Pi Arts & Culture’s ‘Best of 2018’ series highlights the favourite things we’ve seen, heard and read this year. In this article, Catrin Harris, Christie Wong and Matilda Singer each reveal their favourite plays of the year.
The Inheritance – Noël Coward Theatre
2018 saw Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance transfer to the West End and I cannot speak highly enough of this incredible piece of theatre. It is set in today’s New York and, through powerful ensemble and lead performances, depicts the love lives of gay men as they attempt to decipher what exactly has been handed down to them from the generation(s) before. Admittedly, it is a 7-hour commitment but the script has the audience howling with laughter and sobbing with disbelief as the various character plots simultaneously develop and unravel on stage. An important work both in the sense of its content, the pointed questions it asks, and its delivery, the subtleties of each and every actor. I have never been so blown away by a piece of theatre and would urge anyone to go and see it (even just one part!).
Love-Lies-Bleeding – The Print Room (Coronet)
Writer Don Delillo’s Love-Lies-Bleeding was on show recently at the Coronet’s Print Room. Centring on an artist, Alex Macklin, who has fallen into a persistent vegetative state, and his loved ones, the characters recount episodes from the artist’s life to convince themselves and each other of whether or not he would like to be euthanised. The flashback, mosaic-like narrative reveals not only a complicated portrait of the artist but the equally complicated humanity of his son and former wives. Though perhaps the acting, at times, could be improved, the production as a whole was innovative in its storytelling and worth a watch if it comes to the city again.
Allelujah! – The Bridge Theatre
Seminal playwright Alan Bennett returned this summer with Allelujah!, the story of an NHS hospital fighting closure due to government spending cuts, and charismatic patients on the Dusty Springfield Geriatric Ward. Complete with original songs from the OAP choir and comedic stereotypes that have the audience consistently laughing out loud, the jokes are razor-sharp and slightly close to the bone. Indeed, underneath all the laughs, Bennett delivers a fierce polemic about our beloved National Health Service and the ills of austerity. With 2018 being the 70th anniversary of the NHS, it seems only fitting for the playwright to be reminding theatre-goers of the necessity of our welfare state.