Centre stage: the best theatre of 2017

Hamilton comes to London, Sherlock villain Andrew Scott adds Hamlet to his CV, Damian Lewis falls in love with a goat, and Ivo van Hove directs Jude Law in a tale of lust, greed and murder


Andrew Scott is probably best known as Moriarty in TV’s Sherlock and as a Whitehall suit in Spectre. But he has a substantial track record in theatre, having played in Emperor and Galilean at the National, Cock at the Royal Court and The Dazzle at Found 111. Now, at the age of 40, he tackles the moody Dane with Juliet Stevenson as Gertrude, Jessica Brown Findlay as Ophelia and the unpredictable Robert Icke directing.
Almeida, London, 17 February–8 April (020-7359 4404).

The Hypocrite

Local boy Richard Bean celebrates Hull’s role as UK city of culture 2017 with a new comedy about a bigwig torn between his loyalty to Charles I and his duty to parliament as civil war looms. Given the hero’s endless domestic problems, including a fugitive wife and a lovesick daughter, this could be a 17th-century One Man, Two Guvnors. Philip Breen, a hotshot comic director, is at the helm.
Hull Truck, 24 February–25 March (01482 323638). Transfers to the Swan, Stratford-upon-Avon, 31 March.

Mark Addy stars in The Hypocrite at Hull Truck.
Hull bound … Mark Addy stars in The Hypocrite. Photograph: Hull Truck Theatre

Antony and Cleopatra

Josette Simon, who has played Titania and Rosaline for the RSC and Maggie in Arthur Miller’s After the Fall at the National, is back in Stratford as the Egyptian queen. She follows in a long and distinguished line that includes Peggy Ashcroft, Janet Suzman, Helen Mirren and Harriet Walter, but will doubtless make the role her own. Iqbal Khan, who directed a controversial Othello in 2015 with a black Iago, is in charge of Shakespeare’s sumptuous tragedy.
Royal Shakespeare theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, 11 March–7 September (01789 403493).

The Goat

Damian Lewis, last seen on stage in Mamet’s American Buffalo, now stars in another American classic: Edward Albee’s disturbing 2002 play about an acclaimed architect who conceives a hopeless passion for a goat. But this is less a play about bestiality than a modern version of Greek tragedy: an Oedipus Rex for the affluent society. Fans of Lewis in Homeland and Billions may be in for a shock, but the production is in the sure hands of Ian Rickson as director.
Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London, from 24 March (020-7930 8800).

Haunting … Jude Law and Halina Reijn in Obsession.
Haunting … Jude Law and Halina Reijn in Obsession. Photograph: Jan Versweyveld


This looks like a winning combination: Britain’s Jude Law stars in a production directed by Belgium’s Ivo van Hove who seems to be everywhere right now. The source is a 1942 film by Luchino Visconti, Ossessione, which was itself based on James M Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice: a haunting tale of lust, greed and murder. It will be fascinating to see how Van Hove matches Visconti’s emphasis on realistic locations and human grossness.
Barbican, London, 19 April–20 May. Box office: 0845 1207511.

Angels in America

Tony Kushner’s dazzling phantasmagoria, embracing sex, politics and religion, is back with a cast to dream of: America’s Nathan Lane and our own Denise Gough, last seen in People, Places and Things, as well as Andrew Garfield and Russell Tovey. Marianne Elliott directs and it will be intriguing to see how Kushner’s two-part play, which in the 90s summed up the uncertainty as we approached a new millennium, stands up today.
Lyttelton, London, from April (020-7452 3000).

The Ferryman

Sam Mendes teams up with Jez Butterworth, best known for Jerusalem but a contributor to the recent Bond movies, for one of the year’s most tempting new plays. Butterworth has always favoured rural settings and here we are in a Derry farmhouse in1981, when the Carney family’s celebration of the annual harvest is interrupted by an unexpected visitor. Wecan expect something eerie, strange and menacing.
Royal Court, London, 24 April–20 May (020-7565 5000).

The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other

Peter Handke’s extraordinary wordless 1992 play puts the teeming life of a town square on stage, and features 450 characters. It was first seen in the UK at the 1994 Edinburgh festival and was mesmerisingly staged at the National in 2008. Now it returns to Scotland as part of David Greig’s bold new Lyceum season. Wils Wilson directs a cast that will include 100 actors drawn from the local community.
Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, 1-30 June (0131-248 4848).

Desire Under the Elms

Banned in Britain until 1940, Eugene O’Neill’s play transports the passion of Greek tragedy, as well as basic Freudian instincts, to an American farm. It all revolves around 75-year-old Ephraim Cabot’s marriage to a young bride and his desire for a son. Sam Yates, who directs, calls it “a steamy, claustrophobic drama”, and it is one that fits well into Rob Hastie’s enterprising first season in South Yorkshire.
Crucible, Sheffield, 21 September–14 October (0114-249 6000).

Hottest ticket … the Broadway hit Hamilton.
Hottest ticket … the Broadway hit Hamilton. Photograph: Joan Marcus/AP


This hip-hop musical has already packed out every Broadway performance, won 11 Tony awards and aroused the wrath of Donald Trump. It tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers, who began life as an orphan in the Caribbean and helped shape his new country’s political destiny. Book, music and lyrics are by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote In the Heights and who has promised to appear as Hamilton during the London run. If you want tickets for the year’s hottest show, move fast.
Victoria Palace, London, from November. Booking: hamiltonthemusical.co.uk.


Michael Billington

The GuardianTramp

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