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Top London Theatre to Catch this February

Top London Theatre to Catch this February

Picture of Jamie Moore
Updated: 5 October 2016
London is a fecund breeding ground for some of the most scintillating theatre in the world. The Culture Trip‘s Jamie Moore has compiled a list of some of London’s best theatrical events to catch this February.

The Changeling, by Thomas Middleton – Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Playing until March 1 2015

Playing in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the atmospheric new sister space of Shakespeare’s Globe, Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s The Changeling, directed by Dominic Dromgoole, is a goosebump-inducing triumph of impeccable acting and expert staging. The play is predominantly lit by candlelight – the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse’s mode of luminescence sui generis. The lighting changes are skillfully woven into the action, making for some superbly slick set pieces and scene changes. The cast are uniformly strong; particularly noteworthy is Hattie Morahan who delivers a virtuosic portrayal of the conflicted Beatrice-Joanna, while Adam Lawrence’s performance of the spuriously eloquent and cunning poet Franciscus is proficiently delivered. Dromgoole’s production is elegantly constructed with moments of ripsnorting hilarity braided in for good measure. Tickets can be purchased online.

Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London, United Kingdom, +44 (0) 20 7902 1400


Dara, adapted by Tanya Ronder from Shahid Nadeem’s play – Lyttelton Theatre in the National Theatre

Playing until April 4 2015

Dara, by Shahid Nadeem was originally perfomed by the Ajoka Theatre collective in Pakistan. Now playing in the National Theatre’s Lyttelton Theatre, playwright Tanya Ronder has adapted the piece for the British stage. This historical play, directed by Nadia Fall, is set in the court of the Mughal Empire, an imperial power based in South Asia that ruled over much of what is now known as the Indian subcontinent. The drama is derived from the bloody struggle for power amongst the progeny of the ruling dynasty, interwoven with an incisive exploration and discussion of the origins of Islam and its relationship with other religions. Sargon Yelda, who plays the eventual tyrant, Aurangzeb, is triumphantly adept, portraying the labyrinthine emotional array of his conflicted character to devastating effect. Tickets for Dara can be purchased online.

National Theatre, South Bank, Lambeth, London, United Kingdom +44 (0) 20 7452 3000


The Hard Problem by Tom Stoppard – Dorfmann Theatre in the National Theatre

Live broadcast on April 16 2015

Tom Stoppard has made an idiosyncratically cerebral return to the National Theatre with his new play, The Hard Problem, directed by the theatre’s director, Nicholas Hytner. Hytner’s slick production adeptly explores the relationship between matter and consciousness, one of the central themes in Stoppard’s text, posing the beguiling question, “What is consciousness?” Packed with allusions to the play’s literary antecedents as well as thoroughly researched science, Stoppard challenges his audience to ruminate on the play’s thematic heft, saturating the narrative with stimulating ideas. The play will be broadcast live to an international audience on the 16th of April. Tickets for The Hard Problem can be procured online.

National Theatre, South Bank, Lambeth, London, United Kingdom +44 (0) 20 7452 3000


Tree, by Daniel Kitson – The Old Vic Theater

New dates added between February 16 – 22 2015

Brand new comedy, Tree, showing at the Old Vic Theatre was written and also performed by comedian, Daniel Kitson. He enlisted the help of actor, writer and performance poet, Tim Key, and developed the play at the Battersea Arts Centre. The play’s narrative focuses on the bizarre confluence of the two central character’s lives as Key happens upon Daniel Kitson, sequestered away atop a big, fulsome tree on a sleepy residential street. Kitson spends the entirety of the performance partially hidden amidst the branches of a giant tree, erected in the centre of the Old Vic stage. Kitson and Key interact with an easy rapport, eliciting booming laughs from the audience as they regale one another with amusing tales of their lives. The play has had such success that extra dates have been added to the show’s run.

The Old Vic, The Cut, London, United Kingdom +44 (0) 844 871 7628


Islands, by Caroline Horton – Bush Theatre

Playing until February 21 2015

Caroline Horton’s wacky and ambitious play, Islands, premieres at the Bush Theatre. The play tackles the salient subject matter of tax havens and the associated detrimental effects such practices have on the global economy. In spite of the unwaveringly serious subject of the play, Horton’s surreal script is anything but, and her enormously talented cohort of actors enact it impeccably through frenetic clowning and proficient multi-role play. The audience is invited into the opulent, carefree world of Haven, where cherries (money) are abundant, and moral stricture is fleeting. The play is as funny as it is important; Horton manages to drive home her attack on morally ambiguous tax practices, while still maintaining levity enough to elicit laughs and hold the audiences attention. Tickets for the play can be purchased online.

Bush Theatre, 7 Uxbridge Road, London, United Kingdom +44 (0) 20 8743 5050


Hello/Goodbye, by Peter Souter – Hampstead Theatre

Playing until February 28 2015

Peter Souter’s romantic comedy Hello/Goodbye, directed by Tamara Harvey at the Hampstead Theatre, is something of a rarity on stage: featuring a genre normally confined to the popcorn-encrusted silver screen. The narrative veers somewhere close to saccharine but manages to maintain its composure, making for an entertaining and in places, moving theatrical experience. Shaun Evans and Miranda Raison who play the protagonists and eventual lovers, Alex and Miranda, possess a deeply affective chemistry with one another, ensuring the play’s mildly implausible denouement is delivered with plausible elegance and performative virtuosity. The play began life in the downstairs space of the Hampstead Theatre, before its rampant success ensured its transference to the main upstairs space. Tickets can be bought online.

Hampstead Theatre, Eton Avenue, Swiss Cottage, London, United Kingdom +44 (0) 20 7722 9301


Gods and Monsters, by Russell Labey – Southwark Playhouse

Playing until March 7 2015

Russell Labey’s stage adaptation of Gods and Monsters from the film of the same name, explores the latter years of James Whale, the man behind the monolithic horror classic, Frankenstein, and who directed the first stage show of R.C. Sherriff’s now-famous Journey’s End, starring Lawrence Olivier. The play is staged in the larger space at the Southwark Playhouse in Elephant & Castle. The twilight years of Whale’s life were fraught after he suffered a small stroke, inducing a fragile mental state and increased reliance on others. Ian Gelder’s portrayal of James Whale is superb, delicately capturing his intelligence and wit whilst hinting at his imminent, self-induced demise; the agency for the execution of which lurks menacing beneath his predominantly upbeat cheery exterior. Labey wisely weaves light into this narrative arc that ends in the shade, making for a moving and poignant evening of theatre. Tickets can be purchased online.

Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London, United Kingdom +44 (0) 20 7407 0234

How I Learned to Drive, by Paula Vogel– Southwark Playhouse

Playing until March 14 2015

Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play How I Learned to Drive is to be revived this February in the little space at the Southwark Playhouse. The show first premiered at the Donmar Warehouse in 1998, and depicts a controversial love affair set in the context of the angst-filled adolescence of Lil’Bit’s life – a 17-year-old girl living in 1969 Maryland, USA. Jack Sain of the Fools & Kings theatre company directs this production in association with D.E.M. Productions. Sain, a recent alumnus of the University of Oxford, just finished assistant directing Jonah & Otto at the Park Theatre. Tickets can be purchased via the Southwark Playhouse’s website.

Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London, United Kingdom +44 (0) 20 7407 0234


Happy Days, by Samuel Beckett – Young Vic Theatre

Playing until March 21 2015

Samuel Beckett’s surreal play, Happy Days, comes to the main house of the Young Vic Theatre this February, directed by Natalie Abrahami. The renowned Olivier-award-winning actor, Juliet Stevenson plays the central character, Winnie, who spends the play embedded in the ground, forcibly contiguous to her aloof husband in the bleak environs of a desolate wasteland. Beckett’s two-act play was first performed in 1961 at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City, and returns to the stage in London 50-years-later, no less pertinent or potent. Tickets for the production can be procured online.

The Young Vic Theatre, 66 The Cut, London, United Kingdom +44 (0) 20 7922 2922


By Jamie Moore