The best shows to watch this monthby / May 19, 2016 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
Barbican Theatre, 9th to 18th June
In the week before the EU referendum, the Barbican is hosting an extraordinary European theatrical collaboration: a radical new version of Sarah Kane’s Phaedra’s Love, starring Isabelle Huppert, directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski, the iconoclastic artistic director of the Nowy Teatr, Warsaw.
Kane’s play opened in London 20 years ago at almost exactly the same time as Huppert appeared, gloriously, as Friedrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart at the National Theatre. Phaedra, consumed with lust for her stepson Hippolytus, is a far (and deeply anguished) cry from the tragic stoicism in Schiller. Huppert has played in Kane’s suicide drama 4.48 Psychosis in New York, and recently gave an acclaimed performance opposite Cate Blanchett in Jean Genet’s The Maids in Sydney and New York. Warlikowski also deploys chunks of JM Coetzee’s philosophical novel Elizabeth Costello, together with original material developed with the Lebanese-Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad.
Almeida Theatre,7th June to 6th August
Ralph Fiennes is on a hot streak: following his turn as George Bernard Shaw’s John Tanner in Man and Superman and Henrik Ibsen’s Solness in The Master Builder, he takes on Shakespeare’s Richard III. He has been wonderfully funny in films lately—The Grand Budapest Hotel and A Bigger Splash—so it will be interesting to see how much comic edge he gives to the glinting crookback, as directed by Rupert Goold.
Donmar Warehouse, 23rd June to 20th August
Tributes to Brian Friel, who died last year, were unanimous in placing this 1979 play at the head of his achievements. Frank Hardy offers succour to the needy and suffering. But is he saviour or charlatan, redeemer or roustabout? We hear three sides of the story: from Frank himself (twice), his wife Grace and his manager Teddy. Lyndsey Turner, something of a Friel specialist at the Donmar (where she has revived Philadelphia, Here I Come! and Fathers and Sons), directs Stephen Dillane, Gina McKee and Ron Cook.