This list was one of those nightmare ones, it really was. So much so that, if you count closely, you’ll find there’s more than ten shows in the list. But each of them is a gem, from revivals to new writing, from adaptations to the most fabulous burlesque and cabaret.
Not every month is quite as good as this but at least there’s no shortage of entertainment out there to choose from for those looking for a show to see this month.
Grief is the Thing with Feathers. Barbican Theatre
So, starting with a show that we can’t get tickets for as it’s sold out. Mean, maybe, but I feel no March list is complete without this Cillian Murphy-led adaptation of Max Porter’s award-winning novel. In a London flat, two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother’s sudden death. Their father, a scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness. In this moment of despair, they are visited by Crow – antagonist, babysitter, trickster and healer. The sentimental bird is drawn to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him. I wish, I WISH, I had bought my ticket when I saw only a handful left… Opens March 25. Tickets from £16.
Inside Bitch, Royal Court Theatre
Another month, another show from the Royal Court’s terrific spring/summer season. Inside Bitch sees the home of new writing collaborate with Clean Break, the theatre company that works with women prisoners, to bring to life a subversion of the representation of women in prison and how things aren’t quite as seen on TV. “You’ve seen Orange is the New Black. You’ve seen Locked Up. You’ve seen Bad Girls. So, what have we got that’s different? Well, for one, we’ve been to prison.” Come listen. Runs to 23 March. Tickets from £18.
The Ridiculous Darkness, Gate Theatre
Ooh, lot of excitement for this gem… This critically acclaimed dark comedy is set up as a powerful response to Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now. The four black femmes that comprise the cast will play multiple roles, shape shifting between two classical works to create a surreal deconstruction of our colonial narratives, and what we think is actually in the darkness. As Director Anthony Simpson-Pike says, “we’re deconstructing a narrative that’s been told by many white men and asking: who is allowed to represent themselves? And what if the story were different?” Runs to 23 March. Tickets from £14.
A Night at the Musicals, Soho Theatre
I saw a musical about burlesque and cabaret stars last months and it reminded me that these kind of click-bait-y type shows are rarely as good as seeing *actual* burlesque and cabaret stars in full flow. Enter the magnificence of Le Gateau Chocolat and Jonny Woo, two of the finest drag queens on the circuit, who promise, in just one show, to drag us through the back catalogue of fabulous musicals for a raucous night of ballsy ballads, delightful duets and slaughtered show tunes. From Gypsy to Grease, Annie to Lion King – no show is safe. And I’ve already got my ticket. Runs 11 to 30 March. Tickets from £12.
Betrayal, Harold Pinter Theatre
Tom Hiddleston. There you are; the main reason why this show will be at the top of many must-see lists this month. But, actually, there is more to this than simple celeb casting (though that is a massive key factor). I’ve only seen Tom (as I like to call him) act on stage once before, and that was in Coriolanus at the Donmar. And I was blown away. He was magnificent, genuinely, so I ma hugely intrigued how he will interpret this delicate drama of a marriage disintegrating at the feet of infidelities and accusations. Betrayal is widely regarded as one of the best British plays of the 20th century so there will be much to admire here, I feel. Opens 5 March. Tickets from £15.
A Hundred Words for Snow, Trafalgar Studios
A Hundred Words for Snow is about being an explorer in a melting world. A pertinent piece in an era dominated by climate change, but this is also a beautifully nuanced monologue that touches on grief, adolescence and coming of age. Here we follow Rory, a teenage girl who has set herself the target of sprinkling her Dad’s ashes at the North Pole – fulfilling in death a dream her father was never able to realise in life. There’s a hugely talented creative team behind this production, not least director Lucy Jane Atkinson, and I can’t wait to see this show that premiered at VAULT Festival last year. Opens 5 March. Tickets from £15.
Emilia, Vaudeville Theatre
Well, well, well… What more can I say? Emilia was a revelation when it ran at The Globe last year. A criminally short run of only a few weeks but this game-changing production has undeniably made its mark for each night the cast were greeted with roars of approval and standing ovations – I know because I was there – so it is thrilling that many more can now see this all-women production centred around Emilia Bassano, the rumoured muse of Shakespeare. Now reclaiming centre stage and the narrative, this terrific play from Morgan Lloyd Malcom and director Nicole Charles sees the repressed fury of women silenced and overlooked unleashed in a ball of fire and magnificence. Miss it at your peril. Opens 8 March. Tickets from £20.
ThisEgg’s dressed, Shoreditch Town Hall
Finally, I get to see this Fringe First-winning show about trauma, the healing power of clothes and female friendship. It has been lauded wherever it has shown – though its source is dark, troubling matter – but the result is something beautiful and affecting for, after being stripped at gunpoint, Lydia Higginson sought to redress herself by creating her entire wardrobe from scratch. In 2016, Lydia, a seamstress and costume designer, gave herself a year to make all her own clothes, after which she gave away all those she had ever bought. Friends since school, Josie, a theatre maker, Nobahar, a singer, Olivia, a dancer, and Lydia, took this act of reclamation and self-liberation as the basis of this show. From 26 March to 5 April. Tickets £15.
Downstate, National Theatre
Downstate will mark my first visit to the National in 2019 and it promises to be a provocative visit. For writer Bruce Norris has set this play in a group home in Illinois – and who lives in this home? Four convicted sex offenders. Four men now required to live out their lives in the shadow of the offences they committed. But when a man shows up to confront his childhood abuser, we are forced to consider the limits of our compassion, and consider the repercussions when society deems some crimes beyond forgiveness. Note: Understandably this production does come with content warnings on child abuse descriptions so do bear this in mind. Opens 12 March. Tickets from £15.
My White Best Friend and Other Letters, Bunker Theatre
This is going to be something else, it really is… Writer Rachel De-Lahay and director Milli Bhatia have commissioned eleven writers of colour to respond with their own letters that say the unsaid to the people that matter most – their white friends. This terrific and challenging act of letter writing compels us to engage with racial tensions, microaggressions and emotional labour, and asks the privileged to step back and for the rest of the room to take up space. Bring it on. Runs 18 to 23 March. Tickets £10.
The Trick, Bush Theatre
There’s a fantastic creative team behind this intriguing new play with acclaimed writer Eve Leigh working with acclaimed director Roy Alexander Weise so acclaim all round. Certainly, these two great challengers of orthodoxy are bringing something new to the table as The Trick is a magic show about the parts of life we don’t talk about – the realities of getting older and coming to terms with loss. We follow Mira whose husband Jonah has recently died, only she is unable to let him go and so we enter her world of ghosts, goldfish, mediums, and sleight-of-hand, all colliding in this unpredictable exploration of ageing and grief. Runs to 23 March. Tickets from £10.
A Family Outing – 20 Years On, Barbican Theatre
It’s been twenty years since the marvellous Ursula Martinez brought her parents onstage in this sublime show and, in that time, much has changed. Ursula has turned 50, her father Arthur has passed away and her mother Mila has been diagnosed with early stage dementia. With this in mind, this recreation promises to not just entertain – as Ursula always does – but to poignantly and purposefully examine time and the ageing process. This bracingly funny recreation blurs the lines between artifice and reality while grappling with who we are and what happens to us as time marches on. Runs 27 to 30 March. Tickets £18.