It’s almost the end of another year – so here I am sneaking in, as ever, just under the wire with my highlights of 2017 post. This is always a great excuse to look back on all the shows that I’ve seen in the last twelve months and reflect on the ones that really made an impression.
Quick disclaimer: there have been many shows that I saw and loved this year but that I didn’t review. If I included them all I’d never manage to narrow down the selection, so I’ve decided to focus on only shows I’ve written about (with one exception) for this post.
So let’s kick off with…
Most inspiring: Phoenix Rising at Smithfield Meat Market
A powerful drama produced by The Big House, an organisation that helps young care-leavers gain the confidence and skills they need to turn their lives around.
Most bonkers: House on Haunted Hill at Leicester Square Theatre
More spoof horror mayhem from The Lampoons in their unique and entirely unpredictable remake of the 1959 Vincent Price movie.
Most exciting debut production – Flood at Tristan Bates Theatre
The first outing for newly formed Paper Creatures was a funny, heartwarming story by Tom Hartwell about what happens when we leave home – and when we don’t.
Most exciting debut performance – Will Pinchin, Frankenstein at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre
After years working with Arrows and Traps as Movement Director, Will Pinchin made a captivating (and long-awaited) stage debut this year as The Creature in the company’s production of Frankenstein.
Most heartwarming – Rapunzel at Chickenshed
A last-minute entry for Chickenshed’s festive show, which features a cast of 800(!) young people, all obviously having the time of their lives. The irresistibly feel-good show continues until 6th January so there’s still time to grab a ticket.
Most original – I Know You Of Old at The Hope Theatre
The text of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, ingeniously rearranged by David Fairs of Golem! into a completely new and gripping story, with a killer twist at the end.
Most emotional – In Other Words at The Hope Theatre
This love story of a couple torn apart by Alzheimer’s had me in bits, largely thanks to devastating performances from Off The Middle’s Matthew Seager and Celeste Dodwell.
Most delicious – Scripts for Supper at the London Cooking Project
Former Masterchef semi-finalist Annie McKenzie launched her new theatrical dining experience, a delicious five-course meal served around excerpts from Twelfth Night. We ate, we drank, and we were (very) merry.
Most likely to change the world – HerStory
Now in its second year, the feminist theatre festival created by Nastazja Somers continues to go from strength to strength, with each instalment presenting a new selection of powerful pieces representing the female voice.
Finally, a few honorary awards:
My Favourite Things – Paper Hearts at Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Books + theatre + love story + live folk music + actor-musicians. Need I say more? I still want that cast recording, by the way…
Best Show That I Didn’t Review – Romantics Anonymous
Possibly the most charming show I’ve ever seen. It’s funny and relatable, with great music, and I loved every single thing about it. Also, free (magic) chocolate.
No review (obviously), but still time to book before it closes on 6th January.
Best One-off Production – Amicus presents The Exonerated at Middle Temple Hall
A harrowing but amazing performance of The Exonerated – a play made up of true stories about people exonerated from death row – featuring a cast of actors, lawyers and two death row exonerees, including Sunny Jacobs as herself.
And honourable mentions to: The State of Things at the Brockley Jack; Antic Disposition’s Richard III at Temple Church; Turkey at The Hope Theatre; Mrs Orwell at the Old Red Lion Theatre; Miss Nightingale at the Vaults.
Happy New Year, and bring on 2018!