll be back and I’ll get to experience it over and over again. It’s clever, it’s funny, it’s stylish, it doesn’t matter that I know its plot twists, I still enjoy it enormously and miss it a lot. And I’m still baffled and annoyed that Johnny Flynn didn’t get an Olivier nomination for his performance – he was definitely the best thing about this incredible production.

What? Sunny Afternoon is not on the list? You may have guessed that of those shows I’ve seen more than once this is still the one I see a lot. We had to say goodbye to its London version, which was tough, even though the world didn’t end, it just feels odd knowing it’s not in Panton Street anymore. On the other hand, I have the tour, and it’s the best option I could wish for. I’ve seen them many times now and I love them dearly – it’s still the same show and yet it feels fresh and new. I look forward to spending more time on the road and seeing them in 2017.

Speaking of things to look forward to next year, I have 9 new shows to see when I’m next in London and quite a few new productions in the first 6 months. One of my favourite actors is going back to the theatre and, even though it’s another version of the play I’m not very keen on, I’m glad I’m going to see him again. I’m also massively looking forward to the new season at the Globe and I’m determined to make the most of it and see every production at least once. In November, that little show called Hamilton is going to hit London, so that’s definitely another exciting prospect, plus, even though it’s not set in stone yet, I may finally make it across the pond again and see a few Broadway shows. Let’s hope 2017 will be better in general and in terms of theatre in particular. I hope that my fellow theatre addicts will get to see a lot of great shows and that my favourite actors will get the roles they want and deserve. I have decided to try and do some theatre blogging next year. I don’t know yet if I’m going to do monthly overviews, or if I’ll just write about those shows that should get a mention, for good or bad reasons, or if I’m going to write proper blogs on every new production I see – it all depends on how much time and energy I’ll have. In any case, here’s to a good 2017, filled with excellent theatre.