London's best in 2017

It is very pleasing to be able to report that, without a shadow of a doubt, 2017 has been the best year in living memory for new plays on the London stage.

It has also been a year when a series of directors have branched out and launched new companies, Dominic Dromgoole favouring Oscar Wilde, Marianne Elliott opening with Simon Stephens and Nicholas Hytner’s brand-new Bridge Theatre leading with Richard Bean.

All of this is highly encouraging for the medium that we all love and one hopes that it heralds a new period of prosperity amid so much political uncertainty on either side of both the Atlantic and the English Channel.

Regrettably, on the other side of the equation, an assortment of scandals has shed a cloud across the industry in the latter months of 2017. At present, all of these relate to historical sexual harassment and as far as one can tell, none has yet improved. One fears that this is an issue that could run and run. Eventually, though, a cathartic period of truth and reconciliation might lead to a healthier atmosphere for all involved going forwards.

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 Ferryman by Jez Butterworth at the Royal Court (and the Gielgud)

  • Best RevivalThe Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht at the Young Vic

  • Best MusicalHamilton, by Lin-Manuel Miranda at the Victoria Palace

  • Best Actor – Bryan Cranston for Network at the National Theatre

  • Best Actress – Imelda Staunton for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf at Harold Pinter and Follies at the National

  • Best Director – Conor McPherson for The Girl from the North Country at the Old Vic

  • Best New Writer – Tom MacRae for Everybody’s Talking about Jamie at the Apollo, Shaftesbury Avenue

  • Best Newcomer – Erin Doherty for Wish List at the Royal Court, The Divide at King’s Theatre, Edinburgh and A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic

  • Best Designer – Jan Versweyeld for Persona at the Barbican

  • Best Edinburgh Production£¥€$ (LIES) by Joeri Smet, Angelo Tijssens, Karolien De Bleser, Alexander Devriendt at Summerhall

  • Best Theatre BookBalancing Acts by Nicholas Hytner

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.