This week’s new theatre

The Caretaker | Forever Yours, Marie-Lou | Smoke And Mirrors | Sunset Boulevard | King Lear | Invincible

The Caretaker, London

After Jamie Lloyd’s tinkering with The Homecoming last year, one wonders whether Old Vic artistic director Matthew Warchus will be similarly tempted to put a new spin on Pinter. The Caretaker premiered in 1960 and was Pinter’s first major commercial success, featuring his trademark subtle battle for power and unsettling mixture of menace and humour. The last major London production, in 2000, starred Michael Gambon, Rupert Graves and Douglas Hodge, and now the trio comprises Timothy Spall, Daniel Mays (most recently seen on stage in The Red Lion and Mojo) and George MacKay, who starred in Ah, Wilderness! at the Young Vic last year, as well as the Warchus-directed 2014 film Pride.

Old Vic, SE1, Sat to 14 May

MC

Forever Yours, Marie-Lou, Bath

The Ustinov has already had success this season with one French-Canadian play, Catherine-Anne Toupin’s surreal and creepy Right Now, which is currently at the Bush (W12, to 16 Apr) and heading for Edinburgh’s Traverse (19 Apr to 7 May). Now it’s looking back to a French-Canadian theatre classic: Michel Tremblay’s early 70s story of the inherited damage of one unhappy family. It focuses on country singer Carmen and her reclusive sister Mandy, who meet up a decade after the death of their parents in a car accident. But the legacy of their parents’ dysfunctional and violent marriage has affected how these women’s lives have turned out, and not for the good. Laurence Boswell directs.

Theatre Royal: Ustinov Studio, to 30 Apr

LG

Smoke And Mirrors, Manchester

Smoke and Mirrors
Smoke and Mirrors Photograph: Publicity image

The Ricochet Project’s circus two-hander turned up in Edinburgh last summer unannounced as a late replacement for another show. Remarkably, the New Mexico-based company ended up walking away with rave reviews and a Total Theatre award. Now it’s back with a tender, bruising piece that suggests that the distortions of capitalism not only affect our pockets but also our hearts. With both performers being stripped bare in more ways than one, this is a beautifully crafted piece of theatre that understands that physical tricks can be used as metaphors to explore our states of mind.

HOME, Thu to 2 Apr; touring to 18 May

LG

Sunset Boulevard, London

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard – based on the 1950 Billy Wilder film – opened in London in 1993 and ran for four years (but still lost money because of the high running costs). It saw a string of women – from Patti LuPone and Betty Buckley to Elaine Paige, Petula Clark and Rita Moreno – take on the role of faded movie star Norma Desmond but UK audiences never got to see Desmond as played by Glenn Close, who only starred in the Broadway production. Now she makes her West End debut in a five-week run of a “semi-staged production” of the show at the Coliseum, home of the English National Opera. It’s produced by the team behind the venue’s sell-out Sweeney Todd with Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson last year. Close’s performance will surely be a highlight of the West End year.

London Coliseum, WC2, Fri to 7 May

MC

King Lear, Manchester

King Lear
King Lear Photograph: Publicity image

Shakespeare’s great, bewildered king is in a head-to-head battle this week, as Michael Pennington tackles the role at The Royal in Northampton (Fri to 23 Apr) and Don Warrington takes on the crown at the Royal Exchange, in a revival directed by Michael Buffong. Buffong’s 2013 staging of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons with an all-black cast was widely admired, and also featured Warrington as Joe Keller, the self-made businessman who has turned a profit during the war only to discover that it comes at a terrible price. The Royal Exchange’s production (which tours to Birmingham Repertory Theatre, 19 to 28 May) is in collaboration with Talawa, Buffong’s company, which back in 1994 staged Lear using mainly black actors. It starred Ben Thomas, until now the last black British performer to play this lead role in a large-scale professional production.

Royal Exchange Theatre, Fri to 7 May

LG

Invincible, Bury St Edmunds

First seen at Richmond’s Orange Tree in 2014, Torben Betts’s comedy now sets out on a regional tour. Betts has been described as a darker Alan Ayckbourn and this story centres on left-leaning Londoners Emily and Oliver, who are forced to up sticks to the north after cuts leave civil servant Oliver jobless. They are determined to embrace their new life but the divide is revealed to not just be one of geography but also of class after they invite new neighbours Alan and Dawn round for the evening. It seems that the latter are unfamiliar with both anchovies and Karl Marx and, as Emily launches into an anti-war rant, it turns out that Dawn’s son is fighting one. As gatherings go, it’s uncomfortable enough to give Abigail’s Party a run for its money.

Theatre Royal, Wed to 2 Apr; touring to 18 Jun

LG

Contributors

Mark Cook & Lyn Gardner

The GuardianTramp

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