Review of the Year - The London Stage
Reporter: Philip Fisher
Dateline: 27th December, 2015
Summary and our awards
In reflecting on the London theatre scene during 2015, the immediate reaction is that there might well have been an increasing quantity of theatrical production without a concomitant improvement in quality.
There have undoubtedly been many exceptional plays, performances and productions but even those who go to the theatre night in, night out might struggle to claim that there has been strength in depth.
It does feel as if commercial money is beginning to flow back into the West End, although funding from central sources continues to diminish in real terms and frequently in actual sums as well.
Pleasingly, despite a change in Artistic Director at the start of the year, the shining beacon has been the National Theatre, where a large number of presentations have proved to be good and quite often exceptional. This is a tribute to the courage and good judgement of Rufus Norris.
Similarly, Josie Rourke continues to go from strength to strength at the Donmar, while Anthony Biggs has turned Jermyn Street into one of the most reliable smaller theatres, fully able to compete with the Finborough. Other theatres have had their moments without offering outstanding consistency.
A welcome addition to the roster has been the new Kenneth Branagh Company whose opening season continues into 2016.
Once again we present selections of the very finest theatrical productions and performances for which there are no prizes other than this recognition and my profound thanks for the pleasure that each has given me. These are selected from all that I have seen, not just London productions.
- Best New Play – The Motherf**ker with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis at the National
- Best Revival – Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, RSC in Stratford and London
- Best Musical – Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, book by Douglas McGrath, songs written by Gerry Goffin / Carole King and Barry Mann / Cynthia Weil, Aldwych Theatre
- Best Actor – Kenneth Cranham in The Father at the Tricycle
- Best Actress – Denise Gough in People, Places & Things at the National
- Best Director – Gregory Doran for Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, RSC in Stratford and London
- Best New Writer – Ian Kelly for Mr Foote’s Other Leg at Hampstead and Theatre Royal Haymarket
- Best Newcomer – Rachel Redford for Closer at the Donmar Warehouse
- Best Designer – Dick Bird for Ah Wilderness at the Young Vic
- Best Edinburgh Production – Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour by Lee Hall at the Traverse Theatre
- Best Theatre Book – Michael Billington – The 101 Greatest Plays Ever
Many congratulations to these winners. They have made trips to the theatre (and bookshelf) really special once again and have no doubt given great pleasure to numerous other theatre lovers as well your critic.
I append the usual apology to those that have inadvertently been missed out of the 2015 overview. An omission is as likely to be an indicator of exhaustion at the end of one of the busiest theatrical years in living memory, as lack of interest in or dislike of a particular play.
In order to make what is otherwise a very long article more readable, it is once again divided into the following categories:
- The National, the Old Vic, the Barbican (including the RSC) and the Globe
- West End Plays
- West End Musicals
- Other Major Theatres
- Smaller Theatres