Chris Neville-Smith’s 2015 awards

It’s that time of year again. In recognition of all the hard work of all the groups I’ve seen over the year, and in no way a shameless attempt to generate more web traffic for this blog, here are my list of awards. With a panel of one seeing lots and lots of plays over the year, a shortlist of plays was put forward and a jury of one spending hours deliberating over the verdict, I finally have a list of winners.

A few changes this year. For a start, I’m going to gradually announce the winners over five days in a completely unnecessary drive to build up tension. More interestingly, this year I’ve picked a runner-up for most categories, because I felt too many good plays would go unrecognised otherwise. Finally, I’ve added a couple of new categories this year: one is “Best collaborative work” to cater for the increasing number of devised theatre pieces I see that aren’t crap; the other, well, you’ll see when I get round to that.

Quick reminder of the other rules: this list is open to anything I first saw in 2015 – and what I see, especially at the festival fringes, largely comes down to luck. Productions I saw in previous years are generally not eligible for consideration, so that long-running successful shows don’t unfairly dominate the awards, although there will be one case here where I’ll bend that rule.

So, no more “didn’t they all do well”, it’s time to pick the winners. Okay, here we go … Continue reading

Roundup: Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Yet again, I leave it embarrassingly late to do my Edinburgh Fringe roundup. My sort-of excuse is that I had a very busy June, July and August for unrelated reasons, so I’ve spent most of September hibernating. But no more excuses, I’d better get a move on. Once new feature I’m introducing this year is that I’ll be comparing my review to all the professional reviews, see how it compares, and give my comments on any interesting discrepancies. As a result of that, it’s going to be a long piece, so I’m going to do it in instalments. Come back here and you’ll see the article grow.

So, it’s been another good fringe at Edinburgh. This is probably due in large part to me getting to know better who the good acts are, but there was a decent number of gems from people I’d never heard of. As a result, I’m going to repeat what I did last year and have a very top category of “Outstanding Fringe performance” to separate the best of the best from the rest of the excellence.

And a new feature this year is that I will be looking at the reviews of other people. I try to avoid looking at other reviews before I write mine, because I want to avoid my verdict being prejudiced, but afterwards it’s interesting to see what other people think. Usually my verdict is in line with the other reviews, but there are few notable and interesting exceptions. I will talk about that as I come to them.

Anyone who can’t wait to know who’s going to be in my list can see it in my live coverage of Edinburgh, but for everyone else, it’s a drum roll. Who has scooped my highest honour? Continue reading