News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 13th March 2009

The Barbican Centre's 2009/2010 season will include a new work from the Michael Clark Company set to the music of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed; Roman Tragedies, Toneelgroep Amsterdam's 6 hour multimedia spectacle based on Shakespeare's Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Antony And Cleopatra, directed by Ivo van Hove; Teatr ZAR from the Grotowski Institute in Wroclaw in a triptych, Gospels Of Childhood, Caesarean Section and Anhelli, with the audience walking from St Giles Church to the Pit and back again; Slung Low in They Only Come At Night: Visions, a promenade performance in Car Park 2 that will combine dance, music and digital projection on vampire and gothic themes; the return of the Stratford East Boy/Blue Entertainment show Pied Piper, a hip-hop street dance interpretation of Robert Browning's poem, directed and designed by Ultz; and a Theatre Bouffes du Nord in Paris and the Grotowski Institute co-production of 11 And 12, written and directed by Peter Brook, adapted with Marie-Helene Estienne from Le Sage de Bandiagra by Amadou Hampate Ba, about the life and teachings of the Sufi sage Tierno Bokar.

Nina Bawden's Carrie's War, adapted by Emma Reeves, which follows the adventures of a brother and sister evacuated to the country during the Second World War, with Prunella Scales, Sarah Edwardson, Amanda Symonds and James Beddard, directed by Andrew Loudon, will open at the Apollo Theatre on 24th June. The Novel Theatre production played at the Lilian Baylis Studio at Sadler's Wells at Christmas 2006.

Udderbelly, the 400 seater giant upside down purple cow, which has been a feature of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe since 2006, is to make its London debut on the South Bank this summer. It will be pitched in Festival Gardens, between the Royal Festival Hall and the London Eye. In a season that will run from May 27th to July 19th, it will host more than 40 different events, spanning theatre, comedy, music, magic and children's shows, including appearances by Joan Rivers, Clive James, David O'Doherty, Rhona Cameron, Katy Brand, Tom Tom Crew (a mix of beat-boxing, circus and drumming), The Terrible Infants (puppetry, live music and storytelling) and The Crack, featuring variety performer Miss Behave.

The current Almeida Theatre production of Tom Kempinski's Duet For One, about a concert violinist who is forced to rethink her career and her life after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, with Juliet Stevenson and Henry Goodman, directed by Matthew Lloyd, will transfer to the Vaudeville Theatre, opening on 12th May. The producers are Lee Dean and Jenny Topper.

Self styled 'psychological illusionist' Derren Brown will bring his new stage show Enigma, which opens a national tour on 17th April, to the Adelphi Theatre from 17th June to 18th July. The show is directed by Andy Nyman, and presented by Michael Vine, Andrew O'Connor and Corrie McGuire for Objective Productions.

Wilton's Music Hall in Wapping, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this month, is bidding to be taken over by the National Trust. Having failed to secure Heritage Lottery funding, the Grade II listed building has turned to the trust to rescue it from further dilapidation. Current estimates suggest that it needs work costing at least 2.5m to make it structurally sound. Should the trust decide to acquire Wilton's, it will take responsibility for the fabric of the building, leaving the existing staff to run it as a performance space. Wilton's will be holding an anniversary open day on Sunday 29th March, from noon to 6pm, when anyone can look around London's oldest remaining music hall, and buy various items of memorabilia. There will also be performances by members of the British Music Hall Society throughout the day, and clips from films and videos featuring Wilton's. Future events at Wiltons will include the Out of Joint Theatre company production of Robin Soans's Mixed Up North, about a drama group called Breaking Down Barriers in Burnely, from 9th November; and Fiona Shaw reprising her performance of T S Eliot's poem The Waste Land, directed by Deborah Warner, in December.

The Lichfield Garrick Rep Company production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, with Matthew Kelly, Tracey Childs, Louise Kempton and Mark Farrelly, directed by Andrew Hall, will transfer to Trafalgar Studios 2 on 14th April. The iconic darkly comic play details the breakdown of the 23 year marriage of a combative couple during a 'quiet evening with friends'. It is presented by Solomon Point.

The next production at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark will be Ben Travers Rookery Nook, with Lynda Baron, Nick Brimble, Mark Hadfield, Kellie Shirley, Neil Stuke, Clare Wilkie and Sarah Woodward, directed by Terry Johnson, opening on 29th April. The classic farce involves a playboy, his new wife, his mother in law, a meddling maid, and a young girl who has been thrown out of the house next door in nothing but her silk pyjamas.

This year's Laurence Olivier Awards were dominated by Domnar Warehouse productions, with The Chalk Garden taking Best Actress (Play) - Margaret Tyzack and Lighting Design - Paule Constable, Twelfth Night winning Best Actor (Play) - Derek Jacobi, and Piaf taking Best Actress (Musical) - Elena Roger; and the National Theatre of Scotland's Black Watch, winning Best New Play, Best Director - John Tiffany, Best Choreographer - Steven Hoggett and Best Sound - Gareth Fry. La Cage Aux Folles took Best Musical Revival and Best Actor (Musical) - Douglas Hodge; and Jersey Boys won Best New Musical. Disgracefully, once again this year there was no television coverage of the presentations ceremony of Britain's premier theatre awards, but full details can be found on the Society Of London Theatre web site via the link opposite.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has unveiled a newly discovered portrait painting that it believes is the only authentic image of Shakespeare made from life. The painting shows a younger, leaner William Shakespeare than in other representations known throughout history. It is believed to have been commissioned by the 3rd Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare's literary patron, whose granddaughter married into the Cobbe family, in whose possession it has remained ever since. The portrait, along with other relevant material, will go on public exhibition at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon from 23rd April, Shakespeare's birthday. Further information can be found on the SBT web site, via link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: That Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, with Dan Stevens, Nancy Carroll, Neil Pearson and Ed Stoppard, directed by David Leveaux, will be the next show at the Duke of York's Theatre in May; that the recent Broadway production of Tennessee Williams's Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, featuring a black cast, directed by Debbie Allen, will transfer to the West End in November, retaining James Earl Jones from the original, but with a new British cast; and that Elena Roger will reprise her West End performance as Eva Peron in a 30th anniversary production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita on Broadway next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.