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London Spotlight: April 2007

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Zoe Wanamaker
(© Joseph Marzullo/Retna)
No trip to London for a serious play lover measures up without a stop or two at the National Theatre. New to the multi-theater complex is Joe Penhall's fresh-from-the-computer Landscape With Weapon (through June 7), which deals with a controversial destructive device; meanwhile Zoe Wanamaker -- one of the world's best actors -- takes on Tennessee Williams' Rose Tattoo (through June 23), and Rafta Rafta (April 18-June 23), a new work by Ayub Khan-Din, is a comedy about a reluctant newlywed.

Is it musicals you want? The one to catch this month happens to be about New York -- and it contains the song "New York, New York." The English National Opera is presenting On the Town (April 20-May 25), with choreography by Stephen Mear, who split dance duties on Mary Poppins with Matthew Bourne.

Brecht lovers have a treat in store for them at the recently refurbished Young Vic -- two bills of the iconoclastic German dramatist's early one-acts under the Big Brecht Fest umbrella. A Respectable Wedding and The Jewish Wife run through April 14, followed by Senora Carrar's Rifles and How Much is Your Iron? (April 20-May 5).

Rohinton Mistry's celebrated novel, A Fine Balance comes to the Hampstead (April 4-21) in a translation by Sudha Bhuchar and Kristine Landon-Smith. It's followed immediately by Diane Samuels' Kindertransport (April 24-May 25). At the Lyric Hammersmith is Roy Williams' dramatization of Colin MacInnes' 1958 novel Absolute Beginners (April 26-May 26). The Bush, currently in the midst of a leadership change, is presenting the Norwegian comedy Elling (April 25-May 26), adapted from Ingvar Ambjornsen's novel. Last but not least is Manuel Puig's adaptation of his own Kiss of the Spider Woman at the Donmar Warehouse (April 19-May 26).

Hunting for a political hot potato? Head to the Tricycle for Called to Account: The Indictment of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair for the Crime of Aggression Against Iran -- A Hearing (April 19-May 19). Yes, that's Tony Blair to you, and this piece is based on a hypothetical court case tested by two local lawyers -- as edited by Richard Norton-Taylor. Audiences will decide for themselves what should happen to a politician ending his prime-minister tenure in less high regard than he began it. Another ripped-from-the-headlines entry is Aalst at the Soho (April 17-28). It's about what happens nationally after two parents murder their children in a Belgian town.

Something that could be well worth looking into by the adventurous is the Spill Festival at the Barbican. Billed as "a new international festival of experimental theatre, live art and performance for London," it will include Penthesilea (April 11-12), about the mythical Amazon warrior.

A trip to Richmond, just west of London is a good idea this month, since the Richmond Theatre has an especially attractive line-up. Harold Pinter's Old Times (April 2-7) directed by Peter Hall, with Janie Dee, Susannah Harker and Neil Pearson. Then, Charley's Aunt kicks up its long skirts (April 16-21). Mel Smith directs the Brandon Thomas howler, with the talented Stephen Tompkinson as the man in Victorian drag.

Lastly, mark your calendars for April 29 when the Royal Shakespeare Company marks the end of its year-long Complete Works Festival when its annual Open Day, featuring a special series of concerts, backstage tours, and special programs. Among this year's very special guests will be Judi Dench, Sinead Cusack, Antony Sher, Juliet Stevenson, Ian McKellen, Donald Sinden, David Warner, and Patrick Stewart.

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