The best…and worst of Quarter 2 2010

Well another 3 months have passed so time to round up the second quarter of 2010 and the best and worst shows I’ve seen during those months. It was 43 shows seen over the three months, a total boosted by a couple of festivals; the outstanding High Tide Festival and the eclectic Pulse Fringe.

As is often the case, when things worked they were often stunning but when they fail they can be truly awful.

In the interests of comparison I am excluding work in progress shows seen during the festivals – some of these could have been contenders for both the best and worst categories but it is perhaps unfair to judge them against fully developed pieces.

So let’s start with the best shows April – June 2010

A lot of strong contenders here; Wolf, Reykjavik and Kursk all offering a totally immersive theatre experience in unique settings. True Love Waits, Moscow Live and Ditch all showing the power of new writing and Enron, Sus and Through A Glass Darkly all showing human greed, hope and despair.

In the end though it’s a trio of plays that take the top spots

  1. Beyond The Horizon – O’Neill’s early masterpiece acted to perfection
  2. Spring Storm – On the same double bill, this time showing Williams’ early skill
  3. Catcher – Pilot Theatre’s powerful two hander about John Lennon’s assassin

For every winner there has to be a loser and there have been some prize turkeys over the last few months.

Some of the pieces in the festivals didn’t work, but that’s part of the risk of festivals and the value as a development ground. Failures however aren’t restricted to new productions or small scale shows. Some major companies have suffered flops this year.

At the bottom of the list this time round

  1. Sex Idiot – a misconceived, indulgent and offensive piece of performance ‘art’
  2. Paradise Found – never have such a large number of showbiz royalty produced something so bad
  3. Love Never Dies – forever tainted with the ‘paint never dries’ tag, this just goes to show that a big budget can’t compensate for basic lack of story

So half the year has gone, let’s hope the second half will offer more highs and few lows.

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