The stage is set for a full house of drama: PATRICK MARMION takes a look at the year ahead for theatre fans
Don’t believe the doomsters. Theatre will rise again from the ashes in 2022, with or without lockdowns.
The public’s appetite for live performance — and live performers’ appetite for their public — will not be so easily extinguished.
It’s up to us, though, to do our bit by pulling out the plastic and booking some tickets.
So get your pencil ready, flick open your diary and pick from my choice of highlights, in chronological order…
Mark Rylance pops up again, this time with Mackenzie Crook — both reprising their roles in Ian Rickson’s production of what probably remains the play of the century: Jerusalem (pictured)
The ubiquitous Mark Rylance’s year starts at Bristol Old Vic, in Stephen Brown’s new play about the 19th-century Viennese doctor whose promotion of hygiene in hospitals saw him driven to a mental asylum by the sneering medical establishment.
Bristol Old Vic, previews from January 20, opens January 26, until February 12 (0117 987 7877, bristololdvic.org.uk).
Cyrano de Bergerac
James McAvoy returns in Martin Crimp’s modern, rap version of Edmond Rostand’s tragic tale of the soldier who cannot declare his feelings for his beloved Roxanne because he is ashamed of his big nose. Instead, he becomes a go‑between for his love rival.
Saturday Night Fever
The role that launched John Travolta — disco dude Tony Manero — is snapped up by Richard Winsor, a former principal dancer for Matthew Bourne’s company. This is one Disco Inferno I personally can’t wait to see blazing on stage. It’s going to be a year when we should be dancin’, yeah!
Sadler’s Wells, London. Previews February 5, opens February 9, until March 26; then touring to Oxford, Truro, Darlington and Manchester (020 7863 8000/sadlerswells.com).
The role that launched John Travolta — disco dude Tony Manero — is snapped up by Richard Winsor, a former principal dancer for Matthew Bourne’s company
Kit Harington, who played brooding hero Jon Snow in Game Of Thrones, takes on Shakespeare’s medieval warrior king, who defies the surly French monarchy and thrashes them at Agincourt. Rising star Max Webster directs.
Donmar Warehouse, London. Previews from February 11, opens February 22, until April 9 (020 3282 3808/donmarwarehouse.com).
The Human Voice
Ruth Wilson reunites with director Ivo van Hove (following their hit Hedda Gabler in 2016) to star in Jean Cocteau’s surreal 1930s monologue about a woman making a last tragic call to her absent lover.
Harold Pinter Theatre, London. Previews from March 17, opens March 22, until April 9 (0844 871 7622/thehumanvoiceplay.com).
Straight Line Crazy
Ralph Fiennes stars in Sir David Hare’s new play (directed by Nicholas Hytner) about the charismatic early 20th-century New York city planner Robert Moses, who drove through his ideas for the development of the Big Apple as we know it today.
Bridge Theatre, London. Previews from March 16, opens March 23, until June 18 (0333 320 0051/bridgetheatre.co.uk).
The best seat in the house
The Sleeping Beauty
Worn out with festive exertions? Don’t stir from your sofa and let the Royal Ballet do the exercise for you, with Marianela Nunez and Vadim Muntagirov dancing the leading roles, to Tchaikovsky’s score.
stream.roh.org.uk, from 2pm today until January 30
The Corn Is Green
TV’s Unforgotten star Nicola Walker heads the cast in Dominic Cooke’s revival of Emlyn Williams’s 1938 drama about a teacher in rural Wales, helping miners out of poverty by teaching them to read and write.
Lyttelton, National Theatre, London. Previews from April 7, opens April 14, until June 11 (020 3989 5455/nationaltheatre.org.uk).
Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer makes her West End debut in Suzie Miller’s monologue about a working-class barrister faced with a moral dilemma.
Harold Pinter Theatre, London. Previews from April 15, opens April 27, until June 18 (0333 009 6690/primafacie play.com).
Mark Rylance pops up again, this time with Mackenzie Crook — both reprising their roles in Ian Rickson’s production of what probably remains the play of the century: Jez Butterworth’s tale of a legendary Wiltshire wastrel driven from his caravan by the local council.
Rylance is Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron and Crook is his loyal sidekick, Ginger. Very nearly sold out already, so be quick off the mark.
Apollo Shaftesbury Avenue, London. Previews from April 16, opening April 28, until August 7 (0330 333 4809/ jerusalemtheplay.co.uk).
Emilia Clarke, who will star in The Seagull
My Fair lady
The Lincoln Center New York production of the musical based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion is directed by Bartlett Sher for a summer residency just off Trafalgar Square, with Lerner and Loewe’s sumptuous score played by the English National Opera Orchestra.
Coliseum Theatre, St Martin’s Lane, Previews from May 7, opens May 18, until August 27 (020 7845 9300/ myfairladymusical.co.uk).
The Glass Menagerie
Amy Adams (American Hustle, The Master, Enchanted) makes her West End debut playing Amanda Wingfield, the mother desperate to marry off her disabled daughter, in Jeremy Herrin’s revival of Tennessee Williams’s 1944 autobiographical drama.
Duke of York’s Theatre, St Martin’s Lane, London. Previews from May 23, opens May 31, until August 27 (03330 096 690/theglassmenageriewestend.com).
The Southbury Child
Alex Jennings stars in Stephen Beresford’s play about a well-meaning vicar forced to take an unpopular stance with a bereaved parishioner. Nicholas Hytner directs in Chichester, ahead of a transfer to his Bridge Theatre.
Festival Theatre, Chichester. Previews from June 13, opens June 17, until June 25 (01243 781 312/cft.org.uk). Then at Bridge Theatre, London, July 1 to August 27 (0333 320 0051/bridgetheatre.co.uk).
Another Game Of Thrones alumnus, Emilia Clarke, returns (its original West End run was cut short by lockdown) to play Nina, a young woman desperate to become a famous actress, in Anya Reiss’s modern version of Anton Chekhov’s 19th-century Russian drama, directed by Jamie Lloyd.
Harold Pinter Theatre. Previews from June 29, opens July 6, until September 10 (03330 096 690/haroldpintertheatre.co.uk).