My Top 10 Shows of 2016

It's fair to say that 2016 has been a brilliant year for theatre, and below I have compiled a rundown of my top 10 favourite productions that I have witnessed this year, in no particular order.

1. The Notebook, Warwick Arts Centre

'When you hear that the performance will contain sexual references, for a show like this you may think that it wouldn't phase you as they are just reading from a book, but I found myself strangely wanting to cover my ears throughout these segments, because they became very graphic quite quickly, and I believe that this effect only came about by the sheer brilliance of pace and timing from the two performers, and this must also be a testimony to Tim Etchells brilliant directing of the piece.'

Read the full review here

2. May Contain Food, Warwick Arts Centre

'The performance itself was a mixture of dance and acting, with, like a traditional restaurant and shown in our menus, we had a four course meal, with a Starter, Main, ‘Green’, and End, and the appetisers given to us within these interludes to the main event were something quite special and unique. For example, have you ever been asked to roll a tomato all over your face before then putting it in your mouth and chew 21 times before swallowing, or having to feed your neighbour next to you a ball of rice, because if you were to come and watch May Contain Food, you would be getting exactly that!'

Read the full review here

3. X, Royal Court London

'What I found really exciting about this production was for me personally the fact that it was the first time I had been to a professional London theatre on a preview night, and it was incredibly satisfying to know that everyone in the same room where going to be sharing the same experience all together, and the fact that none of us in the auditorium had any information about what to expect, there was just something so special about that, and it should be really important to understand that if you are thinking of attending this run of this stunning production, that you go in without knowing anything about the plot, because the tiniest thing could really ruin the tense atmosphere that you find yourself being propelled into, being tampered with just so much that you would then not be fully shocked by the twist and turns sprung upon you throughout!'

Read the full review here

4. The Comedy About a Bank Robbery, Criterion Theatre London

'A real highlight of the show for me was in the second act with the clever use of a birds eyed view of a particular scene - I will not go into too much detail as I do not want to spoil the specifics of this sequence, but the way that they creatively produced that scene really proved that this time Mischief Theatre had gone one step further than there previous productions to create more bold moments with brilliant whole rounded characters, and with times where there were death defying but controlled stunts, it makes this production the hottest ticket in London right now!'

Read the full review here

5. Broken Biscuits, Birmingham REP

'The chemistry on stage from the trio was electric and this could only be heightened thanks to the fantastic script from Tom Wells, who had really captured these characters in this summer time-frame to make this characters perfectly rounded with such sustainable backgrounds, as seen through the use of weekly songs where we delve deeper into the characters lives, especially within Holly's life where we learn about Dean through a brilliant song about him buying a 79p snickers!'

Read the full review here

6. School of Rock, New London Theatre

'The changes between scenes were slick thanks to the score of the show and the aluminium truss which helped move the staging electronically with ease, so much that I completely didn't realise that we had changed sets at times! It was the set piece of the finale though that really stole the show, and just like the movie, the finale is focused at ‘The Battle of The Bands’ finals, an iconic scene in the movie which was transformed on stage perfectly, really making you rock along with the cast on stage like you really were in a rock concert like the one taken from the film!'

Read the full review here

7. The Grinning Man, Bristol Old Vic

'Another amazing part of this production is the use of puppetry, which for myself became the standout part of this show with such movement that made the puppets feel like genuine children of Grinpayne and Dea. This is puppetry unlike any other in my judgement, and also such talent in the conviction of detail that I have not thoroughly seen since watching 'War Horse’ many years ago! The puppetry is used throughout the whole performance but is first explored through the prologue which tells the story of a young Grinpayne who finds a baby with a dead mother one night in a snow storm, which later turns out to be Dea (Audrey Brisson).'

Read the full review here

8. Trainspotting, The Vaults London

'The action onstage itself was electrifying, making you feel like you actually had taken drugs prior to the performance just from the sheer fact of how relentless the pace was throughout! I loved the interaction with the audience and the way that multiple conversations with the help of the actors was playing out throughout the production, especially when they came to sit next to you or having dirty bed-sheets thrown at you, no matter how disgusting that may seem.'

Read the full review here

9. Unreachable, Royal Court London

'... It really is the entrance and presence of Ivan (Jonjo O’Neill), nicknamed in shrouded mystery as ‘The Brute’ throughout the production, that really helps ramp up the tension with his hilarious anger and incredible one liners that really make you leave the theatre feeling you have got your money's worth. The chemistry Smith and O’Neill had on stage was electrifying as their characters had met before this films existence, and especially in the penultimate few minutes before the interval, where they both share an incredibly weird but satisfying stand off that you really know just what kind of mad and brilliant production you are experiencing.'

Read the full review here

10. 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tipps, Birmingham REP / Warick Arts Centre/ Bristol Old Vic

'Kneehigh are renowned for their music and 946 is no exception, making an angelic to toe tapping underscore that works incredibly well in this production, and it's really nice to see the cast interact with the band, but the way that the band also are actors makes this performance slick, especially from Adam Sopp, who plays the drums in the band but then transforms to play evacuee Barry in the story of Tipps, and has a realism to him through the chemistry provided by Katy Owen, who portrays Lily Tregenza, a young 12 year old girl, who is the owner of Tipps, her cat.'

Read the full review here


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