Thinking of Catching a Show in the Next Month – A few productions to consider

We are told there are two universal human certainties, death and taxes but I would add a third, diverging opinions.  As I ponder the choice of venues to recommend for a theatre outing I am reminded that what one likes, another despises, so like it or lump it, here are my picks of things to see on the London stage over the next few months.

For those with burning holes in their pockets, I’ll start with the West End where ticket prices can make your eyes water, and that is after the show, when you realise how much money you have forked-out to be bored or maybe slightly amused for the last two hours.  At this time of year, theatres are fully aware that they will have a job competing with the movie business which has stacked-up the openings of the best movies of the last 365 days, like planes waiting for a take-off slot at Heathrow airport, because of the all important Oscar season.   With everyone competing for audiences, the splashier the production the better.

RegentStreetWith this in mind, the final production, of the first season of five plays from the Michael Grandage Company, has just opened on November 23.  So Jude Law is Henry V  (can’t get more splashy than that).  The reviews are out and fantastic (though some bloggers have been a little lukewarm).  Look out for my review in January.  Although, and at this point it bears saying that, if you are going, you are likely to have bought your tickets at the turn of the century.  Dame Edna, if you like her style, has come for a final encore, The Farewell Tour, and though I have not seen it (not my kind of thing really), the show has received some good reviews.  If you like Woodhouse, you could head over to Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense, Duke of York’s Theatre.   For my money, this is an eye-watering piece of theatre.  See my review here.

For those like me who think that the Christmas season should start around December 20 and not November 20, as some retailers would like you to believe, you could head to the West End transfer of the Almeida’s production of Ghost.   The reviews were excellent and if you enjoy Ibsen and want to stick a nose up at the Christmas revellers, this should do the job nicely.  Along the same lines, you could catch the Almeida’s transfer of their mesmerizing production of The Weir to the Wyndham’s Theatre as of January 16th.  See my review here.

For some, David Tenant, is something to be savoured in small doses.  Others just can’t get enough.  If you fall into the latter group, I would most definitely recommend the RSC’s production of Richard II, which will transfer to the Barbican as of December 9.

If you liked Jerusalem, you could head for Mojo but I have to warn you that it will be returns only at this stage.  The good news, for those who really want to see Butterworth’s first play, is that they have extended the run until February 8.  So maybe not for Christmas but to get over the post parties’ blues?

If you don’t fancy any of these, take a look at my last few news items.  Something in there should appeal.

New Production at the National Theatre – Booking opens Friday November 29

The National Theatre has announced further details of its November – April season.

Sam Mendes, Academy Award-winning director and Bridge Project director, will bring us a new production of King Lear at the Olivier Theatre, starring Simon Russell Beale.  I know, you’ve seen Lear already but this should be an evening to remember.

The NT has also announced a revival of A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney.  Set in the 50s, the play looks at class, race, gender and sexual orientation. It is part of the kitchen sink drama genre which attempted to bring to the stage social issues that were not being presented in British theatre at the time.

Nick Payne of Constellation fame is writing Blurred Lines to be presented at the Shed.  The play will be directed by Carrie Cracknell who is Associate Director at the Royal Court Theatre and who directed the fantastic A Doll’s House (Young Vic and West End).  The play will tackle gender politics with music.

Booking opens at 8:30 on November 29th

Promising New Season at Hampstead Theatre – Edward Hall is on a roll

Hampstead Theatre announced its new season this morning.  Priority members are in luck as they will have had plenty of time to get hold of tickets for the spring season starting in January. If not, despair and weep, as I suspect that many of the best seats will be gone for punters at large.  I would book what you fancy today, if I were you.

Edward Hall is bringing us two plays from across the pond. The first by Gina Gionfriddo, who wrote the very funny Becky Shaw (Almeida Theatre, 2011), and the second by David Lindsay-Abaire, Pulitzer Prize winner for Rabbit Hole, not to mention his five Tony Award nominations.

Emilia Fox

Emilia Fox

Rapture, Blister, Burn, which starts 16th January and runs until February 22nd, will bring Gionfriddo back to the UK with director Peter Dubois (also of Becky Shaw). The play is about gender politics and I expect it will resonate with many. Emilia Fox will be part of the cast. This play should be good, even with obstructed view.

“Can any woman have it all? After university Catherine and Gwen chose opposite paths: Catherine built a career as a rock-star academic, while Gwen built a home with a husband and children. Decades later, unfulfilled in opposite ways, each woman covets the other’s life, and a dangerous game begins as each tries to claim the other’s territory.” Hampstead Theatre

According to the LA Times, “the play’s originality lies in its recognition that life is infinitely messier than theory. The play is hardly anti-feminist, though it wants to challenge fixed notions from across the political spectrum that make the pursuit of happiness seem easier than it is.”

In Good People, Lindsay-Abaire 
joins force with Jonathan Kent (no introduction necessary) to bring us a story from the south side of Boston. The play, which runs from 27 February until April 5th, was originally performed at the Manhattan Theatre Club where it won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play of the Year in 2011.  A down-and-out single mum tracks down her now rich ex-boyfriend… The cast includes the Olivier award-winning actress Imelda Staunton.

Finally, if 55 Days is anything to go by, I would book tickets for Howard Brenton’s new play, Drawing the Line.  The play will reunite Brenton and Howard Davies and promises to deliver a sweeping epic story of India’s partition in 1947.  The play runs until January 11th.

I’ll be going to all three and will let you know…

Quick Suggestion – Book The Nether at the Royal Court, July 2014

The Royal Court has announced its new season and one play stands out for me.  The Nether by Jennifer Haley which was the winner of the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.  The play, created by the Center Theatre Group, premiered to rave reviews in Spring 2013 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles.  According to the Royal Court website, “The Nether is both an intricate crime drama and a haunting sci-fi thriller that explores the consequences of making dreams a reality.”

The play, which is a co-production with Headlong, will be directed by Jeremy Herrin ,the company’s new Artistic Director since September 2013.  Herrin was Deputy Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre from 2009 until 2012 and in December, he will direct the world première of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies for the RSC.

The play only runs between July 18th and August 9th 2014.  Tickets go on sale Monday November 18th at 10 am.