2018 theatre review: My 10 favourite fringe plays
2018 was my first year at the Edinburgh Fringe which produced a bumper crop of excellent plays (look out for transfer details) but London has delivered some gems too.
Out of the 50-odd fringe plays there are 10 that really stand out but what strikes me most when revisiting them is how many evoked such a strong emotional reaction.
Yes, some are on the list for being highly entertaining but others made me feel angry or empowered or rebellious, some even a bit teary.
The other thing that strikes me is their diversity in ethnicity and gender balance tipped away from male dominance but I'll be writing more about that in another post.
So, in no particular order:
1. The Claim, Shoreditch Town Hall
Based on research into Home Office procedures this exposes the farcical system that asylum-seekers encounter but more than that, how incompetence endangers people's lives. It made me very angry.
2. My Mum's A Twat, Royal Court Upstairs
It's been an incredible year for Patsy Ferran, kicked off in fine style with this solo performance in a play about a girl's relationship with her mother who has joined a cult. Funny and spirited it also had dark edges.
An effervescent love story and a coming of age story that challenged stereotypes.
4. Flesh and Bone, Soho Theatre upstairs
Shakespeare-esque lyricism combined with East End vernacular cleverly takes you on a revealing and entertaining journey that elevates the stories of those that often overlooked. Shakespeare would, no doubt, have approved.
A play about the dual prejudice of sexism and racism encountered by black women that succeeded in being both angry, uplifting and empowering.
It left me feeling teary in a happy/sad/exhilarated way and ready to march if the call came.
Another chance to see: New Diorama Theatre, Jan 30-Feb 3 as part of the Vault Festival.
6. Angry Alan, Underbelly, Edinburgh Fringe
It's a clever play that will have you scoffing, rolling your eyes and laughing and yet is tinged with tragedy. It won a fringe first award and, as I predicted in my review, a London transfer has been announced (details below).
Another chance to see: Soho Theatre, 5-30 March.
7. You Only Live Forever, Assembly, Edinburgh Fringe
Brilliantly funny with a combination of silliness, wit, observation and accents. Loved it.
8. Fishermen, Assembly, Edinburgh Fringe
An expansive story compellingly told with just two actors over 70-minutes. It was rich in details with beautifully drawn characters.
9. Ladykiller, Pleasance, Edinburgh Fringe
Writer Madeline Gould has created a perverse figurehead for female empowerment in what is a pitch black comedy about a woman who uses gender stereotypes to get away with murder. Loved it.
Another chance to see: Vault Festival, Leake Street, Feb 27-Mar 3
10. Hear Me Howl, Old Red Lion
A play that refreshingly challenges gender stereotypes but does it in a fun, considered and entertaining way.
It proved to be the antidote to 'desperate to have a baby' dramas like the National Theatre's Stories.
Another chance to see: Vault Festival, Leake Street, 30 Jan-3 Feb.
More review posts coming soon - Least favourite plays of 2018, best of the year overall and of course the all important StOliviers - my own theatre awards. Check back over the next few days.