SUMMER IS HERE!! I know, we’ve waited too long to see the sun and here I am trying to persuade you all to get inside a dark auditorium but, what can I say? There are some amazing productions waiting for us in July and I wouldn’t want you to miss out.
Actually, I’m pretty excited for this summer season as my list has a great blend of classics and new writing – bit of Tennessee Williams alongside graduates from the Royal Court writers’ program, and cultural legends to BAFTA-nominated and award-winning talent. I’ve already seen two of my ten already and got tickets to see another three. Now I’ve only got to find time and budget to catch the remaining five…
In the hotly contested, ‘best play title of the year’ competition, I think we can safely say we have a winner. Frankly, this play won that title as soon as it was announced. But there’s much substance along with the style in this production that explores the power of social media stars. In this play from emerging writer, Jasmine-Lee Jones, we follow Cleo, a young woman who has holed herself up in her room ignoring persistent phone calls from her friend, Kara. Cleo ain’t taking calls but that doesn’t mean she is silent because, with social media at her fingertips, she can make a stir without saying a word. Runs 4 to 27 July. Tickets from £12.
So, here we are. The inaugural production of Michael Longhurst’s tenure as Artistic Director at the Donmar. And the man himself is in the director’s chair for this work from David Greig that explores our complex relationship to Europe. This was written back in the 90s but, let’s be frank, it’s a pretty pertinent time for a revival. Set in the disused railway station of a small, unnamed border town, the play charts the arrival of two foreigners who have come in search of safety but receive very different reactions from the locals… The relevance is going to hurt. Runs to 10 August. Tickets from £10.
Following a sold-out run at the Bush Theatre last year, Sarah Gordy returns to play Kelly for a limited run of this radical and heartfelt new play from Ben Weatherill. Kelly likes dirty jokes and finding creatures washed up on the shore. Neil likes Kelly, who makes him dizzy and breathless. But Agnes, Kelly’s mum, struggles to accept their new relationship. Jellyfish is the story of a first kiss, chips by the beach and coming of age with Down’s Syndrome in a seaside town. It’s a unique romance across uncharted waters which asks: does everyone really have the right to love as they choose? Opens 5 July. Tickets from £15.
The phenomenon returns! Inua Ellams’ hit play returns to London for the first time since its premiere in 2017, playing two sold out runs at the National Theatre. I cannot wait to return to the world of barber shops and this play’s examination of masculinity and racism. Newsroom, political platform, local hotspot, confession box, preacher-pulpit and football stadium. For generations, African men have gathered in barber shops to discuss the world and to revel in a community – though these are places where the banter can be barbed and the truth is always telling. Such a heart-warming, hilarious and insightful production that leaps from a barber shop in Peckham to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra over the course of a single day. Opens 18 July. Tickets from £15.
Now, this coming-of-age musical set to a rock-pop score is almost 20 years old, having premiered off-Broadway in 2000 yet, somewhat remarkably, I’ve never seen it though it sounds just like my kind of thing. In it, we follow a group of students at a Catholic boarding school as they explore sex, drugs and queer identity as they have their own coming-of-age epiphanies. As the students attempt to put on a musical production of Romeo and Juliet, tensions flare, self-doubt simmers, and God’s path seems more difficult to find than ever. With an exhilarating pop score, Bare explores the question: is it more dangerous to bare your soul or deal with the consequences of continuing to hide? Runs to 4 August. Tickets from £19.50.
From BAFTA Nominated writer Gabriel Bisset-Smith comes this love letter to London exploring race, family and where the hell all the good night clubs have gone. Inspired by Gabriel’s own experience of being from Jamaican mixed heritage but white-passing and growing up in North London social housing, Whitewash is the story of Mary and Lysander – a mixed-race woman and her very white son. Looking at where race and class intersect, Whitewash asks how you find a sense of belonging and identity when you neither look like your own family nor no longer recognise the city around you. Opens 3 July. Tickets from £15.
Award winner Apphia Campbell is back with her acclaimed play with music inspired by the life of Nina Simone. Black is The Color Of My Voice follows a successful jazz singer and civil rights activist seeking redemption after the untimely death of her father. She reflects on the journey that took her from a young piano prodigy destined for a life in the service of the church, to a renowned jazz vocalist at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. Runs to 13 July. Tickets from £20.
The Court really does have one of the most dazzling programme lists around so it’s no surprise they’ve a second entry in my top ten this month. Enter the latest from star writer, Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Let the Right One In). Don’t expect any live owls in this one though as we’re in 1997 Newbury for a family reunion – a set up to explore inter-generational tensions and the chasm between parental aspirations and the freedom that their children crave. What happens when parents have to adjust their high hopes? Expect comedy and drama in equal measure – and a fair bit of New Labour bashing! Runs to 10 August. Tickets from £12.
“Thrown together for one eventful night that pulses with conflicting passions and a surprising edge of humour, a group of tourists including Shannon, a disgraced priest and a troubled artist Hannah arrive at a remote coastal Mexican hotel run by the beautifully sensual Maxine. One night brings them together and will leave them forever altered. What path will they choose?” And so we have Tennessee William’s last great play and this production certainly has a great cast with Lia Williams and Clive Owen both on stage. And there’s also the pleasure of knowing James Macdonald is in the director’s chair whose work on the revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with Imelda Staunton was so sublime. Opens 6 July. Tickets from £10.
When this gem opened at the legendary Folies Bergère last Autumn, I was so excited it took all my willpower to resist forking out for a trip to Paris just to see it. Now all that self-control has paid off as this visual feast is here in London town – though for a strictly limited time only. The show is a retrospective of the designer’s bygone decades – both personally and professionally – and that narrative is carried out by the garments themselves. Expect sailors and S&M as well as obligatory references to Madonna. But there will also be the addressing of childhood traumas and the AIDS epidemic, which called his then-boyfriend and business partner, Francis Menuge. Oh, and Nile Rodgers has done the music. Hallelujah! Rus 23 July to 2 August. Tickets from £30.