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Theatre previews

Tony Field’s quarterly preview of what’s coming up in theatre performance in the Barbican Arts Centre and close by

Hamlet Photo by Arno Declair T Mojo Photo by Phil Conrad

heatre is such a wonderful art that it is tragic that it is so ephemeral. Films can be preserved for all time, as are paintings and photographs. Musical scores and play scripts can be a material part of our history. But performances can only be

captured or recaptured in the notices by critics. Jonathan Miller has related that a theatregoer once berated him after one of his avant- garde productions of “La Boheme” which she maintained had obliterated the opera forever. His response was that he may well have destroyed her evening at his production, but the opera remained there for all time. My role as theatre previewer is even more frustrating than that of a critic in that I am not recording the productions but anticipating them. As I have often written, the works presented at the Barbican Arts Centre continue to help maintain its place as one of the leading arts centres in the world. This does not ensure that when I recommend these future productions, in the event they prove to be all that memorable. Luckily, the vast majority are well worth a visit, but I am very occasionally embarrassed when one proves to be a disaster. However, they are always worthwhile and are chosen by the Barbican artistic director on the basis of each production’s creative team, their standards and their history of achievements. For


example, the production of “Hamlet” in German at the beginning of December is the fourth visit to the Barbican of Thomas Ostermeier and his company from Berlin having been co-produced by the Hellenic Festival in Athens and the Festival d’Avignon. My Autumn article gave you notice for “Decline”, a World premiere, to be seen three times a day throughout December. This will be a fun show for Christmas featuring saucy shopaholics, supermarket sweepers and sweatshop Santas in the main house. Concurrently one can choose an enchanting new presentation of dance, puppetry and music in the Silk Street Theatre, where “Mojo” will take the family on a spectacular journey through the world of growing up. Early in the New Year there are three very interesting productions which are now booking. “Survivor” is a collaboration by Hofesh Shechter and Antony Gormley opening in January. “The Devil and Mister Punch” is devised by Julian Crouch due on 2 February and Cheek By Jowl returns to Jacobean tragedy with “’Tis Pity She’s A Whore” which Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod will weave their magic spell later in February.

The Bridewell Theatre has its Lunchbox presentations in December with a new, naughty play in verse, “Double Indignity” by Daniel O’Brien. This is an adult take on the age-old fairy tale Sleeping Beauty and well worth an hour at 1pm each Tuesday to Friday. The London Ballet Company will present “An Olympic Dream”, also at lunchtimes, in January. This will anticipate the 2012 Olympic Games recreated by dancers in a searing spectacle of ballet.

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