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Year in review: 145 shows that defined theatre in 2016

Declan Bennet (front) and Tyrone Huntley (back, centre) in Jesus Christ Superstar. Photo: Tristram Kenton Declan Bennet (front) and Tyrone Huntley (back, centre) in Jesus Christ Superstar. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Regional hits

We asked our reviewers across the UK to pick their favourite production of the last 12 months.

The Nest, Lyric Theatre, Belfast

The Nest. Photo: Steffan Hill
The Nest. Photo: Steffan Hill

‘While Conor McPherson and PJ Harvey stamped their respective identities on to this intense, long slow-burn of a play about the moral dilemma facing a couple who are just about managing, Laurence Kinlan and Caoilfhionn Dunne turned in unflinching performances’ Jane Coyle Read the full review

Joan, Marlborough Theatre, Brighton

Joan. Photo: Robert Day
Joan. Photo: Robert Day

‘A smart, savvy and often very funny look at gender and class built around a powerhouse performance by drag king Lucy Jane Parkinson’ Tracey Sinclair Read the full review

Chekhov’s First Play, Bristol Old Vic

Chekhov’s First Play. Photo: Jose Miguel Jimenez
Chekhov’s First Play. Photo: Jose Miguel Jimenez

‘The UK premiere of Chekhov’s First Play by Ireland’s Dead Centre (who previously created Lippy) was the highlight of Bristol’s Mayfest in 2016. This brilliantly clever deconstruction of Chekhov, and of staging a play, skilfully avoids being pretentious, but remains very funny’ Rosemary Waugh Read the full review

Bird, Sherman Theatre, Cardiff

Bird. Photo: Farrows Creative
Bird. Photo: Farrows Creative

‘Directed by Rachel O’Riordan, Katherine Chandler’s play was a raw and unflinching look at the life of a young woman raised in a care home’ Rosemary Waugh Read the full review

Half a Sixpence, Chichester Festival Theatre

Half a Sixpence. Photo: Manuel Harlan
Half a Sixpence. Photo: Manuel Harlan

‘Julian Fellowes’ rewrite of the 1960s Tommy Steele musical turned out to be escapism of the highest order, and later launched the previously unknown Charlie Stemp as a West End star’ Bella Todd

Wind Resistance, Royal Lyceum Theatre Rehearsal Space, Edinburgh

Wind Resistance. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic
Wind Resistance. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

‘Musician Karine Polwart’s foray into theatre, staged this summer, was a thing of beauty and understanding’ Thom Dibdin Read the full review

Thoroughly Modern Millie, Kilworth House Theatre, Leicestershire

Thoroughly Modern Millie. Photo: Jems Photography
Thoroughly Modern Millie. Photo: Jems Photography

‘This production was sheer, infectious joy. The choreography was inventive and the setting unrivalled’ Pat Ashworth Read the full review

Barnbow CanariesWest Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

Barnbow Canaries. Photo: Anthony Robling
Barnbow Canaries. Photo: Anthony Robling

‘Alice Nutter’s tribute to the women killed in an explosion at a munitions factory during the First World War is beautifully written, witty and at times almost unbearably moving’ John Murphy Read the full review

Kiss Me Quickstep, New Vic, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Kiss Me Quickstep. Photo: Andrew Billington
Kiss Me Quickstep. Photo: Andrew Billington

‘This new play from Amanda Whittington ran at the New Vic in March. Set in the cut-throat world of competitive ballroom dancing, it was an entertaining mix of comedy and drama’ Neil Bonner Read the full review

When We Are Married, York Theatre Royal and tour

When We Are Married. Photo: Nobby Clark
When We Are Married. Photo: Nobby Clark

‘Underpinned by strong character acting, Barrie Rutter’s Northern Broadsides production transformed a JB Priestley classic into a playful, farcical brew of sexual hypocrisy, pricked pomposity and social pretension’ Roger Foss Read the full review

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