The world of theatre can provide a pleasant distraction from the monotony of everyday life, offering its audience an escape from the hum-drum for just a brief while. With such a plethora of entertainment available to London’s theatregoers, you can go anywhere you want to – this month, a multitude of new experiences are being opened up for you as more shows come to the West End. Here we take a look at some of the highlights of London theatre this July:
The Taming of the Shrew:
William Shakespeare’s timeless play comes to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre this July, as part of the venue’s ‘The Play’s The Thing’ season. It’s battle of the sexes in this tongue-in-cheek comedy as the brutish, fortune-hunting scoundrel Petruchio tries to tame his wealthy, shrewish new wife Katharina. In a production directed by Toby Frow, it features Samantha Spiro and Simon Paisley Day as Katharina and Petruchio, in a cast which also includes Michael Bertenshaw, Pearce Quigley, Joseph Timms, Helen Weir, Sarah MacRae and Pip Donaghy. The Taming of the Shrew opened at the Globe Theatre on 4th July 2012 for a thirteen week run, closing on 13th October 2012.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea:
This children’s drama is based on Judith Kerr’s popular book of the same name, having been adapted for the stage with songs and lyrics by David Wood, who also directs the production. When a tiger knocks on little Sophie’s front door one day, her and her mother invite him in for tea, but they soon find out how troublesome a tiger for tea can be… Produced by KW & NB Ltd, The Tiger Who Came to Tea offers pre- and primary school children the perfect introduction to theatre. The show features magic and sing-along songs, with audience participation highly encouraged. Jenanne Redman plays Mummy, with Abbey Norman as Sophie and Alan Atkins in the dual role of Daddy/Tiger. Choreography is by Emma Clayton, with musical direction and arrangements by Peter Pontzen. The Tiger Who Came to Tea started previews yesterday (4th July) at the Lyric Theatre and opens on 6th July 2012. It runs there until 2nd September 2012.
Taking Part/After The Party:
These two plays are part of ‘Playing The Games’, a programme of work which celebrates a variety of artistic and sporting talent in the lead-up to the 2012 Olympic Games. The programme features both emerging and established actors, alongside comedians, musicians, playwrights and Olympians.
Adam Brace’s Taking Part is one of these works. The drama centres on a Congolese security guard named Henry who has his sights set on representing his country at the 2012 Olympic Games – the fact that he’s an awful swimmer and his Russian coach wants to fly home on the first day of training is not going to help him however. As the two men fight to fulfil their dreams, will they make it to the London games? Taking Part is directed by Charlotte Gwinner and features Obi Alibi as Henry and Paul Moriarty as Grigory. It previews at the Criterion Theatre from 27th July 2012 and opens on 30th July 2012, running there until 12th August 2012.
After The Party is another of the ‘Playing The Games’ works, which is also on its way to the Criterion Theatre. Written by Serge Cartwright it tells the story of Sean and Ray, two best friends from Stratford. Once a promising DJ double act, they’re now in their 30s and unemployed, but still dream of making it in the music industry. With the London Games upon them and a baby on the way, this could be their opportunity to finally make something of themselves. After The Party is directed by Sam Hodges and has a cast which includes Sophie Cosson (Chelle), David Flynn (Ray), Malcolm Hamilton (Keith), Kate Lamb (Natalie/Carmela) and Richard Riddell (Sean). The drama opens at the Criterion Theatre on 30th July 2012 – with previews from 28th July – and runs til 12th August 2012.
The Complete World of Sports:
The Reduced Shakespeare Company are bringing an abridged version of the comedy to the Arts Theatre as they explore all sports ever played on every continent in the whole of world history – in under two hours. Produced by Newbury Productions (UK) Limited in association with York Theatre Royal, The Complete World of Sports revisits the entire history of athletic competition, shrinking it down into theatrical-sized bites. Among the questions answered in the 120 minutes are such gems as: Is darts really a sport? Which is more boring – baseball or cricket? Who invented wife-carrying, bog-snorkelling and cheese-rolling? With one preview date on 17th July 2012, it opens at the Arts Theatre on 18th July 2012, running there until 25th August 2012.
This musical drama first made its debut at the NT in 2011 to great critical acclaim, and now it returns in 2012. With a book and lyrics by Alecky Blythe and music and lyrics by Adam Cork, it centres on the 2006 Ipswich murders of five women by Steve Wright, looking at how it affected those at the epicentre of the experience. London Road uses Blythe’s recorded interviews with the residents of Ipswich to create a challenging and very real piece of work. Directed by Rufus Norris, the cast features Clare Burt, Kate Fleetwood, Hal Fowler, Nick Holder, Claire Moore, Michael Shaeffer, Nicola Sloane, Paul Thornley , Duncan Wisbey, James Doherty and Linzi Hateley. It opens at Olivier, National Theatre on 28th July 2012 and is currently booking til 6th September 2012.
Derren Brown – Svengali:
Renowned illusionist Derren Brown comes to the West End with a show of psychological illusionary created by him and Iain Sharkey with Stephen Long. The Objective Talent Management production is directed by Polly Findlay and billed as “an evening of mind-melting” and will largely rely on audience participation. It is advised that the show is unsuitable for those under twelve years of age. Previews start from 12th July 2012 and the show opens at the Novello Theatre on 17th July 2012, running until 11th August 2012.
The Hurly Burly Show – Naughty But Nice!
Miss Polly Rae brings a touch of glamour and glitz to the West End in this all-singing, all-dancing revue inspired by burlesque. In a contemporary twist, it incorporates the traditional style of burlesque and cabaret with modern day fashion, music and popular culture. Featuring a line-up of beautiful burlesque stars and speciality variety artists along with an array of fabulous costumes and sets, a whole host of sizzling covers and mash-ups of hit songs from the likes of Kyle, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Britney, Prince, Beyonce and more will be performed, under the musical direction of Steve Anderson. Directed by William Baker and with choreography from Ashley Wallen, Miss Polly Rae stars in The Hurly Burly Show. Previews began on 2nd July 2012 and it opens at the Duchess Theatre on 13th July 2012, running until 22nd September 2012.
Fresh from its UK tour, Monty Python’s Spamalot is settling down in London’s West End this summer. Parodying the popular film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the comedic musical tells the legendary tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table in a way you’ve never heard before, with beautiful show girls, witch burnings and killer bunnies all making an appearance along the way. With a book by Eric Idle and score by Idle and John Du Prez, The Ambassador Theatre Group’s production is directed by Christopher Luscombe and features a bevy of star talents, including Todd Carty, Kit Orton, Bonnie Langford, Adam Ellis, Rob Delaney, Robin Armstrong and Jon Robyns, as well as Marcus Brigstoke and Jon Culshaw, who will be alternating the role of King Arthur. Spamalot begins previews at the Harold Pinter Theatre (previously the Comedy Theatre)from 24th July 2012, opening on 31st July 2012. It is currently booking until 9th September 2012.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
5th July 2012