After our first year of publication, Miro highlights the 5-star shows of 2017 that had our journalists bowled over and brought to tears:

What a 2017 it’s been for Miro… and for theatre! Celebrities have been embroiled in scandal and the long overdue issue of female harassment has been brought to public attention, hopefully to improve going forward. We have lost some of true legends of the boards, including Sir Tim Pigott-Smith, Sir Peter Hall and Sir John Hurt. Former directors at The National Theatre, Sir Nicholas Hytner and Marianne Elliott, returned to the scene with individual endeavours. Hytner’s The Bridge Theatre opened this autumn and Elliott Harper Productions saw two smash hit shows descend on London – Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle and Angels In America.

Miro 2017 Theatre

2017 also marked the first year of Miro Magazine and has seen it go from strength to strength. In a few short months, we have expanded our reach and readership, bringing onboard some exceptional journalists, writers and theatre makers to add their thoughts to the cultural conversation that Miro is committing to exploring. We offer a unique perspective on the very best in emerging talent and our team have certainly managed to present the undiscovered and highlight the extraordinary.

Throughout 2017, the theatre section has covered all manner of productions, ranging from opera and musicals to new writing and contemporary performance art. Our journalists have unearthed some true theatrical gems – compelling operas, captivating solo performances and empowering statements about cyber bullying to name but a few.

In all, there were ten 5-star performances from our Miro contributors in 2017, including two at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – for full details of these two, please check out our Fringe Round-Up article.

Miro 2017 Theatre

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017

Miro Theatre Team’s Picks for 2017

Miro 2017 Theatre

Othello (image coutresy of The Other Richard)

Othello at Wilton’s Music Hall – review by Lucy Brown

In our new era of Trump-fuelled prejudice, xenophobia and intrusive masculinity, Richard Twyman’s Othello is a searing reaction that realises the tragedy of every single character – even the master manipulator. Twyman’s production posits Othello (Abraham Popoola) as a compelling vehicle that forces us to confront how society acts towards both ourselves and ‘the other’.

Most distressing is the collapse of the touching relationship between Othello and his Desdemona (Norah Lopez Holden). Their chemistry leaps off the stage every time Holden leaps into Popoola’s arms and is swept up onto his shoulders. They are a perfectly mismatched pair: big and little; loud and soft; virile strength and subtle femininity.

Miro 2017 Theatre

Out There On Fried Meat Ridge Rd. (image courtesy of Gavin Watson)

Out There On Fried Mead Ridge Rd. at Trafalgar Studios – review by Lucy Curtis

A cool, cluttered set, strewn with clothes, cans and tuna sandwiches reflects one man’s small-town life in West Virginia, USA. Keith Stevenson subtly provokes us to question his intentions, all to prove us and our preconceptions wrong. His happiness, naivety and innocence leave us questioning his good faith – is he kind or simply dim-witted?

Humour is of course key to this play. The fluid rhythm and slapstick comedy are interspersed with moments of true comedic genius, sparking uproar and tears of laughter. But beneath the facade, the play deals with the hard topics in a casual and informal way – drug use, infidelity, racism, sexism. Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Rd. presents you with hard truths, happy calamity and bizarre back stories. It is a play that boasts no glamour, just life and laughs.

Miro 2017 Theatre

In Event Of Moone Disaster (image courtesy of Jack Sain)

In Event Of Moone Disaster at Theatre503 – review by Daniel Perks

Before In Event Of Moone Disaster begins, the atmosphere is peacefully quiet. Lisa Spirling’s direction sets up layered themes around a lack of life, an infertile and hostile environment that is simultaneously a serene oasis from the pressures of Earth. Andrew Thompson’s script hasn’t even begun, but already we are starting to understand the complexity in this production.

Despite touching on otherworldly themes, Thompson’s work is not a fantastical tale – every character is grounded and earthed, relatable by all of their intricacies and flaws. In Event Of Moone Disaster tastefully places escapism at its core – the desire to run from problems, or to run towards new adventures. The grass is always greener, a reflection of our generation’s constant need for new stimulation. We may want to branch out, but there is no escaping the bloodline.

Miro 2017 Theatre

Mary & Me

Mary & Me at Omnibus Theatre – review by Cindy Marcolina

Irene Kelleher debuts her play with an explosion of feelings. Sensitive and raw, Mary & Me‘s compelling script is inspired by the true events of a girl dying during childbirth in a grotto. The story is a poignant and heart-breaking insight into a teenager’s thoughts about what it means growing up in a small town, in rural Ireland, in the 1980s.

Kelleher manages to convey certain plot points without ever mentioning them, simply hinting with her body language or through broader discussion. Without directly addressing the issues of abuse or unwanted male attention, they echo throughout a large part of the piece.

“Why are people so cruel? What are they afraid of?”

Kelleher asks Mary with humility and simplicity. As the audience watches her go through it all alone, we can’t help but wonder the same thing.

Miro 2017 Theatre

Cookies (image courtesy of Pamela Raith)

Cookies at Theatre Royal Haymarket – review by Frankie Crossley

Cookies by Emily Jenkins makes an arresting and empowering statement about the power of social media and its capacity to affect lives in the internet age. Set around a series of intertwining stories, she deals with the difficult issues of revenge porn, gangs, sexuality, obsessive fangirling and online grooming. The latter is arguably the most arresting in its subject matter, approaching the topic of IS recruitment and radicalisation.

Through Jenkins’ poetic dialogue, spat out in a rap style, the play lyrically conveys the very real emotions that occur behind the facade of a phone screen. The humorous moments are well-timed, demonstrating the blurred line between banter and bullying. The simple staging allows director Anna Ledwich’s cast to flourish; their enigmatic performances fill the space with ease.

Miro 2017 Theatre

Purple Snowflakes

Purple Snowflakes at Arts Theatre – review by Samuel Sims

The ‘Titty Wanks’ element of the show’s original title may have been dropped, but writer and performer Sarah Hanly firmly reminds us of their stupid, outdated outrageousness. Straight away. It’s graphic and intense, particularly in describing Hanly’s eating disorder; a subject often dealt with and offered as hard-hitting. Is Purple Snowflakes hard-hitting? If honesty and complete relevancy must still be labelled so, then I suppose it is.

Purple Snowflakes is a captivating, important and clever gem with a very talented creative team. It pounds down stereotypes and convention, showing that we need to think outside of the box when it comes to the various uses of hand sanitizer.

Miro 2017 Theatre

Romantics Anonymous

Romantics Anonymous at Sam Wanamaker Playhouse – review by Jonathan Penney

Romantics Anonymous tells the story of a talented chocolate maker and her anxieties with the outside world, especially when meeting the owner of a local chocolate factory who is also dealing with the panic of social situations. Immediately, both protagonists are relatable; this aspect of mental health is often overlooked in the media, but the new musical displays it with a comedic, yet realistic approach.

Emma Rice’s direction brings two individual people from not so different worlds together, who help each other in both a professional and personal manner. It is these moments where Romantics Anonymous becomes particularly heart-warming.

La Bohème Trafalgar Studios 2017

La Bohème (image courtesy of Scott Rylander)

La Bohème at Trafalgar Studios – review by Camille Lapaix

It’s Christmas 2017, East London for this La Bohème. In their picturesque flat, Mark (Thomas Isherwood) and Ralph (Roger Paterson) lament. The heating is broken, the rent is in arrears and how dare Facebook taunt them with the pictures of their happy friends? The opening scene of Adam Spreadbury-Maher and Becca Marriott’s opera instantly sets the tone.

Gone are the flourishes and curlicues of the original work. The ravishing score is stripped down to the bare minimum, just enough to tug at your heartstrings and to take your breath away. Helped along by a brand-new English libretto, the production lays bare the effects of co-dependency in the lives and loves of modern-day characters.