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London Spotlight: November 2008

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Amy Morton and Deanna Dunagan
in August: Osage County
(© Joan Marcus)
New plays this frame are copious and start off auspiciously with a full-fledged American import at the National. It's Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony-winning August: Osage County (November 21-January 21) about a couple days in the frenzied life of an extremely dysfunctional family. The cast and director (Anna D. Shapiro) are pretty much the same commendable scenery-chewers who started out at Chicago's Steppenwolf.

Also at the National, the prolific David Hare has put together his 14th original drama for the loyal institution. It's another of his political studies, Gethsemane (November 4-February 24), for which Howard Davies will direct Tamsin Greig, among other local notables. Then there's Neil LaBute's In a Dark Dark House at the Almeida (November 20-January 17), which concerns a couple of brothers for whom "sibling rivalry" is an understated term. House artistic director Michael Attenborough takes care of the helming duties.

The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel is being revived by producer Kim Poster at the Savoy (November 22-July 25), directed by Lindsay Posner. Opera soprano Lesley Garrett plays the role of Nettie, and will sing the anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone." The Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical in three-four and six-eight time, A Little Night Music opens at the Menier Chocolate Factory (November 22-March 8), which didn't do badly with Sunday in the Park With George. Trevor Nunn guides a troupe that includes the beloved Maureen Lipman.

Adam Gwon's new musical Ordinary Days plays the Finborough (November 3-17). The press material says this one's about "growing up and enjoying the view." As a tray of musical hors d'oeuvres Perfect Pitch, six tuners by new-comers, will play Trafalgar Studios (November 25-29).

At the Royal Court, a few new items are due, as always. Tarell Alvin McCraney's drag-queen comedy, Wig Out! (November 11-January 10) wigs in downstairs just after I Come From There (November 11-15) about life in the Arab world by a handful of writers who know and The Pride (November 21-December 20) by Alexi Kaye Campbell bow upstairs. The latter, directed by busy Jamie Lloyd, is about how sexuality has been viewed over the past 50 years.

Ken Ludwig has adapted Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island for the Haymarket stage (November 7-February 28), with Keith Allen taking the Long John Silver role and a large ensemble featuring Tony Bell. Michael Pennington brings Sweet William and Anton Chekhov, which he's been touring, to the Hampstead (November 24-29). The sweet one refers to William Shakespeare. Also of interest is Falk Richter's State of Emergency at Notting Hill's Gate (November 6-December 13). The story has to do with a couple living happily when events overturn the relative serenity.

Imagine This by Glenn Berenheim and David Goldsmith with Shuki Levy's music plays the New London (November 4-February 28). It's set in 1942 Poland and the Warsaw ghetto and is therefore about an familiar and, of course, disturbing aspect of World War II. But what wasn't disturbing during those years? At the Soho Centre are On Emotion (November 5-December 20) by Mick Gordon and Paul Broks with the Blind Summit puppets and Shelagh Stephenson's The Long Road (November 10-29). The former is about the theater and its powers to manipulate, and the latter is about a family's coming to terms with the murder of one of their own. At the Barbican, the Mungu Company presents a father-son set-to in Daedalus and Icarus (November 25-29) performed in Persian as part of the annual BITE festival.

Distinguished revivals are led by T. S. Eliot's Family Reunion at the Donmar Warehouse (November 20-January 10), directed by Jeremy Herrin as part of an Eliot festival. Penelope Wilton, Samuel West and Gemma Jones are in a starry cast. Frantic Assembly, a company that apparently lives up to its name, unleashes a take on Othello at the Lyric Hammersmith (November 4-22). The setting is contemporary, more or less. At the same venue, Cinderella (November 28-January 3) is a Christmas offering and is probably a panto of some kind.

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