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February Theatre Roundup

1 February 2017 Belphoebe New

It’s far too cold to do anything outside, so it’s time to cosy up inside and escape into some brilliant theatre. Despite being the month of romance, there are some rather dark plays premiering on London’s stages in February, as well as unique and dazzling musicals and, as always, a liberal sprinkling of reworked Shakespeare.

What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than watching a stage adaption of one of literature’s most shocking and taboo novels? Opening on the 14th is A Clockwork Orange (February 14 – 18 March), an electrifying all male version filled with testosterone and ultraviolence that makes for an unsettling and entertainingly nasty Valentine’s night, although not for the faint hearted. If you’re looking for something a little warmer, then a profoundly affectionate, passionate devotion to someone (-noun) (28 February – 1 April) might fit the bill. Following three couples, this play from Sarah Keane looks set to explore love and identity in a way that is as unconventional as its title.


 
Buzzing its way into the VAULT festival is The Swarm (8-12 February), which sees a nine piece choir narrate the story of migrating honey bees through a city. Watch as the choir represent the bees with a soundscape comprised of field recordings and a composition evoking the urban landscape. There’s an overwhelming selection of brilliant theatre at the VAULT festival, and you can find out more of our picks here. From buzzing bees to chameleon skin, Stratford East’s The Bubbly Black Girl (1 Feb – 11 March), is a wonderfully cheerful and optimistic exploration of a young woman in American trying to make it as a dancer despite the boundaries of sexism and racism.


 
The oxymoronic title of Philip Ridley’s The Pitchfork Disney (27 January – 18 March) hints at the warped yet childlike surrealism of this iconic play, showing in Shoreditch Town Hall’s atmospheric basements this month. It focuses on two adults, Presley and Haley, left alone in their parent's East London flat where they are immersed in an unsettling and violent fantasy world. Another play dealing with mind games, delusion and fantasy is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (22 February – 27 May). Starring Imelda Staunton, this new adaption of Edward Albee’s classic play tells the fraught story of two couples embroiled in a toxic party game.
 
Slightly out on the fringes, catch Frankenstein (7 February – 11 February) at The Greenwich Theatre for a night of gothic gruesomeness. Fusing ensemble storytelling, live music and puppetry, this retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic novel of a mad scientist’s horrifying creation promises to be an adventure. Over at Watford Palace Theatre is good dog (14 February – 18 February) Arinzé Kene’s hard-hitting and confessional one-man play that explores growing up within a multicultural community in London. 



Finally, there are some exciting Shakespeare productions opening this February. Twelfth Night (opens 15 February) at the National Theatre presents Tamsin Greig in the role of Malvolio, now Malvolia, as the antagonist of Shakespeare’s comedy of mistaken identity, disguises and confusion. Over at the Almedia is a star-studded production of Hamlet (17 February – 8 April) featuring some of theatre’s most prestigious actors, including Andrew Scott in the title role and Juliet Stevenson as Gertrude. Whilst we’re on Hamlet, The Young Vic’s latest production focuses on his childhood friends in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (25 February – 29 April), which should be a highly sought-after pair of tickets as it stars Daniel Radcliffe of Equus and Harry Potter fame. A departure from the original tragedy, it’s an absurdist exploration of these two minor characters in the final scene of Shakespeare’s play.


Photo credit: Miles Aldridge
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