My favourite plays of 2016 - or the year it was pretty much all about women and Ivo Van Hove
I don't know whether the proportion of plays with female leads was higher this year or whether it was those plays that were particularly brilliant but either way I'm pleased this has ended up being such a female dominated list. The other surprise (sort of) is that Ivo Van Hove who would easily run away with the best director gong if I handed out such things. Anyway, of the 100 or so plays I saw this year, these were my particular favourites:
A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing, Young Vic
A powerful solo performance, Aoife Duffin had me hanging on every word of this bleak, unflinching story of a girl's relationships as she grows up.
The Crucible, Walter Kerr Theatre, New York
Not just because Ben Whishaw was in it but because it was a tour de force production by Ivo Van Hove (and I loved the Old Vic/Richard Armitage version in 2014). And, there was a dog that looked like a wolf.
Two brilliant female leads (Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams) made for an edge of the seat, emotional and utterly gripping play (playing until 21 Jan).
A brilliant contemporary spin on the story, inventive staging and another knock out performance from Billie Piper.
Hamlet, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford Upon Avon
I’ve seen a lot of Hamlets and this is up there as possibly my all time favourite thanks to Paapa Essiedu and a fresh, warm, funny and moving production.
Second entry from Ivo Van Hove and another superb leading female performance from Ruth Wilson. This was a brilliantly noirish take on the classic (playing until March 21).
Rotterdam, Trafalgar Studios 2
Fresh, contemporary, funny and packing emotional punch Rotterdam didn't shy away from exploring difficult issues.
King’s of War, Barbican Theatre
And Ivo Van Hove’s final entry onto the list. He combined Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III into a four and a half hour epic that was gripping (and you know how I feel about long plays).
Deep Blue Sea, National Theatre
Helen McCrory gave an unforgettable performance in this superb Rattigan revival.
I was late to the party but so glad I caught this witty, sharp and cleverly observed relationship comedy before it finished its run.
Blackbird, Belasco Theatre, New York
Two characters in a room having a difficult conversation for 90 minutes - at times I had to remember to breath.
The Nap, Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
Richard Bean’s warm, brilliantly funny and occasionally tense snooker-based comedy. I’m keeping everything crossed they manage to find a theatre for a run in London as I'd love to see it again.
*Technically I’ve still got one play to go as I’m seeing Nice Fish tonight so there may be a late addition.
My least favourite plays of 2016
Five favourite fringe plays of 2016