So, there’s a lot of shows out there I’m excited about. Mostly because not only have we some great plays on at familiar haunts, but we’ve three big West End transfers of productions that definitely deserve a wider audience – Andrew Scott in Hamlet is a marvel, The Ferryman is easily going to sweep the boards come award season, and the return of Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is welcome indeed as, frankly, we could all do with a laugh.
As always, if you see any of the below, let me know what you think because, aside from anything else, I don’t think I’m going to get around to all ten of these in one month. Though I am going to get pretty damn close.
Anatomy of a Suicide, Royal Court
I’m a big fan of playwright, Alice Birch. I think she’s one of the most interesting and distinctive voices out there – her Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. still amazes me. Oh, and I’m a huge fan of director, Katie Mitchell. Who isn’t? She’s a visionary. Most of us are still scarred from her revival of Cleansed at the NT last year, and I was hugely impressed with her operatic work, especially Written on Skin. So, a collaboration between the two? Hell, yes! As usual, we’ve only been given the scarcest details on what Anatomy is about, but it focuses on three generations of women and the painful legacy of what has gone before them. Opens June 3rd. Tickets from £12.
Hamlet, Harold Pinter Theatre
If you were distraught to miss the Icke-Scott Hamlet at the Almeida, then rejoice! We have a West End transfer! Not only is this one of the finest Hamlet performances you’ll see (Andrew Scott is everything you want him to be – and more), not only is this Director Robert Icke’s finest production in eons, but this radical and intriguing interpretation of the play brings out themes of love and loss, and the destructive power of grief, far more powerfully than I’ve ever seen before. This Hamlet, truly, is a gut-wrenching tragedy that leaves you emotionally crushed and broken-hearted. Opens June 9th. Tickets from £10.
Angels in America, National Theatre
Yup, it’s still here in my list and this month, finally, I will get to see the show that has had audiences enraptured. Set in the midst of the AIDS crisis in 1980s America, Tony Kushner’s masterpiece follows New Yorkers grappling with life and death, love and sex, heaven and hell. The run of shows is Sold Out so it’s £15 Day Tickets (which the NT promises are available for each show) and the £20 ballot if you’re still looking for tickets. Plus, for those who can’t get to London, Angels in America will be broadcast to cinemas nationwide in July. Closes August 19th. Tickets from £12.
Ink, Almeida Theatre
So, Ink sees Almeida’s Artistic Director, Rupert Goold, and writer-extraordinaire, James Graham, put Rupert Murdoch firmly in their sights. How kind do we think they’ll be? For this new play from James is set in Fleet Street, 1969, when a young and rebellious Murdoch tackled what they said was impossible – taking over the failing The Sun newspaper with the promise to give the people what they want. And the rest, as they say… Opens June 17th. Tickets from £10.
The Ferryman, Gielgud Theatre
Such was the expectation for Jez Butterworth’s The Ferryman that the West End transfer was confirmed before the play even opened at the Royal Court. Well, as it turned out, that was no bad idea because this show is astounding. Set in Armagh, 1981, it examines the pervasiveness of violence and moral corruption. Quinn Carney (Paddy Considine) is informed that the body of his brother, one of the Disappeared, has been found in a bog with a bullet in his head, and the discovery of the body sets off a chain of events that promises to irreparably destroy the uneasy peace in the household. But what hits you most is the weight of history that Jez and Director Sam Mendes have brought to this production. For this pattern of broken families and violent lives has lasted for generations. The ghosts of Ireland’s dead linger heavy in the air here. Opens June 20th. Tickets from £12.
An Octoroon, Orange Tree Theatre
Orange Tree Theatre has, for sure, bagged itself another breakout hit with this electric production from playwright, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, and director, Ned Bennett. The New York Times said An Octoroon “may turn out to be this decade’s most eloquent theatrical statement on race in America today,” and, IMO, that’s no overstatement. The opening Stateside turned heads with its incorporation of blackface, whiteface and redface but this isn’t for shock value – this is a play that excites and provokes with intelligence. This is a satire so there are plenty of laughs along the way but this is a show that succeeds in its deliberate intent in making you feel uncomfortable. A show I would love to drag you all to see – especially those who hate theatre or who have become disillusioned. It puts fire in your veins. Closes June 24th. Tickets from £12.
Rotterdam, Arts Theatre
I missed Rotterdam when it ran at Trafalgar Studios but, following its triumphant win at the 2017 Olivier Awards for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre, this critically acclaimed production is returning. A bittersweet comedy about gender and sexuality, it follows Alice, a woman who has finally plucked up the courage to email her parents and tell them she’s gay. Only, just as she’s about to hit Send, her lover, Fiona, reveals that he has always identified as male and now wants to start living as a man named Adrian. Now, as Adrian confronts the reality of his transition, Alice faces a question she never thought she’d ask… does this mean she’s straight?? Opens June 21st. Tickets from £15.
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, Duke of York’s Theatre
It’s a welcome return for this adaptation of Alan Warner’s award-winning novel, The Sopranos, which follows six 17-year-old Catholic schoolgirls from a small town in Scotland as they head to Edinburgh for an inter-school choir competition. Their voices may be angelic but these girls are anything but. They’ve zero interest in the competition and readily admit they’re on this trip for kicks. “Fuck the singing, we’re just gonna go mental.” And so we embark on a heady 24 hours that sees these girls dump the school uniform for short skirts and fishnets, load up on alcohol and drugs, and get out of their depth on the Edinburgh streets. It’s a rites of passage story, yes, but it’s damn funny and the energy this young cast of six whip up is impressive. And all this in a fast-moving production that includes its own live band, with a musical score that manages to effortlessly fuse Handel with Bob Marley. Closes September 2nd. Tickets from £10.
Committee… A New Musical, Donmar Warehouse
On 15 October 2015, as part of the inquiry into the collapse of Kids Company, Camila Batmanghelidjh and Alan Yentob gave evidence to The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee. It was a session that was ridiculed and criticised heavily at the time. Now, Hadley Fraser, Josie Rourke and composer Tom Deering have transformed that evidence session into a new musical. Though this musical has not been approved by any MP or participant in that inquiry, it is based on the Parliamentary transcript of the session and the words spoken by those participating in the Inquiry. Unusually for the Donmar, there’s still good availability for this show – though I expect they won’t hang around so if you like the sound of this, grab them whilst you can! Opens June 23rd. Tickets from £10.
Killology, Royal Court Theatre
Iphigenia in Splott was one of my highlights from last year, and now writer Gary Owen and director Rachel O’Riordan are collaborating again for this play, transferring from Sherman Theatre, that examines violence and video games. Here, a controversial new gaming experience is inspiring a generation. That game is Killology, where players are rewarded for torturing victims, scoring points for “creativity”. It seems sick but its millionaire creator actually promotes the game as a deeply moral experience. How? Because gamers cannot escape the consequences of fulfilling their darkest fantasies. Closes June 24th. Tickets from £12.