South Bank Theatre Highlights
Performances until April 2017
The South Bank remains one of London's premier cultural centres. Along the one and a half mile stretch from Lambeth Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge you'll find home to some of the most exciting, inventive and renowned performers and artists from around the world. From the vast halls of the Southbank
From the vast halls of the Southbank centre, to the screens and seasons of the BFI, to the three stages and programme of up to 25 plays per year at the National Theatre – the South Bank is the home of culture in the capital city.
With 2017 still a burgeoning sapling, we take a look at some of the performance highlights coming to the South Bank and give you the best tips on what to see over the coming months.
The Old Vic
The Old Vic, for maybe the first time in its two-century history, is in the midst of a glistening and near untarnished winning streak. Since in-house productions started again with the appointment of Kevin Spacey as Artistic Director in 2003, thus saving the theatre from becoming a bingo hall, its programme has won numerable awards, huge critical acclaim and attracts the biggest stars from across the world for it wide array of projects.
Coming to the Old Vic in February is a revival of Tom Stoppard's career launching play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead which had its London premier at the Old Vic in 1966. Starring Josh McGuire and a young, up-and-coming unknown called Daniel Radcliffe, the play is a meta, absurdist comedy concerning two minor characters from Hamlet as they watch the action unfold from the wings.
A twisting, turning, self-referential labyrinth on literary critique and comment, Rosencrtaz and Guildenstern Are Dead made Tom Stoppard an overnight sensation and this latest production, directed by Tony Award nominee David Leveaux, will surely be one of the talking points of this year's theatre season.
The National Theatre
The iconic concrete brutalist National Theatre building is one of the key elements of the South Bank. Although it looks somewhat different currently, what with the hoardings up around the footprint of the temporary theatre (including special protection for the statue of Sir Laurence Olivier), inside world-class theatre continues to thunder along on the three stages. And regardless of tastes or ages, the theatre has something on offer for everyone.
Firstly, Hedda Gabler, directed by current theatrical wonder-boy Ivan Van Hove, is playing in the Lyttleton until 21st of March. The Ibsen classic has been translated by Patrick Marber (writer of the multi-award winning Close, although, to many, including myself, he will forever be Peter O'Hanraha-hanrahan) and is a devastating triumph for all involved. Notably, Ruth Wilson who effortlessly takes on one of the most complex characters in theatre.
Then comes a trilogy of Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Twelfth Night. For the younger people in your life, Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth are both new adaptations clocking in at just an hour each and are designed to introduce the wonders of Shakespeare in exciting and clear ways. Both taking place in the Dorfman and for limited performances only, the two new takes are ideal for the budding bard in the family. Twelfth Night, starring the formidable Tamsin Greig as Malvolia, storms its way into the Olivier from the 15th of February.
Finally, Ugly Lies the Bone in the Lyttelton. A reminder that as well as old standards, the National is home to new, exciting and urgent work as with this piece by Lindsey Ferrentino about coping with the emotional and physical strain of war.
If the South Bank were to have a spiritual centre point, it would of course be the Southbank Centre. A vast, sprawling, multi-functional, multi-discipline hall that showcases the greatest artists working today. Catering to all audiences, it is one of the great venues of London, if not the world.
With its annual Imagine Children's Festival the Southbank Centre provides world class entertainment for small children. As part of this year's festival allow yourself to be transported to the worlds of Hans Christien Anderson and Tove Jansson with two interactive theatre performances celebrating the two authors most famous works.
If you, however, do not have to concern yourself with the entertainment of small children then you may wish to seek out existential fulfilment at the Southbank Centre's Belief and Beyond Belief season – exploring faith and the human condition. Dead Line and So It Goes, two hugely inventive and intelligent shows dealing with issues of mortality and grief, are both on sale for their limited showings on the 4th and 5th of March.