Previews: highlights of what we’ve booked for the next half year, and why

We’ve just booked a number of tickets for the coming months.  Let us know if you are thinking of going to any of these – we would be delighted to see you for a drink in the bar at half time.

Kitchen Sink @ The Bush Theatre, Tuesday 29 November. Funny, tender play by Tom Wells, The Bush’s Associate playwright, who we’ve liked before, and with Ryan Sampson in it, who we’ve also liked before.

Reasons to Be Pretty @ The Almeida, Saturday matinee, 3 December. This is the play that has changed people’s minds about what Neil LaBute is capable of; this is not the nasty LaBute you might be familiar with, but a mature and empathetic LaBute, according to a lot of critics who are clearly walking out of this really very pleasantly surprised by the writing and also highly appreciative of the acting.  I’m really curious about this.

Audience @ Soho Theatre, Friday 9 December.  The theatre company behind this production – Ontroerend Goed – specialise in edgy, personally confronting interactive theatre, and we loved A Game of You at the BAC 1-2-1 festival last year.  But Audience upset a lot of people in Edinburgh. They’ve reworked it so we’ll see what they have done to soften but retain the edges.

Sunday Sermon by Susan Greenfield @ the School of Life, Sunday 11 December.  High-profile neuroscientist delivering the 11am secular “sermon”, complete with “hymns” (pop songs related to the theme that the whole “congretation” sings together), on storytelling and neuroscience.  I had coffee with her last year and can vouch for the fact that she will be entertaining and provocative.

Noises Off @ Old Vic, Thursday 22 December – the Michael Frayn 1982 classic.  Never sure about such ‘classics’ as humour can date so easily, but (a) it has won a lot of awards and we’ve never seen it, so at the very least it should be part of our theatrical education; (b) 1982 doesn’t feel that long ago. To me.

Tim Key @ Soho Theatre, Friday 23 December – Edinburgh comedy award winner in 2009, plus another successful run this last year. Plus the show is called Masterslut, which has got to at least pique one’s interest a little.

The Table @ Soho Theatre, Friday 20 January.  The people behind this production, Blind Summit, were also involved in staging Simon McBurney’s extraordinary A Dog’s Heart at Sadler’s Wells which we saw a couple of years ago.  It was a half puppet show-half ballet that was slightly unhinged but one of the most unusual and affecting things I’ve seen.  This looks like it’s on a more intimate scale but promises similar pleasures.

Secret Cinema @ Venue TBD, Saturday 21 January.  Interactive movie screening where you are invited to dress up in line with the setting of the film being shown, and wander around a facsimile of the film set like extras for a couple of hours before the screening starts.  The catch is that you don’t know what the film is until the opening credits roll.  The first run of tickets sold out, but we seized tickets for the extended run in January 10 minutes after they were released.  Buy quickly if you are keen.

Sunday Sermon by Alain de Botton @ the School of Life, Sunday 22 January.  Based on his new work, Religion for Atheists, so it will be right up our street. I went to hear him deliver a compelling speech on his last book in Brussels, and then shared a Eurostar journey with him where I learned that he is a lovely man who manages both to be conscious of his extraordinary talent and humble in his demeanour.  He set up the School of Life to bring philosophy into everyday life, so it’s nice to see him taking to the podium himself.  (See above for format – same as for Susan Greenfield.)

Lovesong @ the Lyric Hammersmith, Saturday matinee, 28 January. The company behind this, Frantic Assembly, were also responsible for the gritty, balletic marvel that was Beautiful Burnout.  And more than a passing nod to the concept behind the novel One Day. So, worth a look.

Travelling Light @ the National Theatre, Wednesday 8 February. Nicholas Hytner is directing, which is enough of a draw on its own to justify a booking. He runs the National, you know.

She Stoops to Conquer @ the National Theatre, Wednesday 15 February.  Features actor Harry Hadden-Paton who we loved in Flare Path.

The Story’ conference @ Conway Hall, Friday 17 February.  All day event on storytelling.  Tickets get released in tranches and sell out in minutes each time. Last chance tickets get released on 28 November (yes, that’s soon!).

Night Shift @ the Roundhouse, Friday 24 February.  Different setting this time, not on the South Bank but in an altogether more contemporary setting – an interesting place to hear classical music, an interesting way to hear it.  There’s a review on our last trip somewhere else on this blog.

Two Door Cinema Club + Metronomy @ the Brixton Academy, Saturday 25 February. Down with the kids.

In Basildon @ the Royal Court, Friday 9 March. Dominic Cooke directing, which like Nicholas Hytner makes it worth watching. If you have any reason to doubt this, I have two words for you: Clybourne Park.

Snookered @ the Bush Theatre, Saturday 10 March. We love the new Bush Theatre space – which is probably obvious given we did the overnight 66 Books there, and went to the ‘Where’s My Seat’ co-design event for the new building. So, we’re back there again, for this interesting piece on young Muslim men in Britain.

The Master and Margarita @ the Barbican, Saturday 17 March. Adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s classic novel. Another Simon McBurney/Complicite production, again involving the Blind Summit puppeteers. We loved their production of a Disappearing Number, being suckers for math(s) and science and such.  This promises less of that techie stuff, more about political oppression in the Soviet Union.  But we’re flexible.

Can We Talk About This? @ the National Theatre, Saturday 24 March. Excited to see this collaboration between NT and DV8, the physical theatre group. It’s toured internationally and now arrives in London, finally.  Like London Road, it uses snippets of real conversations and interviews to bring the subject to life, the subject being the practicalities of multiculturalism.

Einstein on the Beach @ the Barbican, Saturday 12 May.  The Philip Glass opera.  It takes 5 hours so it’s going to be a long day, but fascinating – the audience is usually free to come and go when they choose as there is no scheduled interval.  Less of a crush at the bar for G&Ts, then – how clever of them.

Love Love Love @ the Royal Court, Friday 18 May. This is by Mike Bartlett, who most recently had a bit of a triumph with 13, which the other C loved. It won a Best Play award earlier this year and the Royal Court has a habit of doing interesting things, so we are going.

Birthday @ the Royal Court, Friday 6 July. This is written by Joe Penhall.  I loved the original 2000 production of his earlier play, Blue/Orange – lucky me, it had Bill Nighy, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Egg from This Life… sorry I mean Andrew Lincoln.  The other C saw it in a later run, and liked it just as much, so this seemed like a fine night out.

Play Without Words @ Sadler’s Wells, Saturday 14 July. First out in 2002, but I missed this acclaimed Matthew Bourne dance piece the first time around.  It won Olivier Awards and I remember being a bit annoyed with myself for blanking it – or rather, seeing it in Time Out and doing nothing about it.  Revived for just 4 weeks, am delighted we’re getting to see it 10 years later.  Live jazz score, Swinging Sixties satirical social commentary. That will either appeal, or it won’t.


There are a few more treats to go in the diary – we’re chasing tickets at the Donmar for a couple of things, and we’ll likely book up some more dance/experiential/random activities as the winter unfolds.  But perhaps something on here already catches your eye.  Let us know if so, and – after the fact – if you liked it.  (And for those of you particularly keen on theatre, do subscribe to our sister site,, to get personalised recommendations and early information on new shows as they come out.)  Have fun out there!

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