Year in review: 145 shows that defined theatre in 2016
We asked our reviewers across the UK to pick their favourite production of the last 12 months.
The Nest, Lyric Theatre, Belfast
‘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
‘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
‘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
‘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
‘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
‘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
‘This production was sheer, infectious joy. The choreography was inventive and the setting unrivalled’ Pat Ashworth Read the full review
Barnbow Canaries, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
‘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
‘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
‘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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