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London Spotlight: July 2010

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Brian Fortuna
(© ABC)
This potentially sweltering month isn't big on new musicals, although the dance piece Burn the Floor opens at the refurbished Shaftesbury (July 21-September 4). This is a survey of ballroom dancing that's extremely high on expended energy from a non-stop troupe. The West End engagement features special guests Brian Fortuna and Ali Bastian.

Jeff Goldblum and Mercedes Ruehl star in the West End revival of Neil Simon's award-winning comedy The Prisoner of Second Avenue, at the Vaudeville Theatre (through September 25). 2010 Tony Award winner Terry Johnson directs the production for The Old Vic Theatre Company. At the always intriguing Donmar Warehouse, there's a revival of Heinrich von Kleist's The Prince of Homburg in a new Dennis Kelly version (July 22-September 4), starring Charlie Cox and Ian MacDiarmid. Jonathan Munby directs. The Hampstead will house Federico Garcia Lorca's House of Bilquis Bibi, which Sudha Bhuchar has adapted (July 22-August 14). This is another one in which the playwright presents strong women doing their tough thing.

A revival of a more recent piece is Willy Russell's ever-popular Educating Rita at Trafalgar Studios (July 8-August 30) with Tim Pigott-Smith, so terrific in the recent Pygmalion dust-off at the Old Vic, with Laura Dos Santos. Also from the more-recent annals is Martin McDonagh's Beauty Queen of Leenane at the Young Vic (July 15-August 21). Rosaleen Linehan and Susan Lynch are the battling mother-daughter combo.

Summer and Shakespeare go together at the Globe, where Henry IV Part II (July 3-October 3) joins the already opened Henry IV Part I. Jamie Parker is still Prince Hal and Roger Allam is still Falstaff. Also opening is adjunct play Anne Boleyn from politics-minded Howard Brenton. It's meant to supplement the theater's Henry VIII, and that production's Anne, Miranda Raison, repeats her duties as the queen with the delicate neck.

Speaking of Brenton, he's a busy bloke this frame, since his treatment of Georg Buchner's Danton's Death bows at the National's Olivier (July 15-August 22). Toby Stephens is the title character, and directing is Michael Grandage. Elsewhere at the National and in the teeny-tiny Cottesloe will be Mike Bartlett's Earthquakes in London, which hot-hot Rupert Goold helms. It's set in 1968 and 2525 and includes dancing choreographed by Scott Ambler. It's a new play, and so is Anya Reiss' Spur of the Moment at the Royal Court (July 14-August 14), meant to attract young audiences.

The Tricycle in Kilburn is putting on The Great Game: Afghanistan (July 7-August 29) in three parts in rotating repertory. Playwrights David Edgar, Lee Blessing, David Greig and Ben Ockrent and others contribute looks at the beleaguered country over many decades. Another item well worth considering is the new Peter Nichols play, Lingua Franca at the Finborough Theatre (July 13-August 7). Here the dramatist takes a character from his hilarious Privates on Parade and tells more about him in, presumably in the same comic vein. Rula Lenska is a member of the cast. At the Arcola is Beverley Hancock's Into the Blue (July 6-24), for which Sarah Gordy plays Down's Syndrome daughter Rosie. Out at the Lyric Hammersmith, the adventurous Improbable Theatre mounts Lifegame (July 7-17), which is a new play nightly. In it a guest (might it be you?) is interviewed and his or her life is acted out by an improvising troupe.

No one would instantly associate William Shakespeare's Macbeth with family entertainment, but at the Open Air, what's described as a version for six-year-olds and up will play (July 3-31). Families may also want to seek out Room on the Broom at the Garrick (July 28-August 29), based on the Julia Donaldson-Axel Scheffler book about a witch and her cat.

If you're yearning to travel farther a-field, it's a short jaunt to Richmond's Richmond Theatre for Ronald Harwood's Quartet with Susannah York and Timothy West.

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