Covid-19 must have its say to start with, so off goes the season with Ralph Fiennes directed by Nicholas Hytner and delivering Beat The Devil, a monologue by David Hare.
Everything is both spectacular and, importantly, also feels like something you could play at home with tablecloths and cardboard in The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. If you can’t borrow any children to take, haul your own inner-child along.
I was step-sprung, charmed by this miniature musical, The Season, by Jim Barne and Kit Buchan.
Director Indhu Rubasingham spares us none of the rage and horror of violent mutilation as male anger rises against women who are educated in Anumpama Chandrasekhar’s play When The Crows Visit and – this makes you wince – of female complicity in the middle and oldest generations
Lungs is a sharp eyed little gem about coupledom and the wary, fretful road towards parenthood in an age of easy contraception and illimitable expectations.
Jordan Tannahill’s play Botticelli In The Fire, premiered here after Canada, is gloriously staged under Blanche Macintyre’s direction.
Alice Birch’s [Blank], about how our criminal justice system treats women, features tremendous ensemble work, physically expressive, verbally articulate, ripping off layers of smug delusion with elegant skill.
Bill Buckhurst’s production of Assassins has all the necessary vigour and the human seriousness too: plus it helps having a stunningly gifted set of actor-musicians roaming the stage.
While the seemingly desultory opening scenes may baffle a few strangers to the book, this stage adaptation of The Night Watch grows in clarity and drama to become a gripping piece of theatre, a testament.
Thus Andrew Davies sexes up Jane Austen’s Sanditon for ITV with incest, brothels and Theo James leaping on coaches, and up from Chichester, adapted a bit, here’s Laura Wade taking on the earlier Watsons.
The National Theatre does not disappoint with A Taste of Honey. The production is absolutely superb, with some of the cleverest staging imaginable.
Big is smashing fun if you can cope with the fact that at the heart of it is a power-relationship dynamic raising slightly awkward questions. But not in a Big way.
With Parliament in uproar upriver, the NT hit a luckily apt moment to stage Simon Woods’ first play Hansard and promote it as a “witty and devastating portrait of the governing class”. Just the night to hurl some fine invective at an audience fancying a torture-a-Tory session.
Arthur Schnitzler was, like Chekhov, a doctor; he was an Austrian Jew at a time when mistrust was rising. The Doctor belongs passionately to that time: but director Robert Icke’s very free adaptation belongs – urgently and exhilaratingly – to our own.
It is always a pleasure to see a professional debut which not only shines in itself but reminds us that belonging to a 21st-century, loose-limbed-liberal post-Christian generation doesn’t stop a new actor from empathising and utterly containing a character from another age.
Gail Louw’s play Shackleton’s Carpenter and Malcolm Rennie’s tremendous, unforgettable performance, were directed by Tony Milner of the New Vic before his death. This production – which tours single nights through autumn and winter, is in his memory. If you catch it, you won’t forget it.
If the overall effect of Oklahoma! at Chichester Festival Theatre is more of a puzzle-play than a lollipop romp, so much the better.
Clive Owen and Lia Williams do justice to the wild lush text of The Night Of The Iguana at the Noel Coward Theatre, rich in wonder and filth, corruption and beauty.
We love a starry debut, especially on opening night in a huge theatre: a 21-year-old not yet through drama school making a stonking, belting first professional appearance in a title role. So Laurence Connor knew what he was doing when he cast young Jac Yarrow in Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
David Hare has made as much sense of Ibsen’s sprawling masterpiece Peer Gynt as seems possible.