Monday, 31 December 2012

Tom’s Theatre Shows of the Year 2012

Here's my top ten favourites from all the theatre I've seen in 2012.

1. All New People 
Written by Zach Braff
Directed by Peter DuBois
King’s Theatre, Glasgow, February

This play had its flaws certainly. In particular I thought the filmed excerpts revealing the characters' back stories was big time cheating. Michael Billington in The Guardian gave it a scathing review and to be honest I wouldn't really disagree with anything he says.  However, I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end, it worked well playing as 90 minutes without an interval and was engaging throughout. It's by no means the best written play on this list but it was probably my most enjoyable night at the theatre this year.

Here's a more positive review of it from the Telegraph. Below is Zach Braff being interviewed by STV.

2. Chalet Lines
Written by Lee Mattison
Directed by Madani Younis
Bush Theatre, London, April

A great all-female cast and a very funny script. The show covers five decades in the life of one family who celebrate family events at the same holiday camp.

Below is playwright Lee Mattison talking about the play.

3. Surprises
Written and Directed by Alan Ayckbourn
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, July

Alan Ayckbourn's 76th play, this was set in the future and deals with the subject of people living longer. This and 'Absurd Person Singular' featured probably the best ensemble cast of any show I've seen in 2012. Seeing them do two different productions in two nights (with a matinee in between) only increased my admiration for them. Everything you could possibly want to know about 'Surprises' you can find on this page at the excellent Alan Ayckbourn website.

4. Absurd Person Singular
Written and Directed by Alan Ayckbourn
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, July

In repertory with 'Surprises' was a revival of Ayckbourn's 'Absurd Person Singular'. Set over three Christmases in the kitchens of three couples it mixes poignancy with hilarious farce. Again, masses of information on this play from the Alan Ayckbourn website.

Below is a video of the impressive set changes that take place during the two intervals.

5. Absent Friends
Written by Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by Jeremy Herrin
Harold Pinter Theatre, London, April

The third Ayckbourn on the list, another revival, with a fantastic set. Elizabeth Berrington was the stand-out in the cast for me, although when Reece Shearsmith finally arrives he's terrific. Below is a video of the cast talking about the production.

6. Bullet Catch
Written by Rob Drummond
Directed by David Overend and Rob Drummond
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, August

A thoroughly compelling hour in the theatre as Rob Drummond's William Wonder chooses a volunteer from the audience to shoot him. The night I saw the show the volunteer pulled out at the last minute which made it all the more exciting. His broken glass trick that precedes the actual bullet catch was arguably more thrilling.

Trailer for Rob Drummond's Bullet Catch (2012) from The Arches on Vimeo.

7. Steel Magnolias
Written by Robert Harling
Directed by Jim Ewing
Bookends Theatre Group, East Kilbride Arts Centre, January

The first of two non-professional shows on the list and the second play with an all-female cast. I've always liked the film version of 'Steel Magnolias' and Bookends did a great job with the play. The two stand-outs in the cast being Louise KS Stewart and Fiona McLaren.

8. Rolls in Their Pockets
Written by Rob Drummond
Directed by David Overend
A Play A Pie and A Pint, Oran Mor, Glasgow, March

The second appearance for Rob Drummond on my list, this is a conventional play set in a Glasgow bar. A very funny three-hander with an excellent cast of Laurie Ventry as Norman, Lewis Howden as Laurie, and Jordan Young as George.

Below is Rob talking about the play.

9. Bottleneck
Written by Luke Barnes
Directed by Steven Atkinson
Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh, August

A compelling one man show set around a young Liverpool fan's ducking and diving to get a ticket for a big game. When we realise the game he's at is the 1989 FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough the atmosphere changes significantly. The most effecting part of the show is when James Cooney's character is fighting for his life while looking for his pal on the terracing.

10. All My Sons
Written by Arthur Miller
Directed by Deborah Mair
Strathclyde Theatre Group, Cottiers Theatre, Glasgow, November

The second non-professional production on the list. The show had a fantastic cast throughout, but the stand-outs for me were Barry Ward, Natalie Clark and especially Peter Williamson who brought some real compassion to the character of Joe Keller.

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