An Inspector Calls
Playhouse Theatre, London, to 4th February
Our theatre dispenses with its greatest productions too readily, but Stephen Daldry’s 1992 National Theatre revival of JB Priestley’s socialist classic refuses to lie down. After countless long runs and tours, it’s back in the West End with Liam Brennan as the mysterious Inspector Goole implicating the well-off Birling family in the death of a young woman. Daldry’s cinematic treatment of a piece set in 1912 but written during the post-war “new dawn” is brilliantly realised by Ian MacNeil’s award-winning designs.
All the Angels
Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, London 12th February
The candlelit indoor theatre at Shakespeare’s Globe is a perfect setting for Nick Drake’s account of the troubled first performance in 1742 of Handel’s Messiah, with David Horovitch as the composer, eight choristers and cameos by the actress Susannah Cibber (Kelly Price), Jonathan Swift and the awkward librettist Charles Jennens (both Sean Campion). The play boils down to the power of music, and putting on a show, but this could be the next “big” chamber-scale musical play from the Globe following Mark Rylance’s triumph in Farinelli and the King.
National Theatre, 24th to 31st January
The best new theatre writing is often Irish, and Emmet Kirwan’s irresistible account of two brothers hurtling through Dublin on an improvised trip of rapping, rhyming and roistering is up to the standards set by Conor McPherson, Enda Walsh and Mark O’Rowe. Kirwan himself performs this clubbing odyssey with Game of Thrones actor Ian Lloyd Anderson. The National visit follows sell-out runs in Dublin and Edinburgh.