Who needs the Games? London’s ambitious theatre shows take centre stage

Viva Forever!

You’ll see less cheese at a dairy farm than at this long-awaited musical that everyone’s been talking about since Posh, Baby, Ginger, Sporty and Scary met for the launch a fortnight ago.

Comedian Jennifer Saunders has penned the script, which is a mother-daughter story with the backdrop of a TV talent show. It’ll be one helluva singalong at least.
From Nov 27

£20, Piccadilly Theatre, 16 Denman Street
Piccadilly Circus, W1D 7DY
Tube | Piccadilly Circus

Chariots of Fire

An adaptation of the legendary Oscar-winning movie about the joint quest of British athletes Eric Liddel and Harold Abrahams to become the fastest men on earth at the 1924 Paris Olympics.

It’s an exciting triumph-over-the-odds tale, based on a true story, and lathered with sacrifice and victory – a fitting way to get psyched for London 2012.

£29 | Until Nov 10
Gielgud Theatre, 23 Shaftesbury Avenue, Soho W1D 6AR
Tube | Piccadilly Circus

Red Velvet

Olivier award-winner Adrian Lester stars in this true story of Ira Aldridge, a young black American actor who takes the stage in London in 1825 when prejudice is rife.

£10 | Oct 11-Nov 24
Tricycle Theatre, 269 Kilburn High Road,
Kilburn, NW6 7JR
Tube | Kilburn

Hotel Medea

This is no ordinary theatre experience, as the audience is fully immersed in a retelling of the myth of Medea and Jason to a soundtrack composed by Brazilian DJ Dolores. There’s performing of rituals, a cabaret show – which you become a part of – videos and, at bedtime, attendees are tucked in with a toasty mug of hot chocolate.

At dawn, they’re roused to encounter ‘a harrowing voyage through the landscape of Medea’s mind with paparazzi chases, burning brides and a twisted game of hide and seek’, before breakfast. It sounds absolutely bonkers, but hell, give it a go.

£20 | July 19-Aug 11
Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre
Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX
Tube | Waterloo

A Walk On Part: The Fall of New Labour

Michael Chaplin has adapted the trenchant diaries of former Labour MP Chris Mullins into a fleeting tour through Westminster Politics, African flashpoints and Mullins’ former Sunderland South constituency, all with decency and a dash of humour. This is brain food.

£15 | Until July 14
Arts Theatre, Great Newport St, WC2H 7JB 
Tube | Leicester Square


After the Party

Serge Cartwright’s play follows two thirty-something lads from Stratford who are relying on the Olympics to revive their DJ careers. The show is part of the Criterion’s Playing The Games Showcase.

£7.50 | July 26-Aug 12
Criterion Theatre, 2 Jermyn St, SW1Y 4XA  Piccadilly Circus


In this hair-rasing foray into bodily functions and the NHS, mother and father roles have reversed as Ed, played by Stephen Mangan, has a go at childbirth.

The audience is spared the anatomical details, but the ride is long and bumpy, with Ed, whose wife has had a number of miscarriages, handling the pitfalls of pregnancy with neither composure nor grace in this Joe Penhall play (above|).

£10 | Until Aug 4
Royal Court, 50-51 Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS
Tube | Sloane Square


Sports Play

Austrian playwright Elfriede Jelinek confronts our romanticised ideas of sport and athletes.

£10 | Jul 30-Aug 4
Chelsea Theatre, 7 World’s End Pl, SW10 0DR 
Tube | Imperial Wharf


Our Boys

Matthew Lewis, better known for his role as Neville in the Harry Potter series of films, joins the cast of this play, which follows the camaraderie, tribulations, and terror of five young war-wounded soldiers. The play is based on the personal army experiences of the writer, Jonathan Lewis.

£18.75 | Sep 26-Dec 15
Duchess Theatre, 3-5 Catherine Street, WC2B 5LA
Tube | Covent Garden


A Chorus of Disapproval

A treat for Gavin And Stacey fans. Comedian Rob Brydon, who plays affable Uncle Bryn, will make his West End debut in this comedy (below) centred on an am-dram performance that goes off the rails.

Brydon plays the theatre company’s over- zealous director, Dafydd, who gets more than a little excited about a widowed newcomer Guy (played by Nigel Harman). As it turns out, all the best action happens offstage in this Trevor Nunn-directed play.

£10 | Sep 17-Jan 5, 2013
Harold Pinter Theatre, 6 Panton Street, SW1Y 4DN
Tube | Piccadilly Circus


This gripping spy thriller, from the pen of Michael Frayn, explores the world of political intrigue, espionage and betrayal in the final months of Nobel prize-winning West German chancellor Willy Brandt’s term in office.

It emerges that a Stasi spy has infiltrated his coalition government and what ensues is a snapshot of the racy world of democracy, as acted out by an ensemble cast, including Andre Bridgmond, David Cann and Patrick Dury.

£10 | Until July 28
The Old Vic, The Cut, SE1 8NB
Tube | Waterloo


Play Without Words

There’s no dialogue in this dance drama about sexual desire and class conflict, but don’t let that put you off. It’s a winner, from choreographer Matthew Bourne.

£12 | July 12-Aug 5
Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue
Islington, EC1R 4TN

Tube | Angel

Sunshine Boys

You’ve only got a few weeks left to catch Hollywood’s favourite shorty, Danny DeVito, in this moving comedy, with one of England’s most respected actors Richard Griffiths.

DeVito, in his West End debut, and Griffiths play a pair of vaudevillian stars reunited for a one-off television special. It’s laughs all round, as old rivalries prevail.

£20 | Until July 28
Savoy Theatre, Savoy Court, Strand, WC2R OET
Tube | Charing Cross


And We Will Laugh At Gilded Butterflies

Two women on death row share their bleakest moment. Proceeds go to the charity Amicus, for US prisoners’ legal representation.

£10 | July 22
Leicester Square Theatre, WC2H 7BX 
Tube | Leicester Square


Julius Caesar

RSC artistic director Gregory Doran draws parallels between African and Roman politics, and puts Shakespeare’s work of tyranny and coup into the backdrop of sub-Sahara. Interestingly, the play will be staged with an all-black British cast.

£26 | Aug 8-Sep 15
Noel Coward Theatre, 85-88 Saint Martin’s Lane, WC2 4AU
Tube | Leicester Square


The Complete World of Sports

Everything from the validity of darts to the curious game of curling is covered in brief- but-madcap fashion.

£17.50 | Jul 17-Aug 15
Arts Theatre, Great Newport St, WC2H 7JB 
Tube | Leicester Square



Pop Idol contestant-come-good Will Young (below) takes to the West End for the first time in this Kander and Ebb stage classic, revived by Rufus Norris. Young stars as the enigmatic Emcee in this musical, set in a Berlin nightclub during the rise of the Nazis.

Former EastEnders actress Michelle Ryan will also make her West End debut in the role of Sally Bowles. The show arrives in London after embarking on a four-week national tour.

£45 | From Oct 3
Savoy Theatre, Savoy Court
Strand, WC2R OET
Tube | Charing Cross


Bush Bazaar Shepherd’s Bush

An array of performers takes over the theatre and, as you roam among them, you decide which acts get your cash, and how much. It’s a kind of buskers’ souk.

Be warned, though, haggling, bartering, begging or stealing will be all par for the course in this very immersive theatre experience presented by Theatre Delicatessen.

£10 | July 31-Aug 18
Bush Theatre, 7 Uxbridge Road, W12 8LJ
Tube | Shepherd’s Bush


Who needs the Games? London’s ambitious theatre shows take centre stage

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