2013 IN REVIEW
Of the 200+ performances I enjoyed or endured this year, I have whittled out a list of my Top 20 – although to place them in rank order would be an impossible task. Twenty is an arbitrary limit; I could go on and on about the many great shows I have seen but then I may as well just link to my entire blog.
To begin with, it’s been a good year for my favourite touring company, Oddsocks, with a superb summer show, The Comedy of Errors and a rip-roaring Christmas production, a surprisingly dramatic Treasure Island, but for me the jewel in their dazzling crown is the wonderful R.O.G.E.R Radio double bill that got me giggling last Spring when I caught it in Derby.
Speaking of Derby Theatre, they’ve had a cracking good year with productions of Cooking With Elvis and Kes – the venue continues to establish itself as a top quality producing house as well as presenting touring productions of the highest calibre, such as The Seagull.
Lenny Henry blew me away with his towering performance in Fences at Malvern – a theatre which snags many excellent shows before they open in the West End. Also in this category is hilarious new farce, The Duck House.
Down in that London, I enjoyed Ben Whishaw and Judi Dench in Peter and Alice – Whishaw was to impress me again a few months later with his chilling turn in Mojo at the Harold Pinter. Book of Mormon became one of my favourite musicals and I adored Suranne Jones in the revival of Beautiful Thing.
On a smaller scale, Warwick Arts Centre was host to the astonishing Beats and Tomorrow’s Parties, and The Door at the Birmingham REP gave us the powerful Hopelessly Devoted. I was very lucky to catch the superbly moving For Their Own Good at the MAC before its award-winning stint in Edinburgh.
The wonderful New Vic gave us a giddying display of creativity in its immensely physical and exhilarating Around the World in 80 Days with man-shaped rubber band Michael Hugo in excellent form. This show is tied with the very different The American Plan (St James Theatre) as my Show of the Year. That being said one of the finest productions I was privileged to see was Birmingham’s Crescent Theatre’s A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, which was amateur in name alone.
Also at the New Vic was Alan Ayckbourn’s latest play, an out-and-out masterpiece, the remarkable Arrivals and Departures.
Oops, I think I’ve gone over my allotted 20 already.
Of course, not everything is brilliant. There have been dull shows and disappointments but oh, go on then, you’ve twisted my arm: here’s the worst of what I endured in 2013.
My diary for 2014 is filling up already. I’m looking forward to getting this bum on many more seats.