2013 Pick of the Year – William Russell

William Russell makes his top choices from around London.

Most of what I see during the year is on the fringe, which means that I did not review the award winning performances by some of the great and the very, very good. However, what I did see was frequently just as stunning.

Paul Zindel’s The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the Moon Marigolds at the Brockley Jack had a marvellous central performance from Sophie Docherty as the trailer-trash mother failing to cope with life and taking it out on her children. GM crops are horribly unfashionable today so the central metaphor of escape to better things – her talented but abused daughter wins a school science project – is now somewhat dubious. It did not matter and Ms Docherty’s mother was a superb tragic, flawed creation.

I was bowled over by Maureen Chadwick’s The Speed Twins at the Riverside, a tale of lesbian love after death set in the legendary Gateways club, which had a trio of actresses – Polly Hemingway, Amanda Boxer and Mia Mackie – on top form.

Macbeth of Fire and Ice at the Arcola directed by Jon Gun Thor cast fresh light on the play which can be dreadfully boring. Well performed, it was the direction which made it one of the best Macbeths I have seen.

Ingmar Bergman’s film Scenes from a Marriage was a painful, six scene dissection of the collapsing “perfect” relationship between Johan and Marianne. The Toneelgroep Amsterdam production directed by Ivo van Hove at the Barbican took the text, shook it up, playing it in separate rooms on the main stage. The audience moved from one room to the other so how one followed the plot depended in which room one started. In Act Two the rooms vanished and everyone was on stage. It proved inspired, if exhausting theatre, not just the far too prevalent these days reworking of an old film script relying on TV names and the title.

Mucky Kid by Sam Potter at the Latchmere was a patchwork of fragmentary scenes in which a young woman child killer, who had run away from prison, told different versions of the truth to the people who interviewed her after she was retaken. Can people like that be rehabilitated? Can what they say be believed?

2014-01-01 12:20:21

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