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Tezza's Top Ten Shows of 2016

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In 2016 I reviewed 180 shows either as a full reviewer or an assessor for the Offies. Most of my reviews are done for London Theatre 1 and Neil of LT1 has asked his reviewers for their top shows of the year. The full rundown can be found here, and includes all Neil's reviewers.

The list below is my own top 10 - and believe me it was very difficult to whittle it down to only 10, which is why there are honourable mentions at the end. You may agree or disagree with my list but, like reviewing itself, its subjective and if everyone liked exactly the same shows all the time, theatre would be exceptionally boring. 

So, away we go with my countdown of the top 10 shows of 2016:


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2, Cambridge Theatre No doubt this is the No 1 show of the year for me.   J K Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, have captured the essence of the Harry potter books and brought them to life in wonderful style with these two fantastic plays. Relying on great story-tellin…

5 Star Review The Hound of the Baskervilles at Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/156215/the-hound-of-the-baskervilles-brockley-jack-studio-theatre/

For many families, Christmas means that along with decorations, presents, too much food and the Dr Who Christmas special, there is the annual trip to the theatre to see a well-known face appearing in one of the many pantomimes currently in theatres up and down the country. That’s all well and good but, if you fancy taking your family to something a little different this festive season, then I would definitely recommend you head off to the Jack Studio Theatre and go and see their Christmas offering The Hound of the Baskervilles. If you don’t know the story, the The Hound of the Baskervilles concerns the curse of the Baskerville family which appears ready to work its evil way on Sir Henry Baskerville (Andrew Fitch) unless there is some skillful detective work by Mr Sherlock Holmes (Joey Bartram) and his erstwhile companion and assistant Doctor John Watson (Adam Elliott). Set in and arou…

5 Star Review of Matthew Bourne’s THE RED SHOES – Sadler’s Wells

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/155934/review-matthew-bournes-the-red-shoes-5-star/

THE RED SHOES. Ashley Shaw ‘Victoria Page’. Photo by Johan Persson Occasionally a show is so overwhelming in its awesomeness that I have real trouble translating my thoughts and feelings about it into words on a screen. Just such a show is Matthew Bourne’s new production The Red Shoes which is firmly ensconced for the Christmas period at Sadler’s Wells. Based on the cult movie of the same name by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and using music by acclaimed composer Bernard Herrman, arranged by Terry Davies, The Red Shoes tells the story of Victoria Page (Ashley Shaw) a ballet dancer who is discovered by Boris Lermontov (Sam Archer) and becomes a member of his touring ballet group. As well as Victoria, Lermontov also discovers composer Julian Craster (Dominic North). Lermontov is a hard taskmaster who believes the only thing his dancers should have an interest in is ballet – everything else is…

M R James: Ghost Stories for Christmas – 5 Star Review

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/155565/m-r-james-ghost-stories-for-christmas-review/

Robert Lloyd Parry as M R James – credit Shelagh Bidwell For some reason, Christmas and ghost stories seem to fit together very well – think Charles Dickens and ‘A Christmas Carol’. One of the best writers of such stories is currently having his work celebrated as Nunkie Theatre Company bring M R James: Ghost Stories for Christmas to The Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington. Over three nights, Robert Lloyd Parry sits, the epitome of a late nineteenth/early twentieth century Cambridge don, and recounts six of Montague Rhodes James atmospheric stories. The two I saw were “Canon Alberic’s Scrap-Book” and “The Mezzotint”. Although the show was completely sold out, with audience members sitting on the steps around the stage, there was barely a hint of sound as the intro music – a gentle Elizabethan style singing by a countertenor which put me in mind of the closing credits number from Blackadder II – fade…

5 Star Review of My Gay Best Friend at The Space

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/155230/review-my-gay-best-friend-the-space/

One of the accepted facts of life is that of all the essentials in a woman’s life the GBF is one of the most important. It’s about the only relationship that a man and a woman can have together where the possibility of sex is guaranteed not to raise its ugly head. What’s a GBF you ask? Why it’s My Gay Best Friend, and there is a wonderful one-act play of that name written by and starring Louise Jameson and Nigel Fairs which I was lucky enough to catch at The Space performing arts and community centre. The story starts with a ringing phone and an outgoing voicemail message saying Gavin (Nigel Fairs) is not available to take your call, please leave a message. As the lights go on, we see a grubby toilet in which stands Rachel (Louise Jameson) shining in a gold sequined dress and ‘matching’ silver sequined jacket. Rachel is distraught. She is about to take to the stage in an Eastbourne club’s annual karaoke com…

4 Star Review of Hamlet Part 2 | Hen and Chickens Theatre

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/155194/review-hamlet-part-2-hen-and-chickens-theatre/

How many times have you watched a play and, as the curtain came down, thought to yourself “what happens next?” I think this is especially true of the works of Shakespeare – in fact, there was even a Dr Who episode that revolved around a follow-up to ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ – where the story in which the audience has spent the last three hours is so engrossing that it is natural to ask what follows. Luckily, in the case of one of his most famous tragedies, the audience no longer has to wonder about the future as Theatre Heaven and Hell return to the Hen and Chickens Theatre with Perry Pontac’s Hamlet Part II. The play opens with the return of Seltazar (Darren Ruston) a member of the Court of Denmark who has been away acting as the King’s ambassador to somewhere hot and exotic. A place where, as it turns out, there was a distinct lack of news coming through about the going’s on at Elsinore. Seltazar …

4 Star Review of Peter Pan at the Olivier Theatre

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http://www.lastminutetheatretickets.com/londonwestend/review-peter-pan-olivier-theatre/

There are days when I get up, face the morning commute, spend an hour stood on a crowded bus with my head thrust into some stranger’s armpit and I really wish I had never grown up to be an adult. Of course, that was impossible, after all, death taxes and growing up are about the only things you can count on happening in life. However, if you want to escape the humdrum and learn the story of the boy that never grew up, the place to be is the Olivier Theatre where Peter Pan has taken up residence for the festive season. The action takes place in Victorian England where Mr and Mrs Darling are heading off to a party leaving their three children, Wendy (Madeleine Worrall), John (Marc Antolin) and Michael (John Pfumojena) under the care of their ‘nurse’ Nana (Ekow Quartey). However, unbeknown to the parents outside their window lurks the shadowless figure of Peter Pan (Paul Hilton) accompanied by his fri…

4 Star Review of Day Job by Fanny Pack Theatre at Bread and Roses Theatre

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/154832/review-day-job-fanny-pack-theatre-bread-and-roses-theatre/

Day Job – Photo by Minglu Wang Most people have a secret ambition to be something other than who they are. In my own case, I would love to be a professional theatre reviewer, working for one of the great daily papers and getting paid lots of money to go and watch theatre every night. Until that happens, I still need to live and so, like lots of people I have a Day Job which coincidentally is the name of the latest production from Fanny Pack Theatre and which is currently playing at the Bread and Roses in Clapham. Day Job is made up of a group of individuals with interlinked stories of women in their workplace. The linkage is provided by the fact that they all at some point get the same, rather crowded, bus and interact with the driver – someone everyone seems to underestimate dismissing her with the words “what do you know, you’re just a bus driver”. The stories themselves are varied a…

5 Star Review of PINOCCHIO at The King’s Head Theatre

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https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/154705/review-pinocchio-kings-head-theatre-london/

From left – Francesca Fenech, Joshua Da Costa – Photo by Bill Knight If I was to ask you if you knew Carlo Collodi’s story about an old toymaker called Geppetto and the little wooden boy he made. A boy that was forever trying to do good but mostly failed, even aided and abetted by an insect conscience. Well, you would turn to me and say oh yes I know it. I would then respond in traditional pantomime style by replying ‘oh no, you don’t’. We would go back and forth with this response and counter-response until I got you to the front door of the King’s Head Theatre in Islington where Charles Court Opera is presenting a new Pinocchio story which is nothing like you’ve ever seen before. Normally at this point in a review, I would give you a quick synopsis of the story but, in this case, everything I wrote would be a spoiler and you really do need to see this show to appreciate the skillful way it has bee…