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UK Roundup - Radcliffe, Pinter, Maria, Sondheim

Whether we're ready for it or not, Daniel Radcliffe is to disrobe in the West End; appearing completely naked onstage and symbolically blinding imaginary horses. Okay, that's the way the press are going to report on it – and have done extensively this week – but it's one of the biggest stories of the year; Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe will make his West End debut aged 17 in a very demanding role in Peter Shaffer's Equus. Starring alongside him will be Tony Award winner Richard Griffiths, who has already worked with Radcliffe extensively on Harry Potter as Uncle Vernon. The casting will undoubtedly attract a new audience to theatre – but let's hope parents exercise caution to its themes. It opens next February.

The new reality TV show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? - which aims to find an unknown actress to put in the lead role of Andrew Lloyd Webber's revival of The Sound of Music at the London Palladium in December – has begun transmission on BBC1 in Britain. Identical in format to American Idol (Pop Idol to UK readers), the show's prize is the leading role in the West End show, closely monitored by producers Lloyd Webber and David Ian. Some fans and industry workers are up in arms about it, but, after the first programme I can confidently reassure that it's an interesting programme with some genuine talent, some who are trained in musical theatre too. I'm hooked – roll on next Saturday's episode!

Harold Pinter is to take to the London stage in a revival of Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape at the Royal Court Theatre. Directed by outgoing artistic director Ian Rickson, the recent Nobel Prize winner is to appear in the tiny 60-seater Upstairs venue in October. He has recently been recovering from a mysterious skin condition. Also included in the final part of the Royal Court's 50th Anniversary celebrations is another revival of The Seagull (it's already playing at the National and another will open at Stratford next year, directed by Trevor Nunn), this time with Kristin Scott Thomas and Mackenzie Crook starring. Alicia Witt and Kelly Reilly will also star in Piano/Forte in the Downstairs Theatre, and the premiere of Caryl Churchill's new play – Drunk Enough To Say I Love You? – also forms part of the highlights.

Speaking of Pinter, there's a sudden obsession to revive his work. No less than three major regional theatres have programmed his plays in their Autumn seasons. Nigel Harman will be seen in The Caretaker at the Sheffield Crucible, which will also be staged in a different production on the same dates just 45 miles south at the Nottingham Playhouse (with some performances of The Dumb Waiter too). Bristol Old Vic's artistic director Simon Reade will also revive The Birthday Party, despite the fact there was a very recent London production. The Theatre by the Lake in Keswick have been performing The Birthday Party in rep since May! You know what they say, you wait ages for a bus and then..

The critically acclaimed production of Sunday in the Park with George will not extend its limited season at the Wyndham's Theatre and will end on September 2nd. It shouldn't be seen as a disappointment though; the production sold out nightly at the Menier Chocolate Factory and with a transfer secured with a new Dot in place (Jenna Russell replacing Anna Jane Casey) it extended its season a further extra six weeks to September. Now it's aiming for Broadway. The production makes extensive use of projection and video animations, which – unlike some shows where it could be seen as gimmicky – received unanimous praise from critics. 

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From This Author Jake Brunger

Jake is currently studying at Bristol University and hopes to eventually pursue a career in the theatre industry as a writer/director. His favourite writers include (read more...)