(Arifa Akbar’s article appeared in the Guardian, 12/23; Photo: Clockwise from top left: Death of England, The Outside Dog, Pass Over, Oleanna and Crave. Composite: Nobby Clark, Marc Brenner, Alastair Muir, Manuel Harlan.)
As the industry faced turmoil, there were triumphant stagings of classics by Sarah Kane, David Mamet and Alan Bennett – and bold new experiments
Death of England
National Theatre, London
Rafe Spall gave one of the most virtuosic performances of the year in Clint Dyer and Roy Williams’ one-man show about class, race, identity and inheritance. He played Michael, a tormented working-class man grappling with the legacy of a racist father. Stalking the length and breadth of the stage, which was designed in the shape of a St George’s Cross, Spall performed with the punkish energy of a man possessed. His drunken eulogy at his father’s funeral was an exemplar of a dramatic meltdown. Read the full review.
Chichester Festival theatre and online
Sarah Kane’s one-act play is as opaque as it is intense, but under Tinuke Craig’s direction it was transformed into a clean, contemporary, thrillerish drama. Its four unnamed characters appeared on treadmills on a revolving stage, with magnified images on a back-screen. The set’s lurching movement reflected the play’s unstable emotional states and Erin Doherty gave an especially scintillating performance. Read the full review.