2018 promises to be a stellar year in London’s west end theatres and fringe playhouses. These are the London plays I’ve already booked – my recommendations for the best London theatre in 2018. Get booking now, as those golden tickets will be going, going gone!
The Birthday Party
Stanley Webber (Toby Jones) is the only lodger at Meg (Zoë Wanamaker) and Petey Boles’ sleepy seaside boarding house. The unsettling arrival of enigmatic strangers disrupts the humdrum lives of the inhabitants and their friend Lulu, and mundanity soon becomes menace when a seemingly innocent birthday party turns into a disturbing nightmare. Truth and alliances hastily shift in Harold Pinter’s brilliantly mysterious dark-comic masterpiece. Harold Pinter Theatre – 9 January to 14 April.
Woman before a Glass
Peggy Guggenheim collected art and artists. Married to Max Ernst, lover of Samuel Beckett, champion of Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso, Peggy’s love life was as colourful as her art collection. She moved to Venice in the late 1940s and quickly became one of its most glamorous, scandalous residents. Lanie Robertson’s play brings Peggy’s remarkable story to life. Peggy’s passionate loyalties and prejudices changed the face of twentieth century art. Jermyn Street Theatre – 17 January to 3 February 2018.
In Collective Rage the lives of five very different New York women, all named Betty, collide at the intersection of anger, sex and “theat-ah”. 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. Strongly influenced by cabaret and female drag, this outrageous comedy rejects shame and stereotype. Southwark Playhouse – 24 January to 17 February 2018.
Long Day’s Journey into Night
Following its sold out run as part of Bristol Old Vic’s 250th Anniversary season, Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville will reprise their roles in Richard Eyre’s acclaimed production of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Considered one of the most powerful American plays of the 20th century, the production will play a run at Wyndham’s Theatre from 27 January to 7 April 2018.
Caroline or Change
I fell in love with lyricist Tony Kushner during the eight-hour theatrical marathon of Angels in America at the National Theatre last year. His acclaimed musical, Caroline, or Change was a sell-out at the Chichester Festival last year and is opening at the Hampstead Theatre this March. An Olivier Award winning musical with a hugely original, highly eclectic and uniquely American score, Caroline, or Change creates an uplifting and profound portrait of America at a time of momentous social upheaval. Hampstead Theatre – 12 March to 21 April 2018.
Anyone who loves Baz Luhrmann, as I do, is in for a toe-tapping treat as Strictly Ballroom the Musical comes to the Piccadilly Theatre in March. The musical follows maverick championship ballroom dancer Scott, as he defies the rules of the competition to follow his heart. Based on a short play written by Luhrmann in the 1980’s, Strictly Ballroom was his first ever film and one of the highest-grossing Australian movies of all time. Starring Will Young and Jonny Labey. Piccadilly Theatre – 29 March to 21 July 2018.
I was lucky to catch two of James Graham’s brilliant plays last year: Ink and Labour of Love. I can’t wait for his take on Who Wants to be a Millionaire in Quiz. Noël Coward Theatre – 31 March to 16 June 2018.
The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Aidan Turner makes his transfer from craggy Cornwall to the Noël Coward Theatre this summer in Martin McDonagh’s comedy satire on terrorism. Aidan plays Mad Padraic, a terrorist who is considered too violent for the IRA. Will Turner take his shirt off, that is the question? Noël Coward Theatre – 23 June to 8 September 2018.
The Globe Theatre has a new Artistic Director in the house, Michelle Terry, and she’s bagged Sir Mark Rylance for her first season. Rylance returns to his Shakespearian home (he was The Globe’s first Artistic Director) in Othello which opens in July. Directed by Rylance’s wife, Claire van Kampen and starring André Holland as Othello, that leaves Rylance in the role of, you guessed it, Iago. I went to see Sir Mark as Olivia in Twelfth Night – and had to go back and see it again. I’ve been stalking him ever since (well, not literally) and simply cannot wait for Othello.
Stephen Sondheim is back on the London stage with his musical comedy, Company. The lead role of Bobbi has been re-imagined for the first time as a woman. Starring Rosalie Craig as Bobbi, and Tony and Olivier award-winner Patti LuPone as Joanne, the musical features Sondheim’s iconic songs, The Ladies Who Lunch, Being Alive, and Side by Side, and I simply cannot wait for this one. Gielgud Theatre – 26 September to 22 December 2018.
A Very Very Very Dark Matter
In a townhouse in Copenhagen works Hans Christian Andersen, a teller of exquisite and fantastic children’s tales beloved by millions. But the true source of his stories dwells in his attic upstairs, her existence a dark secret kept from the outside world. Starring Jim Broadbent, Martin McDonagh’s new play travels deep into the abysses of the imagination. Bridge Theatre – 10 October to 29 December 2018.