This is a bit different!

I am not listing my normal “Best of North East Theatre” for 2021 because, to be honest, actually putting anything on (and managing to keep it going!) in the ups and downs, ons and offs of a pretty awful year was a major achievement. The makers of every single show deserve plaudits simply for managing to perform!

In any case, my health problems (COPD and the effects of a fall I had seven weeks or so ago) have meant that I have not been able to see as many of the shows which actually took place as I would under normal circumstances. I managed to review 12 streamed and 17 live productions, but the furthest I have been able to travel has been to Durham (and that by taxi; it was too far to drive) so I have not been able to get up into Northumberland or down to Teesside.

I’m also not going to feature shows like Waitress or School of Rock which, backed by big money from major national producers like Crossroads Live, come into the region, exciting the lovers of musicals and pulling in the audiences while local producing houses and companies are struggling to survive.

So this, ladies and gentlemen, is not “the best of” in the normal sense of the phrase—no Best Actor (M), Best Actor (F), Best New Play, Best Revival etc. No, it is about what North East theatres and theatre companies have achieved under the most difficult circumstances imaginable—and that might not have anything to do with what happens on stage!

So my categories will be very different this year.