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.

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:

  1. The National, the Old Vic, the Barbican (including the RSC) and the Globe 
  2. West End Plays
  3. West End Musicals
  4. Other Major Theatres
  5. Smaller Theatres

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