Well. We’ve finally made it through the seemingly never-ending tunnel that was January and stepped into the bright, but very cold, light of February – the month of love. I’m pretty sure that on February 14th, the Piccadilly Theatre is going to be packed with loved-up Valentine’s couples sniffling their way though Ghost (yes boys, I mean you too), but don’t worry; if you’re flying solo this year and are striving to avoid the lovey-doveyness then there is a whole variety of other theatre out there waiting for you in February.
There have been some great productions previewing in January which open officially this month: The Changeling (Young Vic Theatre) opens 2nd February 2012, Master Class (Vaudeville Theatre) opens 7th February 2012 and Absent Friends (Harold Pinter Theatre) opens 9th February 2012. There is a lot more to come in the forthcoming days of 2012’s second month, which looks to be dominated by the drama and comedy genre, so keep your eyes peeled for these theatrical treats:
Stefan Golaszewski’s Sex With A Stranger began previews on 1st February 2012 in the intimate space of the Trafalgar Studios 2. Produced by The Invisible Dot Ltd, Golaszewski’s play centres around the lives of three people at the point where they each entwine in a ‘cheerless morass of uncertainly, boredom, loneliness and empty lust’. Stage and screen star Russell Tovey stars as Adam, alongside Naomi Sheldon (Ruth) and Jaime Winstone (Grace). The combination of great writing and a stellar cast such as this one makes Sex With A Stranger an appealing way to spend an evening. It opens on 6th February 2012 at the Trafalgar Studios 2 and runs until 25th February 2012.
Director Josie Rourke made her West End debut with her production of Much Ado About Nothing (starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate) and now, in her first production at the Donmar Warehouse since taking over as artistic director, Rourke brings audiences The Recruiting Officer. This 1706 play of military manoeuvring and sexual strategies is ‘an unashamed celebration of love, lustiness and victory in battle and in the bedroom’ from playwright George Farquhar. It has a wonderful line-up of names attached, including Nancy Carroll (Silvia), Mackenzie Crook (Sergeant Kite), Mark Gatiss (Captain Brazen), Gawn Grainger (Mr Balance), Tobias Menzies (Captain Plume) and Rachael Stirling (Melinda), as well as the composing talents of Michael Bruce. The Recruiting Officer previews from 9th February 2012 at the Donmar Warehouse, opening 14th February 2012 and running until 14th April 2012.
Bingo by Edward Bond begins its preview period on 16th February 2012 at the Young Vic Theatre in co-production with Chichester Festival Theatre: ‘With the glory years of London behind him, William Shakespeare finds himself in a moral dilemma. Faced with the same situation as his greatest creation King Lear, what should he do with his land and his power?’ Bingo is led by the ever-brilliant Patrick Stewart in the role of William Shakespeare and also features the direction of Angus Jackson and music by Stephen Warbeck. It opens at the Young Vic Theatre on 23rd February 2012 and runs until 31st March 2012.
(The Royal Court Theatre also opens two great dramatic productions this month, with In Basildon (Downstairs) and Goodbye To All That (Upstairs)
Rebecca Wheatley stars in the one-person comedy Big Pants and Botox at the Arts Theatre this month. Produced by Goodnights Entertainment Ltd, Louise Roche’s comedy follows the ups and downs of Barbara’s birthday celebrations as she hits the big 5-0. It’s playing for two nights only, from 9th-11th February 2012, so I’d advise swift booking if you don’t want to miss out on this funny but poignant production.
Noel Coward’s Hay Fever comes (fittingly) to the Noel Coward Theatre, bringing with it the likes of Lindsay Duncan, Kevin McNally, Jeremy Northam and more in this top-class cast. Retired stage star Judith Bliss invites a young suitor to join her for a countryside getaway, but her novelist husband and their two children have similar plans, resulting in a series of ‘misjudged meetings, secret seductions and scandalous revelations’ in the house party they’ll never forget. Hay Fever is a Playful Productions and Sonia Friedman Productions collaboration, directed by Howard Davies. It previews from 10th February 2012 and opens on 23rd February 2012, running until 2nd June 2012.
In one of this month’s most hotly anticipated productions, All New People finally arrives on our shores. Directed by Peter Dubois, this comedic play centres around a depressed Charlie on his 35th birthday, who finds his self-inflicted isolation invaded by the unexpected arrival of a parade of misfits with hilarious consequences. Written by American stage and screen star Zach Braff (most popularly known for playing JD in sitcom Scrubs), he also stars here alongside Susannah Fielding and Torchwood’s Eve Myles. All New People previews at the Duke of York’s Theatre from 22nd February 2012 and opens on 24th February 2012, where it runs til 28th April 2012.
(There is also stand-up comedy from Jackie Mason in Fearless (Wyndham’s Theatre), tragic comedy in The Devil and Mister Punch (Barbican Pit) and musical comedy from Ezra Axelrod with Songs From The American Motel (Leicester Square Theatre)
Not to be left out, there is always something for the kids to enjoy in London’s West End and, this February, it is the ever-popular Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain. Proving to be a television favourite for kids and adults alike, this Horrible Histories theatre production from Terry Deary, Neal Foster and Ciaran McConville comes to the Garrick Theatre. Produced by Birmingham Stage Company and directed by Neal Foster, Barmy Britain explores the stories of some of history’s most famous ‘barmy’ people, from Henry VIII to Guy Fawkes. Benedict Martin, Lauryn Redding and Jackie Trousdale star in the cast of Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain, which runs from 14th February 2012 to 1st September 2012.
Catering for both the drama and children genre’s of theatre, the NT’s production of Nicky Singer’s The Island deserves a special mention of its own here. Little Cameron is forced to spend a week on a deserted island of ice where, without the everyday distraction of technology and gadgets, he faces the limited options of either helping his mother with her scientific research or leaving camp to explore – but is it really uninhabited? The play is directed by Adam Penford and stars Rebecca Boey and James Cooney. It opens at the Cottesloe, National Theatre on 15th February 2012 and runs until 25th February 2012.
Priscilla: Queen of the Desert closed its doors on New Year’s Eve after five years in the West End and this month, Singin’ In The Rain moves into their old home at the Palace Theatre. This classic musical is the story of privileged Don Lockwood, the silent movie star who has everything you could ever want. Life in Hollywood is about to change though: there are whisperings of a new kind of film emerging, where actors actually talk, dance and… sing. Singin’ In The Rain has an original screenplay and adaptions by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, with songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed. The Jonathan Church-directed production has a fantastic cast, led by Adam Cooper (Don Lockwood), Daniel Crossley (Cosmo Brown), Scarlett Strallen (Kathy Seldon), Katherine Kingsley (Lina Lamont), Michael Brandon (RF Simpson) and Sandra Dickinson (Dora Bailey/Miss Dinsmore) and features choreography by the fantastic Andrew Wright. Rumoured to be one of the most expensive productions to hit the West End in recent years, it’s sure to be the hottest new ticket in town. It begins previews this weekend on 4th February 2012 and officially opens on 15th February 2012. It is currently booking until 19th September 2012.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
3rd February 2012