The best theatre productions of 2012

The best theatre productions of 2012

Ulysses / Photo: John Johnston

Featuring Ulysses, Macbeth, Further Than the Furthest Thing, Betrayal and Beats

1 Ulysses

Dermot Bolger’s adaptation of Joyce’s masterpiece is a textbook example of how to transfer a doorstopper of a literary classic onto the stage, wisely focusing on the humour and humanity in Joyce’s account of a single day in Dublin in a series of lively set pieces. Andy Arnold’s funny, richly atmospheric and moving production (pictured) was boosted by excellent performances from the eight-strong ensemble who between them created around 80 characters.
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Oct.

2 Macbeth

A one-man production of the Scotch Play sounds like the kind of thing you’d avoid like the plague if you landed on it in the Edinburgh Fringe programme. But John Tiffany’s reimagining of Shakespeare’s tragedy for the National Theatre of Scotland was truly thrilling, set in an eerie space that recalled a Victorian mental asylum and with a performance of subtle power from Alan Cumming.
Tramway, Glasgow, Jun.

3 Betrayal

Dominic Hill’s first season in charge at the Citz brought an ambitious programme of classics, none more brilliantly conceived than his powerful version of Pinter’s drama of love and infidelity. Hill’s production, complemented by a simple set of sliding screens that evoked the passage backwards through time, mined the wit, sadness and anger beneath the playwright’s economical dialogue, evoking a certain sympathy for the pent-up characters.
Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Mar.

4 Further Than the Furthest Thing

Dundee Rep’s artistic chief James Brining signed off with this stunning revival of Zinnie Harris’ modern classic about a group of islanders displaced from their southern Atlantic community by an erupting volcano and sent to live in a hellish, industrial ‘Hengland’. Fine performances and a striking set created by artist Elizabeth Ogilvie using 29,000 litres of water helped make this the perfect swansong for Brining before he departed for the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
Dundee Rep, Apr.

5 Beats

Following on from last year’s Hitch, Kieran Hurley delivered another thrilling monologue, this time based around the late 80s/early 90s dance music explosion. On the surface a coming-of-age tale, with Hurley inhabiting a number of characters in the course of the hour-long show, the piece also explored the Orwellian politics of outlawing outdoor gatherings, his story given an added ring of authenticity by a ferocious soundtrack from DJ Johnny Whoop.
Arches, Glasgow & Traverse, Edinburgh, May/Aug.