Whatever your romantic status, Valentine’s Day is looming with just over two weeks to go to the big day. Whether you’re happily single, looking for love or have been married longer than The Mousetrap has been asking ‘whodunit?’, theatre with all its emotion, style and glamour is the perfect way to commemorate the occasion.
Whether this year is all about celebrating a new romance, wallowing in a broken heart or revelling in the brilliance of platonic love, we have identified the show for you in our very inclusive guide to surviving the ‘most romantic day of the year’ in theatrical style.
I’m happily single…
Congratulations, you can literally see anything this Valentine’s Day without risk of offending your date, feeling sad or having to worry about pre-date jitters. Plus, there are likely to be some great offers for single tickets at TKTS, our ticket booth in Leicester Square.
While there are dozens of shows playing across the West End to tickle your fancy – pun intended – we’ve picked our top three for you enviable footloose and fancy free theatregoers.
First up, the West End transfer of Jeremy Herrin’s The Nether. Completely and utterly unrelated to Valentine’s Day, it is a critically acclaimed must-see that, with its dark dystopian tale of virtual crimes, is unlikely to mean you’re solely surrounded by loved-up couples. Similarly, a dose of horror is a great antidote to the nausea-inducing Valentine’s Day tat Leicester Square will no doubt be riddled with, so why not replace the rapid heartbeat of lust with heart rate increasing fear by taking a trip to the brilliantly fun Ghost Stories. If you’d rather take the chance to revel in the smugness of your drama-free romantic life, head to Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown and be thankful that you’re not facing a situation as complicated as Tamsin Greig’s character is. Insert smug face emoticon here.
I’m mending a broken heart…
Firstly, our apologies and sympathies, you poor thing. If we could afford to send you a bouquet of Theatre Tokens to kick off the healing process, we absolutely would. Instead we can suggest some ways you can survive this Valentine’s with, hopefully, a little help from your friends who will make infinitely better dates than your ex (who definitely did not deserve you anyway).
If you’re happy to risk the odd few tears for the payoff of a lot of laughs, Di And Viv And Rose is the show for you. A celebration of platonic love and the healing powers only your closest friends possess, it’s the perfect evening for those ready to both wallow and revel in the twists and turns of life. If that sounds a bit emotionally risky for your fragile mental state, let’s throw love out of the mix altogether and head for unadulterated silliness instead with The Play That Goes Wrong, a brilliantly hilarious – and distracting – farce.
I’m single and looking for love…
Swipe right for theatre then. While we can’t promise to sit you next to Mr(s) Right or guarantee you’ll spot your next conquest over the ice cream stand, we can ensure you an evening of food for thought (and, let’s face it, everyone who likes theatre is sexy purely for that fact alone so the odds of meeting a match in the theatre bar are stacked in your favour).
Find inspiration for your quest for a soulmate in Hampstead Theatre’s romantic comedy Hello/Goodbye. As well as featuring one of the most unique paths to love we’ve heard of, it also handily combines Londoners’ obsession with the housing market. Alternatively book for My Night With Reg, Kevin Elyot’s seminal play that proves unrequited love is not a good way forward.
Slightly dreading the idea of Valentine’s as a singleton? Head to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse for the most grotesque portrayal of love in the macabre The Changeling. It’s sure to remind you that – compared to the devilish characters in this play at least – you are indeed a catch.
Plus, don’t forget, there are still two weeks to go so embrace the power of positivity and book two tickets just in case…
It’s early days but…
So you’ve been on a date or three, you’ve bonded over a mutual love of cheese, discovered you were at the same festival when you were 17 and are risking RSI with your new Whatsapp habit sharing all-important information such as what Pret sandwich you had for lunch. It’s definitely the beginning of something, but you’re not yet at the jogging bottoms on the sofa binge watching Game Of Thrones stage and looking to impress.
First up, you couldn’t go far wrong with the stunning, romantic surroundings of the National Theatre, perched conveniently as it is along the fairy-light embellished South Bank. You’d need to move quickly, but tickets for Tom Stoppard’s latest play The Hard Problem are still available to snap up. Not enough of a grand gesture? How about throwing in dinner to boot as the iconic venue’s transformed The Deck into a pop-up Valentine’s restaurant.
If the chance to see one of their favourite screen stars on stage would impress, there’s every chance The Ruling Class is an excellent bet. The first major revival of this surreal comedy since 1968, director of the moment Jamie Lloyd has gathered an incredible cast led by X Men star James McAvoy.
Still not convinced you can pick a show for your new crush before you know exactly how they take their coffee? Surprise them with Theatre Tokens instead. They can be used at more than 240 venues nationwide, so they’ll be able to decide for themselves from hundreds of shows (and you can secretly judge your future compatibility from their choice. Bonus).
I’ve officially updated my Facebook status to ‘In a relationship’
Hoorah! You’re official! Celebrate your new status with the aptly titled The Commitments. An especially good pick for music lovers, it tells Roddy Doyle’s famous story about a group of unlikely musicians and features dozens of soul classics you’ll be singing all the way home. Like the musical theme but want something a little less raucous? Beautiful – The Carole King Musical arrives in the West End in February hot on the heels of its Broadway success and has plenty of romantic classics included. Let’s hope you’re feeling more I Feel The Earth Move than Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow come the next day…
In the mood for some pure passion? Look no further than Shakespeare In Love. Based on the hit film, a huge company of 28 actors and musicians (and a dog) will be on hand to sweep you off your feet with its witty and warm tale of fated romance.
It’s a few years on and I’ve gone and got myself a common law partner
This is for those lucky people a few years down the line in a relationship, past the first months of nervous anxiety as you find your feet and now secure enough to admit your favourite film is actually Black Beauty not Magnolia. Celebrate your smug status by indulging in a production that features relationships rather more complicated than your own (we hope). The highly acclaimed A View From The Bridge is the perfect candidate, boasting both a foreboding sense of disaster and Mark Strong in a triumphant leading performance.
In the heart of Covent Garden, the Donmar Warehouse’s Closer offers an array of complicated partnerships with its story of lives colliding often with catastrophic results.
Of course, you can’t get more complicated than Mamma Mia!’s heart-warming and fun tale of a woman faced with the arrival of three exes at her Greek island home. Go on, high five each other, neither of you is in the middle of having to determine which of three possible people is your child’s parent (probably).
Pop the Champagne, I’m just married!
Congratulations! Order your interval glass of bubbly to celebrate before the show begins and it’ll be ready and waiting for you in the bar without the need to queue. So, what to see? You are probably the proud owners of the only relationship status that can survive the beautiful melancholia of hit musical Once with a smile on your face. Or how about beginning the conversation of whether to start a family following a trip to see the West End’s brightest, most talented and magical child in Matilda The Musical? Alternatively, kick up your heels and head to Memphis The Musical for an evening of soulful exuberance and drama.
Past paper and counting…
Completing our circle of relationships are the couples whose anniversaries could rival an Andrew Lloyd Webber classic. It’s time to go old school and take your beloved to a classic long-running show and you couldn’t get more established than Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom Of The Opera. Now in its 29th year and showing no signs of losing gondola speed, you’ll fall in love all over again to the backdrop of this glittering West End legend.
A mere baby – or foal, to be precise – in comparison, War Horse is now a West End staple in its sixth year running – galloping? – at the New London Theatre and a more emotional way to spend the big V Day can’t be found. Except, possibly, at the Prince Edward Theatre where Miss Saigon continues to wow with its epic staging and high octane tale set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War.