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London Spotlight: April 2008

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Vanessa Redgrave in
The Year of Magical Thinking
(© Brigitte Lacombe)
Vanessa Redgrave lovers, rejoice. She brings The Year of Magical Thinking to the National's Lyttelton (April 25-May 20) after playing the solo show to her usual acclaim on the New York stage. The play, directed by David Hare, is Joan Didion's adaptation of her book about what pangs of grief followed the deaths of her husband and daughter.

Also opening at the bustling National this month are Tony Harrison's Fram (April 10-May 22) on the expansive Olivier stage and Simon Stephens' Harper Regan in the shoe-box-like Cottesloe (April 14-May 15). The former is a sprawler about a North Pole trek and is directed by Harrison with production designer Bob Crowley. The latter concerns a wife who walks away from it all. The marvelous Marianne Elliott is the director and Lesley Sharp plays the title role.

The new work at the Royal Court's downstairs auditorium is Martin Crimp's The City (April 24-June 7) , which is ballyhooed as a "darkly comic mystery." Another entry that could make a worthy claim on anyone's time is Testing the Echo by David Edgar at the Tricycle (April 1-May 3). Peter Gill will direct his own autobiographical piece Small Change, which is being revived at the Donmar Warehouse (April 10-May 31).

The Globe season opens with Shakespeare's King Lear (in repertory from April 23-August 17). Globe artistic head Dominic Dromgoole directs David Calder as the foolhardy monarch. Meanwhile, the great Russian author Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace comes into the Hampstead (April 10-May 11) from the provinces where the Shared Experience adaptation has been touring in revival.

Musical lovers will find new pickings slim, although something called Peter Pan El Musical (through April 27) is flying into the Garrick. It's James M. Barrie's classic in Spanish with English surtitles and has been a blockbuster in Spain. Meanwhile, Summer Strallen has just become Maria in the long-running revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The Sound of Music.

On the Fringe is Anne Washburn's "foreign comedy," The Internationalist at the Gate in Notting Hill Gate (April 3-May 3). It's a laffer about cultural miscommunication that's already impressed several New York critics. At the Bush is Lucy Kirkwood's Tinderbox (April 23-May 24), set in some less privileged future and directed by company head Josie Rourke.

Just within the London borders, more or less: At Richmond's Orange Tree, Glaspell Shorts: Trifles, Suppressed Desires & The Outside (April 7-19). At the very end of the month, Joanna Baillie's De Monfort opens (April 30-May 31). The all-but-forgotten Baillie was doing her playwriting around the beginning of the 19th-century and was revered by the great Sarah Siddons. Theater historians, check this one out immediately.

Finally, there are three imported attractions at the new Rose Theatre in Kingston this month -- The Ragged Child, a musical from Kingston University (April 9-13); Roald Dahl's George's Marvelous Medicine (April 15-19), adapted by Stuart Paterson and brought from the Birmingham Stage Company; and Romeo and Juliet (April 22-26), a Northern Broadsides production, directed by creative Shakespeare-knowledgeable Barry Rutter.

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