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London Spotlight: November 2007

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Antony Sher
(© Joseph Marzullo/Retna)
Antony Sher, one of the town's best actor-playwright-novelist-painters, presents his new work, The Giant, at the Hampstead (November 1-December 1). It concerns Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci vying for the commission to build a statue of David. (Guess there won't be much suspense about the outcome.) The estimable Sher reveals in a London Times story that he's examining the relationship between sexuality and creativity and is extrapolating from the few facts known about Michelangelo's acquaintance with da Vinci. Roger Allam, another estimable jobbing actor, plays Leonardo and John Light Michelangelo in a cast directed by Gregory Doran.

Shakespeare hunters ought to get satisfaction at the Donmar Warehouse where Othello (November 29-January 23) has Chiwetel Eijofor as the jealous Moor, Ewan McGregor as the scheming Iago, and Kelly Reilly as the wrongly-accused Desdemona. Company artistic head Michael Grandage is the director. Gilbert and Sullivan hunters may want to travel by boat, bus or underground to Greenwich and the Greenwich Theatre for The Gondoliers (November 21-24).

A fascinating piece called The Bicycle Men, will show up at Islington's King's Head (November 8-December 2) with Dan Castellaneta, famous as Homer Simpson's voice on The Simpsons. Two of the tuner's writers, Joe Nutter and John Rubano, also adorn the small cast. It might be of interest to some fans that Drew Sarich, who's been playing Jean Valjean in New York, is currently switching places with John Owen-Jones, who's been the most recent Valjean in the London production of Les Miserables.

John Patrick Shanley's Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Doubt bows at the Tricycle (November 22-January 12). A nun played by the reliable Dearbhla Molloy and a priest played by Padraic Delaney clash on the grounds of a boys' school. Only one of them prevails -- though at curtain maybe it isn't clear which one. The company's artistic director Nicolas Kent guides the cast of four.

Something else worth looking into is Kwame Kwei-Armah's latest, Statement of Regret, at the National's Cottesloe (November 7-January 10). For a few years now, the playwright's been turning out first-rate work about the black experience in Britain. At another of the new-play factories, the Royal Court, Anupama Chandrasekhar's Free Outgoing is opening (November 8-November 24) as is The Family Plays: A Double Bill (November 30-December 21) by Joakim Pirinen and Natalia Vorozhbit.

At the Soho, Anthony Neilson has something interesting afoot. For God in Ruins (November 29-January 5), he'll have worked with 11 male actors to conjure up a piece about fathers and sons. At the Young Vic, Tarell Alvin McCraney's drama, The Brothers Size (November 9-December 8) will open coincident, as it happens, with a Manhattan debut.

Noteworthy revivals include Euripides' Women of Troy at the National's Lyttelton (November 21-January 12) under the direction of the spectacular Katie Mitchell and featuring Anastasia Hille and Kate Duchene. Also, Max Frisch's allegorical scarer, The Arsonists is at the Royal Court (November 1-December 15) in a new Alistair Beaton translation directed by the very imaginative Ramin Gray.

Away from the West End at the Bush is a Mike Packer play eye-catchingly titled tHe dYsFUnCKshOnalZ! (November 14-December 22). It's about -- no surprise, given the capital letters -- a punk-rock band. At the Barbican Center, where for short stays shows come and go from every which way, one intriguing entry is Honour Bound (November 14-17), a multi-media endeavor conceived, co-designed and directed by Nigel Jamieson. It involves the incarceration of David Hicks in Guantanamo Bay.

Also a ride from the West End, the Told By an Idiot crowd is presenting a couple of seductive entries at the beautifully remodeled Lyric Hammersmith. First is Casanova (November 6-24), adapted by Carol Ann Duffy with the group. Next up is Beauty and the Beast (November 29-January 5). In the Notting Hill at the Gate is Fernando Arrabal's Car Cemetery (November 1-December 1).

Always worth checking out is the Richmond Theatre, a short ride on the Piccadilly line and then a three-minute walk from the tube stop. Penelope Keith, beloved ever since Good Neighbors, is snooty Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde's perfect comedy The Importance of Being Earnest (November 19-24). She's got to be wonderful in a role she was born to play.

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