The Must-Sees of 2016: Theatre from Running Wild to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

The critics’ guide to the hottest tickets of the year ahead

Paul Taylor
Friday 01 January 2016 15:56
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Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company
Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company

THEATRE

Escaped Alone

Mouth-watering cast of four female veterans – Linda Bassett, Deborah Findlay, Kika Markham and June Watson – are the women who sit discussing personal then epic catastrophe in this new full-length play by the 77-year-old Caryl Churchill, the constantly self-reinventing Picasso of modern drama.

21 January to 12 March, Royal Court, London

I Am Thomas

Poet Simon Armitage collaborates with National Theatre of Scotland and Told by an Idiot on a show that oscillates between 1696 and now and mines a rich seam of pitch-black humour as it explores the fate of the last person to be executed for blasphemy. Sounds as if it will have a creative kinship with Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen.

19 to 27 February, Liverpool Playhouse, then touring

Les Blancs

The crack South African director Yaël Farber (Mies Julie) is an inspired choice to direct this rare, fascinating-sounding play by Lorraine Hansberry. Her last work – written 11 years after A Raisin in the Sun – it depicts an African nation caught between hope and tragedy as it struggles to emerge the shadow of its colonial past.

22 March to 4 May, National Theatre, London

A Raisin in the Sun

Running Wild

It’s terrific news that the season will kick off with Samuel Adamson’s lovely adaptation of the Michael Morpurgo story about an English boy who is protected in the Indonesian jungle by his new elephant friend when he’s parted from his mother by the 2004 tsunami. Superlative puppets from War Horse alumni and an exciting safari that brings joy to the heart and a lump to the throat.

13 May to 12 June, Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park, London

Michael Morpurgo, Author

Thon Man Molière

As the Royal Lyceum Theatre Company celebrates its 50th anniversary, a new play about the politics of theatre from top Scottish poet and dramatist Liz Lochhead. In trouble with the monarchy and the church and with his last play threatening to be the literal death of him, Molière, as a subject, has attracted Bulgakov among other dramatists. Now it’s Lochhead’s turn.

20 May to 11 June, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

Groundhog Day

Bill Murray at Marrakech Film Festival

The very funny movie starring Bill Murray as the man doomed to live the same day over and over again has been adapted as a stage musical, with a score and lyrics by Tim Minchin, the Australian comedian and musician whose contribution was key to the mega-success of Matilda: the Musical. With Matthew Warchus at the helm, the show should break new ground in the art of the reprise with variations...

1 June to 30 September, Old Vic, London

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry is an over-worked adult at the Ministry of Magic in this new piece, based on a new story by J K Rowling, adapted for the stage by Jack Thorne. Our hero has to grapple with something untoward that emerges from the past in this two-parter, which can be seen in a matinee-and-evening marathon or on consecutive days.

Opens 7 June, Palace Theatre, London

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Faith Healer

Brian Friel, the great Irish dramatist, died this year. As a tribute, Lyndsey Turner revives what is perhaps his masterpiece – a tour de force of monologues about the uncertainty of living with, or close to, an artistic gift. The brilliant Stephen Dillane and Gina McKee are the title character and the woman resentfully in his thrall.

23 June to 20 August, Donmar Warehouse, London

The Entertainer

As he’s demonstrated before, Kenneth Branagh is excellent at bringing a dark edge to vaudeville routines and at communicating melancholy. Perfect casting then for Archie Rice in John Osborne’s 1957 play in which music-hall-on-the-skids is a metaphor for Britain in decline. Looks set to be a jewel in the Branagh Company’s residency at this address.

20 August to 12 November, Garrick Theatre, London

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