The best of 2012: theatre



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The five best happenings in theatre in 2012 according to Time Out's theatre editor

2012 has been a pretty impressive year in the theatre world. Hopefully you'll have caught some of these five great successes, and if you're trying to squeeze in one more show this winter, make sure it's not 'Viva Forever'.

The five best

  • 1

    Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs

    The Court’s tiny upstairs studio has excelled itself this year: Vivienne Franzmann’s second play ‘The Witness’, Jez Butterworth’s haunting ‘Jerusalem’ follow-up ‘The River’, devastating performance lecture ‘Ten Billion’ and Nick Payne’s West End transfer smash ‘Constellations’ are all hugely different productions and all in their own way strong contenders for play of 2012.

  • 2

    World Shakespeare Festival/Globe to Globe

    The Bardic element of the cultural Olympiad really was all we could have hoped for, with the RSC on top form with ‘Julius Caesar’, the National Theatre’s staggeringly forceful ‘Timon of Athens’ and, in particular, Shakespeare’s Globe’s audacious 37-Shakespeare-plays-in-37-languages Globe to Globe festival.

  • 3

    Director’s theatre

    From Sebastian Nübling's trippy production of Simon Stephens’s ‘Three Kingdoms’ at the Lyric to a glorious year for the Young Vic defined by its pudding-tastic ‘The Changeling’ and exhilarating ‘Three Sisters’, it’s been a superb year for the sort of lavishly visual, European-style theatre that London sees all too rarely.

  • 4


    The crowning glory of this year’s on-form London International Theatre Festival was Elevator Repair Service’s unforgettable eight-hour version of ‘The Great Gatsby’, a glorious anomaly in the West End that played to packed out houses over the summer.

  • 5

    Southwark Playhouse

    The fringe venue vacates its Tooley Street premises with head held high after producing a clutch of 2012’s best new writing – notably Nicholas Pierpan’s ‘You Can Still Make A Killing’ and Philip Ridley’s ‘Shivered’ – and musical revivals in ‘Floyd Collins’, ‘Mack & Mabel’ and ‘Victor/Victoria’.

... and the worst

  • ‘Viva Forever!’

    After all the hype, Jennifer Saunders’s Spice Girls musical was a shockingly drab, joyless exercise, a far, far cry from the fun girls’ night out everyone had expected.

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