News: the National Theatre announces 9 new productions for 2020-21

Lots of exciting news coming out of the National Theatre today, including actors Nicola Walker, Giles Terera and Kristin Scott Thomas, directors Simon Stone, Lynette Linton and Nicole Charles, and returns for Small Island, Beginning and The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The National Theatre has today announced nine productions that will play on the South Bank in 2020-2021 alongside previously announced shows. These run alongside their international touring productions, three plays that will tour to multiple venues across the UK and a West End transfer. The NT also announces today that it will increase the quantity of low-price tickets on the South Bank by 25%, with 250,000 available across the year at £20 or less.

© Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

In the Olivier Theatre the critically acclaimed production of Andrea Levy’s epic novel Small Island directed by Rufus Norris returns following a sold-out run in 2019. Adapted for the stage by Helen Edmundson, the revival will run from late October 2020 with casting to be announced. Continue reading “News: the National Theatre announces 9 new productions for 2020-21”

News: the National Theatre announces 15 new productions for 2019 and 2020

So much goodness! The National Theatre have just announced details of productions stretching deep into 2020, and with writers like Lucy Kirkwood, Kate Tempest, Roy Williams and Tony Kushner, and actors like Lesley Manville, Maxine Peake, Conleth Hill, Cecilia Noble and Lesley Sharp, it is hard not to feel excited about what’s ahead.

Olivier Theatre 

Following a sell-out run at Rose Theatre Kingston, the acclaimed two-part adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s MY BRILLIANT FRIEND by April De Angelis is reworked for the Olivier stage by Melly Still (Coram Boy). When the most important person in her life goes missing without a trace, Lenu Greco, now a celebrated author, begins to recall a relationship of more than 60 years.  Continue reading “News: the National Theatre announces 15 new productions for 2019 and 2020”

Review: Hopelessly Devoted To You, Roundhouse

“I’m gonna speak to them about getting you out of here”

Hotfooting it back from a Leicester matinée to make a 7.30pm start at the Roundhouse is not a journey I’ll be challenging myself with again in a hurry, but I was glad to have done it on this occasion as it meant I was able to catch the final performance of Kate Tempest’s Hopelessly Devoted For You as Paines Plough toured it for a third time in quick succession since its premiere in September last year. Tempest’s star has long been on the rise but a well-deserved Mercury Music Prize nomination for her album Everybody Downand a new volume of poetry Hold Your Own are capping off a remarkable year for her.

Hopelessly Devoted… was born out of Tempest’s own experiences visiting Holloway Prison – Sheila Atim’s Chess and Demi Oyediran’s Serena are two young women who have forged an intense relationship through sharing a cell and lengthy sentences but change is on the horizon. Serena is up for parole and Chess’ musical talent is being nurtured in a singer/songwriter class run by Franc Ashman’s Silver, a woman fighting her own demons. They each have their own struggles – dealing with the outside world, a lack of self-confidence, drug addiction – but the redemption they’re all looking for is the same.

In some ways, there’s a surprising amount of sentimentality in the way the story unfolds but to focus solely on that is to exclude the rich level of detail that Tempest has imbued the text and music with, and which is teased out adroitly by Stef O’Driscoll’s direction. Tempest never lets us forget the iniquities of a society that would happily forget about such women and consequently offers them so little. But she also dramatizes beautifully the soaring escapism that music can offer, the exhilaration of the creative process, the euphoria of singing. Atim is just sensational as the embodiment of all this, slowly coming to realise the gravity of her gift and utterly making you forgive any potential shortcomings the writing might have.

Running time: 75 minutes (without interval)
Booking until 6th December

Review: Wasted, via YouTube

“We wish we knew the deeper meaning…”

I’m loving how much livestreaming is being embraced by theatrical institutions up and down the land and now Paines Plough are getting in on the act with Kate Tempest’s Wasted, playing at the Roundhouse but available to watch on YouTube for a while longer. The play was Tempest’s first but captures an excellent middle ground between the spoken word for which she has rightly gained much acclaim and a more conventional type of drama. 

Three friends in their mid-20s gather at the memorial of another of their number where they reflect on different notions of waste – the wasted life of their pal, the years spent getting wasted in their (relative) youth. The theme of the disillusionment of young adulthood after the heady days of teenagerdom is a well-trodden one but Tempest gives it a new vibrancy here with the mix of poetry and prose, microphones and unamplified speech, life and death. Continue reading “Review: Wasted, via YouTube”