Theatre review of the year – 2016

It’s time once again for my theatre review of the year, and this year my favourite productions have been surprisingly traditional. There’s only one musical in my top ten, and only one new play. It’s true that it’s the strong productions of older works that have made the greatest impression on me this year, whether for good – as noted below – or for ill (*cough* King Lear at the Old Vic *cough*). I’ve enjoyed plenty of musicals and less traditional shows this year, it’s just that fewer of them have really stood out in 2016.

Without more ado, then, here are my top ten productions of the year.

The Tempest, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, Pericles, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse – 26-27 March
Dominic Dromgoole’s final season at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the indoor Jacobean theatre at the Globe, was a definite high point for me. I couldn’t pick one favourite production out of these four late plays by Shakespeare, so I’ve chosen them all for good measure.

People, Places & Things, Wyndham’s Theatre – 9 May
There’s a good reason that Duncan Macmillan’s play – which transferred to the Wyndham’s Theatre after a successful run at the National – is the only new play in my top ten this year. Powerful subject matter and a superb central performance from Denise Gough helped to make this one of the most memorable theatrical experiences of the year for me.

Groundhog Day, Old Vic – 13 September
The only musical on my list, Groundhog Day was a show I hadn’t been too bothered about seeing until I saw the good reviews on TheatreBoard. I’m so glad that I gave it a chance – it was memorable, fabulously staged and surprisingly affecting.

Platonov, Ivanov, The Seagull, National Theatre – 8 October
Another group of plays here: Chekhov is my favourite playwright and I was thrilled when it was announced that the Chichester Festival Theatre productions of these three plays would be transferring to the National Theatre. I saw them all in one day and I’m not exaggerating when I say it was one of the best days of the year. The Seagull is my favourite play and I loved this production, but I also thoroughly enjoyed Platonov and Ivanov, which I hadn’t previously seen.

The Rover, Swan Theatre – 2 November
The final play of my top ten is the RSC’s production of The Rover by Aphra Behn, a joyous and unforgettable experience that was lively and entertaining.

What were your favourite plays of 2016?

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