Best of the year

The term might have become unfashionable but 2016 was indisputably the year of the actress. Again and again, while their male counterparts were no slouches, the greatest of female performers appeared on London's stages and took the breath away, in a surprising number of cases playing male Shakespearean roles.

The cult of the personality continues to dominate as it has done for so many years. Yet again, London welcomed a series of TV and film stars, all hired to boost ticket sales rather than necessarily improve the quality of the production.

However, the biggest event of the year was the opening of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, almost certainly the most hyped and commercially successful straight play in recent memory.

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: Yerma by Simon Stone after Federico García Lorca at the Young Vic
  • Best Revival: This House by James Graham at the Garrick Theatre
  • Best Musical: School of Rock, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, book by Julian Fellowes and lyrics by Glenn Slater at the New London Theatre
  • Best Actor: David Haig for Blue/Orange at the Young Vic
  • Best Actress: Billie Piper for Yerma at the Young Vic
  • Best Director: John Tiffany for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre
  • Best New Writer: Kenny Emson for Terrorism at the Bush Theatre (Room 56, Dorsett, Shepherd's Bush Green)
  • Best Newcomer: Frankie Fox for Boy at the Almeida Theatre
  • Best Designer: Miriam Buether for Wild at Hampstead Theatre (and Boy at the Almeida Theatre)
  • Best Edinburgh Production: The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams as part of the Edinburgh International Festival at the Kings Theatre
  • Best Theatre Book: Hamilton: the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

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 2016 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