10 months ago


20 The Play That Goes

20 The Play That Goes Wrong, the Olivier Award-winning box office hit, today celebrates its third birthday in the West End with a new booking period until 30 September 2018. PLAYS THE COMEDY ABOUT A BANK ROBBERY One enormous diamond, eight incompetent crooks and a snoozing security guard. What could possibly go right? CRITERION THEATRE Piccadilly Circus, (020 7492 0810) THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG A Polytechnic amateur drama group are putting on a 1920s murder mystery and everything that can go wrong... does! DUCHESS THEATRE Catherine Street, WC2 (0330 333 4810) INK James Graham's new play transfers from the Almeida. The story behind the birth of Britain's popular and controversial newspaper. DUKE OF YORK’S THEATRE St Martin’s Lane, WC2 (020 7492 1552) THE WOMAN IN BLACK An innocent outsider, a suspicious rural community, a gothic house and a misty marsh are the ingredients of this Victorian ghost story. FORTUNE THEATRE Russell Street, WC2 (0844 871 7626) THE FERRYMAN In Jez Butterworth’s new major drama, multi award-winning actor, director and writer Paddy Considine is joined by Laura Donnelly and Genevieve O’Reilly. Directed by Sam Mendes. GIELGUD THEATRE Shaftesbury Avenue, W1 (0844 482 5130) VENUS IN FUR A major production of David Ives' dark comedy starring Natalie Dormer and David Oakes. HAYMARKET THEATRE Haymarket, SW1 (020 7930 8800) OSLO Bartlett Sher's acclaimed production of J.T. Rogers' new Tony Award-winning play. A darkly funny political thriller. HAROLD PINTER THEATRE Panton Street, SW1 (0844 871 7627) Royal National Theatre Plays in repertory OLIVIER THEATRE FOLLIES Tracie Bennett, Janie Dee and Imelda Staunton play the magnificent Follies in a dazzling new production of Stephen Sondheim’s legendary musical staged for the first time at the National. SAINT GEORGE AND THE DRAGON A new play by Rory Mullarkey – a folk tale for an uneasy nation. Into the story walks George: wandering knight, freedom fighter, enemy of tyrants the world over. LYTTELTON THEATRE JANE EYRE The classic story of the trailblazing Jane is as inspiring as ever. This bold and dynamic production uncovers one woman’s fight for freedom and fulfilment on her own terms. DORFMAN THEATRE BEGINNING Polly Findlay directs a new play by David Eldridge, an intimate look at the first fragile moments of risking your heart. NATIONAL THEATRE South Bank, SE1 (020 7452 3000) LABOUR OF LOVE James Graham's new comedy starring Martin Freeman and Sarah Lancashire. Set in the Labour Party's traditional northern heartlands, a clash of philosophy, culture and class. NOEL COWARD THEATRE St Martin's Lane, WC2 (0844 482 5141) DR SEUSS’S THE LORAX The return of David Greig's stage adaption returns to London for a special three week season. Opens 15 October. OLD VIC THEATRE The Cut, Waterloo, SE1 (0844 871 7628) HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD PARTS I & II A new stage play based on the Harry Potter franchise written by Jack Thorne, based on an original story by J.K Rowling. PALACE THEATRE Shaftesbury Avenue, W1 (0330 333 4813) DERREN BROWN Derren Brown's 'greatest hits' show Underground in London promises to be a spell-binding experience of magical genius and epic showmanship. Until 14 October. PLAYHOUSE THEATRE Northumberland Ave, WC2 (0844 871 7631) THE MOUSETRAP Agatha Christie’s whodunnit is the longest running play of its kind in the history of the British theatre. ST MARTIN’S THEATRE West Street, WC2 (0844 499 1515) APOLOGIA Jamie Lloyd's production of Alexi Kaye Campbell's play, starring Stockard Channing. A witty, topical and passionate play about generations, secrets, and warring perspectives. TRAFALGAR STUDIOS Whitehall, SW1 (020 7492 1548) A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE Oscar Wilde's classic starring Eve Best and Anne Reid, directed by Dominic Dromgoole, – a brilliantly sharp comedy of the classes. Opens 16 October. WYNDHAM’S THEATRE Charing Cross Rd, WC2 (0844 482 512) HEISENBERG: THE UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE Marianne Elliott's West End Premiere of Simon Stephens' play starring Anne-Marie Duff and Kenneth Cranham. The inaugural production by Elliott & Harper Productions. WYNDHAM’S THEATRE Charing Cross Road, WC2 (0844 482 5120) Marianne Elliott by Alex Rumford. t h i s i s l o n d o n m a g a z i n e • t h i s i s l o n d o n o n l i n e

OSLO Lyttelton Theatre Broadway doesn’t often play host to contemporary American dramatists who have something of global importance to say. A notable exception, way back in 1993, was Tony Kushner’s towering Angels in America which returns to Broadway next year in the National Theatre’s recently acclaimed revival. It is heartening, therefore, to welcome JT Rogers’s recent Tony Award winning Oslo, an epic factual thriller where the question isn’t whodunnit but ‘will they or won’t they do it?’. ‘They’ are the Israelis and the Palestinians, and what’s being negotiated is the historic peace-process that took place in Oslo over a nine month period in 1993 culminating in September of that year in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington D.C. when PLO leader Yasser Arafat shook the hand of Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The architects of this hitherto unthinkable event (and the play’s central protagonists) are Teje Rod-Larsen, a sociologist, and his wife Mona Juul who works for the foreign ministry. As a sociological experiment, the idealistic, extremely intelligent Terje wants to see whether an impossible political stalemate can be resolved through a subtle process of ‘gradualism’ rather than dogged totalism. ‘My model,’ he says ‘is rooted not in the organisational, but the personal.’ To this end he and his brilliantly diplomatic wife take a dangerous and potential career-ruining plunge by initiating clandestine ‘back channel’ peace talks between Israel and the PLO that climaxes in the historic albeit shortlived Oslo Accords. Unlike the usual, and usually abortive negotiations in which the Palestinians and the Israelis are incapable of anything approaching civility, Terje’s aim is to hold the talks on neutral ground, in strict privacy, behind locked doors, and with no mediators present. Lydia Leonard (Mona Juul) and Toby Stephens (Terje Rød-Larsen). Photo: Brinkhoff Mögenburg. Personalising the talks by stripping the occasion of its familiar tensions and creating a relaxed, unthreatening environment leavened with waffles supplied by his excellent Swedish cook and all the Johnny Walker Black Label whiskey they can drink, Terje is hopeful that a satisfactory rapprochement can be achieved. Even the setting is informal; Terje and his wife’s spacious country pile, (strikingly suggested by Michael Yeargan’s uncluttered set) 30 miles outside Oslo and surrounded by forests. With secrecy the first item on this potentially explosive agenda, Israel’s initial representatives are a pair of dishevelled, unassuming economics professors unlikely to draw attention to themselves. But after an awkward getting-toknow-you period, the PLO’s deeply suspicious finance minister, Ahmed Querei, demands a more high-profile presence and, with the arrival of Uri Savir, the deputy general of Israel’s foreign ministry, the talks become fruitful and even playful at times. In one of the best, most humanising scenes in the play, Ahmed and Uri, while out walking in the forest one evening, begin to bond. They discover they have several things in common, most notably that their daughters are both called Maya. It’s these personal connections and the attention to detail and character development that breathe life into a situation whose eventual outcome is well-known and, alas, on-going. What could so easily have been a rather dry trawl through an intriguing, but familiar piece of Middle East history emerges as a heartfelt human document in which the protagonists are as compelling as the situation. Bartlett Sher, who directed the play on Broadway, keeps it moving at a nifty pace making its three-hour running time seem half as long. There’s a kind of epic, Shakespearean grandeur to the staging, yet without loss of intimacy. It’s also extremely funny in parts, as when one of the characters does a caricatural impersonation of Arafat. The all-English cast is flawless. Toby Stephens as the urbane, idealistic host Terje Rod-Larsen draws a fine-line between manipulative self-importance, ruthlessness, and being the butt of much send-up humour; while Lydia Leonard as his efficient wife (who also serves as a narrator and scene-setter) is totally plausible as the cog that keeps the tricky and complex negotiations on track. In the showiest role, Philip Arditti as Uri Savir projects a forceful ego, an intelligence and an unassuageable commitment to his cause, qualities shared by Peter Polycarpou as Ahmed Qurei, the PLO’s passionate finance minister. That these two men became friends even after the Accord collapsed is reflective of the improbable but shortlived miracle that occurred in 1993 – the very essence, in fact, of what this fine play is all about. What a tragedy there is no happy ending. CLIVE HIRSCHHORN (The production transfers from the Lyttelton to the Harold Pinter Theatre from 2 October to 30 December.) 21 t h i s i s l o n d o n m a g a z i n e • t h i s i s l o n d o n o n l i n e

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