‘Another Opening, Another Show’: July’s Theatre Picks

July is a good month for theatre. It’s tourist season, so there are a fair few sizzling summer deals out there. The Theatre Cafe are doing iced drinks, which I don’t look like an idiot ordering…unlike when I do so in winter! AND, even better, there are tons of new shows opening and some even returning.

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At a rough count, there are about 50 shows opening this month alone, on and off West End.

And with such a selection to chose from, it can tough to narrow down what you want/have time to see!

So here are my recommendations for what to see in July.

Constellations

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Following a successful run both in the West End and on Broadway, with sold out shows and critical acclaim, Constellations is returning to London for 3 weeks only.

I’ve recently seen a lot of productions with small casts: Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare’s Globe with 7, and The Tempest at The Hope Theatre with 4. But Constellations has a cast of only 2, featuring Louise Brealey and Joe Armstrong. Despite being a production small in quantity of actors, it promises to be one of immense quality…and also quantity of plot, judging by this synopsis:

Constellations is a play about theoretical physics – It’s a play about quantum mechanics, about cosmology.  But it’s also a play about bees, and about beekeeping – Constellations is a play about honey; about saying no to Tesco when they offer you a lot of money.  It’s a play about death, about dying.  Constellations is also about preparing a romantic marriage proposal for someone you love – It’s about ballroom dancing – Specifically, Constellations is a play about the Box Step.  It’s about finding cosmology sexy. It’s about small talk and big ideas.  It’s about saying goodbye. Constellations is a play about never having to say goodbye. (http://www.atgtickets.com)

So, yeah, I’m not 100% sure what it’s about either!

But it sounds pretty amazing. My friend got tickets, but unfortunately I couldn’t make it and also couldn’t justify spending more money on theatre trips this month!

Constellations is playing at the Trafalgar Studios until 1st August 2015.

Bakkhai

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Next up in the rather successful Almeida Greeks season is the Bakkhai. I’ve already got my tickets for this production.

And that is in no way due to it starring Ben Whishaw…

Okay, so it may be entirely due to that!

I’ve seen very little Greek tragedy before, but judging by the critical acclaim the Oresteia is receiving, this should also be quite good. AND OMG, I JUST CHECKED THE WEBSITE AND BERTIE CARVEL IS GOING TO BE IN! I LOVE HIM!

Judging by the synopsis, it’s an interesting sounding story. But the Greek’s always know how to make a story dramatic? Sex, blood, death, guys running off with women and taking them on a date to the underworld. You know that kind of thing!

Pentheus has banned the wild, ritualistic worship of the god Dionysos. A stranger arrives to persuade him to change his mind. Euripides’ electrifying tragedy is a struggle to the death between freedom and restraint, the rational and the irrational, man and god. (http://www.almeida.co.uk)

Need I say more? Go watch it!

The Bakkhai is playing at The Almeida Theatre from 23rd July to 19th September 2015.

American Idiot

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I know Greek isn’t for everyone. In the words of a certain Soothsayer from Something Rotten:

You could go see a tragedy, but that wouldn’t be very fun.

Or a play from Greek mythology, see a mother have sex with her son.

You could go see a drama, with all of that trauma and pain.

Or go see something more relaxing and less taxing on the brain…

GO SEE A MUSICAL!

American Idiot is probably the biggest new show opening this month. It has a great online presence via their Twitter, it already has a strong following being 1) a musical by Green Day, and 2) a Broadway transfer, AND it even got its own slot at West End LIVE, such was the hype.

According to the website, it tells ‘The story of three boyhood friends, each searching for meaning in a post 9-11 world’. The soundtrack features songs by Green Day, including ’21 Guns’, ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’, and of course the eponymous ‘American Idiot’. Plus, the book is by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer. Michael Mayer of Spring Awakening. So you know it’s going to be good.

It did pretty well on Broadway. securing 2 Tony wins. And fingers crossed that it’ll do equally well across the pond!

American Idiot is playing at The Arts Theatre from 17th July to 29th August.

Bismillah!

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In addition to the Greek Almeida season, there are quite a few interesting shows coming up Off West End.

For two night only, Bismillah! takes over the Hen and Chickens Theatre Bar in Islington, before going on to the Ed Fringe Festival. And catch it in previews while you can! Picked by What’sOnStage as Number 2 on ‘The Most Eye-Catching Names’ of theatre shows at the Fringe, this play is already gaining some hype before opening night!

How would I describe it? Well, it’s a tragic-comedy…about ISIS.

Bet that’s not what you were expecting to pop up on this list! I realise that does sound a tad controversial, if topical. But it should prove an interesting exploration of modern day Britain and the issues facing it:

Dean joined the army, Danny joined the Islamic State, Bissmillah! is their hour together in a basement in northern Iraq. Exploring the strange new reality of youth in modern day Britain, it is a play about radicalisation, disenfranchisement and the rock band Queen. This new, unique tragicomedy tackles everything from racism to fundamentalism to the rising price of a standard meal deal. (http://www.wounduptheatre.com)

Directed by Justin Murray, written by Matthew Greenhough and starring himself, Nate Birdi and Ikram Gilani, this show is a prime example of the younger, emerging talent on the London scene, and what they’ve got to say.

I’m sure this show will gain a lot of attention at the Fringe. And with a subject matter like that, can you blame it!

Bismillah! is previewing at the Hen and Chickens Theatre Bar 16th and 17th July. It will then transfer to Just the Tonic at the Caves for the Ed Fringe Festival, playing 10th to 21st of August 2015.

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