Review: Ulster American, Riverside Studios - lacks subtlety to give it real punch
Theatre in 5 questions: Mark Down & Ben Keaton, co-writers/directors, The Sex Lives of Puppets, Southwark Playhouse

2023 theatre round up - top 10 favourite plays (and 4 least favourite)

Best of theatre 2023 montage

It feels like theatre returned with a splash in 2023 after the dark days of Covid. I saw 62 and a half plays (64 and a half, including second viewings) across London's plethora of theatres, from tiny pubs to big West End stages.

Here are my favourite 10 plays - in no particular order (links are to the full review).

1. No One, Omnibus Theatre

This was a fun, lively and inventive storytelling, with brilliant fight scenes.

2. Linck and Mulhahn, Hampstead Theatre

Based on a real same-sex couple living in the 18th Century Prussia, this was a witty, effervescent and heartbreaking play.

Mediocre white male king's head theatre

3. Mediocre White Male, King's Head Theatre

Subtle shifts and throwaway remarks build to make a powerful point.

4. A Little Life, Harold Pinter Theatre (and Savoy Theatre)

A harrowing and compelling play that utterly flawed me and I had to go back and see it again.

5. The Motive and the Cue, National Theatre and Noel Coward Theatre

Superb performances in this sharp, funny and interesting play. So good, I had to see it twice.

Dear England national theatre

6. Dear England, National Theatre

I'm not a football fan, but this evoked laughter, spontaneous applause - and cheers.

7. Portia Coughlan, Almeida Theatre

This haunting, tragic play really got under my skin.

8. A Mirror, Almeida Theatre

A multilayered play that continually surprised.

9. Flip! Soho Theatre

Lively, fresh, fast-paced theatre which creatively captured a modern dilemma.

10. Feeling Afraid As If Something Terrible Is Going to Happen, Bush Theatre

Funny and richly layered play with a superb performance by Samuel Barnett

And my 4 least favourite

1. When Winston Went to War With the Wireless, Donmar Warehouse

This felt like a play straining to live up to a clever alliterative title.

2. Pygmalion, Old Vic Theatre

Annoying hyper characters and gurning performances. Still makes me shudder thinking about it, and I love Patsy Ferran.

Read the full review here.

3. Cold War, Almeida Theatre

Is it or isn't it a musical that was the question when booking. Turned out it was, and the songs frustrated the story, so I left at the interval. I made a video explaining my decision...

4. Rock 'n' Roll, Hampstead Theatre

This was my last attempt to find an engaging Tom Stoppard play that isn't Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. And it didn't work.

I didn't care about any of the characters or get most of the cultural/historical references, which left me feeling stupid and annoyed.

Only R&G from now on, I'm done with all other Stoppard.

You can read my full review here.

Enjoy talking about theatre? Join me on Instagram for my Sunday Theatre question.