Jan 5 2016

Best of 2015

To start the new year with a look at the old, here are some of my theatre highlights of 2015. 

Robert Icke’s adaptation of the Oresteia at the Almeida was my standout show of a fine year. The archetypal drama of a family at war with itself became a uniquely contemporary piece of theatre, quite unlike anything else I’ve seen.

In particular I was astounded by how Icke presented the sacrifice of Iphigenia as a tangibly motivated event rather than just one of those crazy things the Greeks do in those ancient myths. Thus the outrageous, blood-soaked tragedy was firmly grounded in reality. 

Also dealing with unhappy families, Gary Owen’s Violence and Son at the Royal Court was both funny and genuinely moving, carried along by a captivating central performance from David Moorst.

I scored a ringside seat for Bull at the Young Vic, Mike Bartlett’s brutal, immersive depiction of workplace bullying where every laugh from the audience upholds the tormentor’s power and weakens the human spirit. 

And of course there was Hangmen at the Royal Court, Martin McDonagh pulling out all his best tricks in this grisly but fun account of England’s last and second-best hangman. 

People, Places and Things at the National Theatre won deserved credit for Denise Gough’s shattering performance but it’s also another fantastic piece of writing from Duncan Macmillan.

This play contained my scene of the year, the returning addict’s attempt at family reconciliation, the mother and father never quite offering up the right lines to allow closure. The obligatory scene never quite obliges and becomes all the more powerful thereby. 

And so to 2016. If I see a comparable group of plays this year I’ll count myself lucky indeed.