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London Spotlight: October 2010

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Promotional photo for Me and Juliet
(Courtesy of the company)
The musical comedy action here this month is slightly off the beaten West End track. The lesser-known Oscar Hammerstein II-Richard Rodgers Me and Juliet is being revived at the Finborough (October 5-30). Thom Southerland helms this backstage narrative from which the 50's chart ballad "No Other Love" emanates. In Southwark at the Union, Paul Foster is directing the Betty Comden-Adolph Green-Jule Styne Bells Are Ringing (through October 23). Set in an answering-service office where an employee soft-soaps a client successfully, it's an adorable comedy romance, when done correctly. "Just in Time" comes from this one.

New plays this frame start with Ena Lamont Smith's Men Should Weep at the National's Lyttelton (October 18-November 7). Sharon Small is featured as the mother of a family living in a tenement and surviving with as much grace as can be mustered. Chicago writer Brett Neveu's Red Bud makes a pit stop at the Royal Court's Jerwood Theatre Upstairs (October 21-November 13). Five drinking buddies have a reunion that doesn't fare extraordinarily well. In the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, is Nina Raines' Tribes (October 14-November 13) in which a raucous family carries on and only the deaf son listens well. Kika Markham, Harry Treadaway and Stanley Townsend head the ensemble.

Ivan and the Dogs by Hattie Naylor is at the Soho (October 12-November 6). It's the true story of a boy in the deprived (and depraved?) 1990's Moscow streets. Novecento is another of the Donmar Warehouse's productions at the Trafalgar Studios (October 28-November 11). It follows the tale of the title character's developing jazz career. Alessandro Barrico is the author and Roisin McBrinn the director.

Heading the revival docket is Clifford Odets' The Country Girl (October 6-February 26, 2011) at the Apollo, directed by resourceful Rufus Norris and headlined by Martin Shaw as the alcoholic actor making a comeback and Jenny Seagrove as the dowdy wife hoping to help him achieve his goal. There's also J. B. Priestley's wonderfully wise When We Are Married at the Garrick (October 19-February 2, 2011). The four middle-aged couples going through tests to their bonds include Maureen Lipman, Susie Blake, David Horovitch and Michele Dotrice. Sarah Kane's harrowing Blasted is at the Lyric Hammersmith (October 22-November 20). It's about the end of the world or what might as well be.

Kids could go for Parachutists Or On the Art of Falling at the Barbican (October 21-28). It's children's theater that offers physics lessons so smoothly, no one will notice they're being educated until the final fade-out. The youngsters might also go for Horrible Science at the UCL Bloomsbury (October 5-16). Nick Arnold's work is adapted for the stage by Mark Williams and tells the exploits of young Billy Miller and his trouble with the laboratory world.

A hop, skip and leap away at the Greenwich in Greenwich is The Nightmare Room (October 12-16). John Goodman adapted the piece from the Arthur Conan Doyle story about marital problems that get very scary, indeed. Look into a short trip Wimbledon way where Tim Firth's Calendar Girls is making a brief, amusing stop (October 25-30). And why not check out the Orange Tree in Richmond, where The Company Man (October 6-November 5) by Adam Bernard will deal with a long-married couple, played by Bruce Alexander and Isla Blair, looking back on their life during one particularly busy weekend.

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