We saw some fantastic theatre in 2015. Here, in order of viewing, are our favourite productions of the year.
The Caucasian Chalk Circle – Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
A production so enchanting, funny, lively and, yes, engaging (sorry) that no one in the audience could fail to feel its impact, Mark Thomson’s Caucasian Chalk Circle was Brechtian theatre at its very best.
The Venetian Twins – Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
A farce majeure, beautifully played, timed to precision and rib ticklingly funny from start to finish, The Venetian Twins was proof indeed that farce doesn’t need to be toe-curling; it can be a thing of beauty too.
Funfair – Home, Manchester
HOME’s inaugural production, Funfair by Simon Stephens, was a dazzling box of delights, a real multi-media event that employed lights, shadows, live rock music, back and front projection, masks, movement and a central turntable used to stunning visual effect.
The Skriker – Royal Exchange, Manchester
The Skriker was a screaming, hurtling explosion of a play. Caryl Churchill’s script was frightening, angry, funny and weird and Maxine Peake was perfectly cast as the shape-shifting fairy, inhabiting each persona completely.
Charolais -Spotlites, Edinburgh Festival
Written and performed by Noni Stapleton, Charolais was an unlikely comedy about a young Irish woman and the jealousy she felt towards a beautiful heifer. It was an unusual tale, as beautifully written as it was acted: a one-woman performance that not only made us laugh and cry, but also brought to life a horny cow.
Lungs, Roundabout, Edinburgh Festival
On a grey, rainy day in Edinburgh, Paines Plough’s productions of Lungs by Duncan Macmillan was a breath of fresh air. The witty, sparkling script picked us up by the scruff of the neck and hurled us along in a series of perfectly created flash-forwards as the central couple argued, chattered, broke up and made up again.
Filthy Talk For Troubled Times, Venue 106, Edinburgh Festival
Phantom Owl’s actors were seriously top-notch, and Matthew Lillard’s direction was flawless too: the choreography looked effortless but was perfectly orchestrated. The atmosphere was wonderfully tawdry and menacing – Neil LaBute’s script brought expertly to life.
Dead Dog In A Suitcase (and Other Love Songs) Home, Manchester
Kneehigh’s reputation precedes them: we knew before the show began that we were in for an energetic, multi-disciplined, high-octane experience, and were well-prepared to be dazzled by what we saw. We were not disappointed!
Golem, Home, Manchester
The story of the Golem might be traditional, but this production, by experimental theatre company 1927, was anything but. Execution was key here: the perfect meld of acting, animation and music created a surreal, dreamlike world and we could only marvel at the degree of precision that must have been required to bring this extraordinary production together.
Jane Eyre, National Theatre, London
The National Theatre’s Jane Eyre was a dynamic interpretation, eschewing the rigid formula of a period drama in favour of a more holistic view of the novel. This made for a surprisingly faithful telling of the narrative: free from the confines of a naturalistic set and strict chronology, director Sally Cookson created space for Jane’s whole story to be centre stage.
Lord of the Flies, Lowry, Salford
A superb adaptation of a literary masterpiece,Anthony Sheader’s Lord of the Flies was a delight from start to finish. And plaudits to choreographer, Jonathan Holby, who co-ordinated the movements of the large cast flawlessly, regularly cutting between normal speed and slo-motion to display simultaneous events – building steadily to a thrilling conclusion.