It’s no secret that London and New York’s theater scenes enjoy a “special relationship.” This spring it’s more pronounced than ever, with a bunch of high-profile British shows on Broadway and on movie screens through the excellent NT Live broadcasts. And yesterday, the incoming head of London’s National Theatre, Rufus Norris, announced his first season, making us want to jump on the next plane to Heathrow. So much to see, so little time.
The cheapest and easiest way to stay abreast of great English theater is to attend NT Live screenings at various theaters around the city. The next one scheduled is on March 12, David Hare’s adaptation of the nonfiction book Behind the Beautiful Forevers. This is a tough-minded but sympathetic portrait of slum-dwellers outside a Mumbai airport in India. After that you should mark your calendar for the April 16 showing of Tom Stoppard’s latest brain-tickler, The Hard Problem. Then on May 14 comes Ralph Fiennes in another heady drama, George Bernard Shaw’s classic Man and Superman.
Pricier but less so than a ticket to London would be a pair of seats to the various English transfers we’ll see this spring: the Tudor potboiler Wolf Hall: Parts 1 & 2; Helen Mirren (above) as frosty Elizabeth II in The Audience; and Bill Nighy negotiating love and politics with Carey Mulligan in Skylight.
However, we understand if that’s not enough for you—you need to go straight for the source. You might want to hit the National around June, when many excellent shows will be running in rep: Chiwetel Ejiofor in a new version of the medieval mystery play, Everyman directed by Norris; a revival of Caryl Churchill’s history drama Light Shining in Buckinghamshire; George Farquhar’s wicked 1707 comedy The Beaux Stratagem; and other temptations. All that and Simon Russell Beale will be at the Donmar and Felicity Kendal will be on the West End in Noël Coward’s perennial crowd-pleaser, Hay Fever.