Brontë Season West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, 6th September to 22nd October
The bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth is marked with a season of plays, a ballet, screenings, panel events and a “work-in-progress” musical, Wasted. Professor Ruth Robbins and Yorkshire poet Blake Morrison will debate the relative merits of Jane Eyre and Villette.
In a new stage adaptation of Villette, playwright Linda Marshall-Griffiths re-imagines the narrative while mining its coded, autobiographical passages about loneliness and the redemptive power of love; but will she resolve the ambiguity of the heroine’s final confession? We’ve had a fine, new theatrical Jane Eyre recently from the Bristol Old Vic, so the WYP has invited Northern Ballet to stage Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights with choreography by David Nixon and an original score by Claude-Michel Schönberg, composer of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon. An interactive digital arts project, Know Your Place, maps the lives and locations of the Brontës, putting them in their place. A very different place from the one that poet laureate Robert Southey tried to put them in, when, in 1837, he declared that “literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life, and it ought not to be.”
The Entertainer Garrick Theatre, 20th August to 12th November
Kenneth Branagh’s year-long season at the Garrick climaxes with his assumption of another great Laurence Olivier role, the over-the-hill vaudevillian Archie Rice, in John Osborne’s The Entertainer. Branagh isn’t like Olivier at all, more vulpine than satanic, but he’s a star in his own right, and his performance should also rival memories of other daring interpretations by Max Wall, Peter Bowles and Robert Lindsay.
Travesties Menier Chocolate Factory, 22nd September to 19th November
Tom Stoppard’s 1974 play is the confused reminiscence of a British diplomat, Henry Carr, who, stationed in Zurich in 1917, appeared in The Importance of Being Earnest and fell out with the business manager, a certain James Joyce, over the cost of a pair of trousers. The resultant dramatic soufflé is delicious, with Wilde’s characters bumping into Joyce and other Zurich residents of the time such as the Dadaist Tristan Tzara, and Vladimir Lenin. Patrick Marber directs Tom Hollander as the clueless Carr.