Would you believe it? Another month and The Ferryman and Hamlet don’t make the cut again! I know, cruel, right? (Though, interestingly, there was a thought-provoking article this past month on concerns over the Irish stereotypes Jez Butterworth harnesses in his much-feted play). I would still recommend both of them wholeheartedly, though, and I suspect both will do pretty well come awards season. Worth noting, too, that Hamlet closes at the beginning of September too so we’re in last-chance saloon, everybody!
Nevertheless, it’s a cracking list this month with shows I’d been rooting for (Touch, Disco Pigs, Adrian Mole) coming through, and also with the arrival of some pretty big guns in terms of the revival of Follies at the NT, the much-anticipated Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Ben Whishaw returning at the Almeida, and Bob Dylan’s music being used in the new show at the Old Vic.
Plenty of options then for those of us looking for a show to see in what is usually a pretty quiet month, theatre-wise!
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Apollo Theatre
We all know the play – Brick and Maggie join the gathering at a big Southern plantation to celebrate Big Daddy’s birthday. But Brick’s alcoholism is in full swing, and Maggie’s passion and frustration is burning hotter than the sun. As all the secrets and lies that have been suffocating their marriage threaten to spill out, will their marriage survive the gathering? But it’ll be interesting to see what this new revival of the Tennessee Williams’s modern American masterpiece will bring. This Young Vic production comes with Sienna Miller as Maggie. Closes October 7th. Tickets from £10.
Follies, National Theatre
It’s another revival that is the big draw at the National Theatre this season. This time, Follies, the Sondheim musical about faded showgirls and stars of a popular interwar revue who relive their moments in the sun at a reunion that also exposes their tangled love lives. It’s the first time the show has ever been performed at the NT, and the production comes with complete with modern day legend Imelda Staunton so tickets are already limited! Opens August 22nd. Tickets from £15.
Against, Almeida Theatre
Ben Whishaw is back at the Almeida and, this time, he’s in this new play from Christopher Shinn that casts him as a Silicon Valley billionaire who believes that God is speaking to him. And what does God tell him to do? To launch a rocket in to space and change the world. But he faces violent opposition to his ideas. This new play is directed by Ian Rickson, previously artistic director at the Royal Court Theatre, so it promises great things. Opens August 12th. Tickets from £10.
Queen Anne, Theatre Royal Haymarket
The RSC’s critically acclaimed Queen Anne has transferred to London for a limited time only and it is well worth seeing. There’s plenty of plotting, seduction and intrigue in this play set in the Royal Court in 1702. A sickly William III is on the throne and England is on the verge of war. Princess Anne is soon to become Queen, and her advisors vie for influence over the future monarch. But Sarah, the Duchess of Marlborough, is a close friend – a friend with whom Anne has an intensely personal relationship – and she is beginning to exert increasing pressure as she pursues her own designs on power. Closes September 30th. Tickets from £15.
Road, Royal Court Theatre
Jim Cartwright’s seminal play returns to the Royal Court, where it opened back in 1986. It’s an extraordinarily powerful piece of work on the lives of the people in a deprived, working class area of Lancashire during the government of Margaret Thatcher, a time of high unemployment in the north of England. Dark days are returning again (arguably, for many areas in the North, they never left) so this revival is pertinently timed. Closes September 9th. Tickets from £10.
Disco Pigs, Trafalgar Studios
Even twenty years on, this dark rites-of-passage play from Enda Walsh still has the power to disturb and unnerve. In it, Pig and Runt, two kids who’ve been joined at the hip since they were born in the same minute of the same day at the same hospital in Cork, are approaching their joint 17th birthdays. To this point, the pair have been inseparable, their lives completely entwined, so deeply connected their thoughts are practically telepathic. But sexual awakenings, emotional maturity and spiralling incidents of unspeakable violence start to pull apart the bonds that tie this pair together. Closes August 19th. Tickets from £15.
Mosquitoes, National Theatre
Olivia Colman and Olivia Williams play sisters in this new drama from Chimerica writer Lucy Kirkwood. One lives in Geneva, a scientist on the brink of colossal scientific breakthroughs as part of the Higgs-Boson project; the other lives in Luton and spends an awful lot of time on Google. But when tragedy throws them the together, the chaos of the lives starts to mirror the very science behind the Large Hadron Collider. Tickets are sold out but a new batch are released each Friday as part of the NT’s Friday Rush initiative. To September 28th. Tickets from £15.
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole: The Musical, Menier Chocolate Factory
If you’re looking for an evening at the theatre of full-on joy then, well, you won’t be able to go wrong with this one. This musical adaptation of the mighty Adrian Mole diaries by the much-missed Sue Townsend is full of fun and energy. The songs are witty, the performances are excellent, and it’s a show that will undoubtedly lift your spirits. Many of us know the story of the misunderstood genius of Adrian Mole – the teenage boy struggling to get the recognition he deserves in a world of school bullies, arguing parents, and teenage lust – but here’s hoping this musical brings a new legion of fans both to the character and to the books. Closes September 9th. Tickets from £35.
Girl from the North Country, Old Vic Theatre
It’s quite something that Bob Dylan has given permission for his music to be used on stage in this new play by Conor McPherson set during the Great Depression. Not a Dylan musical mind, more a play with songs. It’s Duluth, Minnesota in 1934 and we’re set in a community living on a knife-edge huddle together in the local guesthouse. The owner, Nick, owes more money than he can ever repay, his wife Elizabeth is losing her mind and their daughter Marianne is carrying a child no-one will account for. And, when a preacher selling bibles and a boxer looking for a comeback show up in the middle of the night, things start to spiral beyond the point of no return… Closes October 7th. Tickets from £10.
Touch, Soho Theatre
Writer and director Vicky Jones doesn’t just have directorial credits to the mighty Fleabag in her back-pocket, she also won the Verity Bargate award with The One, a dark play that examined an abusive relationship. And she’s tackling tricky and uncomfortable issues again in Touch, her new filthy and funny new play that lays bare the realities of a modern thirty-something woman trying to make her way in a world of temp jobs and crappy bedsits, whilst also working out what works for her sexually through a series of flings and friendships. Closes August 26th. Tickets from £10.