20 shows to look forward to in 2020

I look ahead to some of the 2020 shows exciting me most with an emphasis away from the West End, looking mostly instead at the London fringe and across the UK 

Sure, there’s all sorts of big ticket shows coming to London in 2020 (with big ticket prices too to go with their big names), like Sunday in the Park with George with Jake Gyllenhaal, Sister Act with Whoopi Goldberg, A Doll’s House with Jessica Chastain. But there’s so much more to discover if you venture away from Shaftesbury Avenue…

1 The Glass Menagerie, Odéon–Théâtre de l’Europe at the Barbican
Not that I want to be predictable at all but Isabelle Huppert! Acting in French! Right in front of you! I understand that van Hove-fatigue might be setting in for people but only a FOOL would pass up the chance to see one of our greatest living actors. A FOOL! 

2 The Glass Menagerie, Royal Exchange
And if you wanted to do a direct compare and contrast, Atri Banerjee’s revival for the Royal Exchange will be worth checking out too for an alternative perspective. 

3 The Wicker Husband, Watermill
Even before Benjamin Button tore my heart apart, I was excited for the arrival of this new musical by Rhys Jennings and Darren Clark but now, the bar has been raised even higher. And the gorgeous intimacy of the Watermill feels like a perfect fit.

4 Children of Nora, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam
Me: “I don’t need any more Ibsen in my life”
Also me: Robert Icke revisiting the world of A Doll’s House through the eyes of the next generation? Yes please.

5 Romantics Anonymous, Bristol Old Vic
I don’t think I thought this delicious Koomin and Dimond musical would ever actually return, so this short run in the UK ahead of a US tour feels like a real blessing. Now where did I put my badge?

6 Chaplin: Birth of a Tramp, Brockley Jack
Arrows & Traps are always reliably good so it will be interesting to see what spin they take on this most iconic of figures. There ought to be clowns you might say…

7 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Tobacco Factory
I’ve long been a fan of director David Mercatali so I suspect I could well be making another visit to Bristol to see what he makes of this classic play.

8 The Visit or The Old Lady Comes to Call, National Theatre
Lesley Manville. In that dress. What more do you need?

9 The Sugar Syndrome, Orange Tree
A chance to see Lucy Prebble’s debut play shouldn’t be missed but tbh, they had me at Alexandra Gilbreath (and John Hollingworth). 

10 Showstopper – the Improvised Musical, UK tour
I have longed loved improvisers extraordinaires Showstopper!, so it is great to see them announce new dates for their current UK tour, giving more people the chance to enjoy the creative genius of this amazing show throughout 2020.

11 Orlando, Schaubühne Berlin at the Barbican
Katie Mitchell doing what she does best, “interweaving life and art, reality and fiction”, in an exploration of Virginia Woolf’s genre-defying novel with regular collaborator Alice Birch. In German.

12 Scrounger, Finborough
A no holds barred look at Britain’s treatment of people with disabilities from Olivier award-nominated writer and performer Athena Stevens. Inspired by real events and a lawsuit initiated by Stevens, who herself has athetoid cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, Scrounger drives towards the realities of how Britain is failing its most vulnerable and the extreme cost paid by those seeking justice.

13 Crongton Knights, Belgrade Theatre Coventry then UK tour
In this world premiere adaptation of Alex Wheatle’s award-winning novel, the pulse of the city is alive on stage with a soundscape of beatboxing and vocals laid down by the cast and created by acclaimed musician Conrad Murray.

14 Burkas and Bacon Butties, Park Theatre
Representing for Wigan! Based on writer Shamia Chalabi’s personal experiences, this touching tale of a father-daughter relationship highlights the comedy within a culture-clashing family in contemporary Britain. Can mosques and mojitos, and burkas and bacon butties coexist?

15 A Number, Bridge Theatre
It doesn’t really need the extra boost but Roger Allam and Colin Morgan in a Caryl Churchill classic should be one to watch.

16 The Process, Bunker Theatre
The good folks of BAZ Productions can always be counted on to do something interesting and as one of the shows in the Bunker’s farewell season, this BSL and spoken English drama looks like one to catch.

17 Coriolanus, Sheffield Theatres
If we have to have Shakespeare, then let it be of the reinvigorated kind as directed by the likes of Rob Hastie, Tom Bateman leads the cast of what is sure to be a thrilling interpretation.

18 Love, Loss & Chianti, Riverside Studio
Cold Feet’s Robert Bathurst will be taking to the stage as part of the highly anticipated relaunch of Riverside Studios for 12 weeks from February, in this double-bill from award-winning poet Christopher Reid.

19 An Evening of Eric and Ern, Duke of York’s then UK tour
Jonty Stephens as Eric and Ian Ashpitel as Ernie capture the brilliance of Morecambe and Wise in their well-intentioned homage to Britains best loved comedy duo.

20 The Morning After, Above the Stag
The blurb for this reads like a regular Saturday night – “Thomas wakes up surprised and naked in a young man’s bed, and memories of last night’s one-night-stand come flooding back” – so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays on the stage 😉 

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