Here we are! The final bit – the best theatre of 2013, from September to December. Not just entire shows, this mammoth three-parter list just takes in a bit of everything; best performances, songs, moments, anything that was remarkably good. There’s always plenty, and this year in Liverpool proved that as much as any other. So for the final time this year, read on…
24. Maria Friedman’s not getting married today (September)
Bryn Terfel’s residency with the RLPO was a great idea; having one of his concerts rope in John Owen-Jones (see the Jan to April list) and Maria Friedman for A Night at the Musicals was just divine. Poor old Bryn pretty much played second fiddle to the others; Friedman’s tackling of Getting Married Today, from Company, was one of many fantastic highlights. Sadly, no clips of her doing this song seem to be available, but the MADEUP review is here.
25. A Melody don’t mean nothin’ without her Harmony
Melody Loses Her Mojo at the Playhouse was unusual – bringing hip hop, puppetry, and beat boxing to the mix on stage in a story of a young woman in care. Remmie Milner (pictured, below) was just brilliant as the titular Melody, fighting against all odds to see her younger sister again. Twenty Stories High’s biggest and boldest work to date, “it’s different, it’s fresh, and it’s one hell of a call to arms,” I wrote back in October.
26. Michael Starke – regional treasure
From Christmas shows to modern classics (John Godber’s Bouncers), to even becoming a convincing Oliver Hardy, it is always a pleasure to see Michael Starke on the Royal Court stage, and 2013 was a pretty good year for the man once known as Sinbad. His name on a cast list makes sure you know you’re in safe hands, and his talent in keeping an audience entertained is pretty much second to none in this city. *standing ovation*.
27. Minchin again
The arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar came back in October, which means that Tim Minchin did, and that’s all MADEUP needs to know. For a review, see Seven Streets, here.
28. Crime and Punishment
This stunning adaptation of the Dostoyevsky classic looked absolutely brilliant and a stellar performance from Adam Best was one of the best of the year without a doubt. Theatre of the highest quality and class, it was a “contemplative, textured thriller” (so I reported back to Seven Streets here).
29. The stagecraft of 1984
Headlong Theatre’s production of Orwell’s 1984 had a lot of tricks up its sleeve, and the results were truly remarkable. The descent into the uncertain world of Room 101 was simply unforgettable stuff. “Maybe not the go-to guys for the lulz”, was the traumatised reaction over at Seven Streets (again).
30. Homotopia 10 launch party
LGBT arts festival Homotopia celebrated its 10th anniversary this year; its launch party deserves a mention because I stood next to Boy George and can reuse this picture of this chap. ART.
31. Variations of the Heart
I mentioned Ellen Turner in the last list – she returned again in Tmesis Theatre’s fantastic new dance piece Variations of the Heart, a beautiful work of physical theatre following a love story from its beginning to its end. Read more about Homotopia’s Dance Triple Bill here.
32. Le Gateau Chocolat
Black was a Homotopia commission from cabaret star Le Gateau Chocolat. A stunning one-man, hour long show, it explored the performer’s dreams and sorrows, and his feeling of otherness that in turn created a warm, sweet and very human piece that anyone could relate to. Absolutely brilliant. Review here.
33. IKEA Chairs, IKEA Tables…
Our pals Caz and Britney returned with their Homotopia show Mis Les at the Unity in October (review here). Clever, funny, daft and fantastically female, it showcased actresses Gillian Hardie and Keddy Sutton at their ridiculously talented best.
34. Live sex show
Burlesque superstar Julie Atlas Muz and hubby Mat Fraser proved faint heart never won anything in their debut theatre show Beauty and the Beast, an expansion of their established, very NSFW cabaret act that used the gothic fairy tale as its basis. Bringing Improbable Theatre into the mix made for a unique, mind-bending show that told a story of a couple’s romance as much as examining wider themes of body politics, beauty, sex and disability. Here’s the review, and an interview with the AWESOME Ms Muz.
35. All By Myself
A mention for the Playhouse’s rock ‘n’ roll panto; it may not have seemed quite as flash as previous years but the laughs were still there in abundance. Francis Tucker’s touching ‘solo’ number All By Myself was possibly the funniest thing of the year.
36. A hair-raising commitment to comedy
A lot of things were ridiculously funny about the Unity’s final show of the year, For One Night Only. The story of a washed up comedy duo trying to save their variety club, mention should be made of Aiden Lee Brook’s commitment to a sight gag – to prepare for an old-school wig-falling-off reveal, he’d shaved most of the centre of his head, leaving the sides, to look as though he was bald underneath. That’s entertainment.
And that’s it! If you’ve made it down to this bit, then a cheers to you for reading MADEUP and hopefully you might be back for more in the new year. If you haven’t already, catch up with the other instalments of the Best of 2013 here and here.