There’s always a stir in London Theatreland when a big Hollywood star takes on a West End role. This spring, however, London theatergoers are being treated to not one, but three, star-studded productions: The Audience, Macbeth and Peter and Alice. Tickets aren’t easy to snag, but trust us, these shows are worth the effort.
Helen Mirren in The Audience at Gielgud Theatre
Following her Oscar-winning performance as Elizabeth II in the 2006 film The Queen, Dame Helen Mirren reprises the role on the West End stage in new play The Audience. The drama, which is one of the hottest tickets in town right now, imagines the weekly audiences that the Queen has held with her 12 Prime Ministers over her 60 years in power. Starting with Winston Churchill and ending in the present day with the current Prime Minister David Cameron, it breaks the contract of silence upheld by all concerned, giving us a tantalizsing glimpse into this high-stakes world. Stephen Daldry, the man behind films such as Billy Elliot, The Hours and The Reader, directs. Until June 15.
Dame Judi Dench in Peter and Alice at Noel Coward Theatre
The inaugural season of the Michael Grandage Company continues along its starry course with a new play, Peter and Alice, which tells the story of how the girl who inspired Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland met the boy who inspired Peter Pan. Dame Judi Dench plays Alice Liddell Hargreaves opposite Ben Whishaw’s Peter Llewellyn Davies at the opening of a Lewis Carroll exhibition in 1932. Dench and Whishaw are reunited after appearing together as M and Q in last year’s film Skyfall. The play was penned by John Logan, scriptwriter on the James Bond film, so it’s unsurprising that the actors’ onstage relationship is so nuanced. Until June 1.
James McAvoy in Macbeth at Trafalgar Studios
Having starred alongside Forest Whitaker in the 2006 film The Last King of Scotland, James McAvoy finally dons the Celtic crown himself in this new production of Macbeth. And it’s clearly a role that suits him, as evidenced by his recent nomination for the Olivier Award for Best Actor. Director Jamie Lloyd’s brave staging sees William Shakespeare’s tragedy of bloody royal ambition set in a dystopian futuristic Scotland brutalized by war. McAvoy, star of the recent movie thriller Trance, hasn’t taken on a theater role since Three Days of Rain in 2009, making this a must-see for fans of the 33-year-old Scottish heartthrob. This Macbeth might just be the rawest you’ll ever see. Until April 27.
Photos Courtesy of Johan Persson