A Look at 2018 from our Lead Reviewer Claire

Choosing the best show of 2018 is a no-brainer for me – a brilliant production of Born in A Barn performed by the children in my Reception class. Tinselled angels, barn animals striking random yoga poses, sheep nodding off and Mary shoving baby Jesus under her arm like a newspaper to take her final bow – all done with huge excitement and innocent confidence. It’s where the magic begins. Next year we’ll do Sondheim.

Speaking of which, Company HAS to be on my best of list. I mean, LUPONE!

Wise Children was another joy, both shows leaving me with tears running down my face and grinning all the way home. (It’s one way to get a seat to yourself on the night bus.)

The Rink and Fiddler on the Roof were beautifully realised, and on a smaller scale, Divergent Theatre Collective’s It Tastes Like Home was a charming and uplifting musical about cultural identity.

At Greenwich, Lazarus Theatre were on fire with Edward II, Lord of the Flies and A Midsummer Night’s Dream – give those guys a table and some chairs, and they’ll create theatrical magic.

And then we get to The Jack Studio Theatre. Good grief, most of my favourite shows of the year have been performed in that little black room. Kate Bannister and Karl Swinyard have the Midas touch when it comes to programming. Kes and Lifeboat, directed by Kate, were masterclasses in storytelling, both with an expert cast of two playing multiple roles and creating an emotional rollercoaster for the audience to thrill to.

Arrows and Traps have been consistently brilliant at The Jack with Three Sisters and Dracula, but it’s Ross McGregor’s own play The White Rose that blew my mind – and the minds of everyone I told to go see it. The story of Sophie Scholl and her fellow students’ resistance in Nazi Germany could be unwieldy and static, but McGregor pared down the details and characters and created a heart-breaking and inspirational story of family, friendship, integrity and courage filled with evocative movement and music and astonishing performances. Just sublime