Lily Allen’s second album, Jude Law as Hamlet, Michael Sheen as Brian Clough, Martin Amis on feminism – 2009 promises a variety of treats in the arts. Our critics predict what will make waves in the coming months
By Alice Jones, Tje Independent, Friday, 2 January 2009
The hoary old complaint that there aren’t enough straight plays in the West End should be put firmly to bed in 2009. At Wyndham’s, the Donmar continues its heavyweight season with Madame de Sade. Risky, perhaps, but the casting – Judi Dench, Frances Barber and Rosamund Pike – is solid gold. It will be followed, in June, by Jude Law’s Hamlet. Other upcoming classics include A View from the Bridge, with Ken Stott and Hayley Atwell, and Waiting for Godot with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, while James McAvoy stars in Three Days of Rain at the Apollo in February.
Elsewhere, Nicholas Hytner directs Helen Mirren and Dominic Cooper in Phaedra at the National in June. And at the Old Vic, Kevin Spacey has programmed a meaty season, starting with Richard Dreyfuss in Complicit, a new political drama. It’s followed by Sam Mendes, as his transatlantic company, including Simon Russell Beale, Rebecca Hall and Ethan Hawke, tackle The Cherry Orchard and The Winter’s Tale.
As for newer talents, I’m excited by the Royal Court slate, which has new plays from Polly Stenham (That Face) and Marius von Mayenburg (Ugly One). It’s also thrilling to see that experimental experts Complicite, Improbable and Paines Plough are all back soon with, respectively, a Japanese collaboration (Shun-kin, Barbican), a Pan-inspired romp (Panic, Barbican) and a City Boy drama (Roaring Trade, Soho Theatre).
Outside London, the RSC launches its exciting three-year Russian partnership. Lenny Henry’s debut in the Northern Broadsides’ touring Othello will be worth a look and Leicester’s new Curve hits its stride with The Pillowman and Tim Supple’s As You Like It, a follow-up to his spell-binding A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And musicals are far from dead. Sister Act, Priscilla Queen of the Desert (starring Jason Donovan) and the Broadway hit Spring Awakening are all coming up. But first up is Cameron Mackintosh’s Oliver!. Who could possibly ask for more?