World Theatre Day 2017 – Best of the London West End
Today is World Theatre Day, a celebration for those who can see the value and importance of the staged performance. While most of us have enjoyed a trip to London’s West End at one time or another, the majority of Joes would probably never call themselves experts when it comes to theatre. So to celebrate the day, here’s a run-down of what we think are the best plays and performances going on at the West End at the moment.
The Book of Mormon
Location: Prince of Wales Theatre
If you like your gags close to the bone, we think you’ll love the musical sensation that is The Book of Mormon. Written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Mormon follows the travels of two young American missionaries who travel to Africa to preach the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The musical is fun, lovable and quite honestly one of the funniest thing you’ll ever see on stage. The jokes may not be quite as crude as South Park but this satire is certainly not one for your Nan.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Location: Gielgud Theatre
If you’re looking for something other than a musical which packs some serious production value, there’s not many better plays in the West End at the moment than The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The show follows the story of Christopher Boone, a teenage ‘mathematician with some behavioural difficulties’ who finds a dead dog lying on the grass in front of his neighbour’s house. Convinced his dad has something to do with it, Christopher embarks on a journey to London to find his estranged mum. Ultimately Curious Incident isn’t about the mystery of a dead dog at all, instead it’s a study of learning difficulties and a family torn apart by the pressures of looking after their son. It is melancholy at times, but Curious Incident is also as funny as it is charming. The staging is also stunning.
Location: Apollo Theatre
New to the West End, Tom Stoppard’s dazzling comedy of art, love and revolution stars Tom Hollander (The Night Manager, Rev) as Henry Carr, a minor British diplomat who recalls his encounters with James Joyce, Tristan Tzara and the communist revolutionary Lenin in Zurich 1917. The 2016 revival of Travesties received such strong reviews from critics it resulted in a move to the West End following a sold-out run at the Menier Chocolate Factory, with Hollander getting all the plaudits.
Matilda the Musical
Location: Cambridge Theatre
If you need something for the kids, Matilda the Musical is probably the best thing going at the moment. Based on the much-loved Roald Dahl novel, the musical has been adapted to stage by playwright Dennis Kelly and comedian-songsmith Tim Minchin. If you don’t know the story, Matilda is a gifted, pint-sized heroine who’s often neglected by her parents. As such, she plays numerous pranks on them. Matilda is for kids, yes, it’s often wise enough and funny enough to keep even the most cynical of us entertained. The set-design is also one of the most Instagram-worthy in London.
The Glass Menagerie
Location: Duke of York’s Theatre
Following a Tony Award-winning run on Broadway, Tennessee Williams’ classic The Glass Menagerie is back on to the West End stage. The hard-hitting play centres around a domineering mother, a daughter that doesn’t fit in and a son anxious to escape the grasps of home. There’s something almost Twin Peaks-y about The Glass Menagerie with a real other-worldly quality. And while it is heavy going, unlike other productions of Menagerie, this glass is half-full.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Location: Old Vic Theatre
If you haven’t got enough of Tom Stoppard after seeing Travesties, a fiftieth anniversary production of his Tony Award-winning Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead has just opened at the Old Vic Theatre starring none-other than HP himself Daniel Radcliffe. The celebrated play focuses on two minor characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, offering the audience the opportunity to see the story from another point of view. Radcliffe stars opposite Joshua McGuire in this absurd tragicomedy.