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The Suppliant Women at the Young Vic

The Best Theatre in London this November

2 November 2017 Will Rathbone

As winter beckons outside, November is an ideal time to cosy down in the theatre. The penultimate month of 2017 sees some fantastic shows opening in London, and there’s something for everyone, as award-winning new musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie opens at the Apollo Theatre, Bryan Cranston makes his London stage debut in Network at the National Theatre, and the Saatchi Gallery presents Inside Pussy Riot - an immersive experience detailing the story of the Russian post-punk activists.

It’s another blinding month for the National Theatre, as Rufus Norris’ stewardship continues to provide hit after hit. The aforementioned Network is the headline show this month. Writer Lee Hall (of Billy Elliot fame) and superstar director Ivo Van Hove have adapted Paddy Chayefsky’s screenplay about newsreader Howard Beale, whose on-air breakdown makes him an overnight sensation. Bryan Cranston stars as Beale in this tale of a bleak media landscape where populism rules over fact. Sound familiar..? Meanwhile, writer Inua Ellams' sensational Barber Shop Chronicles makes a welcome return. From Peckham to Johannesburg, the play looks at the generations of African men who meet in barber shops and discuss life, politics and everything in between.
 
If musicals are your thing, and you haven't managed to bag yourself a ticket to Hamilton (or you have, but it’s not for another 8 months), then Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the show for you. Coming to the Apollo Theatre fresh from an acclaimed run at Sheffield Theatres, and picking up two UK Theatre awards for Best Musical and Best Musical Performance along the way, the show tells the true story of 16 year old wannabe drag queen Jamie Campbell and his life in a Sheffield council estate. With music from The Feeling’s Dan Gillespie, this smash-hit has been hailed as a modern Billy Elliot.


Everybody's Talking About Jamie
 
The Young Vic have a jam-packed month ahead. First up, playwright David Greig’s acclaimed update of Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Women sees a 50-strong cast of local women perform the 2,500-year-old tale of asylum-seekers who arrive in Greece fleeing forced marriage. Yellowman is a Pulitzer Prize finalist from New Yorker Dael Orlandersmith set in the Deep South. The two-hander explores racial tensions and poverty through one couple’s growing relationship. Finally, How to Win Against History makes its way to London after taking the Edinburgh Fringe by storm for the past two years. Seiriol Davies’ joyous musical celebrates the 5th Marquis of Anglesey, a cross-dressing 19th century nobleman who lost his fortune to a lavish social life. It’s returns-only for both The Suppliant Women and Yellowman, and tickets are fast running out for How to Win Against History, so book fast or phone for returns on the day.  
 
Over at the Royal Court, one of the highlights of last year’s LIFT Festival returns for a short run. Lola Arias’ MINEFIELD stars six real life Falklands/Malvinas war veterans who face each other on stage decades after facing each other in battle. It’s a moving blend of personal and political stories. Later in the month, a current conflict comes under the radar in Goats by Syrian playwright and filmmaker Liwaa Yazji - part of the Royal Court’s long-term project working with Syrian writers. Goats is set in a small Syrian town - where soldiers are celebrated while the locals are fed propaganda - that decides to reward families with a goat for every martyred son.
 

Lola Arias' Minefield

For fans of new writing there’s another welcome return at The Yard in Hackney, as This Beautiful Future is re-staged following a glut of five star reviews earlier this year. Two teenagers shelter from a war outside and fall in love in Rita Kalnejais’ beautiful play. Over at the Southwark Playhouse, the winner of the annual PapaTango New Writing Award, Trestle, looks at love and aging through two contrasting retirees, Harry and Denise, who meet in a village hall. The intimate Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, a candlelit studio space underneath Shakespeare’s Globe, plays host to a new play by fiercely political British playwright Anders Lustgarten. The Secret Theatre uses the story of Elizabeth I’s spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham to question how much society is willing to sacrifice in the name of safety.
 
Finally, as part of their Art Riot: Post-Soviet Actionism exhibition, the Saatchi Gallery plays host to an immersive production recounting the story of post-punk feminist trio Pussy Riot. Inside Pussy Riot recalls the infamous jailing of Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina in a Siberian prison following an anti-Putin performance inside a Moscow Cathedral, and is a collaboration between Tolokonnikova and the team behind the Olivier-nominated Alice’s Adventures Underground.
 
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