Top 5 theatre productions of 2013: Quiz Show, Dragon, Red Bastard and more
Also featuring Paul Bright’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner and Banksy: The Room in the Elephant
Rob Drummond’s Quiz Show was one of the most successful shows of 2013. Despite the dark (and sadly, timely) subject matter and its challenging structure, it grabbed the attention with its uncompromising examination of the consequences of child abuse by a celebrity. The dissolving set design and Eileen Walsh’s complex performance as the victim trying to disentangle her past made it uncomfortable and impressive.
Although Stewart Laing has been directing and designing since the 1990s, Paul Bright’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner delved into the lost archives of the 1980s. In tandem with Pamela Carter, Laing reconstructed a Scottish masterpiece that never was, taking satirical swipes at both pretentions past and contemporary lack of ambition.
Vox Motus has been flying the flag for visual theatre since its debut Slick. In Dragon, a collaboration with the NTS, it stripped away language for a physical fantasy that elucidated the process of grief. Oliver Emanuel’s script was a charming yet serious study of the impact of a mother’s death. It was the company’s most fully realised production to date.
The most exciting theatre performance of the Edinburgh Fringe slipped into the comedy section. Any theatremaker who ignores the lessons of Red Bastard isn’t paying attention: his one man show was a reminder of clowning’s vulgar poetry and ability to reveal the unvarnished truth through lies.
Another one-man Fringe show proved that, at least for Gary Beadle, there is life after Eastenders. Banksy: The Room in the Elephant was a powerful meditation on the relationship between raw survival and art. Based on a true story of how Banksy’s graffiti made one man homeless, it was theatre with a fierce conscience.