City of Angels, Garrick Theatre, 5 March – 5 September
Josie Rourke’s version of the Broadway classic City of Angels garnered five star reviews when it opened at the Donmar Warehouse back in 2014. Now the noir-inspired detective musical, described as a love letter to old Hollywood, finally arrives in the West End – and not a moment too soon. Much of the original cast – including the much-praised Rosalie Craig and Hadley Fraser – returns, whereas musical fans will be intrigued by the addition of former Girls Aloud star (and winner of ITV’s The Masked Singer) Nicola Roberts. Anyone seeking a classic West End night out should look no further.
The Effect, Boulevard Theatre, 19 March – 30 May
Lucy Prebble is one of the most exciting names in British theatre right now. As well as the author of the smash hit Enron and last year’s A Very Expensive Poison, she’s also a writer and producer on Succession – one of the most successful television shows of the last decade. As the theatre world awaits the 39-year-old’s next move, the Boulevard makes the wise move to revive her psychosexual drama The Effect – last seen in 2012 with Billie Piper in the lead. If you decide to go, it’s worth arriving early for a drink. The Boulevard, the newest theatre in the West End, has an excellent bar and restaurant – perfect for anyone seeking a moment of repose in bustling Soho.
A Museum in Baghdad, Kiln Theatre, 22 April – 23 May
Produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company up in Stratford-upon-Avon, Hannah Khalil’s ambitious historical play tells the stories of women, some eight decades apart, trying to save the historical treasures of conflict-torn Iraq. Khalil, a former Hollyoaks writer of Palestinian descent, has an obsession with all things Middle Eastern and has taken the smart decision to dramatise the story of Gertrude Bell: the Victorian archaeologist and Arabist described by one historian as ‘one of the few representatives of HMG remembered by the Arabs with anything resembling affection.’ Expect an intelligent and interesting evening.
On Blueberry Hill, Trafalgar Studios, 5 March – 2 May
Irish literary Laureate Sebastian Barry might be best known as a novelist, but the Booker-nominated author originally cut his teeth writing for the theatre – and now he’s returning to it. On Blueberry Hill, his first new play in a decade, is about two men who become unlikely friends when they’re forced to share a cell in Dublin’s Mountjoy jail. Before transferring to the West End, On Blueberry Hill opened twice in Dublin: once in the city’s Origin Theatre and once in Mountjoy itself where it apparently went down a storm with inmates. Let’s see how it fares in the West End.
Gentlemen, Arcola Theatre, 18 March – 18 April
One of the more interesting sounding picks from London’s many off-West End theatres, Gentlemen – by Arcola-trained playwright Matt Parvin – is set on a university campus where two students, one popular and one socially-awkward, find themselves on opposite sides of a plagiarism scandal. As the drama gathers pace, the events expose the toxicity of university life. The Arcola Theatre, which has an immaculate nose for good drama, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Along with the Bunker (which sadly closes this month) and the Finborough, it’s one of the best small theatres in London.
The Dumb Waiter, Hampstead Theatre, 19 March – 18 April
Things have been understandably quiet on the Pinter front since Jamie Lloyd’s gargantuan – and rather exhausting – retrospective of the dramatist’s entire one-act back catalogue in 2018. Now Hampstead Theatre has opted to bring back The Dumb Waiter – probably the best of Pinter’s shorts – as part of its classics season. Interestingly it was here (then known as the Hampstead Theatre Club) that the play had its British premiere back in 1960. This time around, Poirot’s Philip Jackson and Game of Thrones’ Harry Lloyd take on the roles of the clashing hitmen, while Alice Hamilton directs.
Shoe Lady, Royal Court Theatre, 4 March – 24 March
The IT Crowd’s Katherine Parkinson returns to the stage in a new drama by Royal Court alumnus E.V. Crowe, playing a mother on the verge of a nervous breakdown in Shoe Lady. Parkinson, a LAMDA graduate, is always a delight to watch on her stage and was deservedly nominated for an Olivier for her performance in the National Theatre’s Home I’m Darling. If you’re looking for a bargain, why not take advantage of the Royal Court’s uber-cheap day tickets scheme: an hour before each show the theatre reduces a limited number of standing tickets – yours for the princely sum of just ten pence.