My favourite plays of 2016 - or the year it was pretty much all about women and Ivo Van Hove
Rev Stan's StOlivier theatre awards for 2016

My theatre wish list for 2017

_originalPutting aside all the obvious ones like better loos, cheaper tickets, noise-free snacks, booking systems that don't collapse under the weight of demand etc this is what I hope for in theatre land this year:

More plays with strong female leads We had a good run in 2016 with Hedda, Mary Stuart, Saint Joan, the all women Shakespeare at the Donmar, The Deep Blue Sea, just to name a few. It’s a breath of fresh air and it shouldn’t be, it should be the norm - 65% of audiences are women after all.

Diverse casting - I don’t live in a city where 95% of the population is white so why should theatre be? All white casts are embarrassing. It's getting better but there is room for improvement.

Shorter plays If Josie Rourke can cut Saint Joan down from 4 plus hours to two hours 15 and Flute Theatre can cut Hamlet down to 90 minutes and they are both still really good then does your production really, really need to be three and a half hours long? I'm not saying everything should be two/two and half hours but overly long plays have become a bit of a thing in 2016 and it used to be the exception rather than the rule. It's as if there is a perception that running time is proportionate to level of seriousness. I saw a 15 minute play at the Royal Court last year that packed more punch than a three and a half play on a similar topic. On a practical level, some people need to catch the last train home and/or get up for work the next day.


No more quirky theatre spaces (especially at non-fringe ticket prices). I’m looking at you Found 111. The £30 plus tickets to traipse up several flights of steps and sit on uncomfortable mis-matched chairs with bad sight lines was novel for the first production but that novelty wore thin very quickly. On reflection it’s the theatrical equivalent of a hipster cafe, with no tables, serving breakfast on a spade and charging £25 for it.

Ben Whishaw back on stage in London (obviously) and Colin Morgan, it's been too long.

The Russian's back in London Cheek By Jowl's Russian production of Measure For Measure in 2015 was so good I want to see more.

Lyttelton Theatre The first three rows of the Lyttelton to be raked or at least for the seats to be properly staggered so you aren’t staring into the back of the head of the person in front of you.

Less fusty revivals Classics are classics for a reason but there are also reasons why other plays have stayed confined to the book shelf. I'm thinking of plays like The Dresser in which a man with mental health issues is bullied into working while everyone turns a blind eye to the fact that he is sexually harassing a female colleague. It might have passed as humourous in the 1980s.