It's ladies' night on the London stage in 2013 | Theatre reviews, news & interviews
It's ladies' night on the London stage in 2013
The women have it in a theatre year ahead awash with major actresses in defining roles
The London theatre looks to be awash in great women of the English (and Irish) stage in a 2013 line-up of star roles that disproves the often-held assertion that the men get all the great stuff. Those who missed Hattie Morahan's award-winning Nora last summer in A Doll's House will have a second chance at the Young Vic in April, while Kim Cattrall brings her singular glamour to Tennessee Williams's Sweet Bird of Youth at the Old Vic come the summer.
In addition to those two women are a handful (well, six, in fact, since one of them is part of a tantalising double-act) of leading ladies all primed for the spotlight. Below is a run-down of who's en route and what to expect, presented in the order in which the productions are opening.
1. Fiona Shaw
Coleridge's epic poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner comes to the stage courtesy of Fiona Shaw, who is no stranger to such projects having toured extensively with her solo performance of Eliot's The Wasteland, directed by Deborah Warner. This time, Shaw's director is Phyllida Lloyd, and she has both a dancer, Daniel Hay-Gordon, and choreographer, Kim Brandstrup, along for what is sure to be an adventurous, if brief, ride: the performance, first seen last year in Epidaurus in Greece, runs less than an hour.
2. Kristin Scott Thomas
With memories of her scintillating Emma in Betrayal still fresh in the mind, along comes Kristin Scott Thomas in an earlier Pinter play, Old Times, once again directed by her apparent practitioner of choice, Ian Rickson. On this occasion, Scott Thomas (pictured right in rehearsals) will swap roles throughout the run with the scarcely less sublime Lia Williams, while lucky Rufus Sewell gets to play the odd man out in a theatrical reverie that has possible awards, and a New York transfer, written all over it.
3. Helen Mirren
Who says you can't go home again? Not Mirren, who won an Oscar for The Queen, written by Peter Morgan, and now returns to the West End to play HRH in a new Morgan play, The Audience, that among other things should pose a challenge to the make-up people to suggest the monarch at differing periods during her lengthy reign. The play's director, Stephen Daldry, has been absent from the London stage for even longer than Mirren: this play marks his first local theatre work since Billy Elliot in 2005.
4. Judi Dench
At 78, the abiding Dame of the London stage constitutes an event any and every time she treads the boards, and her appearance in a new play, John Logan's Peter and Alice, is doubly exciting, and not only for the Bond fanatics in the house who will be there to cheer on the live presence not just of M but of the franchise's current Q, Ben Whishaw (pictured left). Michael Grandage's production is the second in his current West End quintet that began with Privates on Parade, and Logan's first play since the much-lauded Red is the only world premiere in the pack.
Few will forget the collaboration, both in London and New York, between Wanamaker and the director David Leveaux on a production of Sophocles' Electra that seemed ripped from the guts of everyone concerned. The two are re-teaming in the spring on Peter Nichols's wrenching Passion Play, which is itself no walk in the park. Arriving hot on the heels of the revival of the same dramatist's Privates on Parade up the street, the 85-year-old dramatist can lay claim to what looks to be pretty much an annus mirabilis for him as well as for a singular host of women - and, let's hope, for audiences, as well.
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
How to turn an epistolary humour book into a West End play starring James and Jack Fox
Patrick Marber’s adaptation of Turgenev’s classic is fun, but lacks subtlety and profundity
Bryn Terfel's effortless Tevye hampered by amplification as the shtetl musical hits the Proms
The Wilton Diptych meets Monty Python, and Richard II comes to provocative life
Take a ride through 400 years of British theatre with our fictional guides
As the Royal Court introduces some very young playwrights, we celebrate the great child authors
An endearing, old-fashioned family drama featuring real-life parents and their offspring
Off Broadway hit shines in Off West End transfer
Shakespeare filleted but partly fleshed back out by Mendelssohn's lovely music
A bit of everything in theartsdesk's stage tips
Nick Payne's revived quantum multiverse romcom is out of this world
Stephen Merchant makes an engaging stage debut