The New Year is upon us. On stage at the Lyric Theatre until 12 January is comedy Forget Turkey which casts a sharp satirical eye over the past year. And what a year it has been for the Lyric - ten Lyric productions and many more visiting shows.
More than 90,000 people have visited the Lyric in Belfast over the past year and we hope have enjoyed what they have seen on the stage as well as a bite to eat and drink in our beautiful café bar.
Certainly the critics have praised what the Lyric had to offer theatre-goers this year. Four leading theatre critics in Northern Ireland singled out shows at the Lyric as their favourite productions of 2013.
Theatre critic and BBC producer, Grania McFadden chose The Seafarer as her pick of the year.
She told the Belfast Telegraph: “My favourite show was Rachel O’Riordan’s glorious production of Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer, a co-production between the Lyric Theatre in Belfast and Scotland’s Perth Theatre…Impeccably acted and directed, The Seafarer wins my award for play of the year.”
Indeed The Seafarer was the Lyric’s biggest achievement in terms of theatre awards in 2013. Rachel O’Riordan, who was born in Cork but has lived most of her life in Belfast, won Best Director at the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS) in June and the play’s all-male cast won Best Ensemble Award. Rachel was also nominated for Best Director in the fiercely competitive UK Theatre Awards in October.
Another highlight of the year was acclaimed actor Simon Callow’s premiere of his one-man show, The Man Jesus at Easter. The Lyric was delighted to welcome such a prestigious actor, in both theatre and film circles, to the Danske Bank stage. Local arts and TV critic, Joe Nawaz, described “Simon Callow’s scintillating solo run” as his stand-out performance of the year in theatre.
Another seasoned theatre critic, journalist Jane Hardy also selected the Lyric as her venue for the best theatre this year. She told Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme that the highlight of her year in theatre was undoubtedly, Brendan at the Chelsea. Arts journalist Joanne Savage at the Newsletter also concurred with this view, citing it as one of the “best productions of the year”.
Certainly one of the most popular shows at the Lyric this year, Brendan at the Chelsea, starring Adrian Dunbar, enjoyed a sell-out run at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin following a successful tour off-Broadway in September.
As the Lyric enjoys the last weeks of its Christmas shows, we look forward to a stimulating new season of theatre beginning with Brian Friel’s most famous play, Philadelphia Here I Come! in February. We hope that our audiences, as well as the critics will be as impressed with what we have to offer in 2014.
Happy New Year theatre-lovers!