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FEATURE: The Public Reviews Best of 2013

Once again it’s been a busy year for our reviewers, covering over 2,600 productions across the country during 2013. With such a breadth of coverage it’s never easy to come to agreement on what have been the highlights of the year but our teams have pitched their highlights and we’ve come up with a list of our highlights of the year.

We’ve revamped our review of 2013 to focus on celebrating the Best Fringe; best touring production; best regionally produced production and our venues of the year.

Best Fringe or Studio production

love and moneyPerhaps it’s a sign of the times in arts funding, perhaps it’s the realisation that small scale can offer a more intimate theatre going experience or perhaps it’s a genre that has always been inventive. Whatever the cause, our nominations for Best Fringe or Studio production caused the widest range of nominations of any category. Over 40 shows were nominated and it was a closely fought battle but the winners span an impressive range of genres.




  • South West – Love And Money– Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
  • South East – The Kindness of Strangers – Curious Directive at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival
  • Central – Tea at Five – Old Joint Stock, Birmingham
  • North West – Credible Likeable Superstar rôle Model
  • North East &Yorkshire – Stuart A Life Backwards – Studio, Sheffield
  • South Coast –The Pajama Game– Minerva Theatre, Chichester
  • Scotland – The Ring – Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh
  • London – Titanic – Southwark Playhouse, London
  • Ireland – Beowulf: The blockbuster! – Bewleys Café Theatre, Dublin

Other noteworthy productions that came close to scooping the prize included The Royal Exchanges’ Dark Vanilla Jungle (“Dark, compelling and very, very moving”), the Pleasance’s An Instinct For Kindness (“One of the bravest and life affirming shows I have ever seen”, The Unity Theatre’s Failure (“Deliciously Quirky”) and Theatre ad Infinitum’s Translunar Paradise (“This production touched me in ways that I never realised was possible.)

Best regional production

DSC_7601In some quarters ‘regional’ has been seen as a dirty word in 2013 but here at TPR we’re proud to celebrate the regions and the outstanding work they produce week in, week out. The range of work on offer is reflected in our awards, from musicals to drama, from classics to new writing – all showcasing the talent that makes our theatre the envy of the world.

  • South West –Praxis Makes Perfect –National Theatre Wales, Cardiff
  • South East – The Hired Man – Mercury Theatre, Colchester
  • Central – The Prodigals – Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
  • North West – The Kite Runner – Liverpool Playhouse
  • North East &Yorkshire– The Full Monty – Sheffield Crucible, Sheffield
  • South Coast – On Golden Pond – Salisbury Playhouse
  • Scotland- True West – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
  • London – Roots – Donmar Wharehouse, London
  • Ireland – Riverrun – Project Arts, Dublin

Those just missing out on the top slot included The Young Vic’s The Scottsboro Boys (“A masterpiece of elegance, style and form”), Bristol Old Vic’s Great Expectations (“Stunning, stripped back yet fresh retelling of Dickens’ classic novel”), Manchester International Festival’s Macbeth (“compelling performances made this familiar play crackle with a new menace and intensity”) and National Youth Music Theatre’s West Side Story (“One of the most perfectly produced versions of this show”).

Best Touring production

Beautiful Thing - LondonThis was our closest run category, with five main contenders separated by just a whisker. Rufus Norris’ revival of Cabaret, the national tours of musical mega hits Ghost:The Musicaland Wicked and the acclaimed tour of Rutherford and Sons all came very close but our touring production of the year shows that 20 years on a play can still move audiences. And the winner is…

  • Beautiful Thing – Jonathan Harvey, 20th Anniversary Tour Directed by Nikolai Foster



Venue of the year

marlowWe’re lucky to work with some really amazing venues across the country. Their dedication to customer service, programming and quality often goes unnoticed but they are a vital part of our community. These are also the venues that also go that extra mile to help reviewers on tight deadlines. In the year that the My Theatre Matters campaign launched, we’re proud to celebrate the venues that matter to us and our first ever venue of the year awards go to.


  • South West – Theatre Royal, Plymouth
  • South East – The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
  • Central – Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
  • North West – Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
  • North East &Yorkshire – West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
  • South Coast – Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
  • Scotland – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
  • London – Battersea Arts Theatre, London
  • Ireland – Project Arts, Dublin

Do you agree with our choices, would you have chosen a different production or venue? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

About The Reviews Hub - Features

The Reviews Hub - Features
Our Features team is under the editorship of Nicole Craft. The team is responsible for sourcing interviews, articles, competitions from across the country. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.