It’s enough to make an impresario blush: this autumn, levels of cross-fertilisation between Broadway and British theatre are so high as to almost be X-rated. The season begins with the transfer of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”, the National’s—literally—scintillating staging of Mark Haddon’s novel, animated by an LED-lit set that plays nearly as central a role as the autistic boy-hero. Then two of Britain’s most sought-after actresses—Clare Higgins and Lindsay Duncan—bring their respective brands of warmth, wit and cool intelligence to Edward Albee’s domestic psychodrama, “A Delicate Balance”, along with the American heavyweights Glenn Close and John Lithgow.
Things get smoochier with Sam Gold’s revival of the Tom Stoppard love play “The Real Thing”; the adulterous playwright Henry is played by Ewan McGregor, who has a knack of distilling pure charm from the least promising parts. Maggie Gyllenhaal is the object of his affections; in Hugo Blick’s “The Honourable Woman” for the BBC this summer she didn’t so much put on a British accent as climb inside one. Love affairs expand into love triangles and rectangles in “Punk Rock”, the New York premiere of Simon Stephens’s clever, violent, nervy play about teenagers mired in lust and hate, which started life at the Royal Exchange in 2009. But probably the biggest ticket comes with a bona fide Hollywood star attached: Hugh Jackman, taking the Dominic West part in the Broadway premiere of Jez Butterworth’s “The River”. It’s a strange, shaggy-dog story of a play, but the central role is as thought-provoking an analysis of the male psyche as you’ll see anywhere—in New York, or London. ~ Isabel Lloyd
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Ethel Barrymore, NY, from Sept 10th. The Real Thing American Airlines, NY, from Oct 2nd. A Delicate Balance Golden, NY, from Oct 20th. Punk Rock Lucille Lortel, NY, from Oct 29th. The River Circle in the Square, NY, from Oct 31st
THEATRE AT A GLANCE
Electra (Old Vic, London, Sept 22nd to Dec 20th). Ninety brutal minutes of never leaving the stage, packing in every emotion you can think of and some you can’t: expect a rollercoaster masterclass from Kristin Scott Thomas in Frank McGuinness’s vivid edit of Sophocles.
Hamlet (Royal Exchange, Manchester, Sept 11th to Oct 14th). Maxine Peake, who excels at likeable ordinariness, takes on the most extraordinary of title roles. Not as novel as we might think: Sarah Bernhardt pulled the same trick in 1899.
It’s Only a Play (Schoenfeld, NY, from Aug 28th). A cast that comedy dreams are made of—Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Stockard Channing and Megan Mullally, deliciously wicked as Karen in “Will & Grace”—should have fun with a new Terrence McNally play about a playwright sweating his way through opening night.
The Cherry Orchard (Young Vic, London, Oct 10th to Nov 29th). A production where the writer is the star—not just Chekhov but his adaptor, Simon Stephens (see Broadway, above), a risk-taker with a keen sense of humanity.
The Wolf from the Door (Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, London, Sept 10th to Nov 1st). Rory Mullarkey’s second full-length play after the highly original “Cannibals”, this has already won the George Devine award. It stars Anna Chancellor, who is incapable of being dull.
The Father (Ustinov, Bath, Oct 16th to Nov 15th). The second of three new translations of European plays commissioned by the Ustinov. Christopher Hampton takes on a Molière-winning black comedy by the young novelist Florian Zeller, about a man befuddled by old age—or is it his family?
King Charles III (Wyndham’s, Sept 2nd to Nov 29th). Second run for Mike Bartlett’s fearless “future history play”. ~ IL