Friday 30 December 2016

Highs and Lows of 2016

Edited in early January to reflect two events I inexplicably managed to miss out of the original...

It's that time of year again...

Best Opera: The lacklustre recent form of London's two main houses continued. That said an honourable mention for the fine revival of Tannhauser at the Royal Opera. Outside London Opera North delivered a powerful, moving Billy Budd. But the palm goes to a show I reviewed first time round, this year getting its second outing: Glyndebourne's outstanding Cunning Little Vixen.

Worst Opera: Plenty of dreary but not irredeemably awful opera this year. Honourable mention for the Aix Cosi at Edinburgh (hopeless production but musically solid).

Best Play: Despite the National having a generally dismal year it did produce two outstanding shows which tie for this award: Les Blancs and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Honourable mentions for Mr Foote's Other Leg, the RSC Cymbeline and the hilarious Harlequinade revival.

Worst Play: Exceptional level of competition for this for the second year running. The National appears now to be trying to compete with the Almeida for how many indifferent to awful shows it can put on in succession. Collectively their candidates for this award in 2016 included Oil, Boy, They Drink It in the Congo, Sunset at the Villa Thalia and the sadly disappointing revivals of Waste and As You Like It. Edinburgh had a second disappointing theatre year under alleged theatre man Fergus Linehan. In the end it comes down to the endurance test that was van Hove's Shakespeare mash up Kings of War (Barbican) and the painful Anything That Gives Off Light at Edinburgh - the latter just edges it.