Well, we’re truly into 2018 now and there’s plenty to see. From anarchic punk riot to classic mysteries, from Shakespeare to Dylan, and from troubled masculinity to a woman’s battle with depression. It’s such a terrific list; I can’t wait to see as many as I can.
1. Girl From the North Country, Noel Coward Theatre
One of the best shows of 2017, this West End transfer is for those who missed this gem when it ran at the Old Vic – as well as for those desperate for a second hit. Set around the guests and owners of a guesthouse in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1934, this is about a community living on a knife-edge as the Great Depression starts to hit. Award-winning playwright Conor McPherson beautifully weaves the iconic songbook of Bob Dylan into this powerful show full of hope, heartbreak and soul. Booking to March 24. Tickets from £15.
2. Beginning, Ambassadors Theatre
This play is a gem and I am so pleased it has received a West End transfer after its sold-out run at the Dorfman last year. There’s a lot of drama out there on the stage but this is a heart-warming, uplifting production that brims with laughs and humour, as much as it does warmth and affection. Laura and Danny have only just met – stragglers at the tail-end of a house party. They’re keen on each other, for sure. But as much as the excitement and anticipation of a new beginning offers hope, so it is matched by the anxiety and dread of rejection and yet more hurt. This is a wonderful play on those first few tentative steps – and all that we put at risk when we put our hearts out there. Beautiful. Runs to March 24th. Tickets from £18.
3. Out of Love, Orange Tree Theatre
Elinor Cook brings her latest play – a tale of friendship, love and rivalry over thirty years – to the Orange Tree. Lorna and Grace do everything together. They share crisps, cigarettes and crushes. That’s what happens when you’re best friends forever. But when Lorna gets a place at University, and Grace gets pregnant, they suddenly find themselves in starkly different worlds. Can anything bridge the gap between them? Runs 27 January – 3 March. Tickets from £15.
4. Jubilee, Lyric Hammersmith
The seminal film from Derek Jarman has been adapted for the stage – and this play thrilled audiences when it ran up at Manchester’s Royal Exchange last year. Centred around a marauding girl gang on a killing spree and a time-travelling Queen Elizabeth I, it’s a story of what happens when creativity and nihilism collide. Set in a time when the Far Right was on the rise and faith in the establishment was collapsing, the film may have been set in 1977 but the themes here are bang on the money for where we are right now. A show for anyone who has ever wanted to set the world on fire. Runs 15 February – 10 March. Tickets from £15.
The Believers Are But Brothers, Bush Theatre
There is so much to be excited about across the whole of Bush Theatre’s upcoming season, but I can’t wait to see The Believers Are But Brothers, billed as ‘an electronic maze of fantasists, meme culture, 4chan, the alt-right and ISIS.’ With the crisis of masculinity at its heart, this play explores our world today where old orders are collapsing – from the postcolonial nation states of the Middle East, to the EU and the American election – and where young men, burning with resentment and isolation, are drawn into an online world of fantasy, violence and reality. Runs to February 10th. Tickets from £10.
Dust, Soho Theatre
Fresh from an award-winning, sell-out run at Edinburgh Fringe 2017, Dust is a refreshing, caustic and comedic treatment of one woman’s depression, suicide and everything that happens afterwards. Alice thinks that life isn’t worth living. So she kills herself. Sort of. She is stuck, a fly on the wall. Forced to watch the aftermath of her suicide and its ripple effect on her family and friends, Alice quickly learns that death changes people – and that death is not the change she hoped for. Runs 20 February – 17 March. Tickets from £10.
Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties, Southwark Playhouse
‘My PUSSY is not gonna do the acting, I am gonna do the acting. In THE THEA-TAH. People are gonna come and stare at my feelings, and those feelings will be Art.’ Hallelujah! Collective Rage is here to bring politics, cabaret and female drag into our mundane lives with this glorious comedy on the lives of five very different New York women named Betty who collide at the intersection of anger, sex and theatre. As they meet, fall in love, rehearse, revel and rage, they realise that they’ve been stuck reading the same scripts for far too long. With its an electrifying soundtrack, looks to kill and spectacular routines, I’m looking at this one to both pack a punch and do it some style. Runs to 17 February. Tickets from £12.
Picnic at Hanging Rock, Barbican Theatre
On a summer’s day in 1900, during a trip to a volcanic beauty spot in rural Victoria, three schoolgirls and their teacher inexplicably vanish, never to be seen again. Giving a contemporary spin to Joan Lindsay’s cult 1967 book, this production features five female narrators whose efforts at reconstructing the mystery are overtaken by primal forces. Amid looming hysteria, their story twists and distorts, guiding us from civilisation and order to somewhere hostile, vast and unknown. Runs 21—24 February. Tickets from £16.
Julius Caesar, Bridge Theatre
The quality of creatives attached to this are magnificent – from Ben Whishaw as the treacherous Brutus to Michelle Fairley as Cassius, from David Morrisey as Mark Anthony to the magnificent Bunny Christie at the helm for the production’s design. Add to that, Nicholas Hytner has the show in promenade, thrusting the audience into the heart of this drama, and this has all the elements of a success. I’ve all my fingers crossed that this show harnesses all the power in Shakespeare’s play on dictatorship, conspiracy, and vengeance. Runs to April 15th. Tickets from £15.
Girls and Boys, Royal Court
Carey Mulligan is the star draw in this first collaboration between writer Dennis Kelly and director Lyndsey Turner. “I met my husband in the queue to board an easyJet flight and I have to say I took an instant dislike to the man.” An unexpected meeting at an airport leads to an intense, passionate, head-over-heels relationship. Before long they begin to settle down, buy a house, juggle careers, have kids – theirs is an ordinary family. But then their world starts to unravel, and things take a disturbing turn. Runs 8 February – 17 March. Tickets from £12.