It is time to announce our favourite shows of 2015 and the winner of the Ginger Wig & Strolling Man Award of 2015. To be considered for our top ten shows of the year, performances had to meet the criterion of being seen for the first time in the UK in 2015 excluding festival appearances. Furthermore we have excluded shows we saw at the Edinburgh Fringe this year as we have a separate awards for that – http://bit.ly/1ONfuDP. It is also important to note that we only resurrected the Ginger Wig in August last year so we are only counting things from then onwards… and anything that stood out just before…
It is sad to note that we cannot officially include two things that blew our socks off this year; Matthew Bourne’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and James Fritz’s ‘Four Minutes and 12 Seconds’. Both were phenomenal in their own way and both would have been included were it not for our strict criteria, ‘Sleeping Beauty’ opened in 2012, whilst ‘Four Minutes and 12 Seconds’ opened in 2014. So with all that said and done the official Ginger Wig and Strolling Man favourite shows of 2015 are…
10. The White Feather, Ross Clark, Union Theatre
This brand new British musical based on the Great War at the Union Theatre gave us faith in the future of British musical theatre. Brilliant production put together by Andrew Keates and Ross Clark.
9. Medea, Anne-Louise Sarks & Kate Mulvany, GATE Theatre
Incredible performances from two young actors in this flipped-perspective-Medea. Great work from the GATE and Belvoir St. Theatre to bring this show to London!
8. Guys & Dolls, Frank Loesser, Savoy
An incredible new version of Frank Loesser’s classic Broadway musical. Show-stopping performances from Jamie Parker, Sophie Thompson and Gavin Spokes. And there is still time to catch this one at The Savoy or on tour across the UK.
7. Richard Gadd: Waiting for Gaddot, Richard Gadd, Soho Theatre
Hands down the craziest comedy show we saw all year. A legendary performance from the main man, and he only turns up at the end!
6. First Love is the Revolution, Rita Kalnejais, Soho Theatre
A unique piece of theatre about love, lust and animal instinct from Australian playwright Rita Kalnejais, with performance to match from young actors, Emily Burnett and James Tarpey.
5. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Rachel Kavanaugh, Regents Park Open Air Theatre
A beautiful revival of this barnstorming musical in the perfect setting of Regents Park. Great performances from leads Laura Pitt-Pulford and Alex Gaumond, top dancing and a very inventive avalanche.
4. Firebird, Phil Davies, Hampstead Theatre
A harrowing piece recounting a dark story from Rochdale’s recent history. Fantastic performances from Callie Cook and Phaldut Sharma. Catch it in its West End Transfer at Trafalgar studios opening in February.
3. Bakkhai, James Macdonald, The Almeida
The finest presentation of a Greek chorus we have ever seen, backed up by stand out performances form Ben Whishaw and Bertie Carvel in this timeless Greek classic.
2. Ubu and the Truth Commission, Handspring Puppet Company, Print Room
Mixing puppetry, animation, song and live action in two languages, William Kentridge’s Ubu painted a very bleak picture of South Africa’s truth and reconciliation Commission.. Dawid Minnaar was brilliant.
1. The Oresteia, Robert Icke, The Almeida
And so, finally we come to it: the Ginger Wig and Strolling Man’s show of the year 2015. There have been some great shows and great performances this year, but nothing stands out more than Aeschylus’s Oresteia at the Almeida. Not only was this a brilliant new version of a classic Greek play, but it presented one of the most powerful performances, from its leading lady Lia Williams, that we have ever seen. Robert Icke must be congratulated for the direction and brilliant reworking whilst Angus Wright must be commended for his great portrayal of Agamemnon.