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London Spotlight: October 2008

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Ralph Fiennes
(© Joseph Marzullo/Retna)
It's a good month for revivals, as the 400-ish B. C. Oedipus comes to the National (October 10-January 4), with the great Ralph Fiennes and the equally great Clare Higgins as a married couple who also turn out to be son and mother. Frank McGuinness has done the new translation, and Jonathan Kent, who's worked very effectively with Fiennes before (Hamlet in the 90's), directs. Another likely must-see is the Almeida revival of Harley Granville-Barker's Waste (October 25-November 15). It just may be the best play ever written about politics and should sparkle and shine as directed by the multi-talented Samuel West, who's working this side of the footlight more often than the other side these days. At its home base, The Menier Chocolate Factory digs back to John Webster's fright-night fare, The White Devil (October 3-November 15). It's a Jacobean tragedy that couldn't be more Jacobean if it tried.

On the new play front, there's Alexis Zegerman's Lucky Seven at the busy Hampstead (October 31-November 22). It's about three people interviewed every seven years for a continuing documentary and is obviously inspired by Adrian Lyne's well-known series. The comedy is directed by Anthony Clark. With Spyski (Or the Importance of Being Honest) at the Lyric Hammersmith (October 8-November 1), the title alone is a come-on. The Peepolykus troupe has put together an "untrue" comedy about a spy poisoned in London. If it brings to mind the Alexander Litvinenko case, that's because it's meant to.

An extra-special treat is the local debut of Radio Golf, the last entry in August Wilson's 10-play Pittsburgh series. At the Tricycle (October 2-November 1), it takes place in the 90's and is better than too many of the Manhattan critics claimed. Also well worth making time for is Tarell Alvin McCraney's piece, The Brothers Size, at the Young Vic (October 8-November 8), which will break a few hearts in it's depiction of sibling concern and devotion. The acclaimed Howard Barker premieres his new work, The Dying of Today at the Arcola (October 21-November 22). The production comes from the evidently acclaimed Wrestling School.

Filling the active Royal Court docket is Leo Butler's Faces in the Crowd (October 17-December 8). It's about marriage, desertion and payback -- not obscure subject matter. To Be Straight With You, by the DV8 Physical Theatre, bows at the National (October 29-November 15), conceived and directed by Lloyd Newson and described as "a poetic but unflinching exploration of tolerance, intolerance, religion and sexuality." At the Soho is Overspill (October 14-November 1), which is about Bromley boys painting the town red on a Friday night.

Those craving the unusual in the recession-worried town this month may want to check out La Clique at the Hippodrome (October 2-February 1, 2009), which claims to be a series of death-defying and laugh-provoking acts. The successful Menier Chocolate Factory revisits the Jerry Herman-Harvey Fierstein musical La Cage Aux Folles, which transfers to The Playhouse (October 20-January 10). Douglas Hodge and Denis Lawson star as the homosexual lovers trying to pass for a heterosexual couple to please their son's potential in-laws.

Musical lovers may also want to scope out the stage adaptation of Flashdance at the New Wimbledon (October 6-11) and three performances at the Haymarket of Robert Jason Brown's look at an uncoupling couple The Last Five Years (October 12, 19 and 26). Julie Atherton and Paul Spicer play the mismatched connubials.

Elsewhere: Peter Hall is directing Will Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost at the Rose Theatre in Kingston. Peter Bowles and Finbar Lynch are in the cast (October 21-November 15). The adored Susan Hampshire is at the Richmond in W. Somerset Maugham's social satire, The Circle (now through October 4). It's followed by Nigel Williams' Lord of the Flies adaptation (October 7-11).


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