I can’t quite believe we are well into September already! It’s been a whirlwind year here at LouReviews: as you may know, I am a solo blogger so do all my visiting, reviewing, promotion and admin without help.
It’s my full-time job now even though as yet no income opportunities have presented themselves. All reasonable offers considered!
It does mean I get invited to shows and events (indicated below by the *) – much appreciated – but sadly have to pick and choose wisely because my diary does get full quickly (plus I have to factor in days off!), and travel and time factors are always a consideration.
Although I would welcome opportunities to write for other sites, that has not happened yet: if you have such an opportunity, get in touch and let’s talk about it. As a reminder, I review theatre shows big and small (whether I have purchased a ticket or not), but full immersive shows are not really for me due to social anxiety and claustrophobia.
So, what’s on the list?
In the West End
Of the larger shows, my next is Big – the Musical which has just officially opened. I vaguely remember the film on which this is based, and early buzz suggests this show is fun, colourful, and just a bit weird. I’ll be there in mid-October.
In early November I’ll be catching Mischief Theatre’s new show, Groan Ups, which promises to be a very silly evening. This is my first booking through the Theatre Express discount service, so I’m interested to see how that goes.
I’ll be catching the transfer of the backstage comedy Noises Off in mid-December at the Garrick Theatre (in the Grand Circle).
Also in November I am making my first trip to Hamilton (in the cheap seats), having resisted its allure thus far. Whether I will rate it as highly as everyone else is a question I can’t wait to answer, and of course I am very interested in the renovations which have taken place at the theatre.
Mary Poppins returns, and I must admit to being rather excited to see it again. I’ll be there in November, flying my kite with my supercalifragilisticexpialidocious tuppence a bag. Will the special effects that wowed us last time be turned up a notch?
At the start of December I will be seeing Austentacious, which I’ve wanted to experience for some time. As a fan of both Jane Austen and theatre improvisation, I really want to assess if this show is as good as it sounds. My ticket for this is via TodayTix.
Then there’s the new smash musical, & Juliet, currently going down a storm with the tough audiences of Manchester. This promises to do for Romeo and Juliet what Six did for Henry VIII and his six wives. With a pop soundtrack, a touch of irreverance, and a great premise of “what if”, this sounds like a hit.
For Christmas fun for the kids, I’ll be following up my earlier visit to The Gruffalo to see The Tiger Who Came To Tea *. This will form part of a special December feature on theatre for children with a couple of fringe shows I’ll tell you about a bit later.
My final West End show of 2019 will be the return of Girl from the North Country, the musical which uses Bob Dylan songs to stunning effect. I really enjoyed this at the Old Vic and look forward to seeing it with a brand-new cast.
At the National Theatre
I have three shows planned for the remainder of 2019. First, Translations, by Brian Friel, in the Olivier, which returns following a successful run a couple of years ago; then political play Hansard, by Simon Woods, in the Lyttelton (which I should have seen already but for transport problems); and finally a return to the Dorfman to see The Antipodes, an unusual storytelling play which sounds a bit like The Weir. We will have to see.
At the Barbican Centre
I will be seeing all three plays in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s residency towards the end of the year: As You Like It, Measure for Measure and The Taming of the Shrew. All these are plays which lend themselves to invention and I look forward to seeing how they are produced this time around.
I’ll also be paying a visit to the Barbican’s Pit Theatre in early November for Superfan: Nosedive. It promises to be a show that mixes dance, theatre and the circus. I’m sold.
Off-West End and fringe – women’s voices
Early October brings a number of shows in which women take centre stage.
At the Lyric in Hammersmith is a new and exciting take on Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, directed by Rachel O’Riordan, continuing the unofficial London season of his work which also included Rosmersholm and Peter Gynt. Review from 2 October performance now available.
Currently playing at The Vaults is the vibrant Shida – the Musical to which I got an early bird discounted ticket. All indications are that this – coming to London from Off-Broadway success, written and performed by Jeannette Bayardelle – will be something very special. Review from 3 October now available.
The Union Theatre, meanwhile, is reviving the musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, about “two little girls from Little Rock”, which promises to sizzle and sparkle like those diamonds coveted by Lorelei Lee. Review from 6 October preview now available.
Sloane Square and Gloucester Road
Over at the Royal Court, there are four new plays by Caryl Churchill in one show: Glass Kill Bluebeard Imp. Together with the revival of Top Girls, which ran at the National earlier in the year, and Far Away, which comes to the Donmar early in 2020, this puts Churchill firmly in the forefront of living female dramatists. Review from 5 October now available.
I’ll be revisiting the Drayton Arms to review Dora Versus Picasso * by Fractured Time Productions in late November, which continues a 2019 theme of fictional meetings between real-life figures – this time Pable Picasso and Dora Maar.
Laura Crow’s new play, Clouds *, makes its London debut at the King’s Head in November and focuses on the story of Winifred Baxter and her 1913 attempt to enter an air race. With Queen of the Mist and Beryl looking at similar “firsts”, this should be an interesting show.
Camden, Finsbury Park and Clapham
The theme continues through the month, with Tokyo Rose coming down from Edinburgh to the New Diorama (Japanese DJs and spies), Mother of Him * (Jewish mother holding her family together) opening at the Park Theatre, and Femme Fatale * (Nico and Valerie Solonas) at the Omnibus. I look forward to reporting back from all of these.
Reviews now available for 8 October performance of Tokyo Rose, 10 October performance of Mother of Him, and 13 October performance of Femme Fatale.
In early November I’ll be at Sydney and the Old Girl, * with the end of the year spent at Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis. Both are running at the Park Theatre.
London Bridge, Dalston and Seven Dials
Later in the month I’ll be at the Bridge Theatre watching Two Ladies (the First Ladies of France and America), at the Arcola hearing the story of top female cyclist Beryl Burton in Maxine Peake’s play Beryl, and looking at women in the criminal justice system in [BLANK], celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Clean Break theatre company, at the Donmar Warehouse.
In November I will be at the Bunker watching i will still be whole (when you rip me in half) * (bringing an estranged mother and daughter back together).
Brentford, Kilburn and Wimbledon
In November I will catch up with the Nina Simone play written and performed by Apphia Campbell, Black is the Colour of My Voice (+ Soul Sessions) when it stops off at the Waterman’s Art Centre. I’m delighted to finally see it having missed it at other venues earlier in the year.
Ibsen again comes into the capital, with When The Crows Visit at the Kiln Theatre, a piece suggested by the play Ghosts, but transposed to modern-day India, written by Anupama Chandrasekhar.
Meanwhile, Chekhov goes to the New Wimbledon Studio in a production of Uncle Vanya from Theatrical Niche.
Off-West End and fringe – men’s voices
The voices of men haven’t been disregarded, with Richard Gadd’s solo piece about stalking, Baby Reindeer, coming to the Bush Theatre from the Edinburgh Fringe; a political chess game, The Ice Cream Boys, on at Jermyn Street Theatre; and issues of gay sexual harassment in theatreland in Velvet * at Above the Stag’s Studio.
Reviews now available for 12 October performance of The Ice Cream Boys, and 13 October performance of Velvet.
The tour of Frankenstein, with its male creator and creation, and in a new adaptation by Rona Munro, pauses at Richmond Theatre and promises to bring Mary Shelley herself to the stage.
A couple of sparkling musical revivals come later in the year: in Highgate, Upstairs at the Gatehouse is host to the marital comedy I Do! I Do!, while at the Menier, their end of year show is Sandy Wilson’s frothy flappers in The Boyfriend.
The new Boulevard Theatre in Soho is opening with Dave Malloy’s Ghost Quartet. This will be my second of his musicals in 2019, following Preludes at the Southwark Playhouse.
I’m also looking forward to the premiere of Soho Cinders * (a “deliciously naughty musical update of Cinderella”) at the Charing Cross Theatre, which will feature Luke Bayer alongside Millie O’Connell, following her successful run in Six.
Over in Victoria at the Other Palace Studio, classic Hollywood will be brought to life in the new musical Reputation * by Alick Glass, and the new family musical Terror at the Sweetshop is bound to be fun with a score by Gavin Brock.
And in the just re-opened Fairfield Halls in Croydon, I’ll be catching Friendsical on a tour stop. Word on this musical parody has been mixed, but I’ll let you know all about it.
Physical theatre, concerts, showcases, and panto
I have three concerts in planning for the rest of 2019. Cassidy Janson is appearing at Bush Hall, Kelli O’Hara at Cadogan Hall, and the Chamber Philharmonic Europe (boasting musicians from 18 countries across the continent) at Conway Hall. I also have a December date with the ravishing Fascinating Aida.
The Southbank Centre plays host to two pieces of physical theatre in October – Out of Order by Forced Entertainment, and Negative Space by Reckless Sleepers. These sounded intriguing. Stay tuned for opinions.
Reviews now available for the 12 October show of Out of Order and the 11 October show of Negative Space.
Kneehigh bring the bizarre Ubu! A Singalong Satire to Shoreditch Town Hall, described as “a deliriously unhinged improvised promenade musical. The Place at King’s Cross will be my destination for The Little Prince on Christmas Eve, a “magical dance adaptation” by Luca Silvestrini’s Protein company.
The Other Palace plays host to showcase performances of new musical Zombies * in October. I will combine thoughts on the show with a piece on the gestation of the show featuring writer Daryl Griffith.
The Ovalhouse is having its demolition season, so I’ve been invited to cover a show (I’ll be seeing Kissing Rebellion *), as well as doing a feature on their closure. The Park Theatre is the venue for The Snow Queen * in December.
I will be looking at two shows in the Maiden Speech festival * at the Tristan Bates Theatre. The festival is now in its third year and brought to life by a group of Mountview graduates, and produced by Lexi Clare.
Finally, two pantos are in the diary so far. I’ll be reviewing Battersea Art Centre’s Goldilocks and the Three Musketeers *, and my local theatre the Questors Playhouse’s production of Robin Hood.
Out of town
Just one trip outside London, and that’s next month to see Amelie at the Reading Hexagon. This show will spend Christmas and beyond at The Other Palace, where I may see it a second time!
Review of the 9 October performance is now live.
I’ll be seeing titles in both the London Film Festival and the BFI Musicals season, and in 2020 I am attending the Renown/Talking Pictures TV Film Festival in St Albans.
In 2020 …
Confirmed so far for musicals are Once, in Croydon; Be More Chill at The Other Palace; Dear Evan Hansen in the West End; Cabaret in Wimbledon; Singin’ in the Rain at Sadlers Wells; and Local Hero at the Old Vic. I’ll also be out of town in the summer when West Side Story returns to Manchester’s Royal Exchange.
Plays include The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the Bridge; Endgame (with Daniel Radcliffe and Alan Cumming) at the Old Vic; The Incident Room (Yorkshire Ripper) at the New Diorama; Teenage Dick (a modern Richard III) and Far Away (by Caryl Churchill) at the Donmar Warehouse; Uncle Vanya (with Toby Jones and Richard Armitage) at the Harold Pinter; Kunane and the King (from the RSC, with Antony Sher and John Kani) at the Ambassadors; The Welkin and The Visit at the National Theatre; and Hamlet with Cush Jumbo at the Young Vic.
Concerts at the opposite end of the music spectrum are also planned – Bryn Terfel at the Royal Albert Hall, and the Pet Shop Boys at the O2 Arena.
What are you looking forward to seeing?