A new book by theatre critic Robert Tanitch, London Stage In The 20th Century, charts, as its title suggests, all the major happenings in London’s Theatreland between 1900 and 2000. World premieres, births, deaths and major openings, complete with players, directors and review snippets, are all covered in this comprehensive summarising of the rise of the West End.
The 300 page epic is not a book to pop in your bag for the daily commute, rather a coffee table adornment for theatre fans. Its pages, covering a century of theatrical history, are more fact-filled than the minds of the University Challenge researchers. Should you wish to know, for example, just how many Hamlets or Macbeths had taken to the London stage – and which order they came in – a simple flicking through would answer the question.
Though statistics and cold, hard fact are the bread and butter of The London Stage In The 20th Century, their dry substance is lubricated with the wit of a century of London’s finest theatrical commentators and images of productions from time gone by.
Press night regular Tanitch is a playwright, biographer and critic with a wealth of personal experience in London theatre. Among his previously published pieces are biographies of actors including John Gielgud, Peggy Ashcroft, Laurence Olivier, Marlon Brando and Clint Eastwood. His own plays include A Civil Marriage, Came The Knight and Call It Love.
The London Stage In The 20th Century is available now and is published by Haus publishing.