All the theatre I saw in 2016, ranked

(nb: most of this was written on the train on New Year’s Eve, so “last night” = Dec 30th.)

In 2016 I saw 41 plays (and three staged readings, which were interesting but it feels unfair to put in with the rest because they’re not supposed to be fully realised pieces of theatre). Drunk Theatre stalwart Louisa and I tried to clear out the bottle-ends in the booze cabinet before the New Year, and carried out the immense task of force-ranking all our 2016 plays with Post-It notes. (for the record if you are also looking to clear out your drinks bottles, the “Monkey Gland”, a 1920s? cocktail involving grenadine and absinthe, was surprisingly all right.)

Bottom to top:

“The Knight of the Burning Pestle” at Shakespeare’s Globe

Seeing "The Knight of the Burning Pestle" in London was really special: Mile End and the Strand are just across the river, a quick walk away. It's thrilling hearing the characters calling for you to cheer for "the honour of the city and the citizens" when you are a Londoner sitting right in the heart of the city.

“The Lightning Child” at Shakespeare’s Globe on Yom Kippur

I always moan about Yom Kippur beforehand, especially the 25-hour fast, but I do miss it when it's over. This year I was excited when I found what sounded like the perfect thing to do after all that abstention: go to The Lightning Child, Shakespeare's Globe's rock musical adaptation of The Bacchae. It somehow felt very appropriate to move from Judaism's biggest holiday of fasting and reflection to Euripides' play about over-the-top religious ecstasy and mob hysteria.

“The True Tragedy of Richard, Duke of York” at Towton battlefield

As always, Part Three left me jonesing for more, but I think that's a good thing. The day was lovely and, although I thought it would be a bit gimmicky, the battlefield setting really did work.

“The Houses of York and Lancaster” at Towton battlefield

Beatriz Romilly was again outstanding as an active, clever and bored Eleanor, Gloucester's wife. I wanted more from Suffolk and Margaret's relationship, but Jack Cade was cracking good fun, as ever.

“Harry the Sixth” at Towton battlefield

Overall I liked Harry the Sixth, but I wished there had been a bit more energy. I suspect the actors were probably pacing themselves for the all-dayer, which is totally understandable, but it's such a mad manic play that I wanted a bit more verve. Beatriz Romilly and Graham Butler were definitely the standouts of a strong ensemble.