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Andrzej Lukowski

Andrzej Lukowski

Andrzej Lukowski has been the theatre and dance editor of Time Out London since 2013.

He mostly writes about theatre and also has additional editorial responsibility for dance, comedy and opera. He has lived in London a decade and has probably spent about a year of that watching productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He covered podcasts for about five minutes during lockdown and gets about a million podcast emails a day now but honestly can’t help you, sorry.

Oczywiście on jest Polakiem.

Reach him at andrzej.lukowski@timeout.com or connect with him on Twitter @MrLukowski

Articles (225)

5 shows to see at Vault Festival in February

5 shows to see at Vault Festival in February

After two-and-a-half years of Covid-related cancellation, the head-spinningly eclectic Vault Festival will finally be back in London in 2023 with another brilliantly oddball eight-week programme of performance, lasting from January 24 until March 19. The action takes place in the Waterloo Vaults, a sprawling, crypt-like space underneath Waterloo Station, with a couple of extra shows in nearby venues like Network Theatre and Morley College. Because it’s a fringe fest, prices are most definitely pocket-friendly. Most tickets are £13-£17, which leaves a bit of spare cash for a pint at one of the venue’s many bars. Here is our guide to the fest’s best theatre, comedy and other events. For more recommendations, read our critics’ choice for the best of London theatre. 

London theatre critics’ choice

London theatre critics’ choice

Our regularly-updated round-up of the very best shows and plays you can currently see on London’s stages, from massive West End musicals to cool fringe theatre productions – as recommended by the Time Out theatre team

Children's theatre in London - the best shows for kids of all ages

Children's theatre in London - the best shows for kids of all ages

It's never to early to introduce kids to the magic of theatre: there are literally shows for babies. But if your kids are a bit older than that, don’t worry: London's bursting with shows that'll delight junior audiences of all sorts. There are gentle puppet shows for toddlers. Bright and shiny, song-stuffed adventures for young kids. Smart dramas that are sure to hold teenagers rapt. And spectacular musicals that are perfect for the whole family (or just adults looking for a great night out) Our kids’ theatre page normally contains information for all the main children’s shows running in London theatres this month and next month, and is broken down into three categories. Theatre for all the family is suitable for any age, including adults without children. Theatre for older children is specifically aimed at school-age children and teenagers. Theatre for babies, pre-schoolers and younger children does what the title suggests, and also includes shows suitable for younger school-age children.

The best new London theatre for 2023 – shows not to miss

The best new London theatre for 2023 – shows not to miss

After the chaos of the pandemic years, London’s theatre scene is fully reopened: a little battered around the edges still, but essentially how it was before Covid shut the theatres for 18 months: the best theatre city in the world, heaving with classic musicals, bold new writing, exciting international work and the all-important fringes. This rolling list is constantly updated to share the best of what’s coming up and currently booking: these choices aren’t the be-all and end-all of great theatre in 2023, but they are, as a rule, the biggest and splashiest shows on the horizon, and the smaller, cooler ones we’re looking forward to the most as well.  They’re shows worth booking for, pronto. Want to see if these shows live up to the hype? Check out our theatre reviews.

The best new theatre shows opening in London February 2023

The best new theatre shows opening in London February 2023

It’s another big month on the London stage, with returning blockbusters like ‘Oklahoma!’, ‘The Lehman Trilogy’ and ‘2:22’ starring Cheryl rubbing up against a clutch of exciting new National Theatre shows, some leftfield takes of Shakespeare at the Globe, and lots more besides. Check out the best new shows, plays and musicals coming to London this month, as recommended by the Time Out Theatre team. To plan further ahead, check out our top shows to see this year. Also, check out our latest theatre reviews.  And if you need somewhere to stay, see the best hotels near the West End.  RECOMMENDED: Find the best West End theatre shows.

The best dance and ballet shows in February 2023

The best dance and ballet shows in February 2023

It’s another big month for dance in London, from quirky oddities at The Place to cool, progressive modern dance at Sadler’s Wells, including a South African remake of ‘The Rite of Spring’ and a show set to the music of Leonard Cohen. MORE STAGE Dance classes in London Best theatre shows this yearBest theatre shows this monthBest comedy shows this month

50 unmissable attractions in Paris

50 unmissable attractions in Paris

Paris: the food, the fashion, the fromage, the fantasy. No matter how many times we visit the French capital, its charms never ever grow old. And we’re not alone in thinking that. Paris is a major tourist destination that attracts thousands upon thousands of enthusiastic travellers with heads filled with images of Breton jumpers, tiny dogs and posh chocolates. But how do you enjoy this gorgeous city without just succumbing to the age-old clichés? We’ve compiled a list of the 50 best attractions in Paris, from the big-name ‘must-visits’ to something a little bit more bespoke and authentically Parisian. So whether you’re looking for lesser-known museums, late-night live music or the best places for shopping, we’ve got ideas a-plenty - and they’re all as tasty as a Ladurée macaron. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in ParisRECOMMENDED: The best food tours in ParisRECOMMENDED: The best food tours in Paris This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, click here.

Josie Rourke: ‘I stopped being an artistic director in the hope I could do life things’

Josie Rourke: ‘I stopped being an artistic director in the hope I could do life things’

The first-ever female artistic director of the Bush Theatre in her twenties. The first-ever female artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse in her thirties. Josie Rourke hails from Salford but for a long time she was a cornerstone of London’s theatrical landscape. She’s not only a damn good director with a terrific way with big names – she’s scored hits with the likes of David Tennant, Judi Dench and Tom Hiddleston – but an inspiring leader who successfully thwarted a massive Arts Council cut to the Bush and masterminded its move to its present building. And it’s easy to forget now how few women had ever run theatres in this country when she started out: there are more female ADs in London now than there had ever been before she took over at the Bush.  But after almost two decades of ubiquity, she seemed to disappear with the pandemic. The West End transfer of her Donmar hit ‘City of Angels’ had just entered previews when the theatres abruptly closed. Until last month, there had been little sign of her in the three years since, beyond the curious case of ‘The Nan Movie’, the critically panned Catherine Tate vehicle that Rourke had her name taken off. In fact, disappearing had always been the plan. ‘I had been so busy running theatres that I hadn’t had time to do a lot of the stuff that people generally do in their thirties,’ she says over a Zoom call. ‘Which is to get married, buy some property, get a car – I really didn’t own anything more expensive than a coat. Although i

5 shows to see at the London International Mime Festival 2023

5 shows to see at the London International Mime Festival 2023

London International Mime Festival – the longest-running festival of its kind – has a lot more up its sleeves than clowning and whiteface, a celebration of everything from avant-garde dance to creepy physical theatre to ultra-high concept juggling. Sadly, the 2023 London International Mime Festival will be the last in its present form, and while it sounds like it will continue in some way, it has not sought Arts Council England funding going forwards, so this is likely be our final chance to experience the festival as a multi-event London-based affair.  For the final time, then, these are our picks for what to see at LIMF, which runs Monday January 16–Sunday February 5 2023.

The best options for flower delivery in Los Angeles

The best options for flower delivery in Los Angeles

You know that moment when you realize that Valentine's Day is around the corner and you’ve arranged nothing? Yup: we've all been there. But you needn't worry because Los Angeles is full of fantastic online florists who offer same-day and next-day delivery for the loved-up occasion. We’re not talking humdrum flowers either: from floral shops focused on classic roses, precious orchids, and bargain blooms to more one-of-a-kind offerings like tropical succulents, floral buds, and even dried bouquets, LA has last-minute flower options to suit every kind of personality. Now, you can find it all and more in our definitive guide to the best online Valentine's Day flower delivery services in Los Angeles. Need more help? Round off the day with a booking at one of the best restaurants in the city.  This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, click here.

The 15 best sleep podcasts for a peaceful slumber

The 15 best sleep podcasts for a peaceful slumber

We’ve all been there. The nights you spend tossing and turning, thoughts racing through your mind. Random embarrassing memories from your teenage years coming back to you at every turn. So let’s be honest, the introduction of sleep podcasts was a blessing. For years, we adults have wished for a bedtime story like we had as kids – something that soothes us, helps us forget the worries of the world and drift into a peaceful slumber.  Unsurprisingly, this podcast genre blew up quick. Now you can choose from hundreds of sleep podcasts, from adult bedtime stories to long, rambling narratives that bore you into slumber. And to save you even more nighttime stress, we’ve curated a list of the best of the best, right here. So get comfy and tune in. You’ll be asleep in no time.  RECOMMENDED:🎧 The best podcasts of 2023🎶 The best podcasts on Spotify🔪 The best true crime podcasts😂 The best comedy podcasts🏃 The best motivational podcasts✊ The best political podcasts

Listings and reviews (869)

‘The Singing Mermaid’ review

‘The Singing Mermaid’ review

4 out of 5 stars

'The Singing Mermaid' returns in 2023. This review is from 2018. Stage adaptations of the works of prodigiously popular picture book author Julia Donaldson – she of ‘The Gruffalo’ – are common. But there’s often a problem: Donaldson’s tight, percussive verse is a treat at bedtime, but is over in a few minutes. That inevitably means stage versions are frequently padded to death with songs and schtick. Samantha Lane and Barb Jungr’s puppet adaptation from 2012, ‘The Singing Mermaid’, goes down the song route by default (the clue is in the title). But what Lane’s production loses in terms of the rhythm, it more than makes up for in visual invention, bringing the world illustrated by Lydia Monks to gloriously barmy life. Lyndie Wright’s puppets are both lovely and numerous as we’re regaled with the account of the titular fish lady, lured from her comfortable oceanic life to becoming the star attraction in the sideshow circus of disreputable huckster Sam Sly. The most virtuosic sequence is a seemingly endless series of faintly inept circus acts, all amusing, including a posh tightrope walker, a pair of nervous dogs, and a shock-haired pyromaniac. They’re all beautifully embodied by actor-puppeteers Phil Yarrow, Samantha Sutherland and Lizzie Wort, who effortlessly trade roles and multitask their way through a gentle – but never scary – parable about the ills of greed and the joys of friendship. And the spiky, funny, genre-hopping songs by cabaret artist Jungr are far from the plat

Vault Festival

Vault Festival

It’s been too long since London got to experience the underground delights of Vault Festival: after being shut down in full flow in March 2020, it was unable to open in 2021, and its 2022 edition was the highest-profile London casualty of the omicron surge, cancelled a few weeks before it was due to happen. Fingers crossed it’ll get over the line this time, as what a festival entirely staged in small subterranean rooms lacks in social distancing, it makes up for in sheer volume of exciting work. Over eight weeks, Vault 2023 will stage over 500 theatre and comedy shows, from experimental plays about upskirting in South Korea and the exploitation of blindness by the entertainment industry, to work-in-progress pieces from big-name standups like Luisa Omielan and Jordan Brookes. There’s even a one-day wrestling festival within the festival, because why not? Check out our regularly updated top five shows to see at Vault this month. For full listings, head to Vault’s official website. 

‘Titus Andronicus’ review

‘Titus Andronicus’ review

4 out of 5 stars

The Globe’s last ‘Titus Andronicus’ was a proper landmark of stage horror: Lucy Bailey’s claret-soaked 2006 production was infamous for inducing mass faintings in audiences, and was such a hard act to follow that they rather than try and top it they simply brought it back eight years later. Finally, though, a fresh production, as Shakespeare’s horror nasty makes its debut in the indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.  Hip, irreverent director Jude Christian was never going to deliver a trad production, and aesthetically this is a mile away from Bailey’s: an all-female cast in uniform pyjama suits, a sterile white chemistry lab set from Rosie Elnile and Grace Venning, and – most strikingly – a zero-blood policy. Yup, there’s no fake gore, and the play’s endless string of deaths is conveyed via the theatrical snuffing out of candles rather than the cast stabbing each other up and whatnot.  The thing is, though, that ‘Titus Andronicus’ is still ‘Titus Andronicus’. Its best-known and most stomach-churning act of violence – aka The Pie Scene (no spoilers but if you know, you know) – is not in itself particularly graphic. Many of the assaults on candles here are in fact eye-watering, sadistic prolonged gougings: I felt a little faint myself in the scene where Katy Stephens’s Roman general Titus cuts off his own hand. What Christian’s production most definitely shares with Bailey’s is the sense that, ultimately, ‘Titus Andronicus’ has to be treated as a comedy. A black comedy, for sure. Bu

‘Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons’ review

‘Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons’ review

3 out of 5 stars

Not to be all ‘I saw the Pistols in ’76’, but I did see Sam Steiner’s debut play ‘Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons’ in its original incarnation as a lo-fi word-of-mouth hit at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. I remember it as a reasonably whimsical affair: political, yes, but at its heart a fizzing, inventive romcom set in a Britain in which language has become strictly limited to 140 words per person, per day. It’s a limit that protagonist couple Oliver and Bernadette adhere to with a deadly seriousness that Steiner smartly refuses to get into: it’s as if physics has been changed by decree. But Josie Rourke’s surprise West End revival, starring telly faves Jenna Coleman and Aidan Turner is a disarmingly bleak affair, or certainly in comparison to eight years ago. You can probably blame Brexit for some of this. The late Cameron years from which ‘Lemons’ emerged weren’t exactly idyllic, but I don’t think ‘the hush law’ – as staunch opponent of the word limitation act Oliver calls it – felt based on anything specific back in 2015. Now, however, it totally feels like a comment on the loss of freedoms that came with Brexit, not to mention the general rise of global authoritarianism in recent years. The fracture between Oliver’s activism and Bernadette’s apolitical uncertainty feels deeper and more pointed, a parable about creeping fascism. Which is absolutely reasonable and in many ways shows that the play is ageing well (it’s also been somewhat rewritten by Steiner). But th

‘Saint Jude’ review

‘Saint Jude’ review

4 out of 5 stars

This gripping immersive show from Swamp Motel really sneaks up on you. At first I thought I’d signed up to do an hour of light admin duties. But in the end, ‘Saint Jude’ takes a very different path: there’s more than a note of the classic Cold War conspiracy thriller to it, crossed with the golden age of choose-your-own-adventure novels. Even a description as vague as that will leave you more clued-up than I was when I went in, so consider everything that follows a mild spoiler.  The official story – and, indeed, your experience of the early phases of the show – is that you’re a volunteer at Saint Jude’s, a highly unusual coma clinic. After a breezy group orientation session from Bryan Moriarty’s chipper supervisor Stefan, we’re each put to work at our own clunky retro console, which we’re supposedly using to remotely access and talk to the subconsciousness of coma patients – or ‘sleepers‘ – in the hope of stimulating their brains and waking them up. What’s not a spoiler is to say that the ‘actor’ playing the patient we speak to is in fact an AI. I’m not one of those people who wet themselves boringly over ChatGPT. But here the AI – from a company called Charisma – is deployed very smartly, in part because I started the show rather underestimating it. In the beginning, it genuinely felt like I was meant to be wowed by the fact I was having a stilted conversation with a man who was in fact a computer programme, doing slightly mundane things like asking him to describe his surr

Avora: A New World Cocktail Experience

Avora: A New World Cocktail Experience

3 out of 5 stars

A hole in the fabric of space and time has opened up in Shoreditch, probably not for the first time. However, this particular wormhole – which tbf looks a lot like a door – leads to a pristine alien planet named Avora, in which the humanlike natives protect themselves from the planet’s toxic atmosphere by knocking back a substance called lumenol, which tastes exactly like good old earthen booze and is served in delicious cocktail form. ‘Avora’ is part of a nascent London immersive drinking experience scene, and is indeed from the same people as ‘Alcotraz’, an experience in which audiences are cast as inmates smuggling liqueur into a very jolly US penitentiary. There is something intrinsically hilarious about the stated ambition of ‘Avora’, which nominally combines ‘going for a drink’ with ‘sci-fi epic’. Your £40 entry guarantees you three cocktails, and it’s not hard to score more – at one point a lab-coated scientist proffered me a test tube of something very strong and very yellow and asked me if it made me feel ‘like a goblin’ (if by ‘goblin’ he meant ‘drunk’, then yes). They’re entertainingly presented, too: the first drink was handed to us in a metal box, and we mixed our own violently purple, violently bubbling drink in order to innoculate ourselves against the harsh Avoran air. Having stepped through the portal, our first drink on the fabulously exotic alien planet was, uh, a white Negroni, but we had to forage the garnish from some alien bushes. The final drink we aga

‘Noises Off’ review

‘Noises Off’ review

3 out of 5 stars

Michael Frayn’s ‘Noises Off’ is a classic, a landmark of metatheatrical humour that also mercilessly brought the curtain down – literally – on the rum sex comedies of the ’60s and ’70s.  Debuting in 1982 and spending most of the rest of the decade in the West End, it’s a farce about a farce, following a cast of dysfunctional actors as they tour the British provinces with a woeful trouser-dropping comedy called ‘Nothing On’ while trying not to murder each other.   It’s a play everybody should see once, just to marvel at its precision construction, especially the virtuosic, backstage-set second half, in which the cast press ahead with a matinée of ‘Nothing On’ while having a furious bust-up behind the scenes. I’m not sure it’s a play everybody should see twice, though. I enjoyed Lindsay Posner’s 2011 Old Vic revival the first time. But even then it nagged me that there didn’t seem to be much you could do with ‘Noises Off’: it’s so technically precise and of its era that there’s little room to play around with it. The production has been dusted off for a fresh run, this time under the auspices of Bath Theatre Royal. But once you’ve ooohed at the comic timing, it is somewhat inevitable that a 40-year-old satire on a style of comedy that peaked 50 years ago might not feel entirely box-fresh.  And I wonder if its aging has been accelerated by various social movements of the last decade. In particular, the bullying misogyny of Lloyd, the director of ‘Nothing On’, feels pretty uncomf

‘2:22 – A Ghost Story’ review

‘2:22 – A Ghost Story’ review

3 out of 5 stars

Danny Robins’s ‘2:22’ is a bona fide West End phenomenon. It started life in the summer of 2021 as a novelty: a four-hander ghost story from the writer of the hit podcast series ‘The Battersea Poltergeist’, deployed to plug the programming gap at the Noël Coward Theatre while the musical ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ was waiting to come back post-pandemic. And Matthew Dunster’s production originally starred singer Lily Allen – an unexpected bit of casting, but not an outlandish one, given she sincerely seems to be making a move into acting. That was just the beginning, though. Since then it’s played another four West End seasons, and while I’m sure good word of mouth and the scarcity of supernatural Theatreland thrillers have played a part, it’s pretty clear that its audience has been expanded via the medium of increasingly wild casting. Last year we had stage debuts from Tom Felton – aka Harry Potter’s Draco Malfoy – and Laura ‘Love Island’ Whitmore. And this year we’re being treated to the inaugural acting performance from Cheryl, the erstwhile Girls Aloud star who seems to have left the concept of a surname somewhere in the rubble of her endlessly documented recent past.  It’s a fascinating concept: presumably if the producers can keep luring in big names with discrete fandoms, there’s no real reason it can’t carry on more or less indefinitely. The four roles in the play are about the same size as each other: it’s malleable enough that you could find a space to cast pretty much anyon

‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ at the Almeida review: Paul Mescal stars in this red hot revival

‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ at the Almeida review: Paul Mescal stars in this red hot revival

4 out of 5 stars

This review is from the Almeida Theatre in January 2023. ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ transfers to the Phoenix Theatre in March 2023. Obviously we need to talk about Paul Mescal: the post-fame stage return of the star of ‘Normal People’ and ‘Aftersun’ is the reason the Almeida’s revival of Tennessee Williams’s landmark 1947 play ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ sold its run out instantly (apparently if you queue for day-seats you have pretty good odds of success, FYI). But before that we really, really need to talk about Patsy Ferran. She’s undoubtedly a national treasure in the making – not yet a household name, but if you’ve seen her on stage, you’ll never forget her. However, the odds felt stacked against her in taking on Williams’s doomed protagonist Blanche DuBois, one of the all time great stage roles. Firstly, she is clearly cast against type. Ferran is technically just about the right age for Blanche, who we gather to be in her thirties despite her intense denial of this fact. But the role is typically played by middle-aged actresses, while Ferran still basically looks like a gawky teenager. By any conventional wisdom she should be playing delicate recluse Laura in Williams’s ‘The Glass Menagerie’, and saving Blanche for another decade or two. More practically, Ferran was a last-minute replacement as the lead in Rebecca Frecknall’s revival, after Lydia Wilson dropped out during rehearsals due to injury. While the timeframe is a bit murky, the show only shed a single week of

‘The Unfriend’ review

‘The Unfriend’ review

2 out of 5 stars

There is an enormous amount of talent sloshing around ‘The Unfriend’. It’s the debut play from former ‘Doctor Who’ showrunner Steven Moffat, it’s directed by his ‘Sherlock’ co-creator Mark Gatiss, and it has a top-notch comedy cast led by Reece Shearsmith, Gatiss’s old mucker from macabre sketch legends The League of Gentlemen. Unfortunately, it’s not very good, with a half-baked script from Moffat dragged down by surprisingly starchy direction from Gatiss. It’s a comedy, which follows Shearsmith’s Peter and his wife Debbie (Amanda Abbington, another ‘Sherlock’ alumnus), an uptight middle-class couple who go on a cruise and meet Frances Barber’s Elsa, a kooky old American who invites herself to come and stay with them for a week. They reluctantly agree, but on the cusp of Elsa’s arrival, Debbie googles her and discovers that a lot of people believe she’s a multiple murderer.  It’s an entertaining set-up, with echoes of both the League and Shearsmith’s cult successor show ‘Inside No 9’. But ‘The Unfriend’ is a disappointingly milquetoast affair. It’s content to exist as an overstretched comedy of manners, in which Peter and Debbie fail to do anything about Elsa out of social awkwardness. Which sounds quite funny in theory, but in practice is really not. The characters are barely explored. Moffat squanders his time on tepid set-pieces: Peter misses a chance to get rid of Celeste early on in a clunky, drawn-out scene that entirely hinges on him refusing to tell a minor white lie

Age is a Feeling

Age is a Feeling

4 out of 5 stars

Canadian actor Haley McGee’s one-woman interactive monologue journeying through one woman’s life is beautiful and wise. Read our four-star Edinburgh Fringe review.

Alex Edelman: ‘Just for Us’ review

Alex Edelman: ‘Just for Us’ review

4 out of 5 stars

The Menier’s programming is nothing if not eclectic: after reopening last year with an existential comedy about swinging, the next show up at the pocket-sized Southwark theatre will be a haunting sci-fi called ‘Marjorie Prime’. Before that, though, it plays host to ‘Just for Us’, from US comic Alex Edelman, directed by Brit Adam Brace. ‘Just for Us’ is very much stand-up comedy, but it’s very theatrical within that, an almighty piece of raconteurism that sees the very awkward, very Jewish Edelman recount the time when he whimsically decided to attend a white nationalist meeting in Queens. What the show is really about is Edelman’s own Jewishness and Jewish identity. As he says at the beginning, he’s not a particularly political comedian, and he’s not especially here to have a pop at the racists, whom he mostly seems bewildered by. Indeed, part of the reason his description of the white supremacist meeting is so funny is because he’s chronically incapable of being judgmental – he becomes fascinated by an old lady who’s sat there doing a 12,000-piece jigsaw, and finds himself drawn to a hot young racist called Chelsea. But his detached, overanalytical approach to the meeting makes his description of it a fine jumping-off point for sundry amusing musings on his own past, from ridiculing his brother for making the Israeli skeleton bob team to numerous yarns about his orthodox Jewish upbringing in Boston, including one absolutely joyous section in which he recalls the year his par

News (451)

A stunning new outdoor theatre is opening in a lavender field near London

A stunning new outdoor theatre is opening in a lavender field near London

From the windswept coastal majesty of Cornwall’s Minack Theatre to the recreated Elizabethan splendour of Shakespeare’s Globe in London, many of Britain’s most enchanting theatres are outdoors. Their seasonal programming means they can ignore the practicalities of the need to open in the middle of winter and instead base everything on being open during balmy late spring and summer nights. They are, naturally, highly Instagrammable. Almost as Instagrammable as the vibrant lavender fields that city folk descend upon during the warmer months in order to have their photos taken in them. But what about combining the two? With an admirable dedication to having a name that states exactly what it is, the Lavender Theatre is a new open-air venue that’ll be mounting its first season at Mayfield Lavender Farm on the Epsom Downs in Surrey, just outside London.  Co-founded by director Joe McNeice and Mayfield owner Brendan Maye, the theatre is a culmination of a £2 million investment into the project and it should, frankly, look and smell out of this world. We don’t know a huge amount about the 250-seat theatre yet in terms of how long its seasons will be or how many show annually. But we do have an inaugural show in the form of a revival of Irving Berlin’s classic musical ‘Annie Get Your Gun’, which will be directed and choreographed by up-and-comer Simon Harwick. ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ runs at the Lavender Theatre, Mayfield Lavender Farm, Jul 17-Aug 5. Buy tickets here. Stay in the loop:

Academy Award nominee Paul Mescal is heading to the West End with the Almeida’s acclaimed ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’

Academy Award nominee Paul Mescal is heading to the West End with the Almeida’s acclaimed ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’

Paul Mescal’s post-‘Normal People’ return to the stage was always going to be a big deal: the entire run of Rebecca Frecknall’s Almeida Theatre revival of Tennessee Williams’s landmark ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ sold out instantly off the back of the Irish actor’s presence as the abusive Stanley Kowalski. It has only become a hotter ticket since, thanks to excellent reviews and Mescal’s Academy Award nomination to his bow for his leading role in the acclaimed indie flick ‘Aftersun’.  Clearly the demand for a West End transfer was there, but with big international stars with packed filming schedules, demand isn’t always a guarantee it’ll actually happen. Good news! ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ will transfer, with its principal cast of Mescal, Patsy Ferran and Anjana Vasan intact. More good news! It’s happening really soon: its new run at the Phoenix Theatre, kicks off March 20, a week after the Oscars. Less good news! Clearly, Mescal is pretty busy as it’s only doing six weeks in the West End (the others are brilliant, particularly Ferran, but let’s be real here, if Mescal could do another two months they’d recast anyone who couldn’t). Another run in the future is possible, but really it’s safest to view this as your last, best chance to see Mescal’s borderline satanic Stanley, Ferran’s achingly fragile Stella, and Vasan’s heartbreakingly world-weary Stella. Tickets go on sale on Wednesday February 1 and will not stick around for long.  ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is at the Alme

A brand new theatre has just opened in Elephant & Castle

A brand new theatre has just opened in Elephant & Castle

Southwark Playhouse is the biggest and most populist of London’s fringe theatres, and also in many ways one of the hardest to keep up with.  Deep breath: the ‘original’ venue has already moved twice in its lifetime: once in 2006, and again in 2013, to its present location on Newington Causeway. At one point this was talked about as a temporary venue while it was waiting to return to an approximation of its previous spot in London Bridge station itself (it has to leave due to redevelopment work), but as far as we can tell this doesn’t seem to be happening now, although there does seem to be a plan to open at a different London Bridge location in 2025. Confused? So are we, but whatever the case, there’s been a plan in place since 2006 for it to open a second venue to run concurrently with the first, and finally the wait for that is over with the opening of Southwark Playhouse Elephant, an occasion that has caused the ‘original’ Southwark Playhouse to change its name to Southwark Playhouse Borough. Photo: David Jensen Short version: London has a new theatre! Southwark Playhouse Elephant has a capacity of 310, meaning that while it’s not massive, it’s way bigger than the average pub theatre, and larger than some prestigious off-West End venues like the Donmar.  Like the Borough venue, it’ll be run by Chris Smyrnios, one of London’s longest-serving but lowest-key artistic directors, and will presumably share the original’s dizzyingly eclectic programming. Certainly the first two

West End theatres might be the next to go on strike

West End theatres might be the next to go on strike

West End performers are the latest Londoners to threaten a strike unless they get a pay rise, as the actors’ union Equity seeks to negotiate a rise of 17 percent this year and 10 percent next year, plus an increase in annual holiday allowance.  Like many Brits, theatre performers have been hit by the rising cost of living, and like many Brits, their wages have virtually stagnated in recent years anyway, certainly in comparison to surging ticket prices. They also have the added indignity of tending to earn a fraction of their Broadway brethren: while more than half of West End performers are on the minimum weekly wage of £629.41 negotiated via their union Equity, across the Pond wages start at pretty much four times that.   Thus far the threat of strikes is fairly distant: negotiations are due to take place with the Society of London Theatre (aka SOLT) next month, with a resolution hoped to be achieved by April. However, despite a largely positive tone on the prospects of successful negotiations, Equity has stated that ‘nothing is off the table’ if negotiations break down, ie strikes are possible, which would affect pretty much every major musical in town, plus West End plays. Although there were a couple of Broadway strikes in the ’00s and the National Theatre was famously plagued by wildcat strikes in the late ’70s, these all hailed from musicians and backstage staff: a mass walkout of West End performers would be pretty much unprecedented – I could be wrong here but I belie

The Globe has announced its summer season (and the first ever price rise to its standing tickets)

The Globe has announced its summer season (and the first ever price rise to its standing tickets)

Ever since Shakespeare’s Globe opened its doors in 1997, its 700 standing tickets have cost just £5 each, a deal that’s got sweeter and sweeter as inflation has worked its wicked way. But it was never intended to be for ever, and as the cost-of-living crisis has deepened, the Globe has finally succumbed to the inevitable. Or at least it has in part: half of its standing tickets will still be priced at £5, but the other half will go up to £10 – still, it should be said, an astonishing bargain (£15 is about the cheapest price of literally any other theatre ticket in London) At a press launch for the new outdoor season, Globe boss Michelle Terry stressed the need to balance the books in 2023, with houses having been around 70 percent sold-out in 2022, about 10 percent less than they were pre-pandemic. To that end, it’s an unabashed greatest hits of Shakespeare style season, comprising ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, ‘The Comedy of Errors’, ‘Macbeth’ and ‘As You Like It – all famous plays. That should be enough to get those £10 tickets flying, but the Globe is not a theatre you’d ever describe as risk-averse. Although it’s a play done often, it sounds like Elle While’s ‘Dream’ could be a controversial one: Terry – who will play the spirit Puck in the show – stated that the starting point for the production is the point at the end where Puck apologises to the audience in case they were offended. That implies ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ should be offensive, which to be honest never r

Gigantic shimmering bubbles will be appearing across the City this week

Gigantic shimmering bubbles will be appearing across the City this week

Since the pandemic, the summer’s Greenwich + Docklands International Festival has deftly embraced spectacular public installations that are more like giant artworks than the street theatre-orientated works that have been GDIF’s bread and butter in times past. One of them, Dave Acher’s Northern Lights-aping ‘Borealis’ was so popular when it ran in the summer of 2021 that it transferred to the City for a Christmas stint independent of GDIF.  And this month, GDIF producers Festival.Org are returning to the City with ‘Evanescent’, an artwork from Australian design studio Atelier Sisu that brought some joy to Sydney and Melbourne a couple of years back and is now enlivening the streets just outside the Leadenhall Building during the greyest months of the year. ‘Evanescent’ – the word means ‘impermanent’ – takes the form of a series of gigantic iridescent bubbles. Said bubbles are obviously not made from traditional bubble mix – that would be preposterous – but rather ‘a colour-reflecting dichroic film’ which the public can wander under and around, and generally marvel at the weird, wonderful and beautiful ways that the light of the sun affects its surface. We’re about 90 percent certain that if you poke it it won’t pop, and the bubbles will be here until next month. ‘Evanescent’ is outside the Leadenhall Building from today until February 10. It’s free to access and open noon to 10pm daily. 50 fun things to do in London for under £5. The best new London theatre shows to book for

Paul Mescal will star in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ at the Almeida

Paul Mescal will star in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ at the Almeida

UPDATE: read our review of Paul Mescal in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. All-round Irish indie heartthrob Paul Mescal makes his post-‘Normal People’ return to the London stage by flying in the face of his sensitive image as the TV adaptation’s Connell to take on a rather different fictional creation: Stanley Kowalski, the violent antagonist of Tennessee Williams’s all-time-classic play ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. A masterpiece about disgraced former schoolteacher Blanche DuBois’s fateful decision to stay with her sister Stella and her husband Stanley one hot summer, the revival will be directed by Rebecca Frecknell who helmed a phenomenal revival of Williams’s overlooked ‘Summer and Smoke’ a few years back – and most recently directed the huge Eddie Redmayne-starring West End revival of ‘Cabaret’. Mescal has done one play in London before – ‘The Plough and the Stars’ back in 2018. But it’s fair to say that his star has risen a fair amount since then: Stanley is one of the most iconic roles in theatre, most famously played by Marlon Brando in the original 1947 Broadway production and subsequent film. It’s a play full of heavyweight roles, with the wonderful Lydia Wilson taking on the role of Blanche, and star of sitcom ‘We Are Lady Parts’ Anjana Vasan playing Stella. It’s a pretty serious new season from the Almeida, kicking off as it does with ‘Tammy’ (Oct 13-Dec 3) a new musical about Tammy Faye – the American evangelist and improbable LGBT ally – written by the tremendous com

舞台版がロンドンで大ヒット、劇作家が語る「トトロ」やジブリの魅力

舞台版がロンドンで大ヒット、劇作家が語る「トトロ」やジブリの魅力

2014年、劇作家のトム・モートン=スミスがロイヤル・シェイクスピア・カンパニー(RSC)のために書いた、原爆の父であるロバート・オッペンハイマーをテーマにした3時間の大作「オッペンハイマー」は大ヒットを記録した。 その後、将来のプロジェクトについて話している中で、RSCがモートン=スミスに何か別の、今度は家族向けの舞台のアイデアはないかと尋ねたところ、彼は「となりのトトロ」をやりたいと、即答したという。彼はそのことを「それまではやろうと思ったことがなかったのに」と振り返っている。 Photo by Manuel Harlan 「となりのトトロ」は日本の伝説的なアニメーション会社、スタジオジブリ(以下、ジブリ)の作品で、1988年に公開された。1950年代の日本を舞台に、入院中の母のために父と田舎に引っ越してきたサツキとメイの物語を描く。 彼女たちは新しい環境を探索するうちに、自分たちの世界のすぐ下にある幻想的な世界に触れる。そこで彼女たちが出会ったのが、トトロという不思議な森の精だ。さらに奇妙なことに、雨の夜には普通の人には見えない、すばしっこい4本足の猫のバス(通称「ネコバス」)の存在を知る。 「トトロ」への想い モートン=スミスは「となりのトトロ」について、「穏やかで、雰囲気のある美しさがありますね」と表現し、こう続けた。「私自身、田舎で育ったので、森の中を走り回るというアイデアはいつも私の心に響いていました。大爆発やスペクタクルが多いほかのアニメ映画とは一線を画しているでしょう。この作品は日常を描いているのですが、時々ファンタジックな要素が入ってきます。そうしたキャラクターが、人間と隣同士に並んでいるのが好きなんです」 近年まで映画作品の舞台化に慎重だったジブリとの調整は難しいという懸念もあったようだが、やがてRSCは、長年ジブリ作品の作曲を手がける久石譲と連絡を取り取り合うことになる。久石はRSCで上演されたのロアルド・ダール原作の「マチルダは小さな大天才」の舞台版を気に入っており、「となりのトトロ」の舞台版を作ってもらえないか、と考えていたという。 RSCにはモートン=スミスという優秀な作家がいたわけだから、話はまとまった。 スミスはこれほど不思議な物語を、どのように舞台作品に仕上げていったのだろうか。 「人間性をうまく表現すれば、ファンタジックな部分については観客の想像力をうまくかき立てる方法が見つかるだろうと思っていました。実際、舞台上でトトロやネコバスがどう表現されるかはそれからの話だったので、私はただ、『ネコバスが入る』『トトロがいる』と書いただけなのです。まぁ誰も私のところに来て、『もっとファンタジックにならないように書き直してくれないかな』なんて言ってこないんですよ」 異例の「大作」に しかし、彼は当初、この作品がこれほど大きな舞台になるかを知らなかったようだ。「(RSCのメイン劇場である『ストラトフォード・アポン・エイボン劇場』で上演される)クリスマスショーだとばかり思っていました。それでもかなり大きなショーなんですけど。でも、それが雪だるま式に巨大化していったんです」 これは控えめな表現だろう。「となりのトトロ」はロンドン、アメリカ、そしておそらく地球上のどこにおいても、今年最大の演劇作品であることは間違いない。上演される「バービカンシアター」では、ベネディクト・カンバーバッチの大ヒット作「ハムレット」を抜いて、史上最速で売れた公演となっている。 演出は急進派舞台の雄、フェリム・マクダーモット。久石譲が全面的な

There’s a massive Boxing Day sale for West End theatre tickets

There’s a massive Boxing Day sale for West End theatre tickets

The Boxing Day sales are upon us, and while you could fork out for a heavily discounted corner sofa – and probably should, if you need a new sofa – then do bear in mind that there are also cultural bargains to be had. Specifically there’s a big Boxing Day theatre, cunningly entitled the Boxing Day Theatre Sale, which Time Out is partnering with and includes over 35 London theatre, dance and opera shows. Running from December 22 until January 2, the focus is less on big heritage West End shows and musicals, more on the best of 2022, with great offers on many short-run Christmas shows like Dolly Parton’s ‘Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol’ or ‘Circus 1903’ – so perfect for bagging a bargain to watch during the next few days and weeks.  There’s also a nice line in bigger new shows with a longer life: think Emma Corrin in ‘Orlando’ or ‘Best of Enemies’ at the Noël Coward Theatre, plus a handful of the largest West End shows to look out for in 2023 like ‘The Great British Bake Off Musical’, ‘Sylvia’ and ‘Oklahoma!’. Plus, for good measure there’s a handful of older shows like ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ and ‘& Juliet’. The odds are you’ll find a bargain to your liking in there, with tickets starting from just £15. The Boxing Day Theatre Sale runs until Jan 2. You can buy tickets here. The best London theatre shows to book for in 2023. Christmas theatre shows in London.

London’s new Ticket Bank will give away 1,000 free theatre tickets a week

London’s new Ticket Bank will give away 1,000 free theatre tickets a week

We all know what food banks are, and are acquainted with their proliferation over the last decade; many of us have now sadly heard of the new idea of ‘warm banks’. Now London is set to play host to its own Ticket Bank, in an initiative to offer free and pay-what-you-can tickets to Londoners who could never normally afford them.  The scheme is spearheaded by the Cultural Philanthropy Foundation and theatre company Cardboard Citizens (which works with people who’ve experienced homelessness). The idea is that each participating theatre will offer the Ticket Bank an allocation of its unsold tickets every week throughout 2023, coming to about 1,000 tickets a week, which will be sold at a pay-what-you-can rate (down to nothing), via a series of charity partners including Centrepoint, the Longford Trust and various London food banks – the idea being that they can access Londoners who feel excluded from cultural events entirely. Clearly many of us feel theatre is on the pricy side anyway, but for some even the cheapest seat is unaffordable, while inevitably little marketing is targeted at communities that can’t afford to go to the theatre. But this should hopefully make a major difference, while essentially filling up seats that would have otherwise been empty.  Chris Sonnex, artistic director of Cardboard Citizens, explains: ‘Access to art and culture [is] essential to the human condition, a human right. If people can’t afford these riches, society is poorer. I’m incredibly proud of

Brian Cox will return to the West End to star in ‘Long Day’s Journey into Night’

Brian Cox will return to the West End to star in ‘Long Day’s Journey into Night’

We’ve not seen a whole lot of Brian Cox on stage since the veteran actor’s career was given a late turbo-boost after he took on the immortal role of the appalling Logan Roy in Netflix’s wildly acclaimed ‘Succession’.  But clearly he’s still got something to prove as a stage actor: next year he’ll take on arguably the greatest stage role in the American canon as another, very different, monstrous father in Eugene O’Neill’s ‘Long Day’s Journey into Night’. Cox plays James Tyrone, a successful but embittered stage actor who has given his entire career over to a single part, and now feels he never got his due. O’Neill’s epic semi-autobiographical play was only published posthumously, when it netted him the 1957 Pulitzer Prize for drama, and it has rarely been far from our stages since, with recent London productions providing a platform for David Suchet and Jeremy Irons.  It might well be the last major stage role the 77-year-old Cox takes on – it’s the sort of monolithic part that great actors bow out with, content they’ve proved that they still have ‘it’.  At present we don’t actually know that much about Jeremy Herrin’s production, just that it’s happening and will star Cox. The rest of the casting is TBA and is equally important, particularly the role of James’s morphine-addled wife Mary, who you’d expect to be played by an actor of similar stature to Cox. We don’t even know for sure that it’ll happen next year, though you have to assume there’s a solid chance given theatre s

A new ‘Mamma Mia!’ reality show is coming to ITV

A new ‘Mamma Mia!’ reality show is coming to ITV

A decade or so ago you couldn’t move for musical-theatre-related reality TV shows, most of them involving Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Graham Norton, and all of them involving casting the lead roles in brand new revivals of classic musicals that would subsequently teem into the West End on a tsunami of initial sales from the viewing public.  They ceased being a regular thing when Lloyd-Webber left to start making new musicals with more conventional casting again, although the format was dusted off in 2017 for the Take That-themed ‘Let It Shine’.  But now it’s been announced that there’s a new kid in town. ‘Mamma Mia! I Have Dream’ is by a different production company and on a different channel (ITV), but aside from that it’s the same basic idea: a series of contestants will battle it out over eight episodes to bag a role in ABBA musical ‘Mamma Mia!’. Co-produced by ‘Mamma Mia!’ mastermind Judy Craymer, the show will be substantially filmed in Greece, reflecting the musical’s setting, and will cast the roles of twentysomethings Sophie and Sky rather than any of the older characters: we’re imagining a sort of demi-‘Love Island’ vibe.  It’s the first of these shows to seek new cast members for a pre-existing production, and will presumably turbocharge the ticket sales for ‘Mamma Mia!’, which has been running away on the West End since 1999, the sixth longest-running West End show in history. There are no confirmed dates for transmission yet, but applications are open until March with

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