What an odd feeling not to be able to write or shout about theatre – or indeed see much theatre – for more than a month, which was the unfortunate situation I found myself in over the past month and a bit. It’s something I haven’t experienced since I first stumbled into Theatreland professionally and found my “calling” (I know how cheesy that sounds but seriously that’s how I feel about championing theatre) back in 1996 – and it?s an exile I hope to never have to relive.
Initially, at the fag end of February, I tried to keep up by reading the press releases that kept pouring into my email inbox and following other Tweeters and publications. But I soon realised that was like putting a bottle of whiskey in the hands of an alcoholic – the temptation was always there and increasingly painful to resist.
So after a few days I had to shut myself off from the reminders of what I was missing. It was only in preparing for my return from the online wilderness this week that I dived back in. Wow! A lot can happen in five weeks – and it all just goes to show, once again, what a vibrant scene London theatre is.
I won’t try to regurgitate here all of the announcements made since 23 February. If you’re like me when not exiled, you’ve no doubt been keeping up yourself and caught these stories as they broke – in fact, YOU should probably tell ME what’s happening? But maybe even you don’t realise just what a difference a month can make (or to me more exact, 32 days).
So here’s my purely personal, non-hierarchical and definitely non-exhaustive summary of the month that Theatre Terri lost…
Part One: Tons of transfers
Several subsidised flagships have been in overdrive producing great plays that the West End is crying out for. The following have all been confirmed or recently announced. And, personally, I couldn’t be more thrilled to have a second chance to see them as, to my horror, I’ve only managed to catch one in their feeder venues.
- Let the Right One In – As tipped, this National Theatre of Scotland adaptation of the Swedish teenage vampire love story (not to be confused with Twilight, definitely not), which had a sell-out run at the Royal Court at the end of last year, is the first new production post-ceiling collapse at Shaftesbury Avenue’s Apollo Theatre, where it had its first performance on 26 March and presses on 7 April 2014. It’s based on the novel and cult film by John Ajvide Lindquist, is adapted by Jack Thorne, directed by John Tiffany, choreographed by Steven Hoggett and has a new immersive ‘cyclorama’ design by Christine Jones.
- Good People – Imelda Staunton and the luscious Lloyd Owen (do excuse, I can’t seem to say Lloyd’s name without prefixing the luscious) reprise their roles as single mother Margie and her old flame in David Lindsay-Abaire’s Boston-set drama, which premiered on 5 March at Hampstead, where it sold out before it even opened. Jonathan Kent, who recently directed Staunton in macabre musical mode (Sweeney Todd), helms the production. It’s at the West End’s Noel Coward Theatre for ten weeks from 10 April to 14 June 2014, with a press night on 15 April.
- Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies – Mike Poulton’s Royal Shakespeare Company adaptations (three+ hours apiece) of Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel’s first two doorstop novels in her 16th-century Cromwell series come hand-in-hand from Stratford-upon-Avon to the West End’s Aldwych Theatre, where they play in rep from 1 May to 6 September. Who’s up for a two-play Saturday? Ben Miles (am I the only one who will always chuckle remembering him as Patrick in TV’s Coupling) stars as Cromwell with my mate Lucy Briers (hi, Lucy!) as Katherine of Aragon. Jeremy Herrin directs.
- 1984 – Okay, so this is the one I HAVE seen. It’s also the one that gave me nightmares about rats and unpersoning. Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s ultra-modern adaptation of Orwell’s classic dystopian novel moves to the West End’s Playhouse Theatre from 28 April to 19 July 2014, via Nottingham Playhouse and the Almeida with 101 (as in Room 101, geddit?) tickets per performance priced at £19.84 (well, I know you get that one). By the way, kudos to those clever PRs at TheCornerShop for their redacted dossier-style press release for this one.
- The Elephantom – Big blue, plushy elephants…wearing tutus…ah, so cute! And, yes, i’?s a kids show, based on Ross Collins’ picture-book of the same name. After a run at the National Theatre, the herd thunders into the West End’s New London Theatre for a summer season of daytime performances alongside another NT, life-sized puppetry hit, War Horse, from 30 June.
Okay, folks, I’ve run out of time today and must department for an important cultural outing – I’m off to see Captain America at Clapham Picturehouse tonight (well, who can say no to a pleading boyfriend-stroke-Avengers fan?) – so I will continue this anon. Watch out for The Month That Theatre Terri Lost: Part Two – Musical Chairs.