Re-review: Girl From The North Country, Noël Coward

Poster for the transfer of Girl from the North Country at the Noel Coward Theatre

“What did you expect?”

After a hugely successful run at the Old Vic, Girl From The North Country transfers to the Noël Coward with the majority of its cast and all of its melancholy soul intact. Seeing Sheila Atim transform ‘Tight Connection To My Heart’ into the most heartfelt of laments was one of my highlights of 2017 and seeing it once again made me feel like it could easily be one of the highlights of 2018 as well.

Her performance is symptomatic of what makes this show so fantastic. The secret weapon in Conor McPherson’s production is the arrangement of the Bob Dylan songs by Simon Hale, an interpretative masterstroke which weaves the music into the very fabric of these people’s lives. (Though whether that makes this a musical remains anyone’s guess.)

Continue reading “Re-review: Girl From The North Country, Noël Coward”

Cast for the West End transfer of Girl From The North Country announced

Conor McPherson’s Girl From The North Country was an absolutely glorious thing at the Old Vic this summer and I’m pleased to see that its relatively slow-burning success has translated into a West End transfer. It is also gratifying to see that many of the original cast of this Bob Dylan musical (or play with songs if you’re precious like that) are remaining with the production, especially Shirley Henderson and Sheila Atim, who I suspect we should be looking out for come awards season.

The cast announced thus far for the transfer:
Sheila Atim plays Marianne Laine.
Hannah Azuonye is part of the ensemble.
Mary Doherty is part of the ensemble.
Bronagh Gallagher plays Mrs Burke.
David Ganly plays Mr. Burke.
Shirley Henderson plays Elizabeth Laine.
Ciaran Hinds plays Nick Laine.
Adam James plays Dr. Walker.
Claudia Jolly plays Katherine Draper.
Karl Johnson plays Mr Perry.
Arinzé Kene plays Joe Scott.
Emmanuel Kojo is part of the ensemble.
Debbie Kurup plays Mrs Neilsen.
Tim McMullan plays Reverend Walker.
Sam Reid plays Gene Laine.
Jack Shalloo plays Elias Burke.

TV Review: Doctor Foster Series 2

“How does this end Simon?”

In some ways, you can’t blame ’em for trying to replicate the extraordinary success of the first series of Doctor Foster, quality drama that fast became a rare appointment-to-view fixture  with a rare return to weekly instalments.  And given that writer Mike Bartlett is known for his prolific nature, that a second series quickly came into the offing was no great surprise.

But it can be hard to recapture the magic and though all of the key players have returned – most notably warring ex-couple Suranne Jones’ Gemma and Bertie Carvel’s Simon – this set of five episodes has really suffered from a lack of raison d’être. Waves of vicious revenge percolate throughout but with no discernible driving narrative beyond that, it proved far less engaging.

Not even the presence of a veritable treasure trove of theatrical luminaries – Victoria Hamilton, Adam James, Thusitha Jayasundera, Prasanna Puwanarajah, Siân Brooke to name but a few – could rescue the show from the dullness of retreading old ground and a wearying sense of not giving a shit about anyone here, particularly in the interminable longueurs of the final episode.


TV Review: King Charles III, BBC2

“I ask no less than power to achieve my will in fair exchange for total service to the state”

Uneasy lies the head that waits for the crown. Mike Barlett’s King Charles III was a deserved award-winning success when it took the Almeida by storm in 2014, transferring into the West End and then Broadway, later touring the UK and Australia too. Its success lay in the conception of a Shakespearean future history play, written in verse but set in a world recognisably our own, where Prince George is nonchalanting eating croissants, Queen Elizabeth II has just passed and before he has even been crowned, Charles finds himself in a constitutional crisis of his own making. A bold but welcome move from the BBC to commission a version then.
Directed as it was onstage by Rupert Goold and adapted by Bartlett (the narrative has been telescoped down by over an hour), it re-emerges as a powerful, pacy drama, a fascinating look into how the relationship between monarchy and government could so easily shift at a time of transition, anchored by an achingly nuanced performance from Tim Pigott-Smith in the title role. The ache is of course deepened by the actor’s death last month but that sadness shouldn’t overshadow the quality of his work here, masterful in his command of the verse, mesmerising as a man trapped by history.
Trimming the play down was clearly a necessity but you can’t help but wish it had stretched out just a little longer than the 90 minutes. The slow burn of the opening third or so is deliberately set to allow the cycling up to intense political thriller territory, but it does mean that the final third ends up feeling a little hurried, the dramatic resolution perhaps a little too easy here. But the journey is fantastic, the co-opting of Shakespearean convention with contemporary reference points (press freedom, the NHS, a junior prince involved in a mixed-race relationship – Bartlett impressively predicting the future there) perfectly encapsulates the contradictions of this Charles and Pigott-Smith mines the role for all its humane tragedy, aided by the Latinate choral beauty of Jocelyn Pook’s compositions. 
Goold also managed to tempt back a large number of the original leading cast for this adaptation. Adam James’ all-too-unlikeable PM, Margot Leicester’s under-used Camilla, Oliver Chris’ uncanny William and Richard Goulding’s “ginger joke” of a Harry all impressing once more. I’d have to check the playtext but I think Harry suffered a little in the edit, though I was most pleased to see Tamara Lawrance as his ‘commoner’ intended, an actress doing vivid work onstage at the moment in Twelfth Night and making the absolute most by shining in her limited screen time here.
But even if even the marvellous Katie Brayben could return to reprise her passing appearances as the ghost of the sainted Diana, and I’d forgotten just how delicious her scenes were, I wonder why Lydia Wilson wasn’t onboard to give her Kate once more. No slight on Charlotte Riley who was very good as the most forcefully ambitious of the younger generation, the allusions to Lady Macbeth an easy one but nonetheless compelling. So a much-welcomed opportunity to revisit this most excellent of plays and hopefully an introduction to the power of theatre for those new to this world.

Countdown to new Who: Doctor Who Specials 2008-2010

“Because your song is ending, sir…It is returning. It is returning through the dark. And then, Doctor? Oh, but then… He will knock four times.”

Cos he’s special, David Tennant got to spread his farewell over 4 specials from Christmas 2008 to New Year 2010, and as this also marked Russell T Davies’ departure from the show, the stories start off grand and rise to operatic scales of drama by the time we hit the megalithic The End of Time. That finale works well in its quieter moments but does suffer a little from an overabundance of plot and whatnot. The Next Doctor and Planet of the Dead are good value for money romps but it is The Waters of Mars and all its attendant darkness that stands out most, teasing all the complex arrogance of a God-figure gone wrong.


Episodes, in order of preference

The Waters of Mars
The End of Time
The Next Doctor
Planet of the Dead

Top 5 guest spots

1 Bernard Cribbens’ Wilf, graduating from guest appearances to fully-fledged companion for The End of Time was a masterstroke – their ruminative conversations a powerful counterpoint to all the bombast
2 As the would-be Doctor in The Next Doctor, David Morrissey’s pained eloquence was just lovely, all the more so for its initial unexpectedness

3 Lindsay Duncan’s intense Captain Adelaide Brooke and her defeat of the Time Lord Victorious and all his hubris – wow.
4 Velile Tshabalala’s Rosita – another to add to the list of companions that could have been
5 This series also saw the last appearance of Lachele Carl’s US newsreader Trinity Wells, a constant since the reboot whose brief reports were always nice to see.

Saddest death

I’m probably supposed to say Ten here but the portentousness of the farewell tour was too much even for me, so Adelaide’s demise gets the nod for being so fantastically dark 

Most wasted guest actor

Catherine Tate – given the sledgehammer of Donna’s departure, bringing her back so minimally in this way felt like a slap in the face

Most important thing that is never mentioned again

Are the Weeping Angels Gallifreyan in origin as hinted here? Or is it just me?

Gay agenda rating

F – with the focus on Tennant’s (and Davies’) departure, I think they forgot about the gays (Alonso and Jack’s implied hook-up aside)

Review: Consent, National

“Of course I have disposable income, I rent in Zone 4”

It’s black and white – no means no. That should be enough right? Except all too often, sadly it isn’t, and the many different ways in which this is true form the bedrock of Consent, Nina Raine’s new play for the National Theatre, co-produced with Out of Joint. From the multitude of ways in which consent can be exploited by the legal profession in the public sphere, to the brutal, personal intimacy of how it impacts on a disintegrating marriage, Raine plays interestingly and intelligently with shades of grey.
Barristers Ed and Tim are on opposing sides of a rape case and there’s little love lost between them personally either, as the perennially single Tim is a long-term friend of his wife Kitty, who is trying to set him up with another pal, actress Zara (played by the wonderful Daisy Haggard). And as Ed and Tim do battle around the finer points of Gayle’s case – she alleges she was raped on the day of her sister’s funeral – with their focus on legally outmanoeuvring the other rather than on the victim, a twist that puts all their private lives under the microscope shifts their perspective entirely.
Raine’s ease with the archness of slippery legalese is magnificent and finds its apogee in a deftly constructed scene of personal animosity and sexual jealousies being played out under the guise of explaining various strategies in the modern lawyer’s playbook. Ben Chaplin’s arrogant Ed and Pip Carter’s deceptively placid Tim ratchet up the tension well, but it is when Ed and Anna Maxwell Martin’s superbly restless Kitty’s imploding marriage becomes the focus of the play that the full complexities of its issues hit home.
S with director Roger Michell carefully steering his characters through Hildegard Bechtler’s slickly confrontational design, we see the struggle between what is rational and what is empathetic, what is justice and what is fair, not only in court but in life. Does consent even really exist in the way we assume it does? It is weighty stuff, but cleverly balanced with a rich vein of dark humour, often delivered by Adam James and Priyanga Burford as Ed and Kitty’s friends – both lawyers and also a complicated couple.
With its focus firmly on the upper middle classes, Raine’s plotting does feel a little contrived, especially given that Heather Craney’s deeply humane Gayle is reduced to an overtly working-class plot device of a role, who improbably forces her way back into the action solely to provide a dramatic turning point for the other characters. But there’s much to enjoy in the intricate thought-patterns of a play that is unafraid to ask bold questions about what justice and forgiveness really mean.
Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Sarah Lee
Booking until 17th May


News: so much goodness at the National Theatre 2017-18

Mountains of info was released by the National Theatre about their plans for 2017-18 at this morning’s press conference, so much that I’m still digesting the half of it. Particular stand-outs on the first sift though, are

  • Ivo van Hove’s return (after his Hedda Gabler) with a world premiere adaptation of Network, with no less than Heisenberg himself, Bryan Cranston making his UK stage debut
  • The cast of Nina Raine’s Consent including Priyanga Burford, Pip Carter, Ben Chaplin, Heather Craney, Daisy Haggard, Adam James and Anna Maxwell Martin.
  • The glorious Amadeus returning in the new year, Michael Longhurst’s stellar production wisely keeping its two leads of Lucian Msamati and Adam Gillen intact
  • The Headlong co-production of DC Moore’s Common will see Anne-Marie Duff return to the South Bank along with Trevor Fox.
  • And Duff is clearly in for the long haul, as she’ll also appear in Macbeth with Rory Kinnear, a taster of which we saw at the Shakespeare Live event
  • Cast and creatives for Yaël Farber’s Salomé have been announced too. It is designed by Susan Hilferty with lighting design by Tim Lutkin, music and sound by Adam Cork, movement direction by Ami Shulman, fight direction by Kate Waters and dramaturgy by Drew Lichtenberg. Cast includes Philip Arditti, Paul Chahidi, Ramzi Choukair, Uriel Emil, Olwen Fouéré, Roseanna Frascona, Aidan Kelly, Yasmin Levy, Theo T J Lowe, Isabella Niloufar, Lubana al Quntar, Raad Rawi and Stanley Townsend.

    More, much more, information after the jump.

Natioanl Theatre Press Release

  • Ivo van Hove follows his acclaimed Hedda Gabler with the world premiere of Network, with Bryan Cranston making his UK stage debut
  • Anne-Marie Duff returns to the National Theatre in Common,and will appear alongside Rory Kinnear in Macbeth in 2018,directed by Rufus Norris
  • Award-winning playwright Annie Baker (The Flick) returns with the European premiere of her new play John in the Dorfman
  • John Tiffany directs the world premiere of Pinocchio
  • Saint George and the Dragon, Beginning and The Majority continue the NT’s commitment to new work and contemporary stories on our stages
  • 12 new plays, 50% of which are written by women, will open in the next 12 months
  • People, Places & Things transfers to St Ann’s Warehouse, New York
  • The NT will tour to 47 venues in 35 towns and cities across the UK in 2017-18
  • Co-productions with Fuel, Headlong, Out of Joint, Improbable, and West Yorkshire Playhouse
  • Double the number of Entry Pass tickets for young people under 26



SAINT GEORGE AND THE DRAGON Rory Mullarkey’s epic new folk play tells of a knight who became a myth, and a country in need of a story. The world premiere is directed by National Theatre Associate Lyndsey Turner with design by Rae Smith, lighting design by Bruno Poet, music by Grant Olding, choreography by Lynne Page and sound design by Christopher Shutt. Opening in October 2017. Hundreds of Travelex tickets at £15 available per performance.

MACBETH Rufus Norris directs Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff in Shakespeare’s darkest tragedy 25 years after his last Shakespeare production. Opening in spring 2018. Broadcast to cinemas by NT Live in 2018.

AMADEUS Michael Longhurst’s sell-out production of Peter Shaffer’s masterpiece returns to the Olivier. Lucian Msamati and Adam Gillen once again lead the company of actors, singers and musicians. Amadeus is directed by Michael Longhurst with design by Chloe Lamford, music direction and additional music by Simon Slater, choreography by Imogen Knight, lighting design by Jon Clark and sound design by Paul Arditti. Amadeus is produced in association with Southbank Sinfonia, supported by the Amadeus production syndicate. Opening in January 2018.


NETWORK Lee Hall’s new adaptation of the Oscar-winning film by Paddy Chayefsky is directed by Ivo van Hove. Cast includes Tony award winner Bryan Cranston (All the Way, Breaking Bad and Trumbo for which he was nominated for both an Oscar and a BAFTA) in the role of Howard Beale. Set and lighting design by Jan Versweyveld, video design by Tal Yarden, costume design by An D’Huys, music by Eric Sleichim and sound design by Tom Gibbons. Network is produced in association with Patrick Myles, David Luff, Ros Povey and Lee Menzies. Production supported by Marcia Grand for the memory of Richard Grand. Opening in November 2017.


THE MAJORITY Following the acclaimed run of Bullet Catch in The Shed, Rob Drummond returns to the National with a new one-man show about democracy. Directed by David Overend and opening in August 2017. Originally co-commissioned with The Arches, Glasgow.

BEGINNING In the early hours of the morning, in the aftermath of a party in north London, two people meet. And nothing will ever be the same for them again. The world premiere of David Eldridge’s new play is directed by Polly Findlay. With design by Fly Davis, lighting design by Jack Knowles and sound design by Paul Arditti. Opening in October 2017.

JOHN Following The Flick in 2016, Annie Baker returns to the Dorfman with her new play, John. James Macdonald directs the European premiere, with a cast including Georgia Engel. Opening in early 2018.



Will now run until 13 May, previews from 15 February

Simon Godwin directs this joyous new production. Tamsin Greig is a transformed Malvolia, performing alongside Adam Best, Oliver Chris, Claire Cordier, Imogen Doel, Mary Doherty, Ammar Duffus, Daniel Ezra, Phoebe Fox, Whitney Kehinde, Emmanuel Kojo, Tamara Lawrance, Andrew Macbean, Doon Mackichan, Tim McMullan, Brad Morrison, Daniel Rigby, Imogen Slaughter, James Wallace and Niky Wardley. The production will be designed by Soutra Gilmour, lighting by James Farncombe, movement by Shelley Maxwell, music by Michael Bruce, sound by Christopher Shutt, and fight direction by Kev McCurdy.

A ship is wrecked on the rocks. Viola is washed ashore but her twin brother Sebastian is lost. Determined to survive on her own, she steps out to explore a new land. So begins a whirlwind of mistaken identity and unrequited love. The nearby households of Olivia and Orsino are overrun with passion. Even Olivia’s uptight housekeeper Malvolia is swept up in the madness. Where music is the food of love and nobody is quite what they seem, anything proves possible.

Broadcast to cinemas by NT Live on 6 April.


Previews from 2 May, continuing in the repertoire until 15 July.

Salomé in a new version by Yaël Farber

The story has been told before, but never like this.
An occupied desert nation. A radical from the wilderness on hunger strike. A girl whose mysterious dance will change the course of the world. This charged retelling turns the infamous biblical tale on its head, placing the girl we call Salomé at the centre of a revolution.

Internationally acclaimed director Yaël Farber (Les Blancs) draws on multiple accounts to create her urgent, hypnotic production on the Olivier stage.

Salomé is designed by Susan Hilferty with lighting design by Tim Lutkin, music and sound by Adam Cork, movement direction by Ami Shulman, fight direction by Kate Waters and dramaturgy by Drew Lichtenberg. Cast includes Philip Arditti, Paul Chahidi, Ramzi Choukair, Uriel Emil, Olwen Fouéré, Roseanna Frascona, Aidan Kelly, Yasmin Levy, Theo T J Lowe, Isabella Niloufar, Lubana al Quntar, Raad Rawi and Stanley Townsend.

Hundreds of Travelex tickets at £15 available per performance.

Broadcast to cinemas by NT Live on 22 June.


Previews from 30 May,

A co-production with Headlong.

Mary’s the best liar, rogue, thief and faker in this whole septic isle. And she’s back.
As the factory smoke of the industrial revolution belches out from the cities, Mary is swept up in the battle of her former home. The common land, belonging to all, is disappearing.
D C Moore’s dark and funny new play is an epic tale of unsavoury action and England’s lost land.

Headlong’s Artistic Director, Jeremy Herrin, (People, Places and Things, This House) directs Anne-Marie Duff as Mary. Cast includes Trevor Fox. Design is by Richard Hudson, lighting design by Paule Constable, music by Stephen Warbeck and sound design by Ian Dickinson.

Hundreds of Travelex tickets at £15 available per performance.


Further casting has been announced for Follies, which will be directed by Dominic Cooke, book by James Goldman and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Joining Imelda Staunton will be Dame Josephine Barstow, Tracie Bennett, Janie Dee, Peter Forbes and Phillip Quast. Design will be by Vicki Mortimer, choreography by Bill Deamer, musical supervision by Nicholas Skilbeck, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, musical direction by Nigel Lilley, lighting design by Paule Constable and sound design by Paul Groothuis. Opening in August 2017.



Ends 21 March

Just married. Buried alive. Hedda longs to be free …

Ruth Wilson plays the title role in a new version of Ibsen’s masterpiece, by Patrick Marber. Directed by Ivo van Hove, set and lighting design by Jan Versweyveld, costume design by An D’Huys, sound design by Tom Gibbons. Production supported by the Williams Charitable Trust.

Broadcast to cinemas by NT Live on 9 March.


Ugly Lies the Bone by Lindsey Ferrentino makes its European premiere.

‘Beauty is but skin deep, ugly lies the bone; beauty dies and fades away, but ugly holds its own.’ After three tours in Afghanistan and months in a severe burns unit, Jess finally returns to Florida. In a small town on the Space Coast, as the final shuttle is about the launch, Jess must confront her scars, and a home that may have changed even more than her. Experimenting with pioneering virtual reality therapy, she builds a breathtaking new world where she can escape her pain. There, she begins to restore her relationships, her life and, slowly, herself.

Award-winning playwright Lindsey Ferrentino’s honest and funny new drama is directed by Indhu Rubasingham, with set design by Es Devlin, video design by Luke Halls, costume design by Johanna Coe, lighting design by Oliver Fenwick, music and sound by Ben and Max Ringham, movement direction by Lucy Hind and fight direction by Rachel Brown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown of RC-Annie Ltd. The cast is Marianne Adams, Katy Brittain, Olivia Darnley, Buffy Davis, Kate Fleetwood, Ralf Little, Kris Marshall, Tom Peters and Siân Polhill-Thomas.

Hundreds of Travelex tickets at £15 available per performance.

ANGELS IN AMERICA: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes

Previews from 11 April, continuing in repertoire

America in the mid-1980s. In the midst of the AIDS crisis, and a conservative Reagan administration, New Yorkers grapple with life and death, love and sex, heaven and hell.

This new staging of Tony Kushner’s multi-award-winning two-part play is directed by Olivier and Tony award-winning director Marianne Elliott (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and War Horse). Part One: Millennium Approaches was first performed at the NT in 1992, and was joined by Perestroika in a double-bill the following year. 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the shows.

Set design is by Ian MacNeil, costume design by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting design by Paule Constable, choreography and movement by Robby Graham, music by Adrian Sutton, sound design by Ian Dickinson, puppetry direction and movement by Finn Caldwell, puppetry design by Finn Caldwell and Nick Barnes, illusions by Chris Fisher, aerial direction by Gwen Hales and fight direction by Kate Waters.

The cast is Stuart Angell, Mark Arnold, Arun Blair-Mangat, Susan Brown, Laura Caldow, Andrew Garfield, Denise Gough, Kate Harper, John Hastings, Claire Lambert, Nathan Lane, Amanda Lawrence, James McArdle, Becky Namgauds, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Russell Tovey, Paksie Vernon, Stan West and Lewis Wilkins.

The Angels in America ballot presented by Delta – each week hundreds of £20 tickets will be released in a ballot for the following week’s performances.

Broadcast to cinemas by NT Live – Part One on 20 July, Part Two on 27 July


John Tiffany directs the world premiere of Pinocchio by Dennis Kelly, with songs and score from the Walt Disney film by Leigh Harline, Ned Washington and Paul J. Smith newly adapted by Martin Lowe. With design and puppet co-design by Bob Crowley, lighting design by Paule Constable, music supervision, orchestrations and additional music by Martin Lowe, choreography by Steven Hoggett, puppet co-design and puppetry direction by Toby Olié, sound design by Simon Baker and illusions by Jamie Harrison. Presented by special arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions. Opening in the Lyttelton in December 2017.



28 February – 22 March, prior to national tour, see p10 for details

Britannia has called a meeting, to listen to her people. Form an orderly queue.

In the months following the Brexit vote, a team of interviewers from the NT spoke to people nationwide, hearing their views on Britain, the community they live in, and the referendum. Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and Director of the NT Rufus Norris put those conversations centre stage in this new production, which opens in London before playing at venues around the country. Designed by Katrina Lindsay, lighting design by Paul Knott, Music by David Shrubsole and sound design by Alex Caplen. The cast for My Country; a work in progress are Seema Bowri, Cavan Clarke, Laura Elphinstone, Adam Ewan, Penny Layden, Stuart McQuarrie and Christian Patterson. Created in collaboration with eight UK arts organisations in association with Cusack Projects Limited.

The NT today announces a new behind-the-scenes BBC Radio 4 documentary, which will track the development of Rufus Norris’ new play My Country: a work in progress. The Radio 4 programme captures the development of the creative process for the NT’s production My Country: a work in progress. It follows the rehearsal process as Rufus Norris, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and designer Katrina Lindsay work with the interviewers, their material and the cast to bring to life this current and compelling verbatim play.


4 – 18 March

A co-production with Improbable. Imagine older actors in their 70s and 80s, actors who have spent their lives being other people, bringing life to other people’s words. Imagine they were on stage with nothing but themselves and no worlds but their own. No script, no map, a different show every night, all they have is a lifetime of theatre to help them find their way.

Lost Without Words is co-directed by Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson with design by Katrina Lindsay, lighting design by Colin Grenfell and music by Steven Edis. The cast is Georgine Anderson, Caroline Blakiston, Anna Calder-Marshall, Lynn Farleigh, Charles Kay and Tim Preece.


Previews from 28 March, playing until 17 May

A co-production with Out of Joint.

Consent by Nina Raine will receive its world premiere in the Dorfman Theatre. Why is justice blind? Is she impartial? Or is she blinkered? This powerful, painful and funny play sifts the evidence in a rape case from every side and puts justice in the dock. Directed by Roger Michell with set design by Hildegard Bechtler, costume design by Dinah Collin, lighting design by Rick Fisher and sound design by John Leonard. Cast includes Priyanga Burford, Pip Carter, Ben Chaplin, Heather Craney, Daisy Haggard, Adam James and Anna Maxwell Martin.


Previews from 30 May, in repertoire until 8 July

A co-production with Fuel and West Yorkshire Playhouse. A new play by Inua Ellams, directed by Bijan Sheibani.

Newsroom, political platform, local hot-spot, confession box, preacher-pulpit and football stadium. For generations, African men have gathered in barber shops to discuss the world.

This dynamic new play journeys from a barber shop in London, to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra. These are places where the banter can be barbed and the truth is always telling.

Barber Shop Chronicles is Inua Ellams’ third play at the National, following the exhilarating The 14th Tale and Black T-shirt Collection.

The production is designed by Rae Smith with lighting design by Jack Knowles, movement direction by Aline David and sound design by Gareth Fry.

Barber Shop Chronicles will play at West Yorkshire Playhouse 12 – 29 July.


Mosquitoes by Lucy Kirkwood will have its world premiere in the Dorfman Theatre in July. Rufus Norris will direct this new play about families and particle physics, with a cast that includes Olivia Colman. Designed by Katrina Lindsay, lighting design by Paule Constable, music by Adam Cork, sound design by Paul Arditti and video design by Finn Ross & Ian William Galloway.

Mosquitoes is generously supported by the Edgerton Foundation, the Winton Charitable Foundation, and Rosetrees Trust. This play is a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Plays Award.


NT Live has a season of ten new broadcasts to the UK and 55 countries across the globe

  • Amadeus by Peter Shaffer. Lucian Msamati plays Salieri, with live orchestral accompaniment by Southbank Sinfonia. Broadcast live from the NT on Thursday 2 February.
  • Saint Joan Josie Rourke directs Gemma Arterton as Joan of Arc in Bernard Shaw’s electrifying classic. Broadcast live from the Donmar Warehouse on Thursday 16 February.
  • Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen in a new version by Patrick Marber. Ruth Wilson plays the title role in Ivo van Hove’s production. Broadcast live from the NT on Thursday 9 March.
  • Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. Tamsin Greig plays Malvolia in Shakespeare’s comedy of mistaken identity. Directed by Simon Godwin. Broadcast live from the NT on Thursday 6 April.
  • Salomé A radical retelling of the biblical story of one young woman’s political awakening. Directed by Yaël Farber. Broadcast live from the NT on Thursday 22 June.
  • Peter Pan, Sally Cookson’s wondrously inventive production recorded live during its run at the NT will be broadcast on Saturday 10 June.
  • Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard. Fifty years after the play premiered at The Old Vic, David Leveaux directs Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern alongside David Haig as The Player in this iconic mind bending situation comedy. Broadcast live from The Old Vic on Thursday 20 April, this marks the Old Vic’s first collaboration with NT Live.
  • Angels in America, Marianne Elliott’s new production of Tony Kushner’s two-part play will be broadcast live from the NT. Part 1: Millennium Approaches on Thursday 20 July and Part 2: Perestroika on Thursday 27 July.
  • Yerma – Billie Piper stars in Yerma as a woman driven to the unthinkable by her desperate desire to have a child. Simon Stone creates a radical new production of Lorca’s achingly powerful masterpiece. Broadcast live from the Young Vic on 31 August.
  • Macbeth with a cast including Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff will be broadcast by NT Live in 2018. 

Find your nearest venue at


The NT will tour to 47 venues in 35 towns and cities across the UK in 2017-18


The National Theatre, Headlong and St Ann’s Warehouse in association with Bryan Singer Productions will present the National Theatre/Headlong production of People, Places and Things by Duncan Macmillan at St Ann’s Warehouse in New York in October 2017. Directed by Jeremy Herrin, Macmillan’s intoxicating new play opened at the NT’s Dorfman Theatre in autumn 2015, and transferred to the Wyndham’s Theatre in March 2016 where it became the ‘must see’ show of the season. Denise Gough will reprise her award-winning role as Emma. Gough’s raw and heart-breaking performance as an actress whose life has spun recklessly out of control because of her addiction to drink and drugs was unanimously acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, earning her the 2016 Olivier Award and the Critics’ Circle Award for Best Actress. Further cast details and dates to be announced.

Generous support to the National Theatre for People, Places and Things from: Areté Foundation / Betsy & Ed Cohen and Leila Maw Straus MBE.

Duncan Macmillan’s People, Places and Things will also begin a major UK tour with a new cast this autumn, in a co-production between the National Theatre, Headlong, HOME and Exeter Northcott Theatre. Full casting to be announced shortly. The tour begins at HOME, Manchester (22 September – 7 October), and continues to Oxford Playhouse (11 – 14 October), Theatre Royal Bath (17 – 21 October), Bristol Old Vic (24 – 28 October), Exeter Northcott Theatre (31 October – 4 November), Nuffield Southampton Theatres (7 – 11 November) and finish at Liverpool Playhouse Theatre (14 – 18 November).

The set is designed by Bunny Christie, the Olivier and Tony Award winning designer of the NT’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Costumes are by Christina Cunningham, lighting by James Farncombe, video by Andrzej Goulding and music is composed by Matthew Herbert with Olivier award-winning sound design by Tom Gibbons.

Original production sponsored by Neptune Investment Management


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, adapted by Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s best-selling book and directed by Marianne Elliott continues its run at the Gielgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, with its final West End performance on Saturday 3 June 2017. Joseph Ayre leads the West End cast as Christopher Boone. By 3 June, Curious Incident will have been seen by over 1 million people in London, and almost 2.5 million people worldwide. Curious Incident has won a record-breaking seven Olivier Awards, including Best New Play, Best Director, Best Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design – more than any other single play in the history of the West End – as well as five Tony Awards during its run on Broadway. Its preferred card partner is American Express.

A North American tour of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time continues until September 2017, with forthcoming cities including Philadelphia, Cleveland, Ohio, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has also begun a major tour of the UK and Ireland at The Lowry in Salford, where it runs until 4 February. It continues its journey throughout 2017, with visits to the Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury (7 – 11 February), Festival Theatre, Edinburgh (20 – 25 February), Grand Theatre, Leeds (28 February – 4 March), Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury (6 – 11 March) , Theatre Royal Bath (14 – 25 March), Mayflower Theatre, Southampton (27 March – 1 April), Nottingham Theatre Royal (4 – 15 April), Grand Opera House, Belfast (18 – 22 April), Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin (25 – 29 April), Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff (2 – 6 May), Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield (9 – 20 May), New Theatre, Oxford (22 – 27 May), Theatre Royal, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (30 May – 10 June) , Bristol Hippodrome (13 – 17 June), Theatre Royal, Plymouth (26 June – 1 July), Birmingham Hippodrome (4 – 8 July), Venue Cymru, Llandudno (11 – 15 July), Cliffs Pavilion, Southend (18 – 22 July), Liverpool Empire Theatre (25 -29 July), Alhambra Theatre, Bradford (31 July – 5 August), His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen (8 – 12 August), King’s Theatre, Glasgow (14 – 19 August), Theatre Royal, Norwich (29 August – 2 September) and Milton Keynes Theatre (4 – 16 September 2017).

Following its run at the NT’s Dorfman Theatre, My Country; a work in progress, created by Rufus Norris and Carol Ann Duffy and based on the words of people from around the UK, will tour to the Glasgow Citizens (28 March – 1 April), Derry Playhouse (4 – 8 April), Liverpool Playhouse (11 – 15 April), HOME, Manchester (18 – 22 April), Curve, Leicester (25 – 29 April), Sherman Theatre, Cardiff (2 – 6 May), Strike a Light, Gloucester Guildhall (8 – 9 May), Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh (11 – 13 May), Birmingham REP (16 – 20 May), Warwick Arts Centre (25 – 27 May), Theatr Clwyd (30 May – 3 June), Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam, Rabozaal as part of the Holland Festival (7 – 8 June), Cambridge Arts Theatre (12 – 17 June) and Theatre Royal, Stratford East, London (19 June – 1 July).

Jane Eyre, Sally Cookson’s energetic and imaginative new adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece, a co-production between the NT and Bristol Old Vic, begins a tour of the UK at the Lowry in Salford on 8 April 2017 (with its press night on 12 April at 7.30pm and completing its Salford run on 15 April). The tour continues throughout 2017 to the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield (18 – 22 April), the Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury (24 – 29 April), Theatre Royal, Plymouth (1 – 6 May), Mayflower Theatre, Southampton (8 – 13 May), Festival Theatre, Edinburgh (15 – 20 May), Grand Opera House, York (22 – 27 May), New Victoria Theatre, Woking, (29 May – 3 June), Theatre Royal, Glasgow (5 – 10 June), Richmond Theatre (12 – 17 June), Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury (19 – 24 June), Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff (26 June – 1 July), Theatre Royal, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (3 – 8July), Milton Keynes Theatre (10 – 15 July), Theatre Royal, Norwich (17 – 22 July), Brighton Theatre Royal (24 – 29 July), Grand Theatre, Leeds (31 July – 5 August), Grand Opera House, Belfast (21 – 26 August), His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen (28 August – 2 September) and Birmingham REP (4 – 16 September).

The NT’s acclaimed production of War Horse based on Michael Morpurgo’s novel, and directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris begins its second major tour of the UK on 15 September 2017 at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, where it will run until 14 October 2017. It continues to the Bristol Hippodrome (18 October – 11 November), the Liverpool Empire Theatre (15 November – 2 December), New Theatre, Oxford (13 December 2017 – 6 January 2018), Brighton Centre (25 January – 10 February 2018), Alhambra Theatre, Bradford (14 February – 10 March 2018), Nottingham Royal Concert Hall (14 March – 7 April 2018) and the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh (18 April – 12 May 2018), The Lowry, Salford (11 – 30 June 2018), Plymouth Theatre Royal (29 August – 15 September 2018), Milton Keynes Theatre (19 September – 6 October 2018) and Glasgow SECC (11 – 26 January 2019). Further dates and venues will be announced.


Back by popular demand, this summer sees the return of the free outdoor River Stage festival. It includes take-over weekends from East London’s The Glory, HOME Manchester and Rambert dance company amongst an eclectic mix of performances that include the very best dance acts, DJ’s and outdoor performances from the NT and its partners.

The festival is a collaborative partnership showcasing world-class programming and presenting new and diverse artists and acts, with something for everyone to enjoy. It takes place on the River Stage, in front of the NT, with events every Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday from 28 July until 28 August. Join us this summer for theatre, guest DJs, family fun, vibrant dance and the very best in live music acts – this free summer festival is not to be missed.


NT Learning opens up theatre to people of all ages and supports theatre education across the UK with a wide range of projects and events.


Over 250 school and youth theatre companies are taking part in Connections 2017. They will perform ten new plays written by leading playwrights will be performed in venues around the UK, before one production of each play is performed at the NT in the summer.

Connections is an inspirational, powerful and positive force for young people engaging in theatre making. It provides a unique opportunity for youth theatre companies to produce and perform plays written specifically for young people by some of theatre’s most exciting playwrights, and to perform their productions at one of 27 leading theatres across the country.

21 March – 13 May – Partner Theatre Festivals take place in;
Aberystwyth Arts Centre
The Albany, London
artsdepot, London
Bristol Old Vic
Chichester Festival Theatre
Derby Theatre
Eden Court, Inverness
HOME, Manchester
The Lowry, Salford
Lyric Hammersmith, London
Lyric Theatre, Belfast
Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
North Wall Theatre, Oxford
Northern Stage, Newcastle
Norwich Playhouse / The Garage, Norwich
Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Queen’s theatre Hornchurch
Royal & Derngate, Northampton
Sheffield Theatres
Sherman Cymru, Cardiff
Soho Theatre. London
Theatre Royal Stratford East, London
Theatre Royal, Bath
Theatre Royal, Plymouth
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Warwick Arts Centre
Connections Festival at the NT – 28 June – 3 July

Connections is supported by: The Buffini Chao Foundation, Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Delta Air Lines, Jacqueline and Richard Worswick, Susan Miller and Byron Grote, Hays Travel Foundation, Faithorn Farrell Timms and supporters of the Connections Appeal.


To celebrate British Science Week we have partnered with the British Science Association to programme a range of events for schools, young people and families on theatre and science.

Theatre is a fantastic way to explore the application of science and technology. What happens on the NT stages every night is an amazing marriage of the art of storytelling with cutting-edge technology, lighting and sound, engineering and automation.

A changing programme of free exhibitions taking inspiration from the work on our stages, the NT Archive and our national programme. New exhibitions for 2017 include Bright Young Tings about Black Theatre in London in the 80’s and featuring photographs by Michael Mayhew and work by artist Cherelle Sappleton, from 24 February. In Visible Ink, traces some of the changes for the LGBT+ community over the past 25 years and in the Lyttelton Lounge from 27 April. We’re here because we’re here – the story of the project as it happened across the UK in Wolfson Gallery from June The project was conceived and created by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller in collaboration with Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre.

The National Theatre’s Partner for Learning is Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Entry Pass, the NT’s scheme which offers low-price tickets to under-25-year-olds, is now in its tenth year. To encourage even more young people to see our productions, and with the support of Delta Air Lines, the National will double the quantity of Entry Pass tickets in 2017. This year 25,000 seats will be available through the scheme, with allocations for all shows on the South Bank. There will be a slight price increase (the first in a decade), with tickets on sale at £7.50 for Entry Pass members and £10 for their friends.

Entry Pass is part of the NT’s ongoing commitment to offering low-price tickets: this year, 30% of all seats on the South Bank will be available at £20 or under.


The NT is dedicated to making the best theatre and sharing it with as many people as possible. Access facilities include Captioned, Audio-Described, British Sign Language and Relaxed Performances, as well as Touch Tours, Braille and large print cast lists and infrared audio headsets. For more information visit or call Box Office: 020 7452 3000

DVD Review: Last Chance Harvey

“Cantankerous I’ve never been”

Joel Hopkins’ The Love Punch was a film that worked far better than one might have expected, a lovely surprise in the cinema back in 2014, so I’ve been looking forward to catching up with his earlier 2008 movie Last Chance Harvey. And once again I was caught unawares, even as I knew that I would probably like it, I had no idea I would love it so completely.

Dustin Hoffman’s Harvey is a washed-up US jingle-writer, finding himself on the fringes of his daughter’s London wedding in place of a beloved stepfather; Emma Thompson’s Kate has found life has passed her by, still single and struggling with an overbearing mother. That the two will end up together somehow is never in doubt but the joy of Hopkins’ film is in making the journey so beautifully, emotionally real.

A real note of melancholy underscores the whole affair, deeply naturalistic (and part-improvised) performances from both Hoffman and Thompson making the case for normal people and their normal lives full of fuck-ups to be allowed to dream too. There’s a simplicity to the film that just lets it breathe, and sigh, and breathe again as the disappointments of Harvey and Kate’s lives are laid bare, with the promise of potential pulling them through.

There’s an excellent calibre of supporting cast around them too, who all do excellent work. Eileen Atkins plays Kate’s mother with a lovely liveliness; Kathy Baker is beyond excellent as Harvey’s ex-wife, one particular look she gives at a dinner deserves awards alone; and Liane Balaban as the estranged daughter Susan is also impressive, negotiating the impossible when it comes to weddings and divorced parents with unaffected but hugely affecting grace.

There’s a ton of fun theatrical spots too – Adam James’ best man, Bronagh Gallagher’s mouthy best friend, Patrick Baladi’s blind date (we should all be so lucky!), Jamie Sives, Charlotte Lucas, even the South Bank in front of the National Theatre! But it’s the quiet confidence of Hopkins’ writing and direction, plus the extraordinary efforts of Thompson and Hoffman, that shine here, in a simply beautiful film. 

TV Review: Doctor Foster, BBC1

“It’s just once you have the thought…”

I was late to my appointment with Doctor Foster, only getting round to watching episode 1 on Monday but I loved it so much (how could I not when the opening subtitle is “belt buckle being undone” and Bertie Carvel soon strips to his boxers) that I mainlined the next three so that I could watch the finale with the rest of the world. Written by noted playwright Mike Bartlett (King Charles III, Cock, Love Love Love amongst many others), it’s a fierce revenge drama anchored by a cracking performance from Suranne Jones as the titular medic with the errant husband.

From the moment she discovers a long blonde hair on her husband’s scarf, the scene is set for an almighty showdown but Bartlett’s skill is in stretching that moment tantalisingly over the entire series. Secret after secret tumbles out of the closet as she pulls at the thread but almost as destructive as his conduct (and Carvel is brilliantly craven as the slippery Simon) is the behaviour it unleashes in Gemma, her forthright determination cutting swathes through her employment prospects, her friends and neighbours and even her relationship with their 11-year-old son Tom.

Though it occasionally flirts with the slightly preposterous (Gemma’s fast friendship with patient Carly rang false for me), it is largely highly effective as an intense drama but also as an exposé of suburban living (previously explored by Bartlett on TV in The Town). The Fosters live in Simon’s hometown so when the couple tear apart, historical friendships duel with present-day loyalties, none more so than in Thusitha Jayasundera’s very good Ros, a schoolfriend of his but a GP colleague of hers. The climax to episode 1 is utterly fantastic in this regard.

And in the magisterial final part, Bartlett reconfirms his reputation as a writer utterly unafraid of peeling back façades to reveal the nastiness beneath (see Contractions, Bull) with a remarkable amount of sourness permeating the majority of the episode. Gemma’s slow-burning revenge finally takes flight as truth bomb after truth bomb is dropped at a brilliantly awkward dinner party – Jones relishing the matter-of-factness about the whole affair and Bruce Goodison’s direction hitting every beat of excruciating discomfort.

The fallout is significant and crucially, takes no prisoners. The way in which Gemma’s public perception is revealed is chillingly done, Victoria Hamilton as neighbour Anna excelling with her own explosive truths, and the story swerves into Medea territory, brutally, effectively so (all the more interesting given Bartlett’s less-than-stellar recasting of Euripides back in 2012) as Tom Taylor’s Tom comes into his own, the often neglected child’s point of view a scathingly refreshing contribution in relation to both parents.

The scant relief of the ending is thus much-welcomed and a pointer to the everyday reality of such situations as opposed to out-and-out drama for the sake of it. Some quality drama right there with the BBC doing what it does best.