My Country; a work in progress
National Theatre, 28th February to 22nd March
“Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right, and always successful, right or wrong.” So said a 19th-century naval officer, Stephen Decatur, in a toast. Rufus Norris, the National Theatre’s artistic director, who wants the NT to be “truly national,” senses a deep disaffection in the country that goes beyond Brexit. So, in the days following the European Union referendum, he sent a team of interviewers around the UK to gauge the mood. The resulting vox pops have been shaped into drama with poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, and will tour extensively after this season on the South Bank.
Donmar Warehouse, 2nd March to 15th April
A divisive left-wing leader at the head of the Labour Party, a Conservative PM battling with her Cabinet… sounds familiar? Steve Waters’s new play is set in 1981 in the East End home of David Owen one fateful Sunday morning. There follows a fictional re-imagining of what happened as Owen welcomes his fellow conspirators Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins and Bill Rodgers, above. Waters has written fine plays already on environmental issues and Occupy London. Director Polly Findlay makes her Donmar debut.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Harold Pinter Theatre, 22nd February to 27th May
After knocking ’em dead as Momma Rose in Gypsy, Imelda Staunton takes on another monstre sacré: blowsy, drunken old Martha, wife of George, a history professor who has invited a new colleague on campus and his airhead wife round for drinks. Edward Albee’s 1962 Broadway classic packs poignancy with its punches, three lacerating acts labelled “Fun and Games,” “Walpurgisnacht” and “The Exorcism.” Conleth Hill is not-so-gorgeous George, Luke Treadaway and Imogen Poots sacrificial lambs to the slaughter.