London Theatre Preview: November 2013

We wave goodbye to October today with the ghouls and goblins of Halloween…and a giant stash of trick and treat goodies if you’re lucky! This is when the count-down to Christmas really begins, but November is also the time of Bonfire Night; less to do with Guy Fawkes’ plot to blow up Parliament now and more to do with lighting up the night with firework displays. The new crop of productions opening in the West End this month may catch the eye of theatre-goers more than the sparkly lights in the sky though. There’s something to appeal to every taste, and here you will find a selection of the best shows coming to town in November:


Adapted from the book by Julia Donaldson (with illustrations by Axel Scheiffer), this stage extravaganza offers children a live experience of the adventures of Stick Man. While out for a jog one day, Stick Man is carried off by a playful dog. He travels far from home in a continual case of mistaken identity, which sees him used as a flag mast, a cricket bat, a snowman’s arm and almost burned as firewood. Lost and alone, will Stick Man ever make it back to the family tree? Featuring music by Benji Bower, the intimate cast of Richard Kiess, Alex Tosh, and Cassie Vallance bring the popular children’s story to life under the direction of Sally Cookson. Stick Man – Live on Stage begins previews at the Leicester Square Theatre (Main House) from 16th November 2013. It opens there on 20th November 2013 and runs through until 5th January 2014.

Olivia Jacobs and Toby Mitchell have adapted Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheiffer’s popular children’s story into a stage musical, created by Tal Stories. Featuring music by Jon Fiber and Andy Shaw, this KW & NB Ltd production recounts the daring adventure of Mouse as he wanders through the dark, dark wood in search of hazelnuts and meets Fox, Owl and Snake, outwitting them all and evading danger with a tale about the Gruffalo – but is the fable creature just a story after all? Susannah Jennings stars as Mouse opposite Tom Crook as The Gruffalo, with Timothey Richey playing all the other predators. Olivia Jacobs also directs. The Gruffalo opens at the Lyric Theatre on 20th November 2013 and is currently booking until 12th January 2013.


The TV comedy series of Jeeves and Wooster, adapted from P.G. Wodehouse’s original stories, is still a firm favourite with the British public, and now Matthew Macfadyen and Stephen Mangan are offering a new take on the characters first popularised by the comedy duo of Fry and Laurie. A stage version, created by Robert and David Goodale, is coming to the West End this month following its short runs at the Richmond Theatre (10th-19th October) and the Theatre Royal, Brighton (22nd-26th October). Directed by Sean Foley, Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense sees a delightful trip to the countryside take a turn for the worse when Bertie Wooster is unwittingly called upon to play matchmaker. Assisted by the ever-dependable Jeeves, he must reconcile his host’s drippy daughter Madeline Bassett with his newt-fancying acquaintance Gussie Fink-Nottle to pull off the wedding of the season, or else be forced to abandon his cherished bachelor status and marry the ghastly girl himself! Stephen Mangen stars as Bertie Wooster alongside Matthew Macfadyen as his comedy counterpart Jeeves in this Mark Goucher and Mark Rubenstein production. Previews began at the Duke of York’s Theatre on 30th October 2013 and it opens there on 12th November 2013 where it runs til 8th March 2014.

Set against the fledgling rock n’ roll scene of 1950’s Soho, this fast-paced black comedy delves into the sleazy underworld of the infamous London district through the seedy  Atlantic Club. Harry Potter star Rupert Grint features in the cast line-up as Sweets, along with stage and screen star Colin Morgan as Skinny. The cast also includes Brendan Coyle as Mickey, Tom Rhys Harris as Silver Johnny, Daniel Mays as Potts and Ben Whishaw as Baby. Produced by Sonia Friedman Productions and directed by Ian Rickson, Mojo, which is currently in previews (from 26th October), opens at the Harold Pinter Theatre on 13th November 2013 and runs until 25th January 2014.


Bill Kenwright, in association with Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Nica Burns, presents a new stage production of Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men in which twelve juries hold in their hands the life of a teenage delinquent accused of killing his father. What seems to be an open-and-shut case however, but the twelve’s prejudices and preconceptions about the accused, the trial and each other turn it into a dilemma and leads to a nail-biting climax. Martin Shaw stars as Jury 8, the role made famous by Henry Fonda in the original 1957 film of the same name. He features alongside Jeff Fahey (Juror 3) and Nick Moran (Juror 7), as well as Robert Vaughn, Luke Shaw, David Calvitto, Paul Antony-Barber, Ed Franklin, Robert Blythe, Miles Richardson, Martin Turner, Owen O’Neil and Jason Riddington. Directed by Christopher Haydon, Twelve Angry Men begins previews at the Garrick Theatre from 7th November 2013. It opens on 11th November 2013 and is booking until 1st March 2014.

Patricia Highsmith’s psychological thriller novel was adapted into a film in 1951 and has now been revised for the stage by Craig Warner. The plot sees a seemingly innocent conversation turn into a dangerous reality for lead character Guy Haines when he meets Charles Bruno on a train journey. The nightmare of blackmail and psychological torment that follows threatens to cost Haines his career, his marriage and his sanity as he is forced to make a terrible choice: to kill, or be framed for a murder he didn’t commit. Stage and screen stage Laurence Fox leads the cast as Guy Haines, with Jack Huston (Charles Bruno), Christian Mckay (Gerard), Miranda Raison (Anne), Imogen Stubbs (Elsie) and Myanna Buring (Miriam) comprising the rest of the cast. The stage play is produced by Barbara Broccoli, Colleen Camp, Michael G Wilson, Lucky VIII/Lou Spisto, Frederick Zollo and Michael Rose Limited for Strangers (UK) Limited and is directed by Robert Allan Ackerman. Previews begin at the Gielgud Theatre from 2nd November 2013. Strangers On A Train then opens there on 19th November 2013 and runs until 22nd February 2014.

The Young Vic Theatre presents five brand new short plays this month in answer to one particular question: ‘Do we all get more right wing in hard times?’ Tim Price’s Capitalism Is Crisis sees two worlds collide when a banker discovers the power of Occupy and an activist discovers the power of money, while Amanda by Kieran Hurley is centred on a politician who, submerged by daily pressures, reflects on how tough decisions are made when the stakes are high. Pick One by Neil LaBute is about three middle-aged white guys coming up with a controversial solution to America’s problems. Church Forced To Put Up Gates After Font Is Used As Wash Basin By Migrants is the darkly humorous tale of a right-wing newspaper owner who finds himself in a compromising position when some disgruntled readers decide to pay him a visit, written by Mark Thomas, while Clara Brennan offers up The Wing, in which a father and daughter square off over Page Three and the English Defence League as their wildly different reactions to austerity are revealed. In addition, each night a different emerging theatre company will perform their own version of The Recipe – a recipe of theatre provocations by Rachel Chavkin of the TEAM. Under the direction of Emma Callander and Hannah Price, the short-lived Theatre Uncut season begins previews at the Young Vic (Maria Theatre) from 19th November 2013 and opens the following night (20th November). The limited run ends on 23rd November 2013.


The Duchess Theatre hosts the premiere of this brand new British musical in a concert staging in November. James Gillan and Paul Spicer star in this musical of loss, learning, and new beginnings which is set in the recent past and rooted in the American War on Terror. Over the course of a single year, it tells the tale of four boys who are ravaged by grief and endeavouring to make a brave new start in a celebration of friendship, remembrance and hope for the future. Ava Eldred and Gianni Onori collaborated on the book for the show, which also features a score by Onori.  Sharif Afifi, Will Bradnam and Nathan Lodge star alongside Gillan and Spicer in this musical concert production by Neil Eckersley & Ava Eldred for Speckulation Entertainment, which is directed by Jennifer Farrell and Raymond Tait. Musical direction comes from Angharad Sanders. The concert staging of The 8th Fold is presented at the Duchess Theatre in a one-night-only exclusive performance on 10th November 2013.


‘Bein you means not bein me – see, a deficit already – before you even started we running at a loss. Elayne thinks she’s alright. Nobody else does.’ Debbie Tucker Green directs this self-penned drama, produced by the National Theatre and staged in its temporary outdoor venue, The Shed. The production is focuses on the character of Elayne, who doesn’t want company but company won’t leave her alone. Everyone’s got an opinion but no-one’s listening and things are starting to slip. Gershwyn Eustache Jr, Nadine Marshall, Anthony Welsh, Sharlene Whyte, Sophie Stanton and Anthony Welsh all appear in the show’s cast, which features choreography by Polly Bennett. Nut began previews from 30th October 2013 and opens on 5th November 2013, running through until 5th November 2013.

This dramatic tales explores the tragedy of an ordinary man who steps outside his humdrum life and, over the course of one crazy, alienating day, destroys himself. Georg Kaiser’s original play has been reworked into a new version by Dennis Kelly, which is led by Adam Godley as the trusted bank clerk who takes a stolen fortune after 25 years loyal service after falling for an exotically perfumer woman from Florence. She rejects his ludicrous advances, but there’s no turning back for him now and he ditches his family and their bourgeois existence to embark on a roller-coaster odyssey, scouring the city’s senseless entertainments in an increasingly disillusioned search for an experience worth buying and a reason for living. This in-house production from the National Theatre is directed by Melly Still and begins previews at the Lyttelton Theatre, NT from 19th November 2013. It opens there on 26th November 2013 and runs until 15th January 2014.

Other notable productions opening in the West End this November include: EAT, PRAY, LAUGH! BARRY HUMPHRIES FAREWELL TOUR, Toby Hadoke’s 1-Man Doctor Who Double Bill – MOTHS ATE MY DOCTOR WHO SCARF/MY STEPSON STOLE MY SONOC SCREWDRIVER, Sarah Louise-Young’s tribute cabaret JULIE MADLY DEEPLY and Stuart Saint’s adult panto DICK COMES AGAIN! BIGGER, LONGER, HARDER.

By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)

Thursday 31st October 2013

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