Top 5 Shows of the Year (according to me)

This year’s Top 5 Shows Of The Year list was really hard to put together.

Firstly, the standard was extraordinarily high. There was not enough room for amazing stuff by more people. Too much good theatre – not a disaster, but annoying when it comes to a list.

N.B. This was going to be a Top 10 list but I haven’t really done any Christmas shopping so a Top 5 seemed more achievable. Apols.

How to Win Against History

  1. Much as I liked The Grinning Man (see below) it was How To Win Against History that hit the spot in 2016. It’s no coincidence that this show was the highest reviewed show of the year at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It’s all about HTWAH really. A feverishly amusing biographical musical about Henry Cyril Paget, the 5th Marquis of Anglesey. This is musical theatre at its most adventurous: a pensive, glorious extravaganza that redefines the term “ripped-up musical”. It is an astounding melodious creation by the gifted Seiriol Davies.
Seiriol Davies

Seiriol Davies

Here is what Seiriol had to say on being number one: Oh my stars and garters, what a thing. I’m really delighted it went down so well – from a hot, dark little box by a park in Edinburgh it now looks like the show’s going to go far. We’ve some very exciting plans for it in 2017, they’re gonna take us all over the UK (subtly pressure your beloved local venues for news), including a lovely transfer to the capital (currently London) and it’s a bloody amazing feeling that Henry and his bizarre, spangly, preposterous, feels-making story are going to get in front of ever more people. See, I told you it was mainstream.

You can read my chat with Seiriol  here 



The Grinning Man

Tom Morris

Tom Morris

  1. Now that is how you do a musical. The Grinning Man is a brand-new musical from Bristol Old Vic, in its bold 250th anniversary year, directed by Tom Morris (War Horse) and based on the Victor Hugo novel and cult silent movie ‘The Man Who Laughs’. This macabre musical fairytale featured ingenious puppetry and a perfect marriage of the alternative and the discordant mainstream. As well as being expertly written the majority of the songs are skilfully structured: Seriously, well done everyone.

You can read my chat with Tom Morris  here 




This House

James Graham

  1. This House transferred to the Garrick Theatre, following its run at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre. Having originally played two sell-out seasons at the National Theatre, directed remarkably by Headlong Artistic Director Jeremy Herrin. ‘FYI’ James Graham may just be the brightest playwright that Britain has to offer. Does he occupy that space by accident? Does he bollocks. Nothing about this play or Graham’s career seems left to chance. That’s not to say this play feels stilted. On the contrary, he seems to have fun with the space he’s in. This House is by turns hilarious, poignant and thrilling.

You can read my recent chat with James Graham here 


The Children by Lucy Kirkwood

Lucy Kirkwood

Lucy Kirkwood

  1. As the Royal Court entered its 60th anniversary season The Children was a welcome entry to the dynamic and eclectic season. A Kirkwood play is a gift from the Theatre Gods. The premise is simple: Two retired nuclear scientists in an isolated cottage in a post-apocalyptic world by the sea. Anyway, what really made this new play so wonderful were the harmonious performances from Francesca Annis, Ron Cook and Deborah Findlay. Whatever the frame of reference, a huge proportion of this slow-burning play situates itself outside the realms that dominate commercial theatre. Bloody brilliant etc, etc and so on. The Children runs at The Court until 14 January




  1. Set during a hostage drama in a school in Beslan the greatest of evils, terrorists, chose the greatest good – a group of children as their victims. There was a feeling of relaxed charm this production, and it’s a feeling many artists find hard to engineer. BRONKS Theatre pulled it off. This is not a perfect show, but it does contain enough perfect moments to make it the best Belgium import of 2016, not to mention the best piece of dance-theatre of Edinburgh Fringe Festival. After a sell-out run at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and winning The Scotsman Fringe First Award, Us/Them is coming to the National Theatre in early 2017, so book now to avoid disappointment. Book now – you know it makes sense. <<You can read my review of Us/Them here>>


(I feel a bit bad about ‘Funny Girl’ not being on the list – it probably should have been. OH WELL.)