It was not a year of great new work in London -- so the majority of my list this year is comprised of revivals. Longer reviews of all these below.
SONS OF THE PROPHET. Review coming. A play that deserves all the rave reviews it has been receiving. Roundabout Laura Pels Theatre. New York.
EDITH CAN SHOOT THINGS AND HIT THEM by A. Rey Pamatmat. A touching play about a young brother and sister who try to take care of each other without any help from their parents and the brother's young boyfriend who has been thrown out of his home by his homophobic mother. The way the three kids try to forge a family is funny and touching. The performances at Atlanta's Actors Express were a notch below professional, but good enough to show what a fine writer Pamatmat is.
COMPANY. This revival of Sondheim's classic musical at London's Southwark Playhouse, directed by Joe Fredericks with Rupert Young making Bobby a real three-dimensional character was the best performance of this Sondheim classic I have seen.
EMPEROR AND GALILEAN at the Royal National Theatre, London. What a thrill to see a fine production of one of Ibsen's most challenging plays. The condensation of this mammoth work made is fast moving and totally coherent. Jonathan Kent's direction was both grand and intimate. And Andrew Scott gave one of the best performances of the year in the marathon leading role.
LUISE MILLER at the Donmar. I love Schiller's work and was delighted to see this fascinating play superbly acted. Another triumph for director Michael Grandage.
ONE MAN, TWO GUV'NORS at the Royal National Theatre, London. I have always found revivals of Carlo Goldoni's farce, A SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS, tedious so was surprised that I (like everyone else) was so delighted by Richard Bean's update, presented almost as a vaudeville show with musical acts between the scenes. Set in the early 1960s, the age of skiffle music, with tacky painted sets, the play took off. The cast (James Corden, Jemima Rooper, et al) are perfect.
LONDON ROAD at the Royal National Theatre. An unconventional but totally absorbing musical.
KINGDOM OF EARTH at the Print Room, London. For the scores of pages I have written on Tennessee Williams, I have tended to write off his work after 1960. This superb production by Lucy Bailey in a small London theatre convinced me that there's a fine, poetic drama here. The poet and the theatrical realist is Williams were often at war. The poet wins out here in this piece of southern Gothic. Bailey's non-realistic production perfectly suited the play.
FOLLIES. Another fine production of the Sondheim classic. Maybe not the best production of the work I have seen, but a production that does justice to this great work. Bernadette Peters is odd casting for Sally, but playing the character as clinically depressed makes great sense. Alas, her voice is now in tatters. That may fit the role, but not the songs. Jan Maxwell is a great Phyllis) but all the Phyllis's I have seen have been great). The men are fine and the supporting divas superb. The production is on a suitably grand scale with the necessary large orchestra.
ANNA NICOLE. Mark Turnage's new opera with a libretto by Richard Thomas (not the actor) and a fine production by Richard Jones is a crowd-pleasing, wonderful night of musical theatre. Get the DVD which is now available!!!