Are you bored with these annual reviews yet?
Well, buckle up; here’s another!
2018 was my year of theatre. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many shows in my life!
I got properly stuck into reviewing regional theatre for both my blog and Broadway World UK, and that meant I had the fantastic opportunity to see some really great theatre in a huge range of styles, formats, and subjects.
When I decided to try to narrow the list down and share my favourites, I didn’t anticipate what a struggle it would be; it’s so hard to compare productions that can be so different.
However, I’ve managed to whittle it down to a top 10 list of the (mostly regional) shows that stuck with me long after the curtain went down in 2018.
My top ten theatre productions of 2018
on tour at Nuffield Southampton Theatres
This was one of the last shows I saw in 2018, and it leaped to the top of my list immediately. Fierce, clever and unforgettable, I would see this again in a heartbeat; I still listen to the soundtrack several times a week (and almost know all the words).
Six is a musical re-telling of the story of Henry VIII’s six wives and a reclaiming of their identities in the guise of one of the best girl bands you’ll see perform live.
Read my full review – and then, for God’s sake, buy yourself a ticket!
Cambridge Theatre, London
This one was for pleasure, not business. My parents bought me a ticket to see Matilda for my birthday and it was as wonderful as I had hoped it would be. A chaotic and incredible stage adaptation of one of my favourite Roald Dahl tales, performed by the most talented cast. It’s on tour this year, and I have my eye on another ticket!
The Shadow Factory
A Nuffield Southampton Theatres production
Nuffield Southampton Theatres opened their new city-centre venue in Southampton in 2018, and I got my first taste of it seeing The Shadow Factory; an original production and a world premiere, sharing the hidden history of Southampton’s own spitfire and the city’s shadow factories.
The whole thing was visually wonderful and educational, and it’s back again in January 2019! I highly recommend you see it if you’re able to.
A Nuffield Southampton Theatres production
An unexpected favourite here. I had no idea what to expect when I went to see SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Drill at its world premiere at NST last summer, but I came out absolutely blown away. This was an emotional and astounding production which will be appearing at the Royal Opera House in April. I urge you not to miss it.
Snapdragon Productions, Nuffield Southampton Theatres
I saw Teddy at NST the night before all that snow back in March 2018, and adored it. It was just so cool; teddy boys, rock ‘n’ roll, and rebellion. I loved the poetry of the whole production and genuinely still catch myself thinking about the characters and their fate.
Frantic Assembly, Nuffield Southampton Theatres
This seriously clever and visually magical production graced the stage at NST in October, spanning three generations of soldiers and fighters hailing from Scarborough and telling their stories. A simple stage transformed by movement and lighting; The Unreturning really deserves its spot in my top 8.
Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
Sometimes, when a West End musical goes on tour, the impact is somewhat diluted. With Miss Saigon, this was the opposite. This production was astoundingly passionate, visually incredible and so emotional I was in floods as the curtain dropped. It will stay with me for a long time.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Filter Theatre and Lyric Hammersmith, Nuffield Southampton Theatres
I am a sucker for Shakespeare, and even moreso when it’s a unique interpretation. Filter Theatre and Lyric Hammersmith’s chaotic update of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – one of my favourites – had my friend and I in stitches and we couldn’t stop raving about it afterwards. A magical and raucous production; I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
A Streetcar Named Desire
Theatr Clwyd and English Touring Theatre, Nuffield Southampton Theatres
Last but not least; one of my favourite plays, on stage in Southampton. This was a moody, gritty and visually stunning production that explored mental health, domestic abuse, isolation, and the strength of human bonds. It was, at times, a difficult watch, but the honesty and rawness made it all the more memorable.
Welsh National Opera, Mayflower Theatre Southampton
Yes! My first opera experience has made it onto the list. I loved this experience; the show was entertaining, decadent and surprisingly funny and it was a fantastic introduction to opera. The story was very easy to follow and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing; it was one of the most memorable shows I saw this year.
Did you see any shows in 2018? What were your favourites?