Welcome to February! It’s the season of school half-term holidays, the month of Valentine’s Dates, and, of course, most importantly of all, prime time for pancakes.
But before you consume plenty of fluffy treats – or, alternatively, if you’ve youngsters and/or a romantic partner to entertain – why not head down to catch some London theatre? With a plethora of world-class incoming productions joining the ranks this month, we’ve picked out some of the shows we’re most looking forward to chatting about at Official London Theatre.
Now playing at Theatre Royal Stratford East until 11 March
Rachel: One of the more intriguing titles of a show I’ve come across, The Bubbly Black Girls Sheds Her Chameleon Skin makes its European Premiere at the Theatre Royal Stratford East this month. I was lucky enough to step inside the rehearsal room a couple of weeks ago, and was overwhelmed by the energy from the cast, and I’ve been humming ‘Granny’s Advice’ ever since. The show is described as a coming-of-age story looks at how women have been defined by others and themselves from the 1960s to present day (yes), and Sondheim meets Beyoncé – double yes.
Tim Firth & Gary Barlow at the Phoenix Theatre (Photo: Matt Crockett)
Now previewing, press night 21 February; Phoenix Theatre
Sinead: The Girls, a musical adaptation of the hit 2003 film Calendar Girls, tells the heart-warming true story of a Women’s Institute group turned homegrown heroes after the success of their tasteful nude calendar. Brought to the West End, after a run at The Grand Theatre in Leeds, by dream team and old friends Gary Barlow and Tim Firth, this musical comedy is sure to give all the feels!
Cherry Jones and Michael Esper in The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s Theatre (Photo: Johan Persson)
Now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre until 29 April
Jim: I had the pleasure of seeing this production on Broadway with Cherry Jones and Brian J Smith, both Tony-nominated for their roles. It’s a heartbreaking look at a family struggling with love and escapism in a grey-washed world that wasn’t built for them. You’ll love Cherry’s portrayal of a Southern debutante stuck in a time forgotten (dressed in a pink poodle-poof debutante gown to match!). John Tiffany directs this marvelous production, a truly `MUST-SEE of the year!’
Tom Hollander in Travesties at the Menier Chocolate Factory (Photo: Johan Persson)
Now previewing, press night 15 February; Apollo Theatre
Robin: It’s baffling, it’s brilliant, and it’s playwright Tom Stoppard on top form: Travesties is a hilarious intellectual treat. I was lucky enough to catch the production at the Menier Chocolate Factory pre-transfer, and can’t wait to see the mayhem of this madcap mixed memories comedy given the West End treatment, particularly Tom Hollander’s excellent anchoring performance. You’ll come out feeling ten times wiser about art, love and revolution – as well as having a desire to refresh your memory of Wildean references and Russian Revolution history!
Previews from 7 February, press night 8 February; Vaudeville Theatre
Dan: The Boys In The Band, a revival of Matt Crowley’s play, transfers from the Park Theatre to the West End this month and, while much has changed in the 40 years since the play was first performed, the play’s central themes remain sadly prescient. Performed by an incredible cast, including Olivier Award winner Mark Gatiss, this revival is not be missed.
Previews from 14 February, press night 16 February; Park Theatre
Robin: Smashing into the Park Theatre in February to dust away any lingering New Year cobwebs, Action To The Word’s visceral, vivid and rambunctious staging, married with Anthony Burgess’ original literary masterpiece, is a match made in heaven. While certainly not for audiences of all ages, I can’t wait to see this electrifying adaptation of Alex and his Droogs’ ultraviolent underworld. Just like Alex’s “treatment”, it’ll be difficult tear your eyes away from (but a fair bit more enjoyable!).
Previews from 15 February, press night 22 February; National Theatre Olivier
Sinead: Although the play is well over 400 years old, director Simon Godwin’s production of Twelfth Night at the National Theatre is far from outdated. Tamsin Greig will play a transformed Malvolia, traditionally a male role, and Doon Mackichan will play a gender-flipped Feste. Adding the different context to Shakespeare’s love triangle of epic proportions and whirlwind of mistaken identity, this production is not to be missed.
Previews from 16 February, press night 23 February; Young Vic
Dan: Director Joe Hill-Gibbins takes Shakespeare to a house party for this reinvention of the classic text. Joe has a track record in radically reinterpreting works – his 2015 Measure For Measure was inventive and unforgettable and with this phenomenal cast, A Midsummer Night’s Dream might top it.
Lars Eidinger in Schaubühne Berlin’s Richard III (Photo: Arno Declai)
Plays from 16-19 February;
Jim: How could a great country could be governed by an ill-fitting leader? Richard III is the perfect play to explore this question, one of Shakespeare’s history plays which is sure to ring more true today than ever before. Schaubühne Berlin’s version of Richard III promises to be a theatrical thriller with stunningly distinctive direction – you won’t have seen anything like it.
Andrew Scott in Hamlet at the Almeida Theatre (Photo: Miles Aldridge)
Previews from 17 February, press night 28 February; Almeida Theatre
Rachel: I don’t need to write much to let you know that this is going to be an incredible production. And to quote Hamlet’s Polonius, ‘brevity is the soul of wit’. The show is directed by Robert Icke, the Islington venue’s Associate Director, and stars Andrew Scott and Juliet Stevenson. I mean, that’s all you need to know, right?