BritishTheatre.com reviewer Sophie Adnitt selects her 2018 Theatre Highlights.
The Inheritance, Young Vic/Noel Coward
There’s not a lot I can say about The Inheritance that hasn’t already been said – Matthew Lopez’s two-part epic, loosely based on Howard’s End has pretty much won rave reviews across the board. Following a group of gay men in New York a generation after the AIDS crisis, an immensely talented ensemble cast tell interweaving narratives that masterfully demonstrate Lopez’s talent for storytelling. Kyle Soller and Andrew Burnap have rightly won great praise for their lead performances, but it’s the vastly underrated Paul Hilton in the dual roles of Walter and ‘Morgan’ (a fictionalised, omniscient E. M. Forster) who sticks in the mind long after leaving the theatre. Until 19 January 2019.
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Julius Caesar, Bridge Theatre
In an uneven opening year for the newly built Bridge Theatre, this immersive production was one of the better shows. Helped in no small part by a mesmeric central performance from Ben Whishaw, Nicholas Hytner’s version bought Shakespeare’s political classic bang up to date. Those with standing tickets could join the mob and become part of the action, providing a unique theatrical experience. Not a straight-forward staging for a theatre to pull off by any means, but the Bridge stage crew handled it brilliantly.
Company, Gielgud Theatre
No surprises here, as I’m sure Company will feature on many end of year lists. Marianne Elliot’s reworking of the Sondheim musical turned its leading man into a leading lady, and the show is all the better for it. Rosalie Craig is utterly winning as eternal singleton ‘Bobbie’, Patti LuPone is predictably sensational in her return to the West End, and Jonathan Bailey brings the house down with an unforgettable rendition of ‘Getting Married Today’. Until 30 March 2019
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The Convert, Young Vic
Rarely does a three-hour production seem to shoot by in half the time, but the Young Vic’s recent production of The Convert is relentlessly brilliant. Danai Gurira’s intelligent, gripping and uncompromising play is unpredictable to the last, as it tells the story of Jekesai, a young woman in what is modern-day Zimbabwe, who flees an arranged marriage to the employ of the devout Chilford – but this rescue comes at a price. As Chilford, Paapa Essiedu continues to prove his potential as one of the next acting greats among a without exception incredible cast.
Sylvia, Old Vic
Someone, somewhere, really didn’t want Sylvia to happen. A delayed opening, combined with cast illness, presented this musical on the life of Sylvia Pankhurst with a difficult start. And yet even with these conditions, the sheer promise and potential of the show undeniably shone through. Beverley Knight was wonderful as Emmeline Pankhurst, but the show was thoroughly stolen by Delroy Atkinson as Winston Churchill and Jade Hackett as his overbearing mother. Maria Omakinwa must also be highly commended for stepping into the lead role with such short notice with professionalism and poise. Whip-smart, witty and unexpectedly empowering, I will certainly be booking again when it returns next year.