So Summer has arrived! That’s what it feels like at least, after a week of balmy British sunshine. All anyone wants to do is laze around in the many splendid parks London has to offer, topping up their tans, and why not? Well that’s a perfect plan for the day, but when the evenings approach and the air cools, June is offering plenty of theatre as a way to end our Summer days, and if you can’t face the thought of going from scorching sun to the stuffy confines of an auditorium, there’s always open air theatre!
May offered some brilliant work, which included Three Kingdoms which was something of a surprise must see and inspired theatre journalists and bloggers to really analyze their reactions. It was theatre to take notice of and talk about. June, it seems, has no less exciting viewing in store.
If you do want to stay out in the sunshine of an evening, then the first production to recommend would be A Midsummer Night’s Dream (left) at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. It is a perfectly season-appropriate piece, which usually manages to amuse and entertain an audience in whatever way it is portrayed, and although people may say this is a rather overdone Shakespeare, it sounds like there’s going to be a slightly more contemporary, even dangerous, twist to this version!
For those of you who laugh in the face of the changeable British weather, you’d be well tipped to ignore any forecast of impending rain and head to South London for Teatro Vivo‘s incredible promenade, interactive, site specific production of The Odyssey. Teatro Vivo have made quite a name for themselves with their innovative productions, and their latest offering sounds like the most ambitious yet.
Summer does seem to mean Shakespeare, and with the World Shakespeare Festival in full swing, it’s only right that we continue with the Bard. The RSC are returning to the Roundhouse, opening The Comedy Of Errors which sounds like it will keep its audiences in stitches, a rather eccentric Twelfth Night, and a moving production of The Tempest, as part of the World Shakespeare Festival, Amir Nizar Zuabi directing Errors and David Farr directing the other two.
Squeezing one more Shakespeare in here (because it is a must!), Henry V will be previewing from June 7th at Shakespeare’s Globe; surely one of Shakespeare’s most acclaimed and passionate works; directed by Dominic Dromgoole, this is likely to be an epic performance. Jamie Parker (above), returns to the role of Henry after his acclaimed performances in Henry IV parts I & II.
For a slightly more peculiar play, the Donmar Warehouse will be opening The Physicists earlier in the month, June 7th. Apparently very humorously satirical, this new version of the piece by Jack Thorne investigates whether the ‘dangerously intelligent’ are better off posing as ‘insane’.
The Royal Court offers a contemporary, and slightly darker sounding piece, The Witness, by Vivienne Franzmann, which will open in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs on 8th June, about a girl who was rescued from Rwanda by the photographer who took an award winning picture of her; and on 28th June, this time in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, Joe Penhall’s Birthday will open; about a couple having a second baby, ‘Determined to do things differently this time, it’s proving to be a bumpy ride.’
A new play by Stephen Beresford, The Last of the Haussmans, will open at The National Theatre on 19th June, starring Julie Walters. It is a rather touching, but funny piece, which looks at ‘the fate of the revolutionary generation’. This seems one of the most intriguing pieces of theatre that will open this month – one to watch (literally!)
Having premiered at The National in 2003, Democracy will open at The Old Vic on June 20th. This political, spy thriller seems poised to be a solid and reputable piece of theatre. For yet more politics, but with a funnier tone, A Walk on Part: The Fall of New Labour, will open at The Arts Theatre on June 26th; fast-paced and very funny. Meanwhile at Trafalgar Studios, on the same night, Chicken will open; a gritty play looking at modern life in the Bronx. It will be humorous, but probably have a touch of kitchen-sink about it.
Getting back out into that magnificent weather, this time in Wales, the grounds of St. Donat’s Castle, Vale of Glamorgan, will host Beyond the Border – Wales International Storytelling Festival, which will comprise a whole host of stories and music from Wales and around the world, as well as all kinds of acts from fire shows to puppeteers. Celebrating two hundred years of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with performers from across Europe, this sounds like a joy to behold, commencing June 29th for just three days.
Up in Scotland, from June 26th, Sonic Boom Theatre will see the return of Still Game for the first time since its original run; a play about three Scottish pensioners stuck in their flat, with a broken lift. This sounds like it could be very funny, with a hint of Waiting For Godot, and really rather moving.
For a bit of Stoppard, The Pavilion Theatre in Ireland will be previewing Travesties from June 7th, featuring Ronan Leahy (left) as James Joyce. As to be expected with Stoppard, a very witty, humorous, and complicated piece. Based in 1917, Zurich; artists and exiles are fleeing to Switzerland for peace from the Great War, when one of them decides to put on a production of Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest – as you do!
Finally then, the must-see theatrical event of the summer is undoubtedly going to be Gatz at the Noel Coward. At 8 hours long, and with a cast of 13, this complete enactment of The Great Gatsby has toured the world to international acclaim, and now lands in London for a strictly limited season. I promise you that everyone in theatre will be talking about this for years to come – do not miss out on what is a truly unique theatrical experience. Gatz is part of Lift 2012, the London International Festival of Theatre, an extraordinary celebration of theatre and storytelling. Look out for our detailed coverage on Fourthwall.
You’ve got a whole range of work going on this month, with a lot of excellent Shakespeare on the horizon.
Happy viewing! (And sunbathing).