My five favourite plays of the year so far
It's been a phenomenal year for theatre so far and that isn't even including final performances of Ben Whishaw in Mojo and David Tennant's Richard II.
I've managed to pack in more than 40 plays (no wonder I'm tired) and at least 10 of them would earn an equivalent of five stars if I rated that way. It's going to make my end of year list very tough to decide.
What stands out from the crop of plays this year is the quality and imagination of the new writing. And, curiously, the classics that have made their mark have been either pared down and/or contemporary interpretations giving them a fresh appeal.
There are a couple of fringe productions I want to mention that haven't quite made the top five - Debris and Pests - which both exemplify contemporary writing at its most urgent and poetic. This for me is what fringe theatre is all about discovering something fresh, new and bold.
Here's my agonised over top five for January to April:
1. The Pass, Royal Court Upstairs - Scantily clad males running around the stage aside this felt fresh, pertinent and was also good fun. It deserved two viewings.
2. Ghosts, Trafalgar Studios - Jack Lowden won best supporting actor in the Olivier Awards and Lesley Manville won best actress, both much deserved and I don't often say that about Olivier winners.
3. Good People, Noel Coward Theatre - outstanding acting from Imelda Staunton and if she doesn't make it on the Olivier list for next year then the judging panel are hopelessly unqualified for the task. On until June 14, go get a ticket.
4. A View From the Bridge, Young Vic - trimmed to 2 hours straight through apparently it wasn't just the script that was edited of extraneous material but every gesture too was analysed. For example, looking at a watch to tell the time when asked was deemed unnecessary. The result is something that is finely honed to the central story and as a result packs breathtaking emotional punch. One I'm seeing again and it's on until June 7.
5. King Charles III, Almeida Theatre - A West End transfer is rumoured but you can catch it at the Almeida until May 31.