2013 - the year in review: The best theatre of the year
Saturday 28 December 2013
"Chimerica", Almeida, then Harold Pinter Theatre
Lucy Kirkwood’s Chimerica was the best and boldest new play of the year – a thriller-like quest; a penetrating probe into the ethics of photojournalism; and a witty, multi-layered meditation on the co-dependency of the two global superpowers. Lindsey Turner directed the dazzling premiere.
"Ubu Roi", Barbican Theatre
Declan Donnellan and his crack French company gave a blackly hilarious twist to Jarry’s classic about infantile despots. The modern-dress production oscillated between elegant bourgeois decorum and the anarchic fantasies of a vengeful, camera-wielding son. We need to talk about Boggerlas.
Using his own sharp, swift-footed adaptation, Richard Eyre’s spell-binding production of this Ibsen masterpiece moves to its shattering climax in an unbroken 90-minute arc, with Lesley Manville a subtle and searching Mrs Alving. A transfer to the Trafalgar Studios runs from mid-December to 8 March.
"Othello", Olivier, NT
Mostly set in a concrete military compound, Nicholas Hytner’s anti-heroic and thrillingly incisive modern-dress production ditched the glamour and “exoticism” in favour of detailed, naturalistic precision which the superb double act of Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear penetratingly provided.
"Jumpers For Goalposts", Paines Plough tour, ending at the Bush
In Tom Wells’s delightful and touching comedy, romance tentatively blossoms between two male members of a hapless Hull five-a-side team struggling to avoid relegation in a lesbian and gay league. It confirms Wells’s rich and rare gift for celebrating the goodness in ordinary folk.
Discovery of the year
Ustinov Studio, Bath
This intimate studio was not high on the list of must-visit venues. But in 2013, with his revelatory seasons of contemporary American plays and Spanish golden age drama, Laurence Boswell, its artistic director, has decisively established it as a powerhouse.
Turkey of the Year
"Wag: The Musical", Charing Cross Theatre
A “personal spray tan artist” was credited in the programme, but what this show more urgently needed was the services of an undertaker. Awkwardly cast with a sprinkling of self-professed WAGS, it was a talentless, empty-headed compromise between mockery and glorification.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
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Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant