Review: The End of History, Royal Court - rebellious children, parental legacy and a sentimental misstep
Review: Seven Methods Of Killing Kylie Jenner, Royal Court - makes a lot of what is on stage look stodgy and staid

London Theatre 2019 in review - the highs and lows so far...

So we are halfway through 2019 which means time to look back and reflect on what London's theatre scene has offered up so far and this year: 

5 plays I loved:

Emilia, Vaudeville Theatre

"Yes, Emilia is an angry play about the frustration of inequality and how it limits opportunity but the message and call to arms is served well with a mixture of sharp humour, merriment and music."

Downstate poster

Downstate, National Theatre

"This is a challenging, difficult play with humour and wit inflected with wisdom, carefully balancing entertainment without detracting from the seriousness of the subject matter."

Betrayal, Harold Pinter Theatre

"Hiddleston, Ashton and Cox deliver precise, layered performances in a production that grips with tension."

All My Sons, Old Vic Theatre

"All My Sons is a gripping play, a slowly unravelling emotional thriller with masterclass performances and, like Colin Morgan, I felt a bit shattered at the end."

Present Laughter, Old Vic

"There is carefully contained chaos and Andrew Scott makes melodrama and over-acting look effortless (I'm sure it requires great skill and balance) but just occasionally you feel for him."

4 plays I didn’t like:

Starry Messenger, Wyndham's Theatre

I didn't say this explicitly in my review but essentially this is a play about a boring, middle-aged man who has an affair with a younger woman and gets away with it and that made me roll my eyes. That aside, the first half was funny but the second half runs out of steam despite a last-ditch attempt to add shock factor to the narrative.

Admissions, Trafalgar Studios

A play about white privilege that failed on so many levels not least by only having white characters.

Theatre warning

When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other, National Theatre

Unsurprising, unmoving and lacking in any emotional connection. So disappointed that my first time seeing Cate Blanchett on stage was in this.

Rutherford and Son, National Theatre (not reviewed)

After an hour of characters sniping and generally being nasty to each other I couldn't bear to spend any more time with them so I left at the interval.

3 fabulous fringe productions:

Kompromat, Vault Festival

"The performances ooze with sexual tension and sensuousness; the backdrop is an atmosphere of isolation and threat and it is this combination which elevates Kompromat above your average spy thriller."

My White Best Friend, Bunker Theatre

"...clever, fresh, provocative and important theatre."

Lipstick: A Fairytale of Iran, Omnibus Theatre

"Mixing the more colourful and camp with the harsh realities of inequality for the Iranian women Orla befriends is a powerful storytelling device."

2 times gender swapping felt fresh:

Gender swapping characters has become a convenient way of creating roles for women but twice this year it has felt more than a tick box exercise.

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Bridge Theatre

Titania and Oberon switch places so that it is a woman who has the power in the forest and makes the man fall in love with the ass. Bonus points for being a vehicle giddy male romance. (Playing until August 31.)

Present Laughter, Old Vic

A tangle of affairs suddenly gets more interesting when character genders are switched so that it isn't just men chasing women. It blew the cobwebs off this Noel Coward play and made it feel fresh.

And 1 big surprise

Being moved to tears watching my first piece of contemporary dance. (Thank you BalletBoyz.)

What have been your theatre highlights and lowlights so far this year?

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