London theatre recommendations as at September 2018

London Back Street

One or two of you have ill advisedly remarked that I haven’t sent one of these out for a bit. Sorry I am just naturally indolent. 

Details below but for those of you who can’t be arsed to wade through all of that and trying to avoid the outre stuff, not taking any risks and highlighting stuff you could take your Mum to, here is the quick summary. 

Here’s the detail.

  • National Theatre. Some stuff is sold out but there is availability for Antony and Cleopatra, I’m Not Running, Stories, The Tell Tale Heart and Follies. 
    • Now Tony and Cleo is not Shakespeare’s finest hour – language is too flowery for my liking and no-one wants to see old folk getting it on – but with Ralph Fiennes and especially Sophie Okonedo in the leads then it should work but probably best left to Shakespeare nuts. 
    • David Hare always writes cracking state of the nation plays, here the politics of health, but probably worth waiting for the reviews.
    • Stories is the new play from Nina Raine. Looks like it is about IVF and having a baby late. Her last play, Consent, was an absolute belter. I would definitely give this a whirl. 
    • The Tell Tale Heart is the NT’s panto equivalent … but since it is based on an Edgar Allan Poe story and they are warning it is not for the faint hearted expect lots of fake blood and the like. Maybe worth a punt but these things can have a habit of disappointing.
    • Follies. If you haven’t seen Follies and you like musicals then you absolutely must. I hate musicals but was spell bound from start to finish. 
  • Barbican. I wouldn’t normally tried to tempt you to the Barbican with its RSC transfers and European arty stuff but there are a couple of possibilities.
    • The Merry Wives of Windsor. Coming from Stratford. Looks like the critics weren’t sure but the punters loved it. Shakespeare’s broad comedy made broader by being relocated in Essex. You can guess the rest. 
    • Medea. Not yet up on the Barbican website but my favourite company, Toneelgroep Amsterdam, say they are bringing this over in March next year. If you have never seen a classic Greek tragedy look no further. Mandatory viewing.
  • The Wild Duck at the Almeida. Ibsen classic. Probably for those who already know what to expect but the twist is Robert Icke (Hamlet, 1984, Oresteia) directing so probably the subject of a radical rethink. The Almeida pretty much never disappoints so if you want a bit of Nordic tragi-comedy look no further. 
  • Bridge Theatre
    • I have banged on before about A Very, Very Dark Matter, the new play from Martin McDonagh which kicks off in October. He wrote and directed the films Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri and In Bruges to give an idea of his black comedy and his last play Hangmen was the best we have seen in the last 3 years. Please go. 
    • Also Alan Bennett’s new play Allelujah about the NHS is on now. I haven’t seen it you but my spies really enjoyed it. The Bridge is London’s most comfortable theatre so don’t hold back. 
  • Nine Night at Trafalgar Studios. This is a transfer from the NT of Natasha Gordon’s debut play. It is about an extended British Jamaican family. It is superb and very funny. Traf Studios can be a bit greedy with pricing but I think it is worth it. 
  • An Adventure at the Bush Theatre. Always tricky to pick out fringey stuff but this look good. Written by Vinay Patel who did Murdered by My Father on the telly. Post colonial love story across the decades. maybe wait for reviews. Bush is a lovely friendly place and if you don’t mind where you sit (or actively wish to avoid sitting with your guests) then the Count Me In thing they do is only a tenner. Bargain. 
  • Dealing With Clair at the Orange Tree Theatre. There’s a whole bunch of goodies in the new season at the Orange Tree but I am most interested in this a revival of a play by Martin Crimp about estate agents in the 1980s. Crimp is a bit of an acquired taste, not entirely naturalistic dialogue. His new play When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other will come up at the NT (not yet booking) with no less than Cate Blanchett in the cast. 
  • Caroline or Change at the Playhouse Theatre. Transfer from Hampstead Theatre (in turn from Chichester). Musical about a Jewish family and their Black maid in the 1960s by Tony Kushner who is a genius. It is amazing. Sharon D Clarke in the lead is just extraordinary. Like I say I hate musicals but this brought a lump to my throat (and made me think). there are a few odd bits in it (singing washing machines) but that’s why it is so inventive. Avoid the cheap seats at the top in the Playhouse – only midgets will fit there.
  • Pinter at Pinter season. All of Harold Pinter’s one act plays at the theatre named after him. Amazing casts. If you like Pinter or want to find out if you do they are already discounting the first couple of collections. I am so excited about this though I get it if you ain’t. 

One thought on “London theatre recommendations as at September 2018”

  1. I am a musical theatre fanatic. I do not live in the UK, but in the United States. I do not live in or near the NYC, but in Charlotte, a popular touring destination. However, I have seen one show in London.


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