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Noël Coward Theatre

  • Theatre
  • Covent Garden
Noel Coward Theatre.jpg

Time Out says

Expect a broad programme of productions at this long-standing, popular Covent Garden landmark. Originally known as the New Theatre, the tribute to playwright Noël Coward was paid much later in the theatre's history – though a young Coward did manage to present one of his own plays, 'I'll Leave It to You', on the theatre's stage in 1920, while several of his hits have been presented there in more recent times.

More typically host to limited runs of plays in recent times, you have to go back to 2006-9 to find its last real long-runner, the raucous puppet musical ‘Avenue Q’. However the hit Broadway musical ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ – due at the end of 2019 – will be hoping to make a good go of it.


St Martin's Lane
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What’s on

Player Kings

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Shakespeare

Yes, the presence of soon-to-turn-85 stage and screen legend Ian McKellen tackling Shakespeare’s great character Sir John Falstaff is the big draw in ‘Player Kings’.  But Robert Icke’s three hour-40-minute modern-dress take on the two ‘Henry IV’ plays does not pander to its star, and is unwavering in its view that this is the story of two deeply damaged men, linked grimly together.  McKellen is naturally excellent as an atypically elderly Falstaff, whose continual self aggrandisement is such that even his line about being in his fifties comes across as an improbable boast. But his younger co-star Toheeb Jimoh is equally as good as a bitter, angry Prince Hal, who feels startlingly a piece with the vengeful older version of himself we meet in ‘Henry V’. The usual take is that with his dad recently installed on the English throne, heir Hal is enjoying a classic bout of youthful hedonism. He’s carousing away in Cheapside tavern the Boar’s Head,  living it up with various lowlife eccentrics, foremost among them the rotund rogue Falstaff, who serves as something of a substitute father to Richard Coyle’s cold, formal Henry IV. But in Icke’s version, the tension between the two leads is palpable. Jimoh’s Hal responds coldly to the older man’s attempts at mockery, and there is a palpable sense of danger to him. Hanging out at the Boar, he feels less a pampered princeling out of his depth, more an escaped tiger lying low at a petting zoo. Their relationship never feels truly easy: inde

Slave Play

  • Experimental

Jeremy O Harris’s frenzied satire about a trio of interracial couples who seek to get their sex lives back on track by indulging in Antebellum-styled master-slave roleplays was both a massive smash and wildly controversial over its two Broadway seasons (for reasons that are presumably obvious from that description). Harris’s second play ‘“Daddy”’ was better received over its 2022 Almeida run than it was back home, but a UK transfer for ‘Slave Play’ has been a long time coming. Finally, though, here’s Robert O’Hara’s production, which boasts a cast to die for, with James Cusati-Moyer, Chalia La Tour, Annie McNamara and Irene Sofia Lucio returning from its the original Broadway production, plus an infusion of Brits headed by ‘Game of Thrones’ man Kit Harington and the reliably hilarious Fisayo Akinade. There will be numerous ways to get cheap tickets, including a release of tickets for the following week’s performances at 10am on a Wednesday, starting from as little as £1.  Harris pioneered Black Out performances – where it’s politely requested that only Black-identifying audience member attend – with the original 2019 run of ‘Slave Play’, and there will be two here, on July 17 and September 17.

Dr Strangelove

  • Comedy

On the face of it a stage version of Stanley Kubrick’s immortal Cold War satire 'Dr Strangelove’ is as hubristic a conceit as adapting ‘2001’ or ‘Full Metal Jacket’: not only was the 1964 masterpiece intentionally shot in black and white, but it also boasted a lead performance from Peter Sellars – more accurately, a trio of lead performances – so iconic and singular as to seem literally impossible to replicate. Nonetheless, here we are: the Kubrick estate has given the stage rights to master satirist Amando Iannucci (‘The Day Today’, ‘I’m Alan Partridge’, ‘The Think of It’, ‘Veep’. ‘The Death of Stalin’, etcetera etcetera) to adapt Kubrick’s classic about a rogue American general who decides to pre-emptively nuke Russia. Iannucci has in turn cast his old mucker Steve Coogan as the lead: it’s not entirely clear if the stage version will exactly mirror the film (Coogan is billed as playing ‘multiple roles’, not necessarily the same ones Sellars did), but certainly these are some very talented people doubtless giving it their best go. It’s co-written and directed by Sean Foley: a safe pair of comic hands who is unlikely to reinvent the wheel but should ensure the laughs are front and centre.

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