All's Not Fair In Love And War.

So I claimed, at least, when I initially sat down to pen the short script for what would become my video review of the best theatre I saw in 2018. The question is: whose love? And whose war?

Everybody's, really. If ever there was a case for illustrating theatre as an enormous psychological examination of human brains and bonds, the connections we need and the battles we face to simply keep going, 2018 was it.

Increasingly affected by a multitude of unresolved issues, destabilising developments and the uncertainty that a looming Brexit brings, the casts and crews from "our wee country" and beyond sought to grasp, examine, and illustrate the inner and outer turmoil of the populace and present it as an experience to remember, either immersively or as an observer.

There was no shortage of theatrical magic in the air, but there was also darkness, and not one of my favourite plays of the year shied away from either. Because, if you'll indulge me for a little bit, I've been able to spend the last twelve months, if not more, doing things I would never imagined possible. I've watched the arts community of Northern Ireland push themselves that step further to conquer ever-pressurising boundaries in theatre. So many rewards for the head, heart and soul.

And their goals have been about more than consistency and stability. They're about emotion and evolution. Evolving in writing about, working on, acting in and being part of extraordinary work which enlightens and entertains. Work that also delved into the benefits of nostalgia and anti-nostalgia, the latter of which the late, much beloved Sam McCready, one of my nominees, elegantly personified in his last ever role of Robert Harbinson - a performance that, like so many of McCready's at the Lyric Theatre and more, will be fondly recalled by everyone who witnessed it. What I heard then, and what I hear now, about his remarkable body of work helps to enhance my belief that theatre in Northern Ireland will continue to enrich and inspire participants and audiences as not only a way of life, but as a friend for life.

That, after all, is what Good Vibrations can do - and did do, at the very theatre McCready co-founded.

Simon Fallaha

My full list of nominees for the Si Arts NI Theatre Awards 2018. The NI Theatre Awards were originally named and broadcast on Sunday January 13, 2019.

Winners in bold. Links to full reviews, either here or at The Big List NI, where available.


Best Student Theatre & Director
EIGHT, directed by Rachel Coffey

Honourable Mention: Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again, directed by Fionnuala Stevens

Best Student Performance
Clare Kearney, EIGHT

Honourable Mentions: Sam Charlton & Emily Lamey, Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again

Best Student Ensemble
Let Us Go Then, You And I, Accidental Theatre

Honourable Mention: EIGHT, Chaos Theory Theatre

Best Production, Touring
COAL, Gary Clarke Company

Honourable Mentions: Titanic: The Musical, Evita

Best Director, Touring
Gary Clarke, COAL
Honourable Mention: Kim Gavin & Jack Ryder, The Band

Best Ensemble, Touring
The Band

Honourable Mentions: Titanic: The Musical; Evita

Best Set, Touring
The Band

Honourable Mentions: Titanic: The Musical; Jersey Boys

Best Male Performance, Touring
Glenn Carter, Evita
Honourable Mention: Martin Miller, The Band

Best Female Performance, Touring
TC Howard, COAL

Honourable Mentions: Cristina Hoey, Evita; Victoria Serra, Titanic: The Musical


Best Dance Piece
Each For Other, Maiden Voyage

Best Ballet
La Fille mal gardée, Birmingham Royal Ballet

Best Opera
If You Can Find Me, NI Opera Studio

Honourable Mention: Rigoletto, NI Opera

Best Director, Opera
Kate Guelke, If You Can Find Me

Honourable Mention: Walter Sutcliffe, Rigoletto

Best Male Performance, Opera
Sebastian Cantana, Rigoletto

Honourable Mentions: Ross Scanlon, If You Can Find Me; Davide Giusti, Rigoletto

Best Female Performance, Opera
Nadine Koutcher, Rigoletto

Honourable Mentions: Marielle Murphy, La Donna Abbandonata; Jayne Wisener, The Threepenny Opera

Best Ensemble, Opera
If You Can Find Me

Honourable Mention: Rigoletto

Best Set, Opera

Honourable Mention: The Threepenny Opera


Best Play
Date Show, Three’s Theatre Company
The Man Who Fell To Pieces, Tinderbox
The Assistant’s Revenge, Cahoots NI
Lovers: Winners & Losers, Lyric Theatre
Double Cross, Lyric Theatre / Abbey Theatre

Best Director
Patrick J O’Reilly, The Man Who Fell To Pieces
Emily Foran, After The End
Vicky Featherstone, Cyprus Avenue
Emma Jordan, Lovers: Winners & Losers
Jimmy Fay, Double Cross

Best Actor
Sam McCready, No Surrender
Stephen Rea, Cyprus Avenue
Sam Gibson, Paperboy
Aaron McCusker, Good Vibrations
Ian Toner, Double Cross

Best Actress
Luna Kalo, East Belfast Granny
Maria Guiver, After The End
Roisin Gallagher, Abigail’s Party
Ruby Campbell, Lovers: Winners & Losers
Niamh Perry, Good Vibrations

Best Supporting Actor
Patrick McBrearty, The Colleen Bawn
Craig Miller, Abigail’s Party
Chris Corrigan, Cyprus Avenue
Mark Asante, The Sword And The Sand
Sean Kearns, Double Cross

Best Supporting Actress
Maeve Smyth, The Assistant’s Revenge
Emer McDaid, We’ll Walk Hand In Hand
Amy Molloy, Cyprus Avenue
Katie Tumelty, Dear Arabella
Charlotte McCurry, Double Cross

Best Original Music
Katie Richardson, The Man Who Fell To Pieces
Ursula Burns, The Assistant’s Revenge
Matthew Reeve & Johnny Martin, The Colleen Bawn
Duke Special, Paperboy
Garth McConaghie, Under The Hawthorn Tree

Best Atmosphere
Date Show, Three’s Theatre Company
The World Goes ‘Round, Blunt Fringe
Abigail’s Party, The MAC
Jimmy Ellis: Home Again, Blunt Fringe
Good Vibrations, Lyric Theatre

Best Ensemble
The Man Who Fell To Pieces, Tinderbox
Penguins, Cahoots NI
Jimmy Ellis: Home Again, Blunt Fringe
The World Goes ‘Round, Blunt Fringe
Under The Hawthorn Tree, Cahoots NI

Best New Writing
Patrick J O’Reilly, The Man Who Fell To Pieces
Dan Leith, Hubert And The Yes Sock
Marie Jones, Dear Arabella
Nicky Harley & Zoe Seaton, Freak Show
Jo Egan, The Crack In Everything

Best Costumes
Susan Pau, The Assistant’s Revenge
Grace Smart, The Colleen Bawn
Diana Ennis, Abigail’s Party
Gillian Lennox & Erin Charteris, Good Vibrations
Gillian Lennox, Double Cross

Best Set Design
Jack Scullion, After The End
Grace Smart, The Colleen Bawn
Ciaran Bagnall, Lovers: Winners & Losers
Diana Ennis, Abigail’s Party
Ciaran Bagnall, Double Cross

"Unsung Hero" Award
The Jazzabelles, directed by Neil Keery