Last Updated on October 1, 2021
What’s On at the National Theatre
The last 18 months have been a long and difficult journey for all theatres. It’s great to hear that the National Theatre is returning to full capacity performances this autumn giving more people the opportunity to see their exciting new autumn programme. They are back in all three theatres (The Olivier, Lyttelton and the Dorfman) with some fantastic new shows, so be sure to book in advance.
Here are some of the unmissable shows coming soon at the National Theatre.
First up is The Normal Heart written by author and activist Larry Kramer which opens in the Olivier on 23 September, this is a co-production with Fictionhouse, directed by Dominic Cooke who as an NT Associate director has directed some of their hugely successful shows including Follies and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The Normal Heart is a largely autobiographical play about the AIDS crisis in 1980 New York, it has not been performed professionally in London since its European premiere in 1986. Larry Kramer was one of the first people to foresee that AIDS which was first thought of as a kind of cancer could kill millions regardless of sexual orientation. He was noted for his loud and antagonistic campaigns in response to the aids crisis and helped shift national health policy in the 1980s and ’90s. He died in 2020 aged 84.
Ben Daniels will perform the role of Ned Weeks, the co-founder of an AIDS advocacy group fighting to change the world around him, with Dino Fetscher as Felix, and Richard Cant joining the previously announced Robert Bowman, Liz Carr, Daniel Krikler, Daniel Monks, Elander Moore, Luke Norris, Henry Nott, Freddie Stabb and Danny Lee Wynter. Set design is by Vicki Mortimer, costume design by Lisa Duncan, lighting design by Paule Constable, sound design by Carolyn Downing and fight direction by Bret Yount. Production supported by the Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater.
Hex – A new musical – From 4 Dec 2021 to 22 January 2022
I love a Christmas show especially one I can bring all the family to and who doesn’t love a fairy tale. This year we are treated to Hex, a new musical on the Olivier stage directed by National Theatre Director Rufus Norris. Hex tells the story beyond the kiss that woke the Sleeping Beauty and tells the fairy’s tale, with book by Tanya Ronder, music by Jim Fortune and lyrics by Rufus Norris.
This dark and thrilling new version is based on a 17th Century folk tale. It reunites director Rufus Norris with set and costume designer Katrina Lindsay following their 2002 critically acclaimed adaptation of Sleeping Beauty, from which Hex is adapted.
The cast include: Rosalie Craig, Tamsin Carroll, Kat Ronney and Michael Elcock lead the company, alongside Esme Bacalla-Hayes, Madeline Charlemagne, Tamsin Dowsett, Eleanor Kane and Daisy Maywood.
Orchestrations by Simon Hale, music supervision by Marc Tritschler, music direction by Tarek Merchant, lighting design by Paul Anderson, choreography by Jade Hackett with consultant choreography by Bill Deamer and sound design by Simon Baker. The development of new music theatre is supported by the Genesis Foundation through the Genesis Music Theatre Programme.
East Is East – from 7 – 30 Oct 2021
East Is East, by Ayub Khan Din is a 25th-anniversary production that will reopen the Lyttleton Theatre. A production from the Birmingham Repertory Theatre it is directed by Iqbal Khan with set design by Bretta Gerecke and costume design by Susan Kulkarni.
East is East is a joyous comedy-drama set in 1970s Salford. It follows the lives of the Khan children and their battle between the traditional values of their Pakistani father and their own desire to be citizens of modern Britain. George Khan wants to raise his family in the traditional Pakistani way, but his children have other ideas.
Abdul and Tariq aren’t ready to be married off, Saleem is pushing artistic boundaries, Meenah’s skirt is too short and Sajit just wants to hide in his parka. As relations reach breaking point, their English mother, Ella, is pulled torn between her loyalty to George and the happiness of her children.
I am yet to see this hugely successful play which first premiered in 1996 at The Rep in a co-production with Tamasha and the Royal Court, it has gone on to become a modern classic comic- drama, with three sell-out London runs and it has been adapted into a BAFTA Award-winning film. The production is performed at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in September, transferring to the National Theatre in October before moving to the Chichester Festival Theatre in November.
Manor – 16 Nov – 1 Jan
Manor is a timely new play by Moira Buffini, directed by Fiona Buffini, her sister, that opens on 16 November in the Lyttelton Theatre.
This darkly comic piece sees Diana is struggling to keep the roof on her run-down manor house, as a violent storm sweeps the coast. A group of strangers unexpectedly arrive in search of shelter, Ted played by Shaun Evan is the charismatic leader of a far-right organisation. He could be Diana’s saviour – or he could pull the fragile household to pieces. Stranded together, the explosive mix of people must survive the weather and each other.
Featuring Nancy Carroll (The Crown) as Diana and Shaun Evans (Endeavour) as Ted, Manor is a darkly comic new play by Moira Buffini (The Dig, Handbagged). The company will also include Effie Ansah, Michele Austin, Helen Barford, Chris Barritt, Mat Betteridge, Sophie Bradley, Peter Bray, Sophie Cartman, Gillian Dean, Liadán Dunlea, Amy Forrest, Lewis Griffin, David Hargreaves, Edward Judge, Owen McDonnell and Shaniqua Okwok. Set and costume design by Lez Brotherston, lighting design by Jon Clark, composition and sound design by Jon Nicholls, video design by Nina Dunn, fight direction by Kate Waters.
These are just a few of the shows scheduled for Autumn/Winter 2021 and you’ll find full listings on the National Theatre website. looks to be bouncing back with a great season; I know I am looking forward to it.
London SE1 9PX
For other London listings, check out what’s on at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. More coming soon