Mark Ludmon continues his look at theatrical highlights outside of London in 2019.
This is very much a year for reinventing the classics, and it comes as no surprise to see the Scots taking on some of the greatest. At the Citizens Theatre’s Tramway venue in Glasgow, Ibsen is given a makeover in Nora: A Doll’s House, reframed in three different time periods: the fight for women’s suffrage, the swinging sixties and the present day. Running from 15 March to 6 April, it is written by Stef Smith and directed by Elizabeth Freestone.
Webster’s bloody Jacobean tragedy has been subtly redubbed The Duchess [of Malfi] for what is described as a bold new interpretation written and directed by Zinnie Harris. It runs at Tramway from 4 to 21 September but it originates out of Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre where it debuts from 17 May to 8 June.
Zinnie Harris has previously worked her magic on Strindberg’s 1888 play Miss Julie, updating it to Scotland in the mid-1920s during the General Strike, which will be revived at the Tron in Glasgow from 27 February to 2 March. Directed by Shilpa T-Hyland, it is presented by Perth Theatre at Horsecross Arts where it debuts from 14 to 23 February.
Also at the Tron, Marius von Mayenburg’s scalpel-sharp comedy The Ugly One has its Scottish premiere from 4 to 20 July, translated by Maja Zade and directed by Debbie Hannan.
It will be a big year for the Lyceum in Edinburgh as it will have the world premiere of the stage version of Bill Forsyth’s 1983 film Local Hero. Written by Forsyth with David Greig and directed by John Crowley, it will feature new music and songs by Dire Straits’ Glasgow-born Mark Knopfler. Running from 19 March to 20 April, it is co-produced with London’s Old Vic where it will transfer in June.
Also look out for the tour of Cora Bissett’s award-winning autobiographical show What Girls Are Made Of which premiered at the Traverse during the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Performed with a live band and directed by the Traverse’s former artistic director Orla O’Loughlin, its tour dates include Tramway (9 to 13 April), and the Traverse (16 to 20 April). Another Fringe hit for the Traverse, Ulster American by David Ireland, is also touring in 2019, including the Lyric in Belfast (24 to 28 April) and back at the Traverse (20 February to 2 March).
The Lyric in Belfast’s 2019 programme, under the title of “Transformations”, includes a new staging of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd with Northern Ireland Opera (2 to 23 February). Steven Page and Julie Mullins play the demon barber and Mrs Lovett. Other highlights include a new production of Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire directed by Emma Jordan (4 May to 1 June) and a new play by the theatre’s artist-in-residence Erica Murray called All Mod Cons (18 May to 9 June) where a brother and sister are forced to confront secrets from the past.
A new adaptation of Ibsen’s Ghosts by Mike Poulton will premiere at Royal & Derngate in Northampton (19 April to 11 May), directed by Lucy Bailey and starring Penny Downie. Royal & Derngate is also presenting a revival of August Wilson’s 1992 drama Two Trains Running (31 August to 14 September), directed by Nancy Medina, which explores changing attitudes over race in the US in the late 1960s.
Birmingham Rep will be staging the UK premiere of Alexis Michalik’s modern French comedy Edmond De Bergerac about the real-life man who inspired the classic character Cyrano de Bergerac, translated by Jeremy Sams. Running from 15 to 30 March, it stars Freddie Fox and Josie Lawrence and will be directed by artistic director Roxana Silbert. A modern classic is also being revived at Birmingham Rep: Blue Orange, Joe Penhall’s darkly funny dissection of institutional racism and mental health. Directed by Daniel Bailey, it runs from 1 to 16 February. In The Rep’s Studio, highlights include The Half God of Rainfall (13 to 20 April), a contemporary Nigerian tale inspired by Greek myth, written by Inua Ellams whose massive hit The Barber Shop Chronicles continues to tour in 2019.