London's best in 2018

In last year’s review, it was a pleasure to be able to report that 2017 had indisputably been the best year for new plays in London that this critic could recall.

Perhaps it was inevitable that 2018 would not live up to such a high standard and, indeed, although there have been some true highlights, this has been a real year of hits and misses, with rather more of the latter than any artistic director would like to recall.

One of the more notable ventures has been Jamie Lloyd’s Pinter at the Pinter Season, which seeks to bring back into the canon some of Harold Pinter’s shorter plays and continues into the early months of 2019.

Controversy never seems to be far from the stage and, somewhat bizarrely to neutral onlookers, the re-christening of Kilburn’s Tricycle as the Kiln fired protesters up to stand outside the theatre, which looks fantastic and has a programme that seems set to win over all but the most serious diehards, whatever its name.

Elsewhere, artistic directors continue to come and go, with the most notable arrival this year Michelle Terry, whose mission appears to be to turn Shakespeare’s Globe into a gender equal and gender neutral venue, while obviously seeking to entertain and show off her own talents as one of our finest actresses.

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 PlayThe Lehman Trilogy by at the National Theatre
  • Best RevivalJulius Caesar at the Bridge
  • Best MusicalCompany at the Gielgud Theatre
  • Best Actor – Simon Russell Beale for The Lehman Trilogy at the National Theatre
  • Best Actress – Carey Mulligan for Girls and Boys at the Royal Court
  • Best Director – Sam Mendes for The Lehman Trilogy at the National Theatre
  • Best New Writer – Francis Turnly for The Great Wave at the National Theatre
  • Best Newcomer – Alice Bailey Johnson for Uncle Vanya at Hampstead Theatre
  • Best Designer – Bunny Christie for Julius Caesar at the Bridge
  • Best Edinburgh ProductionWhat Girls Are Made of by Cora Bissett at Traverse
  • Best Theatre BookDramatic Exchanges by Daniel Rosenthal

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 2017 overview. An omission is as likely to be an indicator of exhaustion at the end of yet another incredibly busy theatrical year, as lack of interest in or dislike of a particular play.