The roar of the crowd. The creak of the boards. The smell of the grease paint. All sound a bit much? Here are five upcoming plays you’ll actually enjoy.
The hook: Theatre’s maddest, baddest maniac goes “full Saddam”.
Actor-director Steven Berkoff is a real-life cross between Laurence Olivier, Hannibal Lecter and Simon Cowell. The prospect of him getting into character as the paranoid Iraqi dictator of the title is intriguing enough. The fact that this is a comedy (albeit a dark one) is downright tantalising. Oh, and the venue, Menier Chocolate Factory, has a wicked bar.
For fans of: The Coen Brothers, The Thick of It, Peter Morgan.
The hook: Trailblazing director in the ascendancy turns his electrifying focus to Greek mythology’s angriest tale.
Robert Icke is sort of shaping up to be the mid-90s David Fincher of British theatre: radically re-fitting classic narratives, unleashing them, newly sexified like Sandy at the end of Grease. This play might be two millennia old but you can bet the house on Icke making it resemble a cutting-edge HBO drama.
For fans of: Revenge, hatred, Breaking Bad, anger, The Godfather.
The hook: The most consistently devastating theatre company in the world gets personal.
International troupe Complicite has spent the last decade crushing audiences with brutal audiovisual spectaculars so mind-expanding, so perfectly executed, they’d give Christopher Nolan an envy nosebleed. This is them sort of scaling it down (it’s a one-man show) but expect the sensory assault to be no less trippy, no less intense. And yes, it’s not in London until next year. But it’ll sell out. So book now.
For fans of: Twin Peaks, Bioshock, Tame Impala, JG Ballard.
The hook: The bloke who brought you In Bruges takes his brand of ridiculous male badinage back to the stage.
A play about “the second-best hangman in England” drinking with his mates in a pub on the day that hanging is outlawed. We reckon that just sounds really good. This is also stuffed with decent actors like Reece Shearsmith, David Morrissey and Finchy from The Office, all dab hands at finding the chortlesome, weirdly male, side of human darkness. Bonus: The Royal Court is probably London’s sexiest, youngest theatre.
For fans of: Er, In Bruges.
The hook: Theatrical starlet shows the seedier side of celebrated lesbian love story.
Laura Wade is a precocious playwright whose debut work, Posh, provoked comparisons to Lena Dunham. Here she adapts Sarah Waters’ notorious, sex-soaked historical novel – a kind of Lady Chatterley’s Lover for Noughties English Lit undergraduates. Lyndsey Turner directs, fresh from Cumberbatching Hamlet at the Barbican.
For fans of: Girls, Orange Is The New Black, heavy breathing.
An international festival of light
Dinner in a decommissioned 1967 underground carriage
Half-price brunch and a HUGE fried chicken burger