Heartbreaking but fiercely essential work. Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart receives a masterful revival courtesy of Dominic Cooke at the National Theatre
“The only way we’ll have real pride is when we demand recognition of a culture that isn’t just sexual”
A flame lit in respectful silence, shirts whipped off to the pulsing synthline of ‘I Feel Love’, the opening moments of Dominic Cooke’s revival of Larry Kramer’s 1985 play The Normal Heart are full of Pride and perfectly encapsulate one of the key dilemmas haunting its characters. It is New York City in the early 1980s and writer and activist Ned Weeks is struggling to make the wider world understand what to him seems obvious, an unidentified disease is scything through the gay community in alarming numbers.
Plays about AIDS have tended to the operatic in scale – Angels in America and The Inheritance both sprawling over two lengthy parts. So by comparison, The Normal Heart is over in a flicker, coming in well under three hours. And my lord is that a good thing, as the second half in particular is punishingly, essentially, brutal. Prior to the interval, there’s a beautiful sense of world-building – Weeks and his pals bonding over their shared need to do something, battling over the best way to do it. And Weeks also falls in love for the first time, a scene of combative flirting is as entertaining as it is erotic.
Continue reading “Review: The Normal Heart, National Theatre”
The National Theatre has released rehearsal images by Helen Maybanks for Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart a co-production with Fictionhouse, being performed in the Olivier Theatre in September 2021. Directed by Dominic Cooke, Kramer’s largely autobiographical play about the AIDS crisis in 1980 New York has not been performed professionally in London since its European premiere in 1986.
Ben Daniels will perform the role of Ned Weeks, the co-founder of an AIDS advocacy group fighting to change the world around him, with Robert Bowman, Richard Cant, Liz Carr, Jonathan Dryden Taylor, Dino Fetscher, Daniel Krikler, Daniel Monks, Elander Moore, Luke Norris, Henry Nott, Lucas Rush, Freddie Stabb, Samuel Thomas and Danny Lee Wynter completing the company.
Set design by Vicki Mortimer, costume design by Lisa Duncan, lighting design by Paule Constable, sound design by Carolyn Downing and fight direction by Bret Yount. The Normal Heart will be in the Olivier theatre from 23rd September until 6th November 2021. Continue reading “Rehearsal images for The Normal Heart released”
The National Theatre will return to performances with full capacity audiences from later this month. Additional seating will now be available for performances of After Life from 27 July alongside the previously-announced productions Rockets and Blue Lights in the Dorfman theatre and Paradise in the Olivier theatre, with extra tickets going on sale to the public from Monday 19 July.
Tickets for The Normal Heart, East is East, Manor and Hex on sale to the public from Friday 30 July. Continue reading “News: National Theatre On Sale, July 2021 – January 2022”
The National Theatre announces new programming and launches a major new campaign for its future, National Theatre Together
The National Theatre has announced its programming until the start of next year with productions on all three South Bank stages as well as three major UK tours, two productions on Broadway, a return to cinemas, and a new feature film to be broadcast on television this autumn. In the week the theatre reopened for audiences again, six new productions were announced, and five productions halted by the pandemic were confirmed to return to the South Bank.
It has also announced the public launch of National Theatre Together, a new campaign with people at its heart, highlighting the importance of creativity and collaboration with theatre-makers and communities, for young people and audiences. The campaign cements the NT’s commitment to the people of this country and will raise vital funds for the theatre’s ambitious recovery post-pandemic. Continue reading “News: The National Theatre announces 2021-22 programming and launches National Theatre Together”
After a successful West End debut in December 2020 at the Apollo Theatre, selling out two nights to 5-star reviews, Roles We’ll Never Play returns to the West End just in time for theatres opening!
Roles We’ll Never Play will see two star studded casts (a different cast each night) singing songs outside of their casting brackets. Notable performances in the last concert included a show stopping ‘All Male’ version of ‘Ex-Wives’ from Six The Musical and power house leading lady Alice Fearn ending the show with an incredible rendition of Santa Fe from Disneys Newsies. Continue reading “News: Roles We’ll Never Play returns”
Iris Theatre’s summer season continues with this new folk musical by Jack Miles, which numbers Jordan Castle (The Light in the Piazza), Rebecca McKinnis (Dear Evan Hansen), and Mathew Craig (The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4) in its cast.
C-o-n-t-a-c-t, outdoors in London
31st August – 10th October
C-o-n-t-a-c-t is an immersive outdoor performance with a 3D sound design which audiences will listen to on their own headphones,The play will see performances from Charles Angiama (The Exonerated; My Week with Marilyn), Louis Bernard (Radieuse Vermine), Chloe Gentles (Beautiful – The Carol King Musical), Max Gold (Endeavour; Poldark), Richard Heap (Buried Child; The Summer Before Everything), Aoife Kennan (ITV’s Victoria; For Services Rendered), Katja Quist (Earthquakes In London) and Laura White (The Play That Goes Wrong). The cast will alternate between three London locations; Tower Bridge, Greenwich and Clapham Common.
The Turbine’s summer season will feature this one-off concert with performers delving deep into their wishlists – the company includes Natalie Paris, Tom Duern, Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky, Rodney Vubya, Lauren Byrne, Bernadette Bangura, Luke Bayer, Idriss Kargbo, Courtney Bowman, Michael Mather, Matthew Croke, Kelly Agbowu, Elander Moore, Eve Norris and Pearce Barron.
Omar F Okai’s production of Jason Robert Brown’s two-hander will star Emma Kingston (Evita, In The Heights) as Cathy and Waylon Jacobs (Hamilton, Memphis) as Jamie.
Get your roller-skates on and over to the Southwark Playhouse for a croking revival of Kander & Ebb’s The Rink with a stonkingly good Caroline O’Connor
“Noisy boys, long and lean.
Giggles of girls in the mezzanine”
All sorts of thoughts pass through your mind as you watch The Rink, at least they do if you’re me. Wouldn’t Gemma Sutton be perfect casting in the lead of the inevitable Lindsay Lohan: The Musical; does Jason Winter have the longest legs in musical theatre; does Caroline O’Connor have any trace of a Lancashire accent at all; didn’t Kander and Ebb write fricking fantastic songs for women; and does an ability to roller-skate in a musical make you a quadruple threat?
That’s not to say I was distracted whilst sweltering in the Southwark Playhouse during this preview on Saturday, but rather that my mind was entirely stimulated (not least when Winter does some kind of windmill move on the floor…?). The Rink is one of those musicals that history hasn’t treated too kindly, despite a premiere that starred Chita Rivera and Liza Minnelli but with Adam Lenson’s expert hand at the tiller, this is a revival to treasure. Continue reading “Review: The Rink, Southwark Playhouse”