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Mandela, Young Vic, 2022
Photo by Young Vic

A massive new musical about Nelson Mandela is coming to the Young Vic

‘Mandela’ is the highlight of the hip theatre’s autumn season

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski

The Young Vic has announced a storming summer to winter season that runs the gamut from a searingly hip avant-garde European monologue to the big headline attraction, a massive new biographical musical about Nelson Mandela made in partnership with the great man’s family.

‘Mandela’ – as it’s craftily called – is the last show in the season but the biggest attraction, with a lengthy run over Christmas (Nov 28-Feb 4). Details are both relatively scant and fairly obvious: it’s a musical about Nelson Mandela, helmed by Broadway director Schele Williams, with a book by Broadway actor and writer Laiona Michelle, and music by South African songwriters Greg Dean Borowsky and Shaun Borowsky. In other words, it seems intended for Broadway and is having a posh tryout at the hip London theatre. Exactly how it will play out is the main question: it’s billed as an uplifting affair, infused with the rhythms of South Africa, but fundamentally Mandela was a freedom fighter in a racist state who was thrown in prison for 27 years: we all know the end was glorious, but it’s surely important that the story told reflects the hardship of his life. We’ll find out by the end of the year – keep a particular eye on the casting of an absolutely monumental role.

Elsewhere in the season and there’s nothing quite so massive, though theatre hipsters will salivate at the great European director Ivo van Hove’s monologue adaptation of author Édouard Louis’s furious and tender book ‘Who Killed My Father’ (Sep 7-24), which will star the mighty Hans Kesting: one of the greatest actors in the world, in possibly his first UK performance in English.

Kicking things off on the main stage this summer will be Sonali Bhattacharyya’s new play ‘Chasing Hares’ (Jul 16-Aug 13): set in a dangerous West Bengal factory, it follows Prab, who is asked to write a play for the boss’s theatre troupe and must decide whether it's an opportunity to make a bold intervention. And before that in the tiny Clare Theatre will be ‘The Secretaries’ (Jun 1-11), a pitch black comedy about gender stereotypes from US theatre company The Five Lesbian Brothers.

Public booking opens April 28 for ‘Chasing Hares’ and ‘The Secretaries’, May 19 for ‘Who Killed My Father’ and TBA for ‘Mandela’.

The best London theatre shows to book for in 2022.

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