Thursday, 26 February 2015
Welcome back to The Ephemeric's 2015 Hot List. This week we will be having a look at the most exciting theatrical productions coming to the stage in the coming year.
2014 saw a return to form for the Donmar Warehouse, with Tom Hiddleston's Coriolanus taking our Debbie for best production. Elsewhere the astonishing success of the Punchdrunk theatre company's The Drowned Man continued before finally coming to an end over the summer.
The year ahead has a number of very exciting stage events coming up. For obvious reasons, this list will be primarily focused on the London stage, but we do have a few productions elsewhere that are so noteworthy as to warrant inclusion. So here's our list of the top 5 theatrical productions to keep an eye on in 2015, starting with number 5:
5. "Constellations" by Nick Payne, at the Samuel J Friedman Theatre
Originally debuted three years ago at the Royal Court Theatre in London, Nick Payne's Constellations is one of the very best productions in recent years. It's incredible success now sees it moving to Broadway, the Samuel J Friedman Theatre in New York.
Constellations is effectively a play about relationships, mixed in with a little string-theory and quantum physics. Sound like too much? It's more accessible than it sounds. Constellations takes the base premise, boy-meets-girl, and from that point branches out into a seemingly infinite array of possible outcomes, alternate stories and what-if scenarios. Sometimes the change can be as simple as slightly different wording, but the changes promulgate from there, highlighting the fragility of relationships and the frightening spectre of how much can hinge on such small details.
The Broadway version stars a genuine Hollywood star in Jake Gyllenhaal, who co-stars with Ruth Wilson. This is an absolute must see production if you're in New York.
4. "Oppenheimer" by Tom Morton-Smith, at The Swan
The RSC's latest production hits The Swan theatre in Stratford-upon-avon this month. Oppenheimer, as you may have guessed, is the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer and how the Atomic Bomb was built, starting in 1939 and taking us right through World War II.
Director Angus Jackson and star John Heffernan have been getting a lot of buzz for this production, but the real star is playwright Tom Morton-Smith, who's script is not afraid to explore the conflicted nature of the man who brought the world it's most terrifying invention.
Light on the science and terminology, Oppenheimer is nevertheless ambitious insight into a pivotal moment of 20th Century history. So far the production has been getting rave reviews. Very recommended.
3. "City of Angels" by Larry Gelbart, Cy Coleman and David Zippel, at the Donmar Warehouse
If there's one thing that always makes for compelling theatre, it's stories about stories. The musical City of Angels is not new, having initially hit the West End a good 20 years ago, but it's witty lyrics and vibrant insight into the world of Hollywood is still massively good fun. Glamorous, retro flash, red hair, lavish parties, City of Angels is a production that never fails to entertain.
Notable among the cast is Samantha Barks of Les Miserables fame, both on the stage and in Tom Hooper's film adaption. As always her voice is remarkable and stands out even among a strong cast.
This marks a strong start to the year for the Donmar. Everyone loves a musical, and we've seen few better than this in many years. Here's an opportunity to catch one that isn't just tourist-bait, a top notch production, so do your best to catch it while it's still open.
2. "Man and Superman" by George Bernard Shaw, at the National Theatre
Man and Superman sees the seminal, provocative classic of legendary thinker George Bernard Shaw reinvented for the stage in stunning fashion.
One of the few genuine rom-com epics, if such a genre exists, Man and Superman deals with political radicalism, heaven and hell, and takes you to the furthest extremes of a man's psyche.
The National Theatre's new adaptation stars the always versatile Ralph Fiennes, known for a variety of theatre and film roles, most recently in Wes Anderson's acclaimed The Grand Budapest Hotel. Great actor, some of the best source material around, being done by one of the best production companies in the theatre business; this is going to be huge.
Man and Superman opens on February 25th in the Lyttleton theatre, and it will sell out, so grab a ticket while you can.
1. "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare, at the Barbican
In 2015 there is simply no comparison. William Shakespeare's most famous tragedy Hamlet is coming back to the stage, courtesy of the Barbican theatre.
The headline grabbing news is that former theatre stalwart, now Hollywood megastar Benedict Cumberbatch is playing the lead role. Two days ago he was in the Dolby theatre for the Oscars, now he's back in London preparing for the theatrical event of the year.
Hamlet doesn't start until the fall, but these sold out on day 1, so you'll have a devil of a time trying to grab a ticket, but if you do you will surely be the envy of the entire London theatre crowd.
So there you have it folks: The 2015 Hot List. Here's to a fantastic year, and the Hot List will return in 2016!