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The Guide: theatre: The Threepenny Opera Nottingham: Versailles London: A Tale Of Two Cities Northampton: The Seagull Salford: The Believers Plymouth: The A-Z Of Mrs P London

February 15, 2014

Lyn Gardner Mark Cook

The Threepenny Opera Nottingham:

This should be a great pairing: Graeae, a theatre company at the forefront of British disability arts, and Brecht and Weill's brilliant 1928 musical inspired by John Gay's 18th-century The Beggar's Opera. The style should suit a company whose musical about the ignored and dispossessed, Reasons To Be Cheerful, was a deserved hit. The story of a lowlife looking to turn a penny, corrupt policemen and a lack of social justice should chime well with modern audiences. Then there are those larger-than-life characters, including Polly Peachum and Macheath, and that jazzy score, which includes Mack The Knife and Pirate Jenny. Irresistible. lyn gardner

Nottingham Playhouse, Fri to 8 Mar

Versailles London:

One of the commonest questions on 20th-century history exam papers is how the end for the first world war led to the outbreak of the second world war. In his new play, Versailles, Peter Gill makes a typically deft and engaging case that in 1918 the Treaty Of Versailles actually defined Europe, the Middle East and the rest of world as we know it today. Central to the drama are the Robinson family, living in a late Victorian villa in Kent, where life is returning to prewar stability under matriarch Edith (Francesca Annis). When her son becomes part of the British delegation to Versailles he is not only embroiled with the negotiations but also has to deal with the memory of a fallen loved one. mark cook

Donmar Warehouse,

WC2, Thu to 5 Apr

A Tale Of Two Cities Northampton:

This month there are plenty of reasons to head to Northampton, where James Dacre is at the helm of the Royal following Laurie Sansom's departure to the National Theatre of Scotland. Dacre's superb production of Dan O'Brien's The Body Of An American arrives at the end of the month (27 Feb to 8 Mar). But first off, he assembles the largest cast ever seen on the Royal stage for Dickens's story set in London and Paris during the French revolution. Adapted for the stage by Mike Poulton, who worked on Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies for the RSC, it's a tale of political uprising, sacrifice and redemption, which Dickens called his best story. lg

The Royal, Royal & Derngate, Fri to 15 Mar

The Seagull Salford:

The Library Theatre's artistic director, Chris Horner, makes his swansong with the company and he's bowing out with Anya Reiss's wonderfully fresh and modern take on Chekhov's The Seagull, which was a big success at Southwark Playhouse in 2012. Reiss is a busy woman with her version of Spring Awakening opening at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds (7-22 Mar) and a new version of Three Sisters in London this April.

The Seagull is a good choice for Horner because it's a play about the illusions and lure of theatre itself and youthful idealism, and pits the old against the young, the new and eager against the old and hackneyed. Reiss's version gives the play a startling contemporary spin, which makes it feel both vivid and urgent 100 years on. rc

Quays Theatre, The Lowry, Fri to 8 Mar

The Believers Plymouth:

Steven Hoggett has departed from Frantic Assembly, the ground-breaking company he founded with Scott Graham, but the troupe is still alive and well. It is collaborating again with playwright Bryony Lavery, who wrote two of Frantic's biggest hits: Stockholm and Beautiful Burnout. Graham, who was Olivier award-nominated for his choreography on the NT's The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, directs a story of uncovered truths and unexpected losses that brings two families together as a result of unusual stormy weather. Well that sounds pretty topical. But for these two families everything they believe in is challenged when something extraordinary - and unbelievable - happens. lg

Theatre Royal, Fri

to 8 Mar

The A-Z Of Mrs P London

Before the advent of smartphones, the A-Z of London street map guide was an indispensable tool for capital-dwellers. The handy tome came about when one Phyllis Pearsall got lost on her way to a party; an eccentric type, she spent the next five years walking the streets of London to create the iconic guide. The A-Z Of Mrs P tells her story, starting in the 1930s and exploring the city and the bohemian artist's quest to build her opus, set against a troubled family saga. Oh, and it's a musical, too. Isy Suttie, of Peep Show fame, plays the lady herself and Tony award-winner (for Les Miserables) Frances Ruffelle is her mother. Will the show be streets ahead? Will it put the Southwark Playhouse on the map? Just don't get lost on the way. mc

Southwark Playhouse, SE1, Thu to 24 Mar

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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