2016 is nearly upon and for once, I’ve hardly anything booked for the coming year and what I do have tickets for, I’m hardly that inspired by (the Garrick season has been ruined by the awfulness of the rear stalls seats, and I only got Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tickets due to FOMO). Not for the first time, I’m intending to see less theatre next year but I do have my eyes on a good few productions in the West End, fringe and beyond.
1 Escaped Alone, Royal Court
The promise of a new Caryl Churchill play alone was good enough for me, never mind the amazing casting of Linda Bassett, Deborah Findlay, Kika Markham and June Watson. The reaction to the divisive Here We Go adds a little extra spice too, how will the critical establishment cope with a work about older women?!
2 Grey Gardens, Southwark Playhouse
Reuniting the crack team who have delivered so many musicals at this theatre, the tale of the Bouvier Beale women should provide intriguing material for stars Sheila Hancock and Jenna Russell.
3 The Rolling Stone, Orange Tree
Seen in Manchester and Leeds last year, Chris Urch’s new play sees a welcome return for visionary director Ellen McDougall.
4 Clickbait, Theatre503
Is there another theatre as strong as the 503 in responding to contemporary issues with genuinely thought-provoking work as opposed to click-baiting scandal. A new perspective of women in porn is next under the spotlight.
5 Wit, Royal Exchange
Julie Hesmondhalgh’s post-Corrie career has seen her make some cracking choices and emerge as a most thoughtful actor – Margaret Edson’s Wit will only further her reputation.
6 The Faction’s Richard III, New Diorama
Sad news as this rep company bring their six year tenure at the New Diorama to a close but upping their ensemble to 21 and increasing its diversity should ensure they go out with a bang.
7 The Long Road South, King’s Head
With a cast that includes Imogen Stubbs and Michael Brandon, the intimacy of the King’s Head should be well suited to the intensity of Paul Minx’s play.
8 Nell Gwynn, Apollo
It’s a shame Gugu Mbatha-Raw couldn’t transfer with Jessica Swale’s show from its spectacular run at the Globe but it will be interesting to see how Gemma Arterton adapts to the title role.
9 Phaedra(s), Barbican
Isabelle Huppert. ISABELLE HUPPERT!
10 The Maids, Trafalgar Studios
Uzo Aduba and Zawe Ashton, with Laura Carmichael? One of the most exciting casts to hit the West End in ages.
11 Mrs Henderson Presents, Noël Coward
12 My Mother Said I Never Should, St James
“The most performed play by a female playwright” but the first revival in London for 25 years from the creative team behind Land of Our Fathers (which will be touring).
13 Talawa’s King Lear, Royal Exchange/Birmingham Rep
Marking Talawa Theatre’s 30th anniversary year, Don Warrington takes on this most mountainous of Shakespearean roles for director Michael Buffong.
14 Filter’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Lyric Hammersmith
It’ll be four years since I saw this at the same theatre and I can’t wait to get to revisit its lovable anarchic spirit.
15 Hamlet, RSC
Stratford-upon-Avon isn’t always the first place you look for innovative casting but Simon Godwin’s choice to have Paapa Essiedu as the Prince of Denmark along with Tanya Moodie and Cyril Nri in the cast should make this a production to look out for.
16 Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Bristol Old Vic
Getting Lesley Manville and Jeremy Irons onstage is one hell of a way to celebrate your 250th birthday and guaranteed to get me there.
17 Headlong’s Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme
Headlong always offer up interesting work and so it’ll be intriguing to see what Jeremy Herrin makes of Frank McGuinness’ 1985 play.
18 Toneelgroep Amsterdam’s Kings of War, Barbican
Ironically, there were more British journalists and critics at the performance I saw in Amsterdam than you’d see at any fringe venue, all of us too impatient to wait a year to see this iconic company at work.
19 Yerma, Young Vic
20 The Flick, National Theatre
Details are still frustrating thin on the ground for this highly acclaimed play but keep your ears to the ground as tickets are likely to fly off the shelves.
Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard
Nick Payne’s latest for the Donmar, Elegy
and Ivo van Hove directing The Crucible in New York City….