One of the things I've missed most during the pandemic is live theatre. Yes, I've enjoyed delving into box sets and seeing plays live-streamed from the comfort of my sofa. But for me nothing beats sitting in an audience watching action live onstage. Anything can happen, and I love to be a part of it.
With the return of live theatre to our stages from 17th May 2021, there's going to be plenty to see this year. Already my inbox is full of show announcements and my Instagram ads are telling me to BOOK NOW!
Before the pandemic I'd be in the audience 2-3 times per week. As a dramatist myself I was trying to stay on top of the best new pieces, controversial works, my friends' shows, potential collaborators' work... But the pandemic has ushered in a new pace of life for me, and it's unlikely I'll ever go back to that frantic consumption of content.
From now on I'm going to be more selective, and do my research. With that in mind, here are the shows I'm tipping for a great night out this year:
A Russian Doll, The Barn Theatre & Arcola
I'm always most excited by new writing, and this show has plenty to get excited about: based on a true story, it follows a young woman embroiled in Russia’s disinformation campaigns during the EU referendum.
A Splinter of Ice, Touring
Another Russian drama, but this time taking us back to the cold war and the life of novelist Graham Greene. This political thriller promises secrets, lies and treachery – the perfect cocktail.
Amelie The Musical, Criterion Theatre
Loved the film? Then you'll love the musical. The stage version captures the heady intrigue and romance perfectly with charming stagecraft that makes theatre feel like magic. If you want something uplifting, this is the show for you.
After Life, National Theatre
With a creative team of theatre royalty, this new play looks to have all the right ingredients for a delicious night out. I like writing that addresses huge – often unanswerable – questions that I can chew on for weeks afterwards. This play, and its premise of the afterlife as an endless memory, looks to offer just that!
Constellations, Vaudeville Theatre
This gorgeous piece of writing is revived with four casts in rotation, each giving their own interpretation of the relationship at its centre. A previous iteration of the production won the Evening Standard Award for Best Play and the WhatsOnStage Award for Best Design. Going once may not be enough!
Hamlet, Young Vic
I feel like I've been waiting so long for this one, having booked my tickets all the way back in June 2019! You might think you've seen Hamlet done every which way, but I'm willing to bet Cush Jumbo can give us something revolutionary with her take.
J'Ouvert, Harold Pinter Theatre
Set amongst the sound and sequins of Notting Hill Carnival, the play makes its West End debut following a successful run at Theatre503 in 2019. For a party atmosphere with a political edge, shimmy and shake on down to the Harold Pinter.
Life of Pi, Wyndham's Theatre
Based on the best-selling book, this show tells a fantastical tale with stunning effect. I'm a sucker for an impressive piece of puppetry, and being a cat lover I know that the Richard Parker tiger puppet is going to tick all my boxes.
The Wind in the Willows, Oxford Open Air
I've got a soft spot for Creation Theatre Company as the collective that introduced me to site-specific theatre. This summer they're mounting a version of the much-loved book that is guaranteed to delight children and adults alike.
Get Ready for Opening Night
If you want to own a little piece of theatre as well, check out my range of theatre-inspired artwork. Take a backstage tour around the National Theatre, or tick off your favourite theatres on my Map of Regional Theatres. You can even support the development of a new play with the purchase of these postcards.