As my theatre-going has slowed to a dribble (to translate – this means I still go more often than the average person, but I’m no longer attempting a financially unsustainable, paid critic level of theatre attendance) I’ve not been blogging as regularly as I used to. Something I’m looking to remedy starting from now.
While I may see less, I still have plenty to say. So I thought I’d start with the shows I’ve seen and loved that have transferred (or are soon transferring) to the West End. In addition to my five personal recommendations, I’ve also included a cheeky sixth shout out at the end for a show I failed to see in its original run at the National (due to the aforementioned reduction in theatre-going) but that I am seeing in transfer given the fact so many people I trust have raved about it.
Given in order of imminent disappearance, my must-see transfers are as follows:
The Jungle at the transformed Playhouse Theatre – running until 3 November 2018
I always recommend The Jungle to anyone who asks “what is the one show should I see right now?” It is simply astonishing. I saw it at the Young Vic and loved it so much I pounced at the chance to see it when it transferred to the Playhouse. It is amazing to see a West End theatre so transformed. If you can get tickets sitting on ground level within the camp, I highly recommend it. This is what great theatre should be: brutal in its honesty, but generous in its soul. It has to finish 3 November to allow time for the Playhouse to be transformed back into its normal configuration for my fifth recommendation in this post. So don’t dither, if you’ve not seen it yet, go nab yourself some tickets now and enjoy this transformative theatrical experience.
Heathers the Musical at the Theatre Royal Haymarket – running until 24 November 2018
When I went to see Heathers the Musical at The Other Palace earlier this year, I didn’t realise it had such a devoted following. There were people there dressed up as their favourite characters, and the energy in the theatre before the show even began was electric. I love the film the musical it is based on, which is why I simply had to check out this musical adaptation of it. I mean, how on earth do you turn something as anarchic as Heathers into a musical? Simply put, by leaning into the dark craziness of the film and running with it. This is a fun, entertaining, gloriously inappropriate night out. It may not be to everybody’s tastes, but if you enjoyed the humour of the original film and love a musical, this should be right up your street.
The Inheritance Parts 1 & 2 at the Noel Coward Theatre – running until 5th January 2019
Another glorious Young Vic transfer, The Inheritance Parts 1 & 2 offer two epic nights of theatre. I’m cheating a bit here, but I wrote about it when I originally saw it back in March, so for those that need a reminder here were my thoughts:
“The Inheritance Parts 1 & 2 at the Young Vic is that wonderful combination of funny and heart-breaking. I adored it. A stunning ensemble cast bring so much life and compassion to this beautiful play. I watched both parts in one day (the first full day preview) and while that is a lot of theatre hours, they flew by, particularly Part 1 (Part 2 is very good, but felt baggier than Part 1, a slight nip/tuck would make it shine even brighter, as we saw it in preview, could happen). The standing ovation was not the usual self conscious Mexican wave you can get, it was a roar as the audience jumped to their feet. I didn’t want my time with these wonderful characters to end (despite the discomfort of a numb bum that comes with a marathon theatre day).”
Summer and smoke at the Duke of York’s Theatre – running from 10th November to 19th January 2019
This is a simply breathtaking production of what can be a problematic Tennessee William’s play. Rebecca Frecknall’s direction is spot-on. There were moments I was holding my breath as I watched. The theatre was thick with emotion. The cast were all fabulous, but I can’t help singling out the wonderful Patsy Ferran, who is returning to play the lead in this transfer. If she hadn’t already been on my radar, she would be now. She is luminous in this part. I would happily see anything that Patsy Ferran or Rebecca Frecknall do in the future. What’s that you say? They’re reuniting to do the Three Sisters at the Almeida next year? I think I need to lie down.
For any fans of Tennessee William’s this is a must-see production. And for those not so familiar with his work, this is a wonderful introduction.
Caroline or Change at the Playhouse Theatre – running from 20th November to 9th February 2019
This is a transfer of a transfer. I originally saw this wonderful musical at the Chichester Festival Theatre quite some time ago now. It transferred to the Hampstead (when I advised everyone to run and see it), where it quickly sold out (I’d like to think because I told everyone to buy tickets but I realise I don’t have the readership to be able to even begin to delude myself that that’s the case). It is now moving into the Playhouse, which seems to be the place to go this year. Sharon D Clarke reprises her role as Caroline in the West End transfer, frankly I couldn’t imagine anyone filling her shoes, as she is simply magnificent in it! It is not the most cheerful of musicals, but it is written by Tony Kushner (of Angels in America fame), so you know what it lacks in happy, clappy, it makes up for in depth of feeling. I’ve not looked at my washing machine the same way since, and if you want to understand why, you really should go see Caroline or Change.
Nine Night at the Trafalgar Studios – running from 1st December to 23rd February 2019
This is the sneaky recommendation that is based on a myriad of other recommendations, but I won’t be seeing it myself until early December. All I can say is I can’t wait! This was on my theatre FOMO blog post list, where I all but begged (actually I straight out begged) the National to transfer this show. Now, the fact they did probably doesn’t have anything to do with my begging post (or the begging tweets, there were a number of those too) but it still felt amazing when I heard the news. This debut play by Natasha Gordon enjoyed rave reviews even the most established playwrights would envy. It has also been confirmed that she will be performing in the transfer (for those not familiar with her, she is better know as an actor, so this makes total sense) in the role of Lorraine. I’ll write about my actual experience of the show once I’ve seen it in December, but if you trust the many varied theatre lovers I follow, you’ll want to nab tickets sooner rather than later.