Summary of the London stage in 2013
There has been much to enjoy in the London theatre during 2013.
The theatre continues to be in surprisingly good health given the enduring pains of recession. As was suggested last year, there has again been considerable strength in depth, meaning that your correspondent was frequently struggling to leave plays out of his Top Five and Alternative Top Five, rather than desperate to make up the numbers.
2013 saw the return of the musical and also the plays of William Shakespeare, and not in single spies but in battalions, with Lord Lloyd Webber and Sir Tim Rice joining the Menier and several US imports in the former discipline, while two newly-formed companies (created by Michael Grandage and Jamie Lloyd) as well as the National, the RSC and the Old Vic tried their hands at the works of the Bard.
This augurs well for the future diversity of stage work in London.
Once again, stars were everywhere, with two Doctor Whos sharing the same opening night at different venues, Rupert Grint moving from Hogwarts to Mojo soon after his pal Daniel Radcliffe appeared at the Noël Coward, a venue that also welcomed Dame Judi Dench and Jude Law amongst others.
We must also try to forget an ill-fated attempt to go back in time that did few favours to two highly-experienced actors at the Old Vic.
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 – Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood at the Almeida Theatre
- Best Revival – Othello by William Shakespeare at the National
- Best Musical – Once Book by Enda Walsh, Music and Lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová at the Phoenix
- Best Actor – Henry Goodman for The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui at the Duchess and The Winslow Boy at the Old Vic
- Best Actress – Sarah Greene for The Cripple of Inishmaan at the Noël Coward
- Best Director – Nicholas Hytner for Othello at the National
- Best New Writer – Phoebe Waller-Bridge for Fleabag at Soho
- Best Newcomer – Seth Numrich for Sweet Bird of Youth at the Old Vic
- Best Designer – Rae Smith for The Light Princess at the National
- Best Edinburgh Production – Fleabag by Phoebe Waller-Bridge at Assembly Roxy
- Best Theatre Book – The National Theatre Story by Daniel Rosenthal, Oberon Books £35
Many congratulations to these winners. They have made trips to the theatre 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 2013 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.