2018 Year in Review: Natalie O'Donoghue's Best of Theatre
2018 was a fairly busy theatre year for me, with 102 productions in total. The majority of shows that I saw were in Glasgow, but I did cover a chunk of theatre at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and managed to catch a few shows in London as well.
The following list is in date order of when I saw each production, as I couldn't bring myself to rank them with any kind of favouritism!
It wasn't a show I reviewed but I went to see Bold Girls at the Citizens Theatre in January and knew then that this was a play that would end the year on my best of list.
Rona Munro's play is set in 1990s Belfast against the backdrop of the Troubles. Beautifully written and expertly performed, this was definitely a highlight of my theatre-going year.
I didn't manage to review Bingo! A New Musical on its Scottish tour in April, but it wasn't a show I was planning to miss! A new musical from Stellar Quines and Grid Iron Theatre with a book by Johnny McKnight and Anita Vettesse, with an incredible cast and songs that will stick in your head for months.
Gut is one of the shows that has really stayed with me throughout the year - a tense piece of theatre that centred around whether or not you can really trust strangers. It's uncomfortable to watch and makes for truly wonderful theatre.
A Night To Remember was a community production staged at the Citizens Theatre before it closed for a two-year refurbishment. The premise is that the ghosts of the theatre were having a wee night in because they were told the place was empty and find themselves in front of an audience. They decide to entertain their unexpected guests and the result is an absolute delight.
The performance was moving, funny and brought about a real nostalgia for Glasgow. It also made me really sad about the temporary closure of this beautiful venue.
I loved Take That as a child and initially on their comeback, but fell away sometime around The Circus album and tour. I'm not a fan of reality TV talent searches, so I hadn't kept up with much to do with The Band. I figured it was the story of "the boys" themselves, but how wrong I was.
What The Band turned out to be was a joyous tale of female friendship and the experience of loving a pop band. I laughed, I cried and I begged everybody I know to go and see it during its two-week Glasgow run.
The Last Ship was a show I was pretty keen to see and it surpassed all expectation. With an interesting story, well fleshed-out characters and a terrific cast, it was definitely one of my favourite shows of the year. Thanks to an army of Sting fans, this was also my most read review of 2018!
On a theatre-packed trip to London, Strictly Ballroom was almost an afterthought. The reviews hadn't been great but a few friends had spoken highly of it, and tickets were cheap enough for me to take a punt on it. Drew McOnie's choreography was stunning, it was great fun and left me full of joy.
Since watching What Girls Are Made Of at the Fringe, I've been recommending it to anybody who will listen, and copies of the playtext has been my go-to gift for birthdays since August. I'm absolutely delighted that this little gem is heading out on tour again in 2019 and plan to see it a few times.
My Left Right Foot. What a shocker. The musical Edinburgh Fringe show from my beloved Birds of Paradise was one of my most anticipated shows of 2018 and boy, did it deliver. It comes to Dundee Rep in May and I desperately hope to see it again. Until then, I'll continue to harass the director on Twitter for the cast recording that we deserve.
Mammy Goose. Honestly, I'm even starting to bore myself with my love for the annual Tron Theatre panto. Keeping many pantomime traditions but also pushing boundaries, it's not officially Christmas until McKnight has belted out Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You".
While pantomimes don't tend to make many top theatre lists, the Tron production features original songs, stunning sets and is undoubtedly one of the best shows I saw this year.