The Stage 100 2014 by category: London theatre
Michael Attenborough and Rupert Goold
Attenborough has signed off from his 11-year stint at the Almeida with a superb season featuring Chimerica, Richard Eyre’s staging of Ghosts and the musical adaptation of American Psycho, directed by his successor Goold. Notably, both Chimerica and American Psycho were co-productions with Headlong, which Goold leaves to join the Almeida. Exciting times ahead in Islington.
A tasty year for the Menier Chocolate Factory – and indeed for theatrical Chocolate Factories more generally – with Merrily We Roll Along proving one of the West End’s biggest critical (if not commercial) successes. Meanwhile, back on home soil, The Color Purple was another musical high note, while Proof was a reminder that the theatre is no slouch on the plays front, either.
Previously an entrant in the top 20 as artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland, Featherstone has made a promising start to her tenure at the Royal Court, but is perhaps still waiting for a defining production to establish her vision fully. Some interesting work, though, including her ambitious idea to hand the programme reins to playwrights in her opening season.
Hall managed to juggle running not one, but two theatre companies (Hampstead and Propeller) with a gig directing ITV’s Downton Abbey. Equally impressive has been the turnaround at Hampstead Theatre under his and executive producer Greg Ripley-Duggan’s watch. Highlights included #aiww – The Arrest of Ai Weiwei and the West End transfer of The Judas Kiss.
The year ended on a traditional, thigh-slapping high for Theatre Royal Stratford East with its latest panto hit – Dick Whittington – but elsewhere 2013 has seen the venue pushing boundaries. Home Theatre saw 30 one-man shows staged simultaneously in the households of 30 London residents. This year will see TRSE look to its past with revivals of Oh What a Lovely War and Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be.
The Unicorn Theatre in Southwark has been enjoying a new lease of life under Morell’s leadership, offering a more mixed programme of events, and attracting a larger range of age groups, than previously. Highlights at the children’s theatre included a jazzy Cinderella at Christmas.
The big news for the Barbican this year was the return of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Following an ugly divorce in 2002, the relationship has now been rekindled with David Tennant in Richard II marking the beginning of a three-year partnership. Elsewhere, the City of London’s varied programme of work – ranging from new opera Sunken Garden (with ENO) to Boy Blue’s latest hip hop dance show – continues to impress.
At the Tricycle, Rubasingham has seamlessly continued the good work undertaken by her predecessor Nicolas Kent, while adding her own artistic slant. Handbagged proved an interesting alternative to West End hit The Queen, and the Tricycle also served as a London base for touring companies such as Shared Experience and Eclipse.
Kevin Spacey/Sally Greene
The Old Vic might not have enjoyed its finest year in 2013, but there was still plenty to enjoy, including a fine revival of The Winslow Boy and a revelatory revival of Fortune’s Fool. Perhaps we’ll gloss over Much Ado, though. Spacey is expected to depart in 2015. He will be a tough act to follow.
Perhaps a surprise entrant into this list, Spreadbury-Meyer is artistic director at the King’s Head and Hope Theatres in Islington. He is included here thanks to what could shape up to be a very important initiative at the Hope, where the venue is insisting that visiting companies pay all their actors at least the national minimum wage. Other fringe operators might like to take note. Let’s hope this development is influential in the best of ways.
After a shaky start, 2013 was the year Younis came good at the Bush Theatre, with great show following great show. Rory Kinnear’s debut The Herd, Josephine and I and Disgraced were among the many highlights of a diverse, exciting year.
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