Theatre review 2014: My favourite Shakespeare/Jacobean productions or the two Hamlets and two Henrys
Theatre review 2014: It was a vintage year and this is my big best of list

Theatre review 2014: My favourite fringe productions and my fringe star

2014 was a cracking year for fringe productions, particularly new writing. Popular themes were deprivation and the break down of society but often delivered with a spark of hope in humanity and a dollop of humour. Sometimes you had to look hard to see the hope but it was there.

Alex Waldmann gets my fringe star award for appearing in two productions I loved this year, Jonah and Otto made it onto the list below and Widowers Houses gets an honourable mention.

There are a handful of fringe productions that are making an appearance on my overall best of list which I'll be publishing later today but I haven't included them here so as to make more room for more productions I loved. What can I say, its was a quality year.

In no particular order:

1. Pests, Royal Court Upstairs This was urban poetry, fresh and urgent and had a lot to say about how society is failing the young.

2. Grand Guignol, Southwark Playhouse Brilliant macabre comedy with stage blood a plenty. Perfect Hallowe'en fair.

3. Art of Dying, Royal Court Upstairs Wanted to run and give playwright/performer Nick Payne a hug after this powerful and very personal 40 minute piece about death and loss.

4. Debris, Southwark Playhouse Deprivation drama that had echoes of Philip Ridley's fantastical and grim style in it.

5. Jonah and Otto, Park Theatre One of those rare and beautiful plays that is deeply affecting but for reasons that are difficult to explain.

6. Angry Brigade, Watford Palace Theatre* A slightly anarchic, humourous look social unrest and terrorism in the 70s that was both provocative and entertaining.

My other list:

Favourite Shakespeare and Jacobean drama of 2014

* Technically this is regional theatre not fringe but it falls between two stalls otherwise.