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2018 Round-up

January 23, 2019

First Entry of the new year, and it’s a simple run-down of the best and worst I saw in 2018. Subjective as ever, the list runs as follows:

Out Of This World
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue) (Standing Ovation – SO)
The Divide (Old Vic Theatre) (SO)
The York Realist (Donmar Warehouse)
Summer and Smoke (Almeida Theatre)
Elkie Brooks (St Albans Arena) (SO)
Caroline Or Change (Hampstead Theatre) (SO)
Bat Out Of Hell (Dominion Theatre)
Red (Wyndham’s Theatre)
Peter Pan (Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park) (SO)
Beautiful (New Wimbledon Theatre)
The Prudes (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs)
The Rink (Southwark Playhouse) (SO)
Fun Home (Young Vic Theatre)
As You Like It (Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park) (SO)
The King and I (London Palladium) (SO)
Des O’Connor and Jimmy Tarbuck (New Wimbledon Theatre) (SO)
Once (Queens Theatre, Hornchurch) (SO)
The Inheritance Parts 1 and 2 (Noel Coward Theatre) (SO)
A Christmas Carol (Old Vic Theatre)
Snow White (London Palladium)

The Wonder Years
Barber Shop Chronicles (Dorfman Theatre)
Mary Stuart (Duke of York’s Theatre)
Barnum (Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre)
Network (Lyttelton Theatre)
Harold and Maude (Charing Cross Theatre)
Frozen (Theatre Royal, Haymarket)
Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em (Richmond Theatre)
The Great Wave (Dorfman Theatre)
Pippin (Southwark Playhouse)
Julius Caesar (Bridge Theatre)
Brief Encounter (Empire Cinema)
Tina (Aldwych Theatre)
Twang!! (Union Theatre)
Sheridan In Concert (Royal Albert Hall)
Absolute Hell (Lyttelton Theatre)
Masterpieces (Finborough Theatre)
Crave (Pit Theatre)
The Moderate Soprano (Duke of York’s Theatre)
The Jungle (Playhouse Theatre)
My Name Is Lucy Barton (Bridge Theatre)
Machinal (Almeida Theatre)
The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie (Donmar Warehouse)
The Lehman Trilogy (Lyttelton Theatre)
The Lieutenant Of Inishmore (Noel Coward Theatre)
King Lear (Duke Of York’s Theatre)
Bring It On (Southwark Playhouse)
Imperium Part 1: Conspirator (Gielgud Theatre)
Aristocrats (Donmar Warehouse)
Holy Sh!t (Kiln Theatre)
The Lover / The Collection (Harold Pinter Theatre)
Early Doors (Apollo Hammersmith)
A Very Very Very Dark Matter (Bridge Theatre)
Measure For Measure (Donmar Warehouse)
Hamilton (Victoria Palace Theatre)
The Wild Duck (Almeida Theatre)
Moonlight / Night School (Harold Pinter Theatre)
Dirty Dancing (New Wimbledon Theatre)
True West (Vaudeville Theatre)
Lea Michele and Darren Criss In Concert (Apollo Hammersmith)
Lily Allen: No Shame Tour (Roundhouse)

California Dreams
Belleville (Donmar Warehouse)
Julius Caesar (Barbican Theatre)
Rita, Sue and Bob Too (Royal Court Theatre)
John (Dorfman Theatre)
Pinocchio (Lyttelton Theatre)
Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Wyndham’s Theatre)
Girls & Boys (Royal Court Theatre)
Sondheim On Sondheim (Royal Festival Hall)
The Birthday Party (Harold Pinter Theatre)
Fanny and Alexander (Old Vic Theatre)
Macbeth (Olivier Theatre)
Strictly Ballroom The Musical (Piccadilly Theatre)
4.48 Psychosis The Opera (Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith)
The Way Of The World (Donmar Warehouse)
Chess (London Coliseum)
Killer Joe (Trafalgar Studio 1)
An Octoroon (Dorfman Theatre)
Kiss Me Kate (London Coliseum)
Heathers (Other Palace Theatre)
£¥€$ (LIES) (Almeida Theatre)
Alleujah! (Bridge Theatre)
Imperium Part 2: Dictator (Gielgud Theatre)
Home, I’m Darling (Dorfman Theatre)
One For The Road / The New World Order / Mountain Language / Ashes to Ashes (Harold Pinter Theatre)
Othello (Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre)
The Height Of The Storm (Wyndhams Theatre)
Company (Gielgud Theatre)
Wise Children (Old Vic Theatre)
Landscape / A Kind of Alaska (Harold Pinter Theatre)
Macbeth (Barbican Theatre)
White Teeth (Kiln Theatre)
Aladdin (New Wimbledon Theatre)
The Tragedy of King Richard II (Almeida Theatre)

Saved By The Bell
Jubilee (Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith)
Quiz (Noel Coward Theatre)
Little Shop Of Horrors (Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park)
Spamilton (Menier Chocolate Factory)
Dance Nation (Almeida Theatre)
Hadestown (Olivier Theatre)

Bug Juice
Nightfall (Bridge Theatre)
Mood Music (Old Vic Theatre)
Julie (Lyttelton Theatre)

The Annual “Goodmonkey” Awards, rewarding the things no other awards ceremony mentions in polite company, will arrive next week. Before that, just based on the above list, there are a few notable mentions.

In musical theatre, the real action was mostly on the fringe, large and small. At the tiniest end, the loveliest ensemble work could be seen at the Union Theatre. The young cast of “Twang!!” just blended – and it was a delight to see a prediction come true with a few names cropping up in panto later in the year. Moving up a little, “The Rink” at Southwark Playhouse burned indelible on the memory. Such talent, such a revival. Finally, on the largest scale, “Once” at the Queens Hornchurch had me trying to decide whether to hug the entire cast for moving me to tears, or give them a right ear-bending for the same.

For plays, not so much new work – “The Divide” was impressive not just for length but also the performance of the leading lady Erin Doherty who was on stage for most of it. “The Prudes” at the Royal Court Upstairs was likewise original and startling, and I enjoyed my little interaction with Wonder Woman there.

Revivals dazzled. Plays had “Summer and Smoke” and “The York Realist” – the latter probably the finest atmosphere of the year. At the Palladium, “The King and I” was a diamond, while it was so sad “Bat Out Of Hell” fell foul of every bit of bad luck imaginable.

For my own pleasure Elkie Brooks in concert proved that age and experience are the greatest assets in showbiz when it comes to knowing how to entertain an audience, and it was fun to see two favourite sitcoms – “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em” and “Early Doors” in well-crafted stage returns.

With very few total failures again this year (“Julie” sadly bottom of the pile – why, just why?) another year and 103 shows down. Here’s to 2019.


  1. tonyloc permalink
    January 23, 2019 1:44 pm

    Thanks Monkey for your ongoing devotion to theatre for another year and for sharing with us your always interesting and perceptive views. Much appreciated.

    • Steve Rich permalink*
      January 23, 2019 2:49 pm

      My pleasure, but more important thank you as always for your vast mental archive of all things music and theatre. Sharing it with us on is one of the absolute best things about it. Happy 2019, tonyloco.

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