THEATRE TALK: New Plays Everywhere
New, new, new
There are a lot of new plays out and about at the moment, and they’re a real mixed bag. One of the non-starters is Welcome To Thebes, Moira Buffini’s attempt to bring together a variety of Greek myths and characters with a war-torn African civilisation. While the idea is brilliant, the execution is terrible. An ensemble full of wonderful actors like Nikki Amuka-Bird and David Harewood find themselves lost amidst a sea of cheesy dialogue that only occasionally manages to achieve what Buffini is aiming for.
Earthquakes in London has just opened at the National to reviews that range between 3 and 5 stars. It’s another attempt at an epic piece that comes in stark contrast to playwright Mike Bartlett’s previous piece – the excruciatingly intimate Cock, which took an audience of around 80 and crammed them into a small space in the Royal Court Upstairs. From one extreme to another. It’ll be interesting to see what the public make of it.
Peter Nichols’ Lingua Franca is just coming to the end of its run at the Finborough Theatre near Earl’s Court. Another production boasting a strong contingent of experienced and excellent actors like Natalie Walter and Chris New, it’s not as tight and taut as might have been hoped and indeed has one or two moments where the approaching darkness comes off as slightly absurd rather than distressing. But unlike the former two, Nichols isn’t trying for epic. He’s writing an autobiographical play based on his own experiences, which immediately makes Lingua Franca (unlike Earthquakes in London, which flicks from decade to century in its effort to tell of the dangers of global warming) a much more intimate, smaller tale to tell.
If you’re feeling the love for Shakespeare’s Globe as this sunny summer of ours continues then you should get on down to the riverside. They’ve just extended the wonderful Henry IV Pt 1 and 2 until mid-October and have announced they will be filming this, as well as Henry VIII and Merry Wives Of Windsor. Henry IV Pt 1 is a much easier watch than Pt 2, but the presence of the wonderful Roger Allam as Falstaff, as well as actors like William Gaunt, Jamie Parker and Sam Crane mean that both bits are worth seeing.
Sadly Howard Brenton’s new play Anne Boleyn is not being filmed and, due to positive reviews and a short run, has already sold out, so you’ll have to queue up for returns if you want to see Miranda Raison strut her stuff (something I’ll have to do myself as I didn’t get around to sorting myself out with one in time!).
Another option is to make your way up – or down – to Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, where Into The Woods starts preview performances in just a few days' time. Playing until mid-September, the Sondheim musical boasts cast members as varied as Hannah Waddingham, Mark Goldthorp and Olivier Award-winner Jenna Russell. Should be impressive stuff.