Our pick of our favourite theatre productions in London’s West End
Amba Hotel Charing Cross is ideally located for all your shopping, dining, drinking and sightseeing needs - but had you realised we are also right at the centre of the capital’s famous theatre district? What better excuse to brighten up your visit, whether business or leisure, with one of this season’s hot tickets or to rediscover a timeless classic; we’ve chosen 10 of our favourites for you to explore, experience and (hopefully) extoll.
My Night With Reg
Apollo Theatre, Jan 17th - Feb 28th
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of this bittersweet, tragicomic portrayal of the HIV/AIDS struggle that characterised life for many gay men in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as an accurate and often heartbreaking account of the communal ageing process. Focussed around a party at Guy’s flat, which itself centres on the numerous interlinked encounters of the eponymous but never-seen Reg, this is a story filled with innuendo and nuanced portrayals of old friendships, their curious affections, rituals and secrets laid bare. An uncompromisingly human, affecting piece that will leave you reflecting for many days afterwards.
The Play That Goes Wrong
Duchess Theatre, Until September 2015
When Joanna Lumley describes a play as “spectacularly funny and bitingly accurate”, something has clearly gone right. A slapstick comedy of errors that recalls Buster Keaton as much as it does Fawlty Towers, the production describes the thespian efforts of the ‘Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’ as they attempt to recreate a 1920s murder mystery on stage. As per the title, everything that could imaginably go wrong, does, to side-achingly hilarious effect. Misplaced props, fluffed lines, collapsing scenery and general pandemonium are the themes of the night - we defy you not to be doubled over in laughter.
Shakespeare in Love
Noel Coward Theatre, until June 27th
You’ve seen the film, now watch the play: a young Will Shakespeare is suffering from that eternal creative problem - writer’s block. With a deadline to meet and no words to reach it, what he needs the most is inspiration. And lo does he find it in the ambitious, strikingly beautiful and ardently supportive Viola de Lesseps. She is desperate to act in his next production, to the extent of dressing up as a boy to snag the part, with her scheming and his endearing lack of awareness eventually culminating in his falling madly in love with her. He hence finds not only his creative flow restored, but a new muse for what is to be his crowning oeuvre d’art.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Gielgud Theatre until May 23rd
Christopher Boone’s tale of a teenage mathematician and would-be sleuth with ‘behavioural problems’ (commonly understood to be Asperger’s Syndrome) and the fallout effect it will ultimately have on his family remains as poignant yet humorous as on stage as on the page. Christopher’s anxieties and talents are coupled with his obsessive drive to solve the murder of the neighbour’s titular dog, Wellington - for which he is initially prime suspect. Following his investigations and subsequent adventures in London, this is a fantastic and fantastical theatrical interpretation of an ambitious, courageous book.
Palladium Theatre, January 8th - April 25th
From Pussycat Doll to the star of Cats in London, as career trajectories go hers is a verbally visionary one. Nicole Scherzinger does more than justice to Grizabella’s character in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic production, returning to London’s West End for just 12 weeks at the start of 2015. Performing until February 7th, when Kerry Ellis will take over the role, Scherzinger joins the rest of the stellar cast for this adaptation of T.S. Elliot’s ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’. With acrobatic choreography, heard-rending musical pieces and a touching storyline to boot, Cats is one of the longest-running shows in West End history. Join 50 million others and see if they were wrong.
Harold Pinter Theatre, Until May 23rd
The Kinks outgrew their working class Muswell Hill suburb of North London to take Britain and the world by storm in the 1960s. Ray Davies in particular spearheaded their rise to fame and (mis)fortune, creating as much havoc as harmony among his fellow bandmates (including his brother) and leading to this telling biography and re-enactment of his professional and personal life. A cacophonous, chaotic, noisy song-and-dance piece of performance art, the play feels as intimate as it does grandiose - a tribute befitting of the Kinks themselves, maybe.
King Charles III
Wyndham Theatre, until January 31st
A study of Britain’s royal family that imagines the consequences of Prince Charles finally ascending to the throne following his mother’s death, as if scripted by Shakespeare and with touches of comedy among the tragedy. Mike Bartlett’s latest play explores democracy, royalism, national family ties and their meaning for the UK on an ultimate scale. Tim Pigott-Smith stars as the future King, his performance astounding with gravitas yet touching in his conveyance of the solitude of life in the upper echelons of the Kingdom. A controversial, entertaining and highly timely commentary on the present and possible future of the United Kingdom as it stands today.
The Scottsboro Boys
Garrick Theatre, until February 21st
Once you know the creators behind The Scottsboro Boys are the very same as those responsible for Cabaret and Chicago, you have a slightly more solid idea of what your night has in store for you. That being said, all-singing and all-dancing this musical may be, but predictable it is defiantly not. Telling a real-life story that changed the course of history, it tackles the false accusation and trial of nine young African-American men for the rape of two white women on an Alabama freight train in 1931. Delivered provocatively in the form of a minstrel show, the play is not always easy-viewing, and nor is it intended to be. Don’t delay in securing tickets to this timeless yet timely and highly commendable production with some truly outstanding performances.
Phoenix Theatre until March 21st
Guy meets Girl in Dublin bar, sings his way into her heart and mends her vacuum cleaner along the way. What more do you need to hear? That the cast all play different instruments and can sing beautifully live on stage, that the story is relentless on the heart-strings while simultaneously refusing to ignore its funny bone? A tale of talent and missed opportunities, winner of 8 Tony awards and starring Ronan Keating as Guy and Jill Winternitz as Girl, you’d have to have a frozen heart of stone not to come away blushing a little round the edges at this beautiful big-stage version of a small-budget original, no less beautiful grassroots musical score.
The Ruling Class
Trafalgar Studios, From January 16th to April 11th
Jamie Lloyd directs this revival of Olivier and Oscar award-winning Peter Barnes’ play, with James McAvoy in the main role of Jack. Having taken over as the 14th Earl of Gurney following the sudden, obscure death of his father, Jack proves to be in possession of not only a Messiah complex but also highly disturbed personality traits. A dangerous, devious presence in a world unsuited to him and in which he must fight members of his own treacherous family for his survival, ‘The Ruling Class’ is a biting satire of English nobility and the classist educational system that upholds, breeds and in this case wholly corrupts it.
Why not combine your culture with comfort by booking your play and a stay at Amba Hotel Charing Cross, welcoming you in the heart of London’s West End.