Favourite Theatre: 2018
2018 has ended. 2019 is here. I’ve taken a little time to write about my favourite theatre I saw in 2018. I’m a little late to the party, everybody completed their favourite theatre of 2018 lists in 2018. I know, I should be looking forward but I’m just having one glimpse back. So here are my favourite shows of 2018 – there is no ranking or order…
The Nature of Why - The British Paraorchestra (Mayfest, Bristol Old Vic)
Walking out onto the stage of the Bristol Old Vic and looking at the gorgeous, empty auditorium is pretty magical but when this happens as an orchestra physically move around you performing an incredible score by Will Gregory, it becomes down right epic. As the performers danced, moved and sashayed through the audience, the most beautiful vignettes seemed to appear from nowhere. This is a show that embraces the theatricality of an orchestra and does something wildly new and inventive with it. For me, it felt like I was inside an instrument. It was spellbinding.
Scratched – DEADPIG (Axis Arts Centre)
This was a final year student piece from Manchester Metropolitan University’s Contemporary Theatre and Performance degree. It was slick, adventurous and extremely well executed and in fact, rivalled most of the ‘professional’ work I’ve seen this year. This is an amazing achievement. As the performers move through the space, they cut brilliantly wonderful shapes through the light. It becomes mesmerising.
The Ballad of the Apathetic Son and his Narcissistic Mother – 21Common (Summerhall)
A lovely surprise from Edinburgh – I came for the Sia but was bowled over by the honest, tender and beautiful mother/son relationship. It was uplifting and frank but also aware of its everyday spectacle, celebrating the best of life while not shying from its hardships.
We are Fucked – Jo Bannon (Arnolfini)
I came to We Are Fucked with high expectations as I saw Jo Bannon’s previous show Alba exactly a year before in the same venue and found it one of the best things I’d seen that year. While We Are Fucked doesn’t quite match Alba’s spectacle, it’s still a breath of fresh air, unafraid to wear its experimental heart on its sleeve. It’s sharp aesthetic and considered colour also make it so pleasurable to watch.
Another One - Maxim Storms & Lobke Leirens (Summerhall)
This a tender love story, brutally and unapologetically presented. Another one sucks you into another world inhabited only by two people who love and hate and fight. It’s simple and beautiful whilst being strangely emotive.
A Haunted Existence - Tom Marshman (The Island)
This is a rich tapestry of a story with threads woven in from different directions and as Tom performs this weave, he is not afraid to omit his own horror as we get a glimpse at life when homosexuality was a crime. The most shocking thing is how shameful and recent the whole thing is. Marshman’s show is unapologetic in its portrayal and beautifully told with ghostly visions of the past coming forward and then disappearing back into the dark.
We’ve Got Each Other – Paul O’Donnell (Pleasance Dome)
I laughed so hard constantly for an hour that by the end I thought I’d gained a six pack. I didn’t but there is no better way to exit a theatre. Paul’s show is funny and clever, poking fun at jukebox musicals whist making an homage to one at the same time. It’s just great.
Wallflower - Quarantine (Gift festival)
This is something I won’t forget in a hurry. The beautiful way in which memories are cherished, re-preformed and theatricalised whilst still being honest, down to earth and fun. As performers attempt to remember every dance they’ve ever danced, they invite audiences to imagine and reminisce. Over the course of 5 hours, something truly magical happens and as you begin to unlock your own memories, you can’t help but fall in love with the performance.
There were lots of shows I could have put in this list; Rashdash’s Three Sisters was brilliant and Bristol Old Vic’s A Christmas Carol was a very surprising near addition. Rachael Clerke’s How to Achieve Redemption as a Scot Through the Medium of Braveheart had, without doubt, the best ending to any show I think I’ve ever seen.
So that’s it, now onto 2019 to see more theatre!