‘Tis the season to be jolly – and to go to the theatre. The run-up to Christmas sees lots of new shows opening as Theatreland makes its own contribution to the festive celebrations. Many of the shows just opened or opening so have a rather dark edge to them, making a fascinating contrast to the tinsel and snowflakes that are decorating shop windows throughout the West End.
Among the highlights are:
Mojo by Jezz Butterworth - Harold Pinter Theatre
Recently opened to great reviews, Mojo is a terrifying account of what happens in 1950s London gangland when the boss has been murdered. Suddenly a life of crime loses what glamour it has and is replaced by fear and the need to survive. A starry cast includes Rupert Grint (of Harry Potter fame), Brendon Coyle (the luckless valet, Mr Bates, in Downton Abbey) and the ever-watchable Ben Whishaw.
Henry V by William Shakespeare - Noel Coward Theatre
Jude Law returns to the London stage as Shakespeare’s warrior king in the final play in the very successful Michael Grandage season at the Noel Coward Theatre. Likely to be sold-out very soon, but there are, as in the rest of the season, tickets available on the day for those who get to the theatre early enough. Previews from 23 November, opens 3 December.
Richard II by William Shakespeare - Barbican Theatre
A little way from the centre of Theatreland, the RSC’s Richard II stars David Tennant, who came to general attention through his several years playing the time travelling Dr Who, but who had a notable career as a stage actor before – and since: his Hamlet enjoyed a sold-out run. His Stratford success in Richard II looks set to be repeated in London. Previews from 9 December, opens 12 December.
Coriolanus by William Shakespeare - Donmar Warehouse
Heart-throb Tom Hiddleston takes to the stage in the title role in this play, set in Ancient Rome, which looks at the nature of loyalty and duty. Coriolanus, a great leader of men on the battlefield, finds it impossible to play civilian politics back in Rome – with disastrous results. Directed by the Donmar’s Artistic Director, Josie Rourke. Previews from 6 December, opens 17 December.
Stephen Ward by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Christopher Hampton and Don Black - Aldwych Theatre
Returning to where his Whistle Down the Wind had its London debut fifteen years ago, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical, Stephen Ward, is named after the Society figure who was embroiled in the biggest sex (and spy) scandals of the 1960s, which brought down a government minister and exploded the cosy Establishment way of doing things. Given an extra topicality by the debate over celebrity, privacy and press intrusion, this is one of the biggest musical launches this year. Christopher Hampton and Don Black add their own remarkable talents to the creative team. Previews from 3 December, opens 19 December.
Potted Panto by Daniel Clarkson, Richard Hurst and Jefferson Turner - Vaudeville Theatre
Finally, on a lighter note, catch (in bite-sized pieces) a selection of your favourite pantos in this comic tribute to theatre’s favourite seasonal entertainment. Previews from 8 December, opens 11 December.
Theatreland Walking Tour - What better way to have a break from seasonal shopping than enjoying a Theatreland walkingtour?