Skip to main content

No results found

HANBOROUGH GATE OX 1100x120 BANNER unezql
Culture, Theatre

Top 5s of 2018:

Theatre 

divider
James Pike

2018 has been a formidable year for theatre. From new writing to exquisite reproductions – here are my top 5 picks from a year of theatrical gems.

Othello @ Oxford Playhouse

In this English Touring Theatre co-production with the Playhouse and Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, the Othello text is made to feel completely contemporary, via Victor Oshin’s accompanying movements in the title role and Kitty Archer’s tone and phrasing as Desdemona. The best part of this offering is the after-dinner scene between Desdemona and Emilia (Kelly Price), which completely captures the end-of-party chats we’ve all had; the heels-off, quiet conversations interjected with short bursts of raucous behaviour. It is utterly relatable and current. The northern accent Price gives Emilia helps bring out the funniness of the character’s lines (and adds a new dimension to “I will speak as liberal as the north”) in this Richard Twyman-directed show complete with a very well-staged final bloodbath that isn’t devoid of surprise.

See image one, courtesy of ©Helen Maybanks

The Fishermen @ The North Wall

Gbolahan Obisesan’s stage adaptation of the Chigozie Obioma novel, as presented by New Perspectives, is impassioned, energised, and visually alluring. During the two-hander directed by Jack McNamara, lines bounce beautifully between Michael Ajao and Valentine Olukoga, as we’re drip-fed the history of Ben and Obembe – from the jovial to the beyond-dark – in a way that doesn’t give us too much to digest at once but doesn’t leave us wishing the plot would move more quickly. This tale of trust and death builds and builds in an impeccably controlled manner, and concludes with a tableau that somehow encapsulates all The Fishermen’s love and loyalty in a single moment.

See image two, courtesy of ©Pamela Raith

The Dragprov Revue @ Jericho Tavern

The Dragprov Revue is a title born out of the marrying together of drag and improv, but in the case of this drag king/drag queen double act, the drag seems almost secondary. The gift Ed Scrivens (‘Eaton Messe') and Francesca Forristal ('Christian Adore’) have for improvisation is the star of the show. Scrivens and Forristal – expertly accompanied by pianist Joe Zacaroli – tell the story of Messe and Adore, through sketches and songs informed by audience suggestions. It is heartening to see both performers genuinely laughing at what the other comes up with at times; a reminder that what happens onstage in a gig like this can be as new to the people doing it as it is to the audience, during a show gloriously littered with thrusting, decent vocals and speedy thinking.

See image three, courtesy of ©ChrisWRCox Photography

Further afield…

The Inheritance @ the Young Vic

Matthew Lopez’s epic about the Aids crisis and what it means to be a young gay man now, currently playing in the West End, is very special indeed. Directed by Stephen Daldry, it’s smartly structured, highly moving and very funny – the six ½ hours fly by. Highlights include Hubert Burton’s hilarious portrayal of gold puffer-wearing artist Tucker and Samuel H Levine’s brave and mightily impressive performance as both Leo and Adam. Not lacking in powerful monologues – or the endearing Vanessa Redgrave – it plays the Noël Coward until 19 January.

See image 4 (Vanessa Redgrave and Samuel H Levine) courtesy of ©Simon Annand

Tamburlaine @ the RSC

Under the direction of Michael Boyd, Jude Owusu shines as the tyrannical Tamburlaine in this RSC offering, displaying a presence that renders him well-worthy of the title role. The violence in Marlowe’s play holds the audience’s attention and is neatly staged. Early on, a neck break with accompanying sound effect is perfectly timed and alerts viewers; further along Orcanes’ tongue is cut out, tossed and allowed to splat on the floor – you can’t take your eyes off it. The pace is quick and the scenes of humiliation powerful, in what has to be the most murderous play I’ve ever witnessed.

See image 5, courtesy of ©Ellie Kurttz RSC

RECOMMENDED

AMBERRUN OCTOBER DANIELALEXANDERHARRIS 000019550025 2retouch fe9jgv
Sat 5 Oct 2019

A Little Bit of Magic

Behind the Music of Amber Run

Joshua Keogh, Tom Sperring and Henry Wyeth are Amber Run, whose third album, Philophobia, was released on 27 September.

george egg cabbage mixer scb2ij
Thu 14 Nov 2019

This month George Egg returns to Didcot to present Moveable Feast, the third of his culinary shows in which he attempts gourmet style cooking in tasking environments. It’s an hour of live

ARRIRAWConverter Snapshot 20180507 123814 2
Wed 13 Nov 2019

Review: Running with the Devil

Jason Cabell's debut lacks any real focus or cinematic thrills

Running with the Devil charts the production and journey of several kilos of cocaine from Columbia to Vancouver. Along the chain of process we are introduced to several key characters (played

Le Corsaire 1200x628 no title lpdl3l
Wed 13 Nov 2019

Ken Saruhashi

Romp, Romance and Russian Methods

This month, Milton Keynes Theatre welcome English National Ballet with Le Corsaire, a swashbuckling romp set to a romantic score played live by English National Ballet Philharmonic. Hokkaido-born