Some may work off the Christmas overindulgence by setting new fitness goals and training for a marathon. At Official London Theatre we take an alternative view; rather than running the mince pies off our thighs and the stuffing off our muffin tops by jogging through the wintry London streets, we’re preparing for a marathon of theatregoing in winter/spring 2015.
Our marathon, while not necessarily as good for your physical health – though it will raise your heart rate – will undoubtedly aid your mental wellbeing and will be far more entertaining. (This is not to say we’re not in awe of anyone actually training for a real marathon, we are, we’re just far better at sitting than moving around.)
We’re starting our run with buckets of music, energy and fun in the form of a musical new to the West End, featuring a cast led by the always hilarious Tamsin Greig. A perfectly positive start (no nervous breakdowns for us just yet). Playhouse Theatre, now playing. Book now.
Mile 2: The Railway Children
Adrenalin has us charging off like a locomotive, so this was an obvious choice for the early miles. Complete with its own train, this touching Olivier Award-winning family tale has steamed back into London. King’s Cross Theatre, now playing. Book now.
Mile 3: Tree
As the initial surge wears off, it’s time for a simpler mile and Daniel Kitson’s tale about two people, a picnic basket and a tree. Old Vic, now playing.
Mile 4: Donkey Heart
A leap to Moscow (I know, it’s already one hell of a marathon geographically speaking), with the first of many transfers. This one, from the Old Red Lion, is a drama set post-Communism in a family whose lives seem entirely different yet strangely unaltered. Trafalgar Studios 2, now playing.
Mile 5: The Changeling
Award winner alert! The brilliant Hattie Morahan is back on the London stage following up her acclaimed performance in A Doll’s House. She’s playing Beatrice-Joanna in Middleton and Rowley’s macabre Jacobean classic in the most atmospheric of surroundings. Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, from 15 January.
Mile 6: Taken At Midnight
We’re settling into our theatrical stride continuing the string of lauded transfers. The second, from Chichester Festival Theatre, returns Penelope Wilton to the London stage in drama about a German lawyer taken captive by the Nazis in retaliation for putting Hitler on the witness stand. Theatre Royal Haymarket, from 15 January. Book now.
Mile 7: The Ruling Class
While mutant powers might be helpful for any kind of marathon, James McAvoy has left his X-Men abilities behind for his stage return playing a new Earl, entirely unsuitable for the rigours of the role, in Peter Barnes’ sharp comedy directed by Jamie Lloyd. Trafalgar Studio 1, from 16 January.
Mile 8: My Night With Reg
Transfer two is a Donmar Warehouse hit starring Downton Abbey’s Julian Ovenden. Kevin Elyot’s modern classic is set in the 80s against the backdrop of the growing AIDS crisis and follows a sextet of friends whose lives alter immeasurably. Apollo Theatre, from 17 January. Book now.
Mile 9: Dara
A quick trip to the National Theatre for a pair of productions. The first is an intense drama set in the court of Mughal India telling of the fight between two brothers, opposed in character and heirs to the Muslim empire. National Theatre Lyttelton, from 20 January. Book now.
Mile 10: The Hard Problem
The second NT show is the first new play by Tom Stoppard since 2006’s Rock ‘N’ Roll. Directed by Nicholas Hytner, it’s the story of a young researcher struggling with where psychology and biology meet. National Theatre Dorfman, from 21 January.
Mile 11: Di And Viv And Rose
Back to the transfers and Hampstead Theatre’s hit drama of female friendship starring a trio of incredible, award-winning actresses, Tamzin Outhwaite, Jenna Russell and Samantha Spiro. Vaudeville Theatre, from 22 January. Book now.
Mile 12: The Nether
Another of those much talked of transfers, this tense internet-based thriller was first a hit at the Royal Court. A drama exploring a virtual realm where the darkest of fantasies can be fulfilled, it brings with it original cast members Stanley Townsend and Amanda Hale. Duke of York’s Theatre, from 30 January. Book now.
Mile 13: How To Hold Your Breath
To the Royal Court for the start of the second half of our race and a new play examining the cost of principles starring the fantastic Maxine Peake, a wonderful lift any mid-marathon slump. Royal Court, from 4 February.
Mile 14: Boa
A chance to see another fantastic actress, Harriet Walter, in the most intimate of West End theatres. Boa finds Walter on stage with husband Guy Paul in a play about a relationship of 30 years. Trafalgar Studio 2, from 5 February.
Mile 15: A View From The Bridge
The last of our steel core of mid-marathon transfers features Mark Strong, Nicola Walker and Phoebe Fox in the Young Vic production of Arthur Miller’s drama A View From The Bridge that won huge acclaim for its minimalist staging last year. Wyndham’s Theatre, from 10 January.
Mile 16: Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
With the finish line So Far Away, It Might As Well Rain Until September. Yes, we’ll be taking inspiration from the incredible songbook of Carole King to get us through mile 16 of our winter/spring theatre marathon. Aldwych Theatre, from 10 February. Book now.
Mile 17: Farinelli And The King
MARK RYLANCE! We don’t normally shout, but we’ve hit that stage of the marathon and the appearance of Mr Rylance in the story of a Spanish king and his favourite castrato is most certainly worth raising our voice for. Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, from 11 February.
Mile 18: Man And Superman
RALPH FIENNES! INDIRA VARMA! We don’t normally… oh we’ve done that. Come on, indulge us, this is another worth a holler. George Bernard Shaw’s tale of heaven and hell, bachelors and heiresses is reinvented by rising director Simon Godwin. National Theatre Lyttelton, from 17 February.
Mile 19: Game
If we could shout again we would, but we’re too tired. This is the latest play by the writer behind King Charles III, Earthquakes In London, My Child and Cock, Mike Bartlett. It invites us to spy on a family trying a new way of living. We can’t wait. Almeida Theatre, from 23 February.
Mile 20: Let It Be
When I find myself in time of trouble, struggling on mile 20, I turn to Beatles music, Let It Be. Yep, twisting and shouting might be beyond us by this stage, but a romp through the Fab Four’s back catalogue will perk us right up for the home straight. Garrick Theatre, from 28 February. Book now.
Mile 21: Lord Of The Dance: Dangerous Games
We need to get our metaphorical feet moving again and what better way than with the Irish exuberance of Michael Flatley’s world conquering dance show and miraculous metatarsals. Dominion Theatre, from 13 March. Book now.
Mile 22: Rules For Living
Our mind wanders to reminiscence and thoughts of a family Christmas, but hopefully not like the one portrayed in Sam Holcroft’s new play where everyone’s coping strategies are all too obviously displayed and rigidly adhered to. National Theatre Dorfman, from 13 March.
Mile 23: Gypsy
Within touching distance of the finishing line, we need some big guns to pull us through. Here’s Imelda Staunton and Stephen Sondheim; can’t ask for more than that. Acclaimed in Chichester, Gypsy must be one of the most anticipated London shows of 2015. Savoy Theatre, from 28 March. Book now.
Mile 24: The Twits
Roald Dahl’s hideous creations are just the trick to keep us going, their horrible ways and revolting tricks filling our tired legs with laughter. Royal Court, from 7 April.
Mile 25: American Buffalo
No, not what we could eat after our marathon, but the heist comedy by David Mamet that brings Homeland star Damian Lewis back to London’s Theatreland. The tale of three small-time crooks planning one big heist is directed by Daniel Evans. Wyndham’s Theatre, from 16 April.
Mile 26: The Audience
Where better to finish than with Her Majesty The Queen. This time it’s the newly crowned Dame Kristin Scott Thomas who takes on the role that won fellow dame Helen Mirren an Olivier Award when the production was first staged. Apollo Theatre, from 21 April. Book now.
And how will we treat ourselves for finishing our winter/spring London theatre marathon? With a trip to see big summer musical Bend It Like Beckham, of course. The stage adaptation of the hit British film begins its run at the Phoenix Theatre on 15 May.
Many of these shows are taking part in our reduced price ticket promotion Get Into London Theatre, which is offering fantastic deals on tickets to many of London’s most popular shows until 13 February.