Spring is (almost) in the air! And what better way to celebrate the lengthening of the days than by holing up in a dark room with a bunch of strangers? London’s theatres have got a line up that will make you forget all about such trivial things as sunshine.
Let’s kick off with some of our local powerhouses. The Donmar Warehouse goes political with Limehouse, a new play by Steve Waters. It’s 1981 and four Labour politicians try to work out the future of their party, while the country is going through a national identity crisis and the Conservative PM tries to keep her government in line. Sound familiar, anyone? Polly Findlay directs, and the cast includes Roger Allam and Paul Chahidi.
Meanwhile, the Royal Court appears to get uncharacteristically light-hearted with The Kid Stays in the Picture, a play based on the life story of big shot Hollywood producer Robert Evans. Then again, with Complicite’s Simon McBurney at the helm, who knows how this one is going to pan out? It should, in any case, not be a boring evening.
Clint Dyer rehearsing for The Kid Stays in The Picture, photo by Sarah Ainslie
Over at the Young Vic, Michael Frayn is taking Chekhov to town with new translations of two of the playwright’s most biting comedies. Performed by a company of queer artists, The Bear/The Proposal promises to make its audience take a long, hard look at their assumptions about love and marriage. Tickets have already sold out, but we reckon this one will be worth joining the returns queue for.
The West End is not slacking off this month, either. If it’s star power you’re after, The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? will see Damian Lewis return to the London stage at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Edward Albee’s dark comedy exposes the limits of liberal tolerance when successful architect Martin cheats on his wife by starting an affair with a goat. We are definitely intrigued.
But perhaps you’d rather have something more, um, conventional. Fortunately we’ve also got new productions of two classic musical hits coming up: An American in Paris at the Dominion Theatre and 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The first is a Broadway transfer that comes with several Tonys in its pockets, but with Christopher Wheeldon on both direction and choreography duties that’s not much of a surprise. Original Broadway cast members Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope will both be reprising their roles as Jerry and Lise, and will be supported by a company of over fifty actors, dancers and musicians. That’s unlikely to worry the people at Drury Lane though, who are also anticipating a hit with their entirely new production of 42nd Street. The show is definitely in safe hands with director Mark Bramble, who co-wrote the original book and also directed the Tony-winning 2001 revival.
An American in Paris
It’s not classic musical theatre all around this month, however. The King’s Head Theatre welcomes Adam and Eve… and Steve, a new musical that’s finally coming down south after a successful run in Edinburgh last summer. The plot, in very short, is this: God attempts to create Adam and Eve, but, due to interference of the Devil, accidentally creates Adam and Steve. And then, for good measure, also creates Eve anyway. It sounds like this love triangle is going to be less than biblical, but a lot of fun.
Similarly saucy things will presumably be happening at Southwark Playhouse for the UK premiere of The Life, a musical dive into the murky depths of 80s Times Square. The score is by Cy Coleman, who is more than qualified to do justice to the story’s dark side, as anyone who saw his City of Angels at the Donmar two years ago will attest. Michael Blakemore, who directed the original 1997 Broadway production, will take the helm again.
For a real plunge into the unknown, you can also catch the last days of Vault Festival, finishing on 5 March. We particularly like the look of >taur_, an immersive show in which you’re whisked away to work on a missing persons case with your fellow audience members. If you prefer something less nerve-racking but equally out there, Repetitive Beats is a multi-media play about sex, drugs and raves featuring video footage and a live DJ. Otherwise, there’s always the option of just going along and seeing where your night takes you; with twenty different shows on every day, there’s bound to be something that takes your fancy.