Thursday 28 January 2016

#ReadaPlayaWeek: Gone Too Far!

Plays, of course, are meant to be seen and not read, but it’s not always possible to see every play. They are not complete on the page, certainly in contemporary theatre where plays can be more collaboratively made than ever before. However, it encourages us (and hopefully others) to read more widely. For the third year, here is our #ReadaPlayaWeek initiative. And, as achieved in 2015, we shall try to choose 26 male playwrights and 26 female playwrights for our play choices.

Week 4: Bola Agbaje’s Gone Too Far! (2007)

Reading reviews of the London transfer of Anna Jordan’s play Yen at the Royal Court Upstairs earlier this week, I was surprised to read Matt Trueman’s criticism that the play was ‘as authentic a chicken nugget’ (cue flashbacks to Pomona). Trueman felt that the play over-simplified its prognosis of the boys’ problems without further looking at societal causes. Michael Billington, on the other hand, praised the play but argued that the sink estate setting was as much of a clichĂ© in contemporary drama as French windows in the 1940s.

These points were in mind when reading Agbaje’s first play Gone Too Far!, which also played at the Royal Court Upstairs. The sink estate setting is a crucible where people of different backgrounds live; a backdrop which allows Agbaje to explore the conflict between and within racial and cultural groups. Reflecting on it, it’s not a play which diagnoses the larger problems of gang culture or asks questions on the prospects of those living on the estate (like the anger in Judy Upton’s Ashes and Sand, 1994). Nor does it interrogate character’s dual sense of national identity as much as something like Roy Williams’ Sing Yer Heart Our For The Lads (2002). But what’s remarkable about Agbaje’s play is how it explores the brothers’ complexity of feelings about their heritage and how they conflict with others.

Gone Too Far! sees two brothers (one who has only lived in Britain for a couple of months after growing up in Nigeria) go out to get some milk. On the way, they bump into ignorant police officers, an anxious shopkeeper and the conflicted Armani. Whereas Yemi (the younger brother) identifies himself as British, doesn’t know what his Nigerian name means and prefers the latest fashion trends, Ikudayisi dresses in traditional Nigerian garb, speaks Yoruba and has difficulty fitting in with a place where his politeness isn’t appreciated. However, although he tries to teach Yemi about the importance of heritage and how knowing you are is about knowing where you’re from, he also chooses to speak in a dodgy American accent in social situations. What’s authentic, then, about Gone Too Far! is its complexity when it comes to characters’ identity battles, often evoked intelligently through their use of language. From this, Abgaje asks us what we see as authentic. In the end, when Yemi chooses to wear traditional dress with his latest trainers, we see his new-found confidence in embracing his dual heritage.

Among this, Abgaje ensures that the other characters are also richly-drawn. We see Armani (played by Zawe Ashton in the original production) wanting to embrace her West Indies background even though she’s only lived with her white mum, and the Muslim shopkeeper who plays prayer music but also unabashedly covers his shop in England flags.

The ending may seem a bit too neat, but Gone Too Far! is compelling because it zips along and is character-driven.

Thursday 21 January 2016


Little Theatre, Leicester
20th January, 2016

There is a line in Patrick Hamilton’s Rope about 11:25 being the hour where London theatre audiences are settling down in the dark ready to watch the third act of stuffy plays whose denouements they already know. It made me think how Hamilton’s play (first seen in 1929) rather subverts the thriller genre. We know who the murderer is and their victim. We know how they did it and we know the location of the body. What’s intriguing though is why they killed this ambitious 20 year old student; it is this idea of the psychology behind murder which Hamilton’s play explores.

Rope recommences The Little Theatre’s season of plays after the Christmas pantomime and this choice of play is great for a winter evening. Co-directors Nick Palmer and Ed Spence’s production is very well-measured. They start the proceedings by plunging the audience into darkness before bringing the lights up on Brandon and Granillo slamming the lid of the chest down when they’ve kept the body. The production (particularly in the last act) also remains tense without being overacted. However, updating the play into the 21st century, for me, wasn’t quite effective although that doesn’t particularly matter as the most important aesthetic in the play is the chest in the centre of the room. It’s like an extra character in the play, no more so effective when the lights are dimming and the bells are chiming eleven o’clock on the chest and the two murderers.

The two leads carry the play incredibly well, finding the balance between Granillo’s panicking and Brandon’s strange coolness. Robert Leeson is impressive as Rupert, particularly delivering the speech about society’s hypocrisy over celebrating war but condemning murder very well. Overall, Rope is a play which intrigues in the way it subverts the single room thriller genre, and it is well delivered in this production.

Rope runs at The Little Theatre, Leicester until Saturday.

Tuesday 19 January 2016

#ReadaPlayaWeek: Pornography

Plays, of course, are meant to be seen and not read, but it’s not always possible to see every play. They are not complete on the page, certainly in contemporary theatre where plays can be more collaboratively made than ever before. However, it encourages us (and hopefully others) to read more widely. For the third year, here is our #ReadaPlayaWeek initiative. And, as achieved in 2015, we shall try to choose 26 male playwrights and 26 female playwrights for our play choices.

Week 3: Pornography by Simon Stephens (2007)

I first came across Simon Stephens’ work (other than Curious Incident) when I was at university. I read some of the plays in his first collection, probably procrastinating from writing an essay at the time. I was struck by the mixture of grittiness and stage poetry in Bluebird, his ability to evocatively capture a time and place in Port that I thought I knew even though I might never have been there, and the concentration on intriguing and richly-drawn characters in his anti-Ayckbourn Christmas play, Christmas. My first visit to the Royal Court was to see his Birdland, a cracking play with a mercurial central performance from Andrew Scott and memorable production by Carrie Cracknell. In particular, being so interested in space, the moment where a character left the play via the fire exit at the back of the stage thus letting daylight flood into the auditorium was awesome.

Recently I’ve finished reading Pornography, about the London 7/7 bombings. It’s a testing play that, when read, makes you reflect on how you read plays and how you imagine them being staged.

The play is made up of seven scenes which can be performed in any order, although they are presented in the text going from scene seven to scene one. I should also say that the text I’m reading is out of a collection of Twenty-First Century British Plays edited by Aleks Sierz. The first six scenes (or last six?) focus on one or two people and their lives on or around 7/7. For example, in one scene we see a woman with a baby who feels ignored by her husband and who is under a lot of pressure from a big task at work. In another, we see an elderly woman possibly with dementia who feels under-appreciated by the university she writes for, and who has to walk home on the hot evening of 7/7. Of course, I don’t do justice to power of these scenes by sweeping over them in a couple of sentence. In fact, they are possibly two of the most quietly powerful and moving and focused scenes I’ve seen or read in a play. Let’s take the scene with the elderly woman for example. Her story is presented as a sort of internal monologue (although that’s not to say that’s how it would be in performance). Through providing careful insight into this woman’s life, Stephens captures a snapshot of the specifics of just one person’s day, which can then be placed against the bigger picture of the brutal events of that day and our memories of it, the enormity of London suddenly being remembered.

If something links the scenes other than the events on 7/7, it is three feelings of togetherness in London that summer. One from the G8 Summit and Live 8 concerts, another from London winning the 2012 Olympics bid on 6th July. Stephens effectively captures that time with characters talking of car horns beeping in celebration and a vivid feeling of humanity connecting. When the elderly woman’s neighbour gives her a piece of BBQ chicken at the end of her scene, the neighbour is bemused. And although he may not say it we get the feeling that he’s doing it with a sense of mutual understanding. The bombings have possibly led to a connection and a small act of kindness between these two strangers.

There are two other scenes which are incredibly testing. One of them is scene four which focuses on one of the bomber’s journey into London. I found the scene so fascinating because it connects you on a very human and recognisable level at times (from references to the Upper Crust cafĂ© at train stations or the Metro paper for example) to someone who we otherwise don’t connect with or understand. Towards the end of the scene (and I apologise for spoilers in this blog post) there’s the line: ‘Suddenly I feel lighter than I have felt in my whole life’. I read this bit of the play at about 1am also strangely feeling light, with my heart beating fast and my eyes watering as some sort of physical response to the writing. It’s a remarkable bit of writing. Theatre is a collective effort of course, and the sparsity of the stage directions in Pornography suggests that the play when performed has the potential to be a very collaborative piece of work. The full power of the play, then, isn’t got from just reading it but it’s testament to Stephens how the language effectively places you in these peoples’ lives.

Another thing which is fascinating about reading the play is that we don’t know most of the characters’ names or even who is speaking all the time. This really tests you, I found, how to imagine the play. Is it a man or a woman in this scene? Is he speaking this line or is she? Why does the gravelled driveway and front gate mentioned at the start of this scene make me think of a family man who is innocently involved in the 7/7 attacks rather than one of the bombers?

Stephens’ Pornography is a play I’ll revisit again, probably reading the scenes in a different order. It’s also a play which I’d definitely be interested in seeing to see how the director, designers and performers collaborate with Stephens’ script.

Thursday 14 January 2016

#ReadaPlayaWeek: Ghosts

Plays, of course, are meant to be seen and not read, but it’s not always possible to see every play. They are not complete on the page, certainly in contemporary theatre where plays can be more collaboratively made than ever before. However, it encourages us (and hopefully others) to read more widely. For the third year, here is our #ReadaPlayaWeek initiative. And, as achieved in 2015, we shall try to choose 26 male playwrights and 26 female playwrights for our play choices.

Week 2: Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen (1881)

I’m off to see The Master Builder at the Old Vic in February so thought I’d get to grips with some other Ibsen plays first. I studied A Doll’s House at A-Level and, much like The Tempest in high school, wasn’t enamoured by the play or the teaching of it. Trying to reclaim an appreciation for Ibsen I saw Hedda Gabler at the Old Vic and it was partly successful. The almost cinematic production was served well by a formidable cast including the perhaps oddly-matched Sheridan Smith and Adrian Scarborough. Also, Lez Brotherston’s prism of a set, which let in and trapped light as much as Hedda’s surroundings trap her, was stunning . Yet the play still seemed like a museum piece to me despite some of its relevancies.

So, when I dug out a copy of ‘Ghosts and other plays’ from a library at my local theatre, I was expecting to continually put off reading the plays or for it to take me ages to slog my way through them. Yet I’ve just finished reading Ghosts in under 2 days. It reads a lot like a thriller. And although I was imagining it being performed, it was interesting to read in the introduction that Ibsen often thought specifically about readers because a run of 12 performances back then was considered to be a success and that most of the royalties/ takings came from bookshops.

First written in 1881, but not performed until 1882 in Chicago after being rejected by Scandinavian theatres, the play is a domestic drama in 3 acts. There are many issues at play but the key one is of the ghosts of a father ruining the life of his wife and son, Mrs Alving and Oswald. This copy of the text is a translation by Peter Watts from the 1960s, and he keeps the setting in its original time and place setting but has apparently updated some of the dialogue so as not to make it appear stilted. I think he’s achieved this latter point but it does point up an interesting dilemma about translations and ‘versions’: how far can you update a play (if so wanted) to adhere to contemporary theatre practices and yet also stick to the original impetus of the play? Simon Stephens has argued that every adaptation is perhaps a failure in some way. He wrote a brilliant article about this when translating Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard for the Young Vic, which can be read here.

One of the interesting aspects in the play is the interplay between desire and the ‘joys of living’, and duty and expectations. It is striking how often the word ‘naturally’ is spoken, often about the evangelical Pastor Manders, when referring to how characters might have behaved. But what he holds up as ‘natural’ and proper behaviour may be different to Osvald’s world view, he being more artistic and having travelled. After all, Manders spends most of the play in a state of shock or apprehension, not only at the behaviours of the late Captain Alving, but also at the books Mrs Alving chooses to read and at people living together without being married. Then there's all that fuss over the insurance. It is hinted that Manders perhaps once had a flame for Mrs Alving, thus he’s a man who could be prone to ignoring his desires. It would be interesting to see how all that came out in a performance.

I was thinking about how space could be used in performance too. At times, Mrs Alving goes over to the window when talking about how she tried to protect her husband’s memory. It is as if she’s looking out of the window for clarity, maybe, but the perpetual rain and dreariness outside won’t provide her with a pathway. Reading reviews of Richard Eyre’s production at the Almeida, Tim Hatley’s transparent design seems like it could have been effective to give the audience an idea of the house’s surroundings. Then there's the red light of the orphanage fire at the end of act two, adding an intense heat on the scene but acting as a reminder of the sins of Captain Alving (but the fire also strangely lifts those?). Act three opens with all the doors open and the bright sun rising at the end of the play (a let-up for all that Norwegian rain and murkiness), evoking happiness and hope but also acting as a painful reminder of the lifestyle Osvald wants but one which his illness stops him from attaining. Maybe even ‘the glaciers and the peaks’ that the sun shines off at the end of the play is a hint at the idea of ascension that I keep reading about in Ibsen’s plays (Ibsen 1977: 101).

It is through Ghosts that my under-appreciation and slight ignorance of Ibsen’s work has begun to be lifted.

Thursday 7 January 2016

#ReadaPlayaWeek 2016: Here We Go

Plays, of course, are meant to be seen and not read, but it’s not always possible to see every play. They are not complete on the page, certainly in contemporary theatre where plays can be more collaboratively made than ever before. However, it encourages us (and hopefully others) to read more widely. For the third year, here is our #ReadaPlayaWeek initiative. And, as achieved in 2015, we shall try to choose 26 male playwrights and 26 female playwrights for our play choices.

Week 1: Caryl Churchill's Here We Go (2015)

I read Caryl Churchill’s Here We Go in Foyles on Charing Cross Road when I had some time to spare when in London. Sorry Caryl Churchill. Sorry Foyles. Although I will most likely buy another Churchill play soon. And I did buy something else on that visit to Foyles. Interestingly, although my main purpose on that trip was to see Pinter’s The Homecoming in the West End, Here We Go seems to have made a lasting impression. I couldn’t get to see Dominic Cooke’s production during its rather short run at the National (hence one reason to want to read it), but, from reading reviews, I gathered it was very divisive and focused on death.

The play is a triptych of acts: ‘Here We Go’ is set at a wake after a funeral; ‘After’ in some sort of void after the man’s death; ‘Getting There’ before the man’s passing in a care home.

In the first act, the lines are clipped so we only get the gist of what the characters are saying. But the fragments of speech that they say are the most crucial parts of what they’re saying. Churchill is so observant of everyday speech. Over the act and the catches of conversation, we build up a picture of the dead man: Labour, ran to be MP, was once a looker (although the text says that it doesn’t necessarily have to be the same person who has deceased in each act). When reading a play, you try to imagine it staged. Staging the play, I guess that a director is faced with the decision of whether to surround the glimpses of conversation with moments of silence as if left to complete the sentences ourselves or to move straight onto the next line. In Cooke’s production, I hear, he went for the latter option, constantly moving the act and different conversations forward. It is remarkable that the deceased man has more of a presence in this act despite not being in it, compared to act three which he is in.

At the end of the first act are bits of speech of how characters die which Churchill stipulates that the actors should spontaneously step forward and interrupt the flow of the scene to address the audience. What a challenge to a group of performers to have to work together to allow these spontaneous additions. Plus, how brilliant is it of the playwright to reflect the play’s subject matter in the form of the play? The actors are expecting the speeches but don’t know when just like we know we are going to die but don’t know when. The last, and most striking of these, (although the morbidity of them all is strangely fascinating) is of someone (we don’t quite know who in the text) saying how she commits suicide and regrets how her body was found (if I’m remembering correctly). It ends the act (in the text at least) on an uneasy note of regret and the unknown which, in a way, is a neat way of seguing into act two.

If the sparsity of the language in the first act is Churchill not over-egging the pudding, act two sees an almost stream of unconscious thought. Like Beckett’s Not I but with more focus on the body, it sees the man, now dead, question where he is, what will happen to his soul and body and ponder over a lot of what ifs. That is if I’m remembering it right, the hustle and bustle of Christmas shoppers around me at that point made me perhaps go through the scene at a pace which is perhaps not unlike how it could be performed. He mentions mythic gods and wonders about the possibilities of life after death, questioning the unknowns of death. How daring, some might say, it is of Churchill (now 77) to push past those taboos of death and to put on stage thoughts about death that are perhaps not often heard.

Death in theatre can make audiences uncomfortable. The opening scene in Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen (beautifully orchestrated by director Matthew Dunster) had the audience in stitches one moment with the characters’ jibes at the north and inappropriately-timed grammatical corrections. Then, as the rope is put round Hennessy’s neck and the floor opens up to hang a most-probably innocent man, we were in stunned silence. Likewise, in Catherine Hayes’ formally tedious play Skirmishes, we are expecting the elderly and mostly unconscious Mother (as she’s called) to die at some point throughout the play. It is enough, then, to provoke uncomfortable (perhaps risible?) laughter when, after eventually passing away, she alarmingly comes back to life after a few moments. Hayes’ point, perhaps, is that death can be painfully drawn-out for the dying and their loved ones.

The third act of Here We Go, from one perspective, seems to dramatise that decline in old age. If he is the same man spoken about in the first act and of whose many achievements we hear, here he is reduced to an ailing body, his life a repeated series of simple actions. It’s sad and made me think of elderly relatives and is also a reminder of the way elderly people can be treated. The act’s title, ‘Getting There’, could refer to his approaching death but also made me think of what the scene is getting to, dramatically. I would have been curious to see Cooke’s production. The act’s length may have been tedious at times but I’m guessing tedium and becoming conscious of yourself and the bodies around you is part of it. On the page, the man is continually dressed and undressed ‘for as long as the scene lasts’, leaving it up to the director to decide its actual playing length. But there are two characters in this scene. It’s a scene of binaries: the carer and the patient, the old and the young. But interestingly, as Matt Trueman has also pointed out, they now share the same life, carrying out the simple tasks, dressing and undressing, walking to the chair and to the bed, in the care home.

Churchill is always pushing the boundaries of form in theatre. Here We Go is no exception. It is testing and inventive and as perplexing as its subject. I have so many thoughts about the play, all of which I can’t articulate here, but Here We Go has made me look forward to her new play, Escaped Alone which opens at the Royal Court later this month, even more.

Sunday 3 January 2016

Kinky Boots

Adelphi, London
2nd January 2016, matinee

On 9th June 2013 musical history was made as Cyndi Lauper became the first solo woman to win a Tony Award for Best Score. And it was thoroughly deserved. Her joyously catchy pop score for the musical adaptation of the 2005 film Kinky Boots - based upon a true story about a Northampton shoe factory which boosted business by creating custom heels for men – is perfectly matched to the subject matter; sparkling disco numbers and euphoric power ballads beautifully unite the seemingly opposing worlds of Lola and her troupe of drag queens, the Angels, and the small town midlanders of Price & Son. Now Jerry Mitchell’s Broadway hit has transferred to the Adelphi theatre in the West End, the musical returning to its British roots while retaining the American gloss which ensured its transatlantic success.

The musical opens by introducing us to two outwardly different, but ultimately similar, boys; young Simon gleefully struts across the stage in his red stilettos until he is lambasted by his father for daring to be different, meanwhile young Charlie is given a guided tour of his father’s pride and joy, the Price & Son factory, celebrating ‘the most beautiful thing in the world’ – shoes! Years later the now adult Charlie (Killian Donnelly) is unwittingly saddled with the struggling business upon the death of his beloved dad and is yet to be accepted by the disgruntled factory workers. Yet a chance meeting with London cabaret performer, Lola (Matt Henry), presents a ‘kinky’ solution to his problems. The odd dramatic contrivance aside – Charlie’s out-of-character homophobia in act 2 is a bolt from the blue, although this is also true of the film – Harvey Fierstein’s book is laden with gags and British sauciness and Mitchell’s choreography is inventive, particularly the entertaining use of the factory conveyor belts in ‘Everybody Say Yeah’, impressive considering half the cast dance and sing effortlessly in six inch heels!

But it is Lauper’s score which truly brings the show to life. Songs such as ‘Sex Is In The Heel’, ‘The History Of Wrong Guys’, and the blazing Whitney-esque ‘Hold Me In Your Heart’ are modern classics of the pop-musical genre. Standing out in the best possible way, Matt Henry is a tour de force as Lola. Owning the stage, Henry’s feistiness and self-aware humour mask a sensitive vulnerability which is revealed in the heartfelt ‘Not My Father’s Son’. Amy Lennox’s uninhibited turn as the hopelessly infatuated Lauren is an absolute hoot, eliciting laughs with just a tilt of her head. Thus, perhaps inevitably, Donnelly’s Charlie is somewhat overshadowed, playing the straight-laced foil to the more showy performances from Henry, Lennox and the Angels, but he eventually gets his opportunity to shine and show off his fine vocals with the fist-pumping ‘Soul Of A Man’. Supported by an exemplary ensemble, the big musical numbers soar with a sense of fun and pure joy – this is a party we are all invited to.

Kinky Boots is a high-energy, glittering gem of a musical with a worthy sentiment to boot: to dispel prejudices, embrace our differences, and ‘just be who you want to be’. Some fine performances, feel-good laughs and memorable songs make for an ecstatic theatrical experience and I fully expect both the cast and creative team to be acknowledged come awards season.

Kinky Boots is currently booking until 28th May 2016 at the Adelphi Theatre

Friday 1 January 2016

Theatre to look forward to in 2016

Matthew Warchus’ exciting opening season at the Old Vic continues with starry productions of classic plays, including David Hare’s new version of Ibsen’s The Master Builder with Ralph Fiennes, and Pinter’s The Caretaker with Timothy Spall. Warchus is then collaborating with Tim Minchin once again (after their award-winning production of Matilda the Musical) to produce Groundhog Day the Musical this summer. 2016 also sees the 50th anniversary of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and the 20th anniversary of Yasmina Reza’s ‘Art’ being staged in London. Both could be staged by Warchus this year. Warchus has been open that he doesn’t have the star power of Spacey but you wouldn’t think so looking at his plans for the Old Vic. He is producing shorter runs of more productions, and has also secured commercial investment with producers Sonia Friedman and Scott Rudin forming partnerships with the theatre. The Master Builder will be transferring to Broadway in the Autumn and we will be seeing it in February.

The RSC is commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016 with some exciting productions. Paapa Essiedu leads the cast as the RSC’s first black Hamlet, seasoned RSC actor Antony Sher gives his King Lear directed by Greg Doran, whilst Simon Russell Beale returns to Stratford to play Prospero in The Tempest. Elsewhere in their season are productions of Cymbeline in the RST, and Doctor Faustus and Don Quixote in the Swan. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is also playing in Stratford-Upon-Avon and on tour with amateur casts playing The Mechanicals.

The Royal Court’s 60th year season kicks off with a cultural event: a new Caryl Churchill play, Escaped Alone. There’s also Alistair McDowall’s new play, X, which is set in space, to look forward to after Pomona was one of the highlight’s of the year. 2013’s Bruntwood prize-winning play Yen, by Anna Jordan, makes its London debut in January and a new play by Charlene James, Cuttin’ It, about FGM, opens at the Young Vic this Spring before playing at the Birmingham Rep and then the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs. At the National, Edinburgh triumphs Iphigenia in Splott and The Life of Sugar Water make their London debuts in the Temporary Theatre. Both of them are also touring. Other highlights at the NT include Pulitzer prize-winning play The Flick by Annie Baker and Katie Mitchell’s production of Sarah Kane’s Cleansed in the Dorfman. In the Lyttleton, there is a contemporary new version of Erdman’s The Suicide and, in the Olivier, Rufus Norris directs Rory Kinnear in Simon Stephens’ new version of Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera.

Elsewhere in London, Florian Zeller’s The Mother opens at the Tricycle Theatre in January followed by his farce The Truth opening at the Menier Chocolate Factory in the Spring. His acclaimed play, The Father, is on tour starring Kenneth Cranham. Early in 2016, former Kneehigh AD Emma Rice is expected announce her first season as Shakespeare’s Globe’s Artistic Director and, in February, Robert Icke (director of Oresteia and Mr Burns) adapts and directs Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya starring Paul Rhys, Jessica Brown Findlay and Vanessa Kirby. There has also been talk of some Shakespeare at the Almeida, with Ralph Fiennes and Andrew Scott. In the West End, Jack Thorne’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, parts one and two, opens at the Palace Theatre in the Summer, starring Jamie Parker as Harry. From Broadway, New York hit comedy, Hand to God, opens at the Vaudeville in February (and we have tickets), whilst new Disney mega-musical Aladdin opens at the Prince Edward in the Summer. Meanwhile, new British musical Mrs Henderson Presents transfers from Bath to the Noel Coward Theatre. Furthermore, it is expected that Pinter’s No Man’s Land will be on at some point, starring Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart, and Jamie Lloyd directs Genet’s The Maids at the Trafalgar Studios.

Regionally, Richard Wilson is directing another new Richard Bean play. Titled The Nap, it is about a young snooker champion and it’s playing, no less, at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre. Torben Betts’ Invincible, which premiered at the St James’ Theatre in 2014, is touring. Birmingham Rep, Manchester Royal Exchange and Talawa Theatre are staging King Lear with Don Warrington in the title role. And Bristol Old Vic are celebrating 250 years (the oldest English-language speaking theatre, apparently) with many different productions, one of which being Richard Eyre’s production of O’Neill’s 20th century masterpiece Long Day’s Journey into Night, starring Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville.