It’s sunny out there now, people, so that means evenings are getting lighter and (eventually) a bit warmer! Does that mean we are more inclined to go to the theatre in the evenings? Well, I hope so as it’s been another battle to whittle my favourite shows this month down to ten.
The list below includes some classics as well as fresh new voices. There’s also drama, comedy, heartfelt stories and even cabaret sensations and a bit of ballet. Such is the breadth of London theatre. And such is the breadth of my love for the arts!!
Out of Water, Orange Tree Theatre
“And we are watching the huge grey waves crashing and this is the moment when I say I have to tell you something.” Centring on a lesbian couple having a baby, this new play from Zoe Cooper (who also wrote the touching Jess and Joe Forever) explores gender, education, wild swimming, and how we define who we are. We follow Claire and her wife Kit who have moved from the confines of London to the wide open coasts of South Shields both to be nearer family and to be nearer the sea. And also, to have a baby. Claire’s new job at the local school is a step up, and she wants to make a real difference, but she soon discovers that she has as much to learn from her students as they have from her… Runs to 1 June. Tickets from £15.
Miss Julie / Creditors, Jermyn Street Theatre
It’s repertory time at Jermyn Street where two August Strindberg classics are being showcased together. In Miss Julie, it’s all about the protagonist playing with fire when she gate-crashes the servants’ party and, in the sultry heat of the Midsummer night, she finds herself in a dangerous tryst with her father’s manservant. Creditors, on the other hand, is a wickedly funny black comedy that follows Adolph, a young artist who has a bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to his new wife, Tekla. He adores her but a chance meeting with a suave stranger in a seaside hotel shakes his devotion to the core. Both run to 1 June. Tickets from £15.
ANNA, National Theatre
Ella Hickson’s The Writer was, quite possibly, the most talked about theatre production in London last year. It was certainly one that provoked the most debate, which may explain why it is already Day Tickets only for Ella’s tense new thriller that encourages the audience to eavesdrop – via their own headsets – on a married couple in 1968 Berlin where events quickly escalate over one evening. As Ella has commented, this play is “inside a moment in history that is hard for us to imagine today – a hugely optimistic time when the project of communism had yet to fail.” Opens 11 May. Tickets from £15.
Death of a Salesman, Young Vic
There are only a few tickets left to this hugely anticipated production so please, god, don’t hang around if you want to get a ticket to this show. It’s Marianne Elliott (Angels in America, Company) and Miranda Cromwell sharing the director’s seat for this adaptation of the Arthur Miller classic. And if THAT isn’t enough, well, there’s only the goddess that is Sharon D. Clarke and Arinzé Kene (Misty) on stage. But it is Wendell Pierce (The Wire, Selma) who takes up the mantle of Willy Loman as we see this story through the eyes of an African American family. Opens 1 May. Tickets from £10.
White Pearl, Royal Court
White Pearl may mark writer Anchuli Felicia King’s debut as a playwright but it’s impossible not to be excited about her boisterous satire set in a fictional cosmetic company start-up. The play’s focus is racism, particularly within different east Asian ethnic groups. It all kicks off when this company fall headlong into a PR disaster when their latest skin-whitening skin cream advert is leaked. Within hours the backlash on social media is intense and YouTube views are in the thousands. The company cannot be seen to be racist but, crucially, it’s not yet business hours in the US. Somehow, some way, the company has got to clear all of this up before America wakes up! Opens 10 May. Tickets from £12.
Fuck You Pay Me, Bunker Theatre
You have no idea how much I have wanted to see this production ever since it debuted last year. Now it is back, and I HAVE MY TICKET so come join me (and the rest) at Bunker Theatre for Joana Nastari’s award-winning debut, Fuck You Pay Me, which is a love letter to strippers and a surreal collision of comedy, poetry and live music exploring power, money and sisterhood. Challenging the voiceless presentation of sex workers, the production is an empowering personal narrative which demystifies the reality of the stripper community, skewers stereotypes, and features a live score and nightly special guests. And me applauding very loudly. Opens 7 May. Tickets from £16.
Seven Deadly Sins, Wilton’s Music Hall
I’d probably follow the wonder that is Meow Meow into hell itself but, fortunately for me, I only have to follow her to Wilton’s Music Hall where she is teaming up with Royal Ballet principal Laura Morera to star in this thrilling new re-staging of Kenneth MacMillan’s extraordinary version of the Kurt Weill-Bertolt Brecht ‘ballet with songs’, Seven Deadly Sins. The production is directed by ballet legend Viviana Durante and, in it, we join enigmatic beauty Anna, and a cast of twenty singers, dancers and guest Royal Ballet principals, as she dances through seven American cities. Can she resist the moral corruption that she encounters as she struggles to help her family? Or will she succumb to the Seven Deadly Sins? Opens 8 May. Tickets from £12.50.
Avalanche: A Love Story, Barbican Theatre
The queen that is Maxine Peake stars in Julia Leigh’s stage adaptation of her powerful memoir, Avalanche: A Love Story. Deeply in love, a woman in her late 30s and her new husband decide they want to have a child together and, like countless other couples, they make a visit to the IVF clinic, full of optimism. So begins a long and costly journey of medical procedures, nightly injections, rituals and the oscillation between high hope and the depths of despair. This play promises to lay bare the stark truth of one woman’s experience of the seductive promises made by the multi-billion-dollar IVF industry. The devastating toll on her body, her relationships and her career are portrayed with compelling honesty and moments of black humour. Runs to 12 May. Tickets from £16.
The Half God of Rainfall, Kiln Theatre
“When Demi, the half Nigerian-mortal, half Greek-God, is angry, rain clouds gather. When he cries, rivers burst their banks. The first time Demi takes a shot on the local basketball court, the deities of the land awaken. As he unknowingly sparks Zeus’ wrath, his mother Modupe takes matters into her mortal hands and the consequences change their lives forever.” I’ve had Inua Ellams’s book, The Half God of Rainfall, on my Kindle for a couple of months now so I was thrilled to see this stage adaptation on the listings. An exploration of mythology, power and sport, this contemporary epic weaves poetry and storytelling in a majestic journey that transports us from a tiny village in South West Nigeria to Mount Olympus. Runs to 17 May. Tickets from £12.50.
salt, Royal Court
And so here we are at the second entry for Royal Court this month – and it promises to be another stunner as artist Selina Thompson continues her wider body of work looking at Black British identity with salt, a production that focuses on grief, home, afropressism, the Black Atlantic, the forgetting of the UK’s colonial history and the impact that has on the daily life of Caribbean communities in the UK today. In February 2016, two artists got on a cargo ship, and retraced one of the routes of the Transatlantic Slave Triangle – from the UK to Ghana to Jamaica, and back. Their memories, their questions and their grief took them along the bottom of the Atlantic and shaped this show that they brought back. Opens 14 May. Tickets from £25.