Theatre highs and lows in 2019

Well it’s been a while. But be assured that’s not because I haven’t been going out and seeing things/doing things- I absolutely have (even if they haven’t always made it to the blog). But I thought, before 2019 ended, I would try and at least do a quick roundup of my favourites (and, er, least favourites) from this year. Some have been on the blog, some haven’t!

Highs

‘The Phlebotomist’, Hampstead Theatre

This really was one of my standout plays of this year, because it was such a shocking prediction of how the future might, quite easily, turn out. For me a good measure of a play is whether I’m still thinking about it when I left the theatre. If I’m still thinking about it months later, that’s really remarkable. And this one, I definitely was (and am). Deserves a West End transfer.

‘A German Life’, The Bridge Theatre

Seeing Maggie Smith on stage was a dream come true. She captivated the entire theatre singlehandedly. Enough said.

‘Small Island’, National Theatre

I really thought I had written about this one at the time and it makes me sad to see that looking back I obviously didn’t, because it was amazing. So many themes to think about, including how Jamaican immigrants to the UK were treated and all that they had to encounter, not to mention a couple of epic love stories. One of the best historical plays I’ve ever seen.

‘Lungs’, Old Vic

Another one I should have written about at the time and didn’t. I mainly booked to see this play because I’m a fan of Claire Foy and Matt Smith in ‘The Crown’, and they were brilliant, but I also loved the topical and funny discussions in this play about children, relationships and gender equality.

‘Follies’, National Theatre

My favourite musical of this year. Big, glamorous and glitzy with a great heart- what more could you want?!

‘High Fidelity’, Turbine Theatre

Second favourite musical of the year! Based on one of my favourite books, there was always a good chance I’d like it, but I was impressed by the energy of the songs and the enthusiasm of the cast. Also my first visit to the Turbine Theatre, and I love visiting new theatres.

‘Noises Off’, Garrick Theatre

Funniest play of the year, it’s that simple. Brilliant farce and a super performance from one of my favourite actresses, Meera Syal.

‘Anna’, National Theatre

Most innovative play of the year for sure. The audience had to wear headsets in order to hear what was happening in different rooms of the house, as a party in East Germany takes place and events unfold. Very, very well performed and staged, another triumph at the National.

‘The King of Hell’s Palace’, Hampstead Theatre

This was another play about a historical event I knew nothing about- when the Chinese government paid people to donate blood and plasma to be sold on to pharmaceutical companies, and the health risks that resulted. Really eye opening and well performed.

‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’, Bridge Theatre

Sneaking this one in at the end because it’s still on now (until February 2020) and is well worth a watch. One of my favourite stories as a kid, I’ve seen the various TV and film adaptations over the years but wasn’t sure how well it would work on stage. Magically, is the answer. The cast is brilliant and the staging really inventive.

Lows

‘The American Clock’, The Old Vic

This had so much promise, but ultimately I found it longwinded, confusing and depressing. Which is interesting, because I felt exactly the same about…

‘Death of a Salesman’, Piccadilly Theatre

Perhaps Arthur Miller plays aren’t really for me (though oddly, I did like ‘The Price’ ).

‘9 to 5’, Savoy Theatre

The music was good, but then you could listen to that without paying out for a ticket for this somewhat ridiculous and OTT storyline.

‘Waitress’, Adelphi Theatre

There was SO much hype about this musical that I thought at the very least I would like it, if not love it. I was wrong. Everything about it irritated me, from the appalling morals to the disappointing storyline. Reminds me of ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’, another show that everyone loved and I was underwhelmed by!

‘My Dad’s Gap Year’, Park Theatre

A play that could have been brilliant on the topic of father/son loyalties and family dynamics, but crossed just too far into ‘ridiculous’ territory for me.

‘Rutherford and Son’, National Theatre

I thought this would be a powerful play about family and loyalty. While there were some strong moments, I was mostly underwhelmed.

So there you have it- my theatre highs and lows of 2019. Have you seen any of them, and if so what did you think?!

I’m hoping to put together another post in the next few days of the productions I’m most looking forward to in 2020… and not to mention the travel posts I am waaaayyy behind on!! But in the meantime, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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