London Spotlight: August 2009
The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships
The only musical opening of note this month is at the Fringe's Finborough Theatre, and it's a doozy -- the Oscar Hammerstein II-Richard Rodgers State Fair (August 4-29). The libretto adapted from the 1945 movie is by Tom Briggs and Louis Mattioli. Incidentally, this is billed as the European premiere. Otherwise, musical lovers might want to know that over at Oliver and the Drury Lane, Omid Djalili has taken over the role of Fagin from Rowan Atkinson. At Hairspray and the Shaftesbury, Brian Conley and Chloe Hart have replaced Michael Ball and Leanne Jones as, respectively, Edna and Tracy Turnblad.
Something eye-catching will unfold at the always intriguing Soho. What's described as a "series of tragi-comic new tales of young lives at the end of a body-conscious decade" is structured in three parts -- or "Six Pack at the Soho" -- Tits/Teeth (August 14-September 12), by Michael Wynne; Foot/Mouth (August 18-September 10) by John Nicholson and Steven Canny; and Eye/Balls (August 20-September 8) by Sarah Solemani. They're all a product of the National Youth Theatre, an increasingly important outfit. Another significant outpost, this one up in Kilburn, is the Tricycle, where Pornography by Simon Stephens bows. It's about the summer of 2007 where all sorts of unexpected events took place in England, including the London bus and subway bombings. It's produced by Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company and Traverse Theatre Company.
An out-of-town trip worth taking is the one to the Bath and the Theatre Royal there, where Peter Hall settles his company every summer. This month, Michael Frayn's 1978 Balmoral (August 5-22) will be directed by Alan Stachan and feature Rik Mayall and Jeremy Child. The comedy wonders what might have gone on had the 1917 Russian Revolution not happened in Russia but in England, making it the English Revolution. Also, Hall has long-time associate Peter Gill direct his own new play, Another Door Closed in the smaller Ustinov space (August 4-29). In it, sisters look back over their lives.