This week sees London theatre put black actors and experiences centre-stage on consecutive nights. Given the current furore of the all-white nominees list for the Oscars, it is refreshing to see that in the theatre, at least — notwithstanding such antique attitudes as Trevor Nunn’s casting last year for The War of the Roses at the Rose in Kingston with an all-white cast for reasons, he stated, of “historical verisimilitude” — we’re able to see a more diverse world being reflected.
This week’s main openings
- Red Velvet – Garrick Theatre: Adrian Lester reprises his role as 19th-century Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge in Lolita Chakrabarti’s play, first seen at the Tricycle in 2012, and now finally coming to the West End as part of the Branagh Theatre season, opening tonight (1 February) at the Garrick Theatre.
- Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – National’s Lyttelton Theatre: Dominic Cooke directs Sharon D Clarke in the title role of August Wilson’s play, returning to the National where it was originally given its British premiere back in 1989, opening in the Lyttelton on 2 February.
- The Master Builder – Old Vic: Matthew Warchus directs Ralph Fiennes in the title role of Ibsen’s play, presented in a new version by David Hare, opening on 3 February. Also in the cast are Broadway actress Linda Emond, James Dreyfus and Sarah Snook.
My top ten shows this week