West End Word: Pythons Bow Out While Shakespeare Checks In and Lindsay Lohan Speeds the Rumor Mill

London is awash with stellar revivals of American plays, causing box office chaos and gossip aplenty.

The company of Shakespeare in Love.
The company of Shakespeare in Love.
(© Johan Persson)

First things first: Happy birthday, Prince George! What's this got to do with theater, you may ask? Well, not much, but nevertheless we've put together our dream songlist for Prince George: The Musical (needless to say, "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" gets top billing).

And now for something completely different…We recently waved farewell to legendary comedy troupe Monty Python, who bowed out with a ten-date run at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, attended by legions of fans eager to get one last glimpse at the men behind such classic sketches as The Dead Parrot and The Four Yorkshiremen. But the good news is that fans don't have to wave goodbye completely — a new tour of Python musical Spamalot has just been announced.

Other recent announcements include reports that a major revival of Patrick Marber's Closer is coming to the Donmar Warehouse next year. According to the Daily Mail the production will be directed by David Leveaux and star Nancy Carroll, Rufus Sewell, and Oliver Chris (recently seen in two hit plays over here: King Charles III and Great Britain, both of which are transferring to the West End in the coming months).

Closer of course made the transition to the big screen in 2004 starring Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and Clive Owen. A project currently making the reverse move is Shakespeare in Love, which premieres in the West End this week. It boasts a stellar creative team including Cheek by Jowl director Declan Donnellan and adapter Lee Hall — best known for another screen-to-stage hit, Billy Elliot — and two principals with real star quality in Tom Bateman and Lucy Briggs-Owen (check out our recent video interview).

Other recent openings have included a radical new version of Medea at the National Theatre starring Helen McCrory, whose husband, Homeland star Damian Lewis, gave her a deserved standing ovation on opening night, and a 1970s-set Richard III starring Martin Freeman, which reopened Jamie Lloyd's residency at the reconfigured Trafalgar Studios.

Meanwhile, Gillian Anderson is already proving a huge hit in A Streetcar Named Desire, even though the production at the Young Vic is yet to open. When tickets for a two-week extension went on sale last week, the online queues were rumored to be lasting for hours. Yet more testament, following the hugely acclaimed run of A View from the Bridge starring Mark Strong at the same address, to the rude health of American drama in the British capital.

Another American play getting tongues wagging is David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow, though for very different reasons. The show's star attraction, Lindsay Lohan, was reported by several outlets recently to be turning up to rehearsals late, severely annoying her castmates in the process. But the rumors were soon shown by WhatsOnStage to be unfounded. And the reason? Rehearsals haven't even started yet. Sigh.

Monty Python's Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, and John Cleese.
Monty Python's Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, and John Cleese.

(© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage)