Argh! This list has been a nightmare to compile! There are so many great shows opening that I’ve been forced to drop some of the best shows in town from my top tips, simply because I’ve listed them many times before and so I’m hoping they will already be on your radar.
So, please, don’t forget about the big three transfers in the West End: The Almeida’s Hamlet, complete with Andrew Scott, remains the finest, most affecting Hamlet I’ve ever seen. The Royal Court’s The Ferryman has taken up residence at the Gielgud and it will be on everyone’s shortlist for play of the year come Christmas-time; and the glorious Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is a riotous and truthful coming-of-age play of a group of Scottish Catholic schoolgirls.
But they’ve had to (temporarily) go as I wanted to draw attention to important and exciting shows that are here only briefly, and shows that I will most definitely be making space in my diary to see this month.
Fingers crossed you feel the same way too!
Love V x
Taha, Young Vic
Some theatres wind down for summer but the Young Vic seems to be winding up as I’ve THREE shows from this terrific theatre in this month’s list. (And it could have easily been a fourth with Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, if only there had been enough room). It’s now known that Artistic Director, David Lan, is stepping down. He has been a trailblazer in platform diverse voices in theatre, and Taha is another example. This co-production with Shubbak Festival is a lyrical story of the life of Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali, written and performed by Amer Hlehel. There is, literally, a handful of tickets left so grab them before they go. Opens July 5th. Tickets from £10.
Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ – The Musical, Menier Chocolate Factory
It returns! This musical of Leicester’s favourite teen has undergone a period of further development since its original production at Curve in 2015, and Luke Sheppard’s new production will open at the Menier this month. Set in 1980s Leicester, Sue Townsend’s iconic The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾, follows the daily dramas and misadventures of Adrian’s adolescent life. With dysfunctional parents, ungrateful elders, a growing debt to school bully Barry Kent and an unruly pimple on his chin, life is hard for a misunderstood intellectual who is only 13 ¾… To top it off, when new girl Pandora captures his heart, his best friend Nigel steals hers. Can Adrian win back her love and escape his chaotic family life? Opens July 14th. Tickets from £35.
Ink, Almeida Theatre
The recent General Election makes for a curious backdrop to this new play that examines the rise of The Sun, and the parallel rise of its malevolent maestro. Had the Tories got the sweeping majority they craved, we’d still be of the perception that Murdoch was a man with his hands on the reins of power. Only the surprise result last month has us questioning whether Murdoch is now going down the road on the other side of that hill. Is his influence on the wane? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, this play works as a powerful warning to us on what we birth when we promise to give the people what they want. Closes August 5th. Tickets from £10.
It’s back. Not that you’re able to get tickets, mind. Not easily, at any rate, for this return of last year’s hit show sold out months ago. But there’s always Returns to get your hopes up for. But I put this on the list because of Billie Piper’s towering performance in this modern reworking of this classic play that examines the crushing of a woman’s spirit. Billie is extraordinary in this role about a woman whose desire to have a baby gradually consumes her, and richly deserved all the awards that were thrown her way. If you have tickets to see this, you’re in for an extraordinary and affecting evening. Opens July 26th. Tickets from £10.
Bodies, Royal Court Theatre
Bodies sees writer Vivienne Franzmann (Pests, The Witness) return to the Royal Court with this new play examining surrogacy and the lengths we go to get what we want – irrelevant of the human and financial cost. The play focuses on the global nature to this trade in lives, which promises to bring happiness to all involved – from the middlemen in Russia, the woman in India who’ll get money for her pregnancy, and the parents-to-be in the UK who’ll finally get what they’ve always wanted. Timely and relevant, to put it mildly. Opens July 5th. Tickets from £12.
Mosquitoes, National Theatre
Such has been the anticipation for this new play from Lucy Kirkwood (Chimerica) that all tickets were sold within days of being released. Once the show opens, a limited number of £20 Friday Rush tickets will be released online, and they should be worth grabbing for not only does the plot intrigue with its blend of science and family – Alice is a scientist working at Large Hadron particle collider when a tragedy throws her back together with her Luton-based sister, Jenny – but there’s a stellar creative team too with Rufus Norris in the director’s chair and Olivia Colman on stage. Opens July 18th. Tickets from £15.
Touch, Soho Theatre
Fleabag has been such a breakthrough smash (and rightly so) that it throws a long shadow over its creative team, Dry Write. Nevertheless, Vicky Jones is back at Soho Theatre as writer and director of Touch, a shamelessly funny and brutally honest play about sex, connection and control. Centred around 33-year-old Dee, this production promises to be another example of this creative team’s ability to cut through the crap and examine women’s complicated and messy lives just as they are. Opens July 6th. Tickets from £10.
Disco Pigs, Trafalgar Studios
2017 is the twentieth anniversary of this Enda Walsh classic and to mark this, this dark and strange play is being revived at Trafalgar Studios. It follows Pig and Runt, two seventeen-year-old kids who’ve been inseparable from the moment they were born at the same time on the same day in the same hospital. But their night out in Cork to celebrate their joint birthday will change everything as they discover something more, and the fury of drink and disco on this one night will see them and their friendship spiral violently out of control. Opens July 12th. Tickets from £15.
Nina, Young Vic
This show has been sold out for months so it’ll be returns only if you want to catch this, and I most certainly do. I was gutted when I missed out on tickets as this sounds just terrific. It’s a show that promises to mix story with song as Josette Bushell-Mingo, backed by a live band, draws together tales from the life of Nina Simone, her own extraordinary career, and the Black Lives Matter movement. Opens July 19th. Tickets from £10.
Rotterdam, Arts Theatre
What a thrill to have this pioneering play back on stage. Fresh from its win at this year’s Oliviers, Rotterdam gets a run-out in the West End, and you really shouldn’t miss that touching but very funny show on gender, sexuality, and the power of love. The story focuses on Alice and Fiona, a gay couple living in Rotterdam. But just as Alice weighs up coming out to her parents, Fiona announces she is transgender and wants to live as a man. So, does this mean Alice is straight?? Writer Jon Brittain was inspired to write this after a couple of his friends transitioned in the late 2000s. He became aware of the absence of transgender stories in pop culture and wanted to address this on the stage, which this does. Beautifully. Closes July 15th. Tickets from £15.