The RSC's theatre
After the Queen (such a celebrated theatregoer) opens the building officially today, the critics get a chance to see the Royal Shakespeare Company's
rebuilt Stratford theatre in action next week when King Lear and Romeo and Juliet, both widely reviewed after recent runs at the Roundhouse, open to the press. There is much to be said for this kind of soft opening, although the show I'm really looking forward to is The Tempest, a collaboration with the Little Angel Puppet Theatre, in the Swan. The Islington-based company previously worked with the RSC on Dido and Aeneas. If it's more Shakespeare you're looking for, then Andrew Hilton's well-received Richard II at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol sounds worth the journey, and there have been good reviews for As You Like It at the Rose in Kingston. Make a date at the Lowry next week for Propeller's gleeful and gruesome Comedy of Errors and Richard III. Alternatively, head to Warwick Arts Centre this weekend, or the Oxford Playhouse next week, for Cheek by Jowl's Barbican-bound production of The Tempest - in Russian. Talking of the Barbican, I hope you've clocked this weekend's family-friendly Barbican Weekender and the upcoming Spill Festival. The latter includes a return bout from Romeo Castellucci, who this time brings the Nathaniel Hawthorne-inspired The Minister's Black Veil. Mind you, I'm just as excited by the prospect of Eldersfield, a new piece from Kings of England.
If you don't like Shakespeare, there's plenty else on offer, including the slightly bizarre – but always watchable – Berkoff version of Oedipus, which is at Liverpool Playhouse before transferring to the Nottingham Playhouse. I'll be heading to Birmingham for Notes to Future Self and Stan's Café's The Cleansing of Constance Brown, then to Watford Palace for Tanika Gupta's Indian version of Great Expectations and the Royal and Derngate for A Diary of a Nobody. DC Moore's excellent monologue, Honest, which premiered in Northampton, is in London at the Queen's Head in Denman Street. The week after next, Watford provides the backdrop for the return of the Mike Bartlett/Paines Plough/Drum Plymouth hit Love, Love, Love as it goes out on tour again.
In fact, there's plenty of new writing around in London and beyond. Vivienne Franzmann's highly acclaimed school drama, Mogadishu, arrives at the Lyric Hammersmith from Manchester's Royal Exchange, while Andrew Sherridan's bruised Winterlong has made the journey south to Soho. Look ahead at Soho for Dan Rebellato's Chekhov in Hell, which comes in from the Plymouth Drum, which itself is still playing host to Told by an Idiot's And the Horse You Rode In On. Soho's new artistic director, Steve Marmion, will be announcing his vision for the theatre towards the end of the month. You only have until Saturday for Enda Walsh's underrated Penelope at Hampstead, which is followed by Mike Leigh's Ecstasy. Becky Shaw runs at the Almeida until Saturday, then is replaced by a new David Eldridge play, Knot of the Heart, about a successful woman whose social drug habit gets out of hand. It's a busy time for Eldridge, whose The Stock Da'wa is downstairs at Hampstead in April. Neil LaBute's In a Forest, Dark and Deep is in preview at the Vaudeville, and Tim Firth's Sign of the Times arrives at the Duchess. In Bristol, Tom Wainwright's Muscle is at BOV. Meanwhile, Eastern Angles go out on tour with a new play about drowned secrets, Up Out O' the Sea. NTS's Reveal season gathers pace in Edinbugh and Glasgow and includes works in progress from Gary McNair and Molly Taylor as well as Pol Heyvaert's examination of ethical issues, Girl X. Kneehigh has two shows in London: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg at the Gielgud and The Red Shoes at Battersea Arts Centre. The Sprint Festival at Camden People's Theatre has a host of great-sounding work including Analogue's Lecture Notes on a Death Scene, External and Greg McLaren's Doris Day Can Fuck Off. Little Bulb's delightful The Marvellous and Unlikely fete of Little Upper Downing is in Hampshire, Lincolnshire, Buckingshire and Surrey this week.
Classic shows include David Grindlay's revival of the first world war drama Journey's End, out on nationwide tour and at Richmond next week. There's also a previously unseen Tennessee Williams play, I Never Get Dressed Till After Dark on Sundays, at the Cock Tavern; Arthur Miller's The Price at the Octagon in Bolton; and another lost play, Mary Broome, at the Orange Tree in Richmond. There is a decent Doll's House at the Lowry, and an enjoyable – if over-kind – Private Lives at the Royal Exchange in Manchester. Maxine Peake is the best thing about The Deep Blue Sea at West Yorkshire Playhouse, where Yerma opens this week. Hopefully, I might see some of you at Access all Areas, featuring performances – and a symposium around performance and disability – tonight and tomorrow at the Live Art Development Agency.