Review: Macbeth, National Theatre

Rory Kinnear as Macbeth, Beatrice Scirocchi as Witch and Anna-Maria Nabirye as Witch in Macbeth at the National Theatre (c) Brinkhoff Mögenburg 1002-1006

A whole lot of post-apocalyptic hurly-burly and sadly not much more besides – the National Theatre’s Macbeth really is something of a red-trousered disappointment 

“You have displaced the mirth”

Brexit has ruined Britain. The war of the Scottish Secession has laid ruin to much of the land north of Hadrian’s Wall. The lawless society that has resulted is a place where people once again use plastic bags willy-nilly (for tidying up after beheadings, as party hats – take your pick), where no-one has a mobile phone (presumably because roaming charges have been re-introduced), where the Look at my fucking red trousers meme has translated into despotic rule.

Such is the world of Rufus Norris’ Macbeth which is set ‘now, after a civil war’, hence my slight embellishment of said setting. I should add that I thought of much of this while watching the production, an indication of the level of engagement that it managed to exert. It wasn’t always thus – a bloody prologue is viscerally and effectively done and the entrance of the witches has a genuine chill to its strangeness. Continue reading “Review: Macbeth, National Theatre”

Thoughts on a visit to the Bridge Theatre

Good things come to those who wait! I hadn’t booked for Young Marx at the brand new Bridge Theatre for a couple of reasons. I was still hoping that I might get a response to my email to the PR and despite a cast that includes the splendid Nancy Carroll and the delicious Oliver Chris alongside lead Rory Kinnear, Richard Bean just really isn’t my cup of tea. ‘Don’t you love farce?’ Not much my dear…
So when an email popped into my inbox offering a sneak preview of the show and an opportunity to be the first ever audience in the theatre for a pre-preview test run of the new venue and its facilities, then I knew it was meant to be. Turns out I do love a farce, at £7.50 a ticket.

First things first, the foyer is extremely spacious and rather beautifully lit. So whilst there were hefty queues at the box office and the bar, there was still plenty of room to mill about, some seats available and a wide enough staircase that when we finally started going down to the stalls, it wasn’t too much of a crush. 

Drink prices are pretty much as per any theatre bar, £7.50 for a G&T. The much-vaunted St John madeleines were really not cheap (although to be honest, who knows what the going rate for gourmet madeleines is?!) At £9 for 12 though, it does feel like a deliberate attempt to brand the theatre as upper reaches of upmarket and you wonder what implications that has for access, and particularly for the perception of access from those new audiences theatres long to attract.

Weirdly, the toilets also feel a touch out of place. Very smart and spacious, though I can’t comment on the ladies, posh handwash and individual handtowels point to a more luxurious experience than you’ll be used to in most London theatres – it’ll be interesting to see if these last.
And whilst I appreciate the efforts being made to be inclusive, I don’t really understand how this can be a male toilet, and a gender neutral toilet at the same time. Surely it’d be better to go all the way…?
Inside, the theatre certainly boasts an impressive auditorium. In its current end-on configuration, it is somehow reminiscent of both the Olivier and the Dorfman at the same time. And something the seating plan doesn’t show you, there’s a considerable rake on the floor (also worth bearing in mind for accessibility issues if you’re sitting anywhere near the front).  

Seats are comfortable, plenty of legroom (in row C of the stalls at least), sightlines are fine and neither of us had any issue there. There doesn’t seem to be a second entrance/exit into the stalls though, so there’s little chance of a quick escape – getting out at the interval and at the end took an age as we had to wait for most of the stalls to empty before we could leave.

But as the auditorium has been designed to be entirely flexible, these are issues that won’t affect every show. And given how phenomenally quickly the building has been constructed, it is a remarkable achievement of which Nicks Hytner and Starr should rightly be proud.

Nick Hytner welcoming us to the theatre
As for the show itself, this was the very first pre-preview so I ain’t going to comment on it, apart from to say if you like Richard Bean plays, then you’re most likely in safe hands.

So a fun evening all round and I’m glad I got to experience the theatre this way for the first time, with its own sort of buzz. I’m still not entirely convinced that what London needs is another new theatre, especially one that feels so directly in competition with the National but who knows, maybe this will be a good thing, a kick up the arse for the theatre ecology on the South Bank, in London, maybe even in the UK as a whole. Welcome to the Bridge!

Full cast announced for Young Marx

1850, and Europe’s most feared terrorist is hiding in Dean Street, Soho. Broke, restless and horny, the thirty-two-year-old revolutionary is a frothing combination of intellectual brilliance, invective, satiric wit, and child-like emotional illiteracy.

Creditors, spies, rival revolutionary factions and prospective seducers of his beautiful wife all circle like vultures. His writing blocked, his marriage dying, his friend Engels in despair at his wasted genius, his only hope is a job on the railway. But there’s still no one in the capital who can show you a better night on the piss than Karl Heinrich Marx.

Rory Kinnear plays Marx and Oliver Chris, Engels. The production reunites the creative team behind Richard Bean’s smash hit One Man, Two Guvnors, with direction by Nicholas Hytner, design by Mark Thompson, music by Grant Olding, sound by Paul Arditti and lighting by Mark Henderson.
And joining Kinnear and Chris is Nancy Carroll (Jenny von Westphalen), Laura Elphinstone (Nym), Eben Figueiredo (Schramm), Nicholas Burns (Willich), Tony Jayawardena (Gert “Doc” Schmidt), Miltos Yerolemou (Barthélemy), Duncan Wisbey (Fleece/Darwin), Scott Karim (Grabiner/ Singe), Alana Ramsey (Mrs Mullett), Sophie Russell (Librarian), Fode Simbo (Peter), William Troughton (Constable Crimp) and Joseph Wilkins (Sergeant Savage).
And in an interesting move to collaborate with what seems like a major new competitor, National Theatre Live will be broadcast Young Marx on 7 December.

Bridge Theatre new season – excited by new writing or disappointed by lack of diversity?

Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr have announced the opening programme for their The Bridge Theatre venture – the 900-seat commercial venue near to Tower Bridge which marks their re-entry into the London theatre landscape. The first three productions, all booking now, are:

  • Young Marx – Richard Bean and Clive Coleman’s new play about German philosopher Karl Heinrich Marx which will star Rory Kinnear in the title role alongside Oliver Chris as Engels. Directed by Nicholas Hytner it will have designs by Mark Thompson and music by Grant Olding;
  • This will be followed by Julius Caesar directed by Hytner in promenade, starring
    Ben Whishaw (Bakkhai, Skyfall) as Brutus, David Calder as Caesar, Michelle Fairley as Cassius and David Morrissey as Mark Antony;
  • a new play from Barney Norris called Nightfall, directed by Laurie Sansom.
Further ahead from Summer ’18, we can expect:
  • a new play by Lucinda Coxon based on the novel Alys, Always by Harriet Lane;
  • a new play by Nina Raine about JS Bach, played by Simon Russell Beale; 
  • flatpack, a new play by John Hodge; 
  • The Black Cloud, a new play by Sam Holcroft from the novel by Fred Hoyle; 
  • Carmen Havana, a version of Bizet’s opera by Lucy Prebble with choreography by Miguel Altunaga and directed by Nicholas Hytner.
The focus on new writing is something exciting, all but one of these are new works. And if we count them altogether, there’s pleasing gender parity in their number. And that’s good enough to get luminaries like Sarah Crompton and Michael Billington fawning over the season ahead.
But looking at all those playwrights, there’s not a person of colour among them. And delving into the cast and creatives of the opening three shows, all of them are being directed by white men. Furthermore, of the headline casting announced, six out of seven of them are white men. We can cling to Michelle Fairley’s cross-casting as Cassius as a sole beacon of hope but let’s not forget that Robert Hastie is already doing this much better and bolder in Sheffield.
There’s no doubting that there’s a number of issues intertwined here but once again, a big commercial theatrical season is being launched on the back of safe, safe decisions. I don’t deny the harsh realities of the commercial world but it is just so dispiriting to see how little is being done to address these issues by the people who can affect them, whether Messrs Hytner and Starr, or Branagh and Grandage in previous years.

  • The Kenneth Branagh season (2015-6) – 5 plays initially, all written and directed by white men; 5 people in opening publicity shot, 2 women including Dame Judi Dench
  • The Michael Grandage season (2012-13) – 5 plays all written and directed by white men; 7 people in opening publicity shot, 2 women including Dame Judi Dench
  • The Donmar in the West End season (2008-09) – 4 plays all directed by white men and all but one written by white men; 4 people in opening publicity, 1 woman who was Dame Judi Dench!

Some thoughts
– Magnificent as she is, Dench is far from our only star actress but without the requisite support, how is anyone else supposed to join her above-the-title as it were.
– Same with any actors of colour 
– If you’re going to focus on new writing, how do commissioning decisions remain so stubbornly white as well? Delving into (white) history won’t help.
– And how the f*ck is the status quo ever going to be challenged if the commentary acquiesces so easily – the race to label this season as “thrilling” or “mouth-watering” leaves little room to call into question the age-old biases that are once again being reinforced here.
It’s hard not to feel a little disillusioned by this all. Attitudes don’t change overnight, they need to be persuaded, and yet the opportunities to change minds remain few and far-between. So the commercial imperative to keep programming ‘safe’ remains intact and so the vicious cycle repeats itself ad nauseam. The power and influence that the two ‘Nicks’ wield is an awesome thing in the world of UK theatre, I just wish it was being used here in a more creative and forward-thinking way.

News (and photos): National Theatre gala (plus actors in suits!)

The National Theatre last night hosted its biennial fundraising gala, Up Next, raising over a million pounds to support access to the arts for children and young people across the country. I think they forgot to invite me though… 😜


Performances commissioned especially for the event included a new piece by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, alongside performances by Sir Lenny Henry, Anne-Marie Duff and hundreds of talented young people from across London.

Continue reading “News (and photos): National Theatre gala (plus actors in suits!)”

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

12 Days of Christmas – Black Mirror 1:1

“Oh for…fucking internet”

On the first day of Christmas, Black Mirror gave to me…a politician fucking a pig.

Can Charlie Brooker ever have conceived that four years after The National Anthem aired, the theme of his first episode of Black Mirror would actually come horrifically to life as Lord Ashcroft’s biography of David Cameron alluded to unsavoury acts with a pig’s head.

Anthology series Black Mirror kicked off with an all-star cast in this episode, where the kidnapping of Lydia Wilson’s popular Princess Susannah is followed by a YouTube video ransom demand, insisting that Rory Kinnear’s PM, well, fuck a pig live on air. Downing Street try desperately to shut down all publicity but there’s much wry amusement watching how ill-equipped they are to real with the realities of social media whipping up a news storm and just how much at mercy of the court of public opinion we all are once one’s head pops up over the parapet.

Loved seeing Alastair MacKenzie as a media boss, Lindsay Duncan and Tom Goodman-Hill as frighteningly efficient government bods and Allen Leech and Andrew Knott as medics who down tools to watch the unfolding affair live on TV (pictured above). Nice too to get a Nick Hendrix appearance as an easily manipulated office worker slipping tips to a Rebekah Brooks-like (in morals at least) journo. A strong start for an interesting series.

TV Review: Penny Dreadful Season 3

“Why would the devil be interested in you?”

And so the penny drops, John Logan’s Penny Dreadful comes to an end after 3 highly atmospheric seasons of gothic drama, anchored by a sensational performance from Eva Green that ought to have been way more recognised that it was. It’s taken me a little while to get round to watching the series after writing about the first episode so apologies for that, but sometimes, life (and summer holidays) just get in the way. Beware, spoilers will abound.

In some ways, the ending of Season 2 acted as a finale that really worked, the key characters left shell-shocked by what had befallen them and scattered across the globe, as manifested in a gloriously down-beat last half-hour of Episode 10. And so the main challenge of Season 3 was to find a way to reconnect their stories in a way that was at least thematically interesting, if not necessarily the most dramatically satisfying. Continue reading “TV Review: Penny Dreadful Season 3”

Review: The Threepenny Opera, National

“There will be no moralising tonight”
Whatever you think a national theatre should be for, I bloody love that Rufus Norris seems to determined to keep diversity near the top of the billing. Whilst it is curious that he’s only committed to ensuring gender equality in terms of the directors and living writers the National Theatre uses by 2021 (I’m sure there’s a reason it takes 5 years), there’s also change happening now in this new production of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera.
The first actors we see and hear are George Ikediashi and Jamie Beddard. So what you might say? But they are respectively a cabaret artist better known as Le Gateau Chocolat and a wheelchair-using director, writer, actor, consultant, trainer and workshop leader who has worked across the arts, educational and social sectors (his website). And you begin to see one of the ways how Norris is opening up this venue in an important and hopefully lasting manner.

Continue reading “Review: The Threepenny Opera, National”

TV Review: Penny Dreadful Season 3 Episode 1

“The cycle goes on, the snake eating its own tail”

The focus may be elsewhere with regards to returning cult TV shows this spring but to my mind, there’s something more satisfying about the Victorian Gothic psychodrama of John Logan’s Penny Dreadful than we’ve had recently in Westeros. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a turn on the Game of Thrones as much as the next Lannister child but the greater focus and emotional intensity of Penny Dreadful’s supernatural solemnity has kept me gripped over the last two seasons (Season 1 review; Season 2 review) and had me keenly anticipating the third, showing on Showtime (USA) and Sky Atlantic (UK).

The catastrophic climax of Season 2 saw our cast of characters fleeing the gaslit darkness of London and scattering across the globe, each ruminating over their lot. Josh Hartnett’s Ethan Chandler is extradited back to New Mexico under Douglas Hodge’s wonderfully taciturn supervision as Inspector Rusk, Timothy Dalton’s Sir Malcolm finds himself in Zanzibar after burying the unfortunately deceased Sembene, Rory Kinnear’s John Clare aka Caliban aka The Creature is stuck on an ice-bound ship in the Arctic, and in a London caught in mourning for Alfred Lord Tennyson (the episode is called “The Day Tennyson Died”), Eva Green’s Vanessa and Harry Treadaway’s Frankenstein are each trapped in their own emotional paralysis. Continue reading “TV Review: Penny Dreadful Season 3 Episode 1”