Best early autumn theatre

Anne-Marie Duff and Kenneth Cranham

There’s no denying it: there’s a nip in the air. But the flip side of no more long, lazy summer nights drinking rosé al fresco is that the idea of cosying up inside a musty theatre with coughing neighbours is once again oh so appealing.  And early autumn has some intriguing highlights…

September 9th sees INK transfer to the west end for a four month run. We were already fans of both maverick director Rupert ‘Enron’ Goold and James Graham, the writer of political masterpiece This House, and this provocative, clever, bitingly funny, fast-paced, insightful and painfully shocking play about the 1969 formation of The Sun newspaper as we know it to be today – in all its Page 3, TV reviews, gossipy, celebrity obsessed grime – did not disappoint when we saw it at The Almeida this summer. Rupert Murdoch as a hero? This might just well be the only time he is. Tickets from £10-95. For more details, click here.

Back in N1 at The Almeida itself, Rupert Goold’s big draw for the Autumn is Mike Barliett’s Albion. The playwright’s caustically witty, Tony-award winning King Charles III was adapted for the BBC earlier this year and this new play is likely to push just as many buttons. Running from 10 Oct – Nov 24. Tickets from £10-48. Book here.

Theatre goes off the rails in mid September (12 to 16 September) with Hofesh Shechter Company’s Grand Finale, a dance meets singing meets live music meets theatrical collision of forces from the edgy choreographer and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist. As the title would suggest, the story is an apocalyptic dreamscape that promises to career headlong towards the end of the world with ferocious, compelling energy. Tickets from £12-32. For more details, click here.

The last few pieces of theatre we’ve seen directed by Ivo van Hove are seared to the memory – Ruth Wilson as Hedda Gabler staple-gunning flowers to the walls, storms of blood cascading through the stage and over the cast of All My Sons, and the epic Kings of War that saw van Hove weave together and update three of Shakespeare’s history plays into a four hour Dutch marathon (for the record, we only managed 2.5 hours –  compelling though it was!) Some we’ve loved, others less so, but each is worth investing in for sheer impact and daring, so we’ll be booking for the adaptations (yep, in Dutch) for two Ingmar Bergman screenplays: After the Rehearsal/Persona, playing at the Barbican from September 27-30, the first about a “controlling director obsessed with his work”, the second an actress who becomes mute. Tickets from £16-40 can be bought here.

Ivo van Hove also directs Network, opening at the National Theatre this November 4, the story of a soon-to-be-axed newsreader who’s breakdown on camera captures the imagination of a fickle, novelty-seeking audience. Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall draws out the parallels of this 1970s film with our post post-Truth Trump era. It’s selling out pretty fast so book fast here – and for real enthusiasts, enter the ticket ballot to get seats on stage.

One of our favourite immersive theatre companies is back – Punchdrunk are showing their latest production Kabeiroi from 26 September to 5 November.  Inspired by the ancient Greek myth of the women of Lemnos, it’s not for the faint hearted (or those who are pregnant) and it will start in the early afternoon and finish by 10pm (you’re advised to bring a comfortable pair of shoes and a travel or contactless debit card!)  You have to buy tickets in pairs and the only way to get them, is to enter into the ticket ballot (open until 6pm, 10 September).  Tickets are £55 each and you can get more details on the ballot here.

Three of our favourite actresses are also returning to the stage in rather different plays.  Eve Best stars as Mrs Arbuthnot, a society lady living with a secret in A Woman of No Importance, the first of former Globe artistic director Dominic Dromgoole’s Oscar Wilde season at the Vaudeville Theatre. Showing from 6 October to 30 December, tickets start at £19.50 and you can get all the details here.  Anne-Marie Duff stars in a new play called Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle written by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott about two strangers whose lives change forever when they meet by chance in a train station.  Showing from 3 October to 6 January 2018, tickets start at £19.50 and you can find them here.  And from 27 September – 2 December, Tamsin Greig will be on stage alongside Martin Freeman in Labour of Love, a political comedy about…yes, the Labour party.  Tickets start from £10, see the details here.

Finally, Balancing Acts was one of our favourite reads of the summer, so we’re chomping at the bit to see what Nicholas Hytner’s next theatrical project following his exit stage left from the National Theatre brings. His new space in London Bridge, aptly called The Bridge, opens with Rory Kinnear’s Young Marx opening on October 18 and running until the last day of the year. Tickets from £15-65. For more details, click here.

— Beatrice
6th September 2017

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