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London Spotlight: September 2007

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Rob Ashford
(© Joseph Marzullo/Retna)
London continues its fascination with American musicals as the Donmar Warehouse presents Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown's Parade (September 14-November 24). Set in the American south, it tells the harsh but unfortunately true tale of Leo Frank, a Jewish man charged with the murder of a young girl named Mary Phagan. The director is Tony Award winner Rob Ashford, who usually only choreographs in America and England.

The only other full-fledged tuner bowing in the next four weeks is Bad Girls: The Musical at the Garrick. No it's not about the music of Donna Summer. But Americans familiar with the English television series of the same name about life and love in a distaff prison are sure to want to check it out.

On the non-musical front, Jonathan Kent will direct Theatre Royal Haymarket Company's season opener, The Country Wife (September 27-January 12). William Wycherley's restoration comedy is about a conniving Don Juan who spreads a rumor that he's impotent in order to gain access to the women of London society. The production will star Toby Stephens, David Haig, Fiona Glascott, Patricia Hodge, and Liz Crowther.

The Young Vic plays host to Fragments (September 15-October 6), consisting of five Samuel Beckett plays directed by the legendary Peter Brook. The indomitable Kathryn Hunter heads the small cast. Also at the Young Vic is Carson McCullers' enchanting The Member of the Wedding (September 7-October 20), about a 12-year-old tomboy and her longing to be included in her brother's impending nuptials. Playing the sympathetic cook who calms Frankie's adolescent frenzies will be the singly-named American actress Portia, a vital part of the Labyrinth Theater Company's stable of terrific actors.

Seeking more alluring revivals? How about Eugene Ionesco's rib-ticking and rib-frightening Rhinoceros in a fresh Martin Crimp translation at the Royal Court (September 21-December 15). Tony nominee Samuel Barnett (of The History Boys) stars in Patrick Marber's Dealer's Choice at the Menier Chocolate Factory (September 27-November 17), directed by Sam West. As the title hints, the play's about a poker game that doesn't go all aces.

As for new plays, surely not to be missed is Sebastian Barry's The Pride of Parnell Street at the Tricycle (September 4-22). It's the story of a marital breakdown told in two interweaving monologues. Also new here is Caryl Phillips' adaptation of Simon Shama's novel about slavery and freedom during the Revolutionary War, Rough Crossings at the Lyric Hammersmith (September 25-October 13).

Repression in today's world -- specifically London's Deptford area -- will be looked at closely in newcomer Michael Bhim's Pure Gold at the Soho Theatre (September 27-October 20). Moonwalking in China (September 19-29) is a site-specific piece which is done as a promenade down Dean Street into Chinatown. At the Jermyn Street is On Your Honor, a comedy by Colin Wakefield and Roger Leach that logs the shenanigans during a lawyers' weekend conference. And never underestimate the fare at the Bush, where the lure now is David Watson's Flight Path (September 12-October 6), in which two bright boys -- one with a Down's Syndrome brother -- take to burgling houses.

Those who want to get a jump on October ticket buyers may like the idea of making the short trip to the Richmond Theatre for the upcoming West End revival of William Nicholson's Shadowlands (September 24-29), the bittersweet C. S. Lewis-Joy Gresham love story that will star Charles Dance, Janie Dee, and John Standing.

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