London Theatre Preview: June 2015

The month of June officially marks the arrival of summer, although the summer weather tends not to pay much attention to the fact and will most likely show up whenever it damn well feels like. Those hot, sunny days are on their way though, bringing with them the promise of BBQs and beach days, and that’s enough to make everyone that little more cheerful. Of course, there’s more than summer coming our way this month. June also brings with it a whole host of new shows to the West End, including dramas, musicals, and some classic Shakespeare, making this the hottest season in more ways than one. Here we highlight the best new shows opening in the West End in June, all of which are guaranteed to put the biggest smiles of all on the faces of London’s theatre-goers. The sun has got his hat on and the West End is coming out to play!

Trafalgar Studios is a gem of a venue in London that has staged some pretty great productions recently, and the theatre continues that trend as it hosts the world première of David Spicer’s new play. Stop!…The Play is a madcap, theatrical comedy that starts in the rehearsal room and ends with the first night, following the creative journey behind what is surely the world’s worst play! ‘The production starts out as a worthy (if slightly dull) English kitchen sink drama, The Dark Heart of Art, about a struggling artist. But then daily rewrites start arriving from the persistently absent writer. Characters are cut, new characters are introduced…everything changes from day to day. The cast battles to keep up. But instead of making the play better, the rewrites make it worse, and crazier. The Dark Heart of Art becomes a shockingly sexual pseudo-psycho drama called Banksy Ain’t Gay – a masterclass in appalling modern playwriting.’ Produced by Tim Beckmann for Hatch It and directed by John Schwab, the production stars Adam Riches (Leading Man), James Wooley (The Seasoned Veteran), Toisin Cole (The Hollywood Cameo), Hatty Preston (The Leading Lady) and Hannah Stokely (The Perennial Co-Star) as the play’s five neurotic actors, alongside Charlie Cameron as the overworked Stage Manager and Ben Starr as the inexperienced Director. Stop!…The Play is presented at Trafalgar Studios 2 from 2nd June 2015, with an official opening night on 3rd June 2015, and can be seen there until 27th June 2015.

Many will remember the improvisational comedy show from its TV origins. It first aired on Channel 4 in 1988 and ran for 10 seasons before continuing in an US version on ABC, hosted by Drew Carey, and now, Aisha Tyler. Now, sixteen years after it was last on British television screens, it returns in a live stage version to London’s West End. The format remains the same: four comedians compete in a series of improvisation games, sculpted by suggestions from the audience and the host. Original host of the UK television series, Clive Anderson, returns to oversee the action in the first ever stage adaption, which is overseen by the show’s co-creators Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson. Back to sit in the four chairs on stage are former Whose Line is It Anyway? favourites Colin Mochrie, Josie Lawrence, Greg Proops and Brad Sherwood. Following previews from 20th June 2015, the all-new stage show opens at the Adelphi Theatre on 22nd June 2015 for a strictly limited two-week run, closing on 5th July 2015.

The new adaption of George Orwell’s classic play returns to town this summer. Created by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, who also direct, the ‘definitive book of the 20th century’ is re-examined in the five-star smash hit production that is transferring into the West End for twelve weeks only, following the success of its première at the Nottingham Playhouse, its national tour and subsequent run at London’s Almeida Theatre. ‘April, 1984. Comrade 6079, Winston Smith, thinks a thought and starts a diary. But Big Brother is always watching, and the door to Room 101 can swing open in the blink of an eye.’ Produced by Sonia Friedman Productions and Eleanor Lloyd Productions/Headlong, Nottingham Playhouse and Almeida Theatre, the production features video designed by Tim Reid and stars Matthew Spencer as Winston Smith, alongside Janine Harouni as Julia until 25th July 2015. The role will then be played by Hara Yannas from 27th July 2015 onwards. Comprising the rest of the cast are Simon Coates, Tim Dutton, Stephen Fewell, Christopher Patrick Nolan, Ben Porter, Gavin Spokes and Mandi Symonds. 1984 will run at the Playhouse Theatre, opening on 18th June 2015 following previews from 12th June 2015. The final performance of its twelve-week run will be on 5th September 2015.

Commissioned by Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Torben Betts has created a new version of Anton Chekov’s, The Seagull, in commemoration of the play’s 120th anniversary. ‘As guests assemble at a country house for the staging of an avant-garde open air play, artistic temperments ignite a more entertaining drama behind the scenes, with romantic jealousies, self-doubt and the ruthless pursuit of happiness confusing lives, loves and literature.’ Under the direction of Matthew Dunster, Janie Dee stars as Irina Arkadina opposite Sabrina Bartlett as Nina and Matthew Tennyson as Konstantin, sharing the stage with Tara D’Arquian (Natasha), Lisa Diveney (Masha), Tom Greaves (Yakov), Colin Hoult (Simon Medviedenko). Fraser James (Ilia Shamraev), Lisa Palfrey (Paulina Andreevna), Ian Redford (Peter Sorin (Alex Robertson (Boris Trigorin) and Danny Webb (Eugene Dorn). Open Air Theatre’s new production of The Seagull begins previews at their Regent’s Park venue from 19th June 2015. It opens on 24th June 2015 and runs until 11th July 2015.

Franz Kafka’s 1925 novel has been adapted by Nick Gill as an in-house production for the Young Vic Theatre. In this new version, a murky and dangerous world in which government operates without oversight or consequences is revealed as the story follows K, whose 30th birthday begins a waking nightmare. ‘Visited at home by state agents and accused of an unspecified crime, K is bewildered by spiralling layers of bureaucracy – and the more sinister motives which lurk beneath them. Rory Kinnear leads as K alongside Kate O’Flynn, Hugh Skinner and Sian Thomas, in a cast which also features Marc Antolin, Steven Beard, Richard Cant, Sarah Crowden, Charlie Folorunsho, Neil Haigh, Suzy King and Weruche Opia. Directed by Richard Jones, The Trial begins previews at the Young Vic Theatre (Main House) from 19th June 2015. The production opens there on 26th June 2015 and is set to close on 22nd August 2015.

Following months and months of anticipation, Bend It Like Beckham The Musical finally arrives in the West End to make its world première Based on the hit 2002 British film of the same name, the stage adaption features a book by Paul Mayeda Berges and Gurinder Chadha, with original music by Howard Goodall and lyrics by Charles Hart. This musical re-imagining of the joyous and uplifting story about bending the rules and scoring that deciding goal brings a unique cultural fusion of musical theatre to the stage, under the direction of the show’s book writer and director of the original film, Gurinder Chadra. ‘Jess needs extra time. She is facing the most important decision of her life; live up to family expectations of university, career and marriage, or follow in the footsteps of her hero David Beckham. When the talented teenage footballer is spotted playing football in Southall, a world of opportunities opens up before her But as the day of her sister’s traditional Indian wedding approaches, Jess needs to pick sides.’ Starring as football-mad Jess is Natalie Dew, in an impressive line-up that also includes Lauren Samuels as Jules, her friend and team-mate in the local women’s football club, and Jamie Campbell Bower as the football coach and love interest, Joe. The original London company additionally includes Sophie-Louise Dan (Paula), Jamal Andreas (Tony), Preeya Kalidas (Pinky), Tony Jayawardena (Mr Bhamra), Natasha Jayetileke (Mrs Bhamra), Sohm Kapila, Buckso Dhillon-Wooley, Harveen Mann (Aunties), Irvine Iqbal, Karl Seth (Uncles), Sejal Keshwala, Serina Mathew, Sharan Phull (Cousins), Rakesh Boury, Jorell Coiffic-Kamall, Tom Millen, Daniel Bolton (Footballers), Raj Bajaj (Teetu), Michelle Bishop, Lisa Bridge, Chloe Chambers, Genesis Lynea, Kirstie Skivington, Danielle Young (The Harriers), Rekha Sawhney, Shahid Khan (Indian Heritage Singers) and Kayleigh McKnight (Swing).  The show features choreography by Aletta Collins and musical direction by Nigel Lilley. Produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, Deepak Nayar Productions and Bend It Films, Bend It Like Beckham has been in previews at the Phoenix Theatre since 15th May 2015. The musical’s official opening night is on 24th June 2015 and it is currently booking until 24th October 2015.

‘Small-time semi-pro football, the non-league. A world away from the wealth and the television cameras.  A young player touched with brilliance arrives from nowhere. An ambitious manager determines to make him his own. And the old soul of the club still has dreams of glory. Patrick Marber’s new play continues the football theme in the West End this month, in a haunting and humorous story about the dying romance of the great English game – and the tender, savage love that powers it. Ian Dickson directs the playwright’s latest production, which follows such previous works for the National as Dealer’s Choice and Closer, and will be the fifth play he has premièred at the renowned South Bank venue. The in-house production features music by Stephen Warbeck and has an all-male cast of three, staring Calvin Demba, Daniel Mays and Peter Wight. The Red Lion begins previews at Dorfman, NT from 3rd June 2015, opening there on 10th June 2015 and running through until 30th September 2015.

Poetic, profane and hilarious, Stephen Adly Guirgis’ play was the recipient of six Tony nominations on Broadway and has now come looking for similar success here in London’s West End. ‘Things are looking up for Jackie. He’s out of jail and staying clean thanks to his sponsor. He might even have found a job. And of course there’s Veronica, who he’s loved since 8th grade. Nothing could come between them – except a hat. A whip-smart look at love and addiction that finds light even in the darkest corners of New York City, the National’s production is directed by Indhu Rubasingham and features a cast that includes Nathalie Armin, Lisa Caruccio Came, Ricardo Chavira, Alec Newman, Flor De Lis Perez and Yul Vazquez. Previews for The Motherf**cker With The Hat starts from 10th June 2015 and it opens at Lyttelton, NT on 17th June 2015, closing there on 20th August 2015.

Tim Crouch’s drama is an intricate story of loss and suggestion performed by two people, one of whom will have never seen nor read read a word of the play they’re in until they’re in it. The playwright himself stars in the production as The Hypnotist, while The Father will be played by a different actor at every performance, each of whom will be drawn from the current NT company and may be a male or female of any age. Karl James and Andy Smith co-direct the 10th anniversary revival of this ground-breaking and award-winning production, which plays its first performance at the National’s Temporary Theatre on 23rd June 2015 and can be seen there until 11th July 2015.

This co-production between Shakespeare’s Globe and Royal & Derngate Northampton is a first for the Globe, as it stages Shakespeare’s English history play, King John. ‘ Richard the Lionheart is dead. His less than heroic brother, John, is determined to keep his grasp on the English throne, in spite of the stronger claims of his nephew, the young Prince Arthur. Increasingly threatened by Arthur’s supporters at home and in France, John finds the answer to his woes: he will blind the boy with hot irons.’ James Dacre directs the production, which features a cast led by Jo Stone-Fewings as King John, Alex Waldmann as The Bastard and Tanya Moodie as Constance, with the additional inclusions of Laurence Belcher, Simon Coates, Aruhan Galieva, Joseph Marcell, Barbara Marten, Mark Meadows, Ciaran Owens, Daniel Rabin and Giles Terera. Choreography is by Scott Ambler. King John opens at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on 1st June 2015 without any preview performances, where it will run until 27th June 2015.

By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25

Monday 1st June 2015

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