Here in London the sun has just started to attempt to shine, a small but welcome change to what has felt like an eternal winter. As we move (slowly) through the seasons, theatre-land still continues to create lots of food for thought. Here is our round-up of what's going on in the world of theatre this week.
Theatre: Ubu Roi, Cheek by Jowl, Barbican
Following its first performance in 1896, Alfred Jarry’s brutal satire about greed and the abuse of power was outlawed for its scandalous language, violence and disrespect for authority.
Anarchic and petulant, King Ubu has seized control of Poland, Lithuania and everything in between, abetted by his equally monstrous wife. But an invading army soon threatens his petty dictatorship. With resonances of Macbeth and unflinching humour, Ubu Roi, an inspiration to later absurdist playwrights, remains a startling challenge to the comfortable and conventional.
Opera: Sunken Garden, ENO, Barbican
12 - 20 April
Experience the world premiere of an occult mystery film-opera from composer, director and film-maker Michel van der Aa.
What connects the disappearance of a software engineer with a neurotic film-maker and a gullible patroness of the arts? Combining live performance, music, 2D and 3D film, Sunken Garden tells the story of a missing person and those who are searching for him.
English National Opera comes to the Barbican for this brand new collaboration with libretto by best-selling author David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas), and score by Dutch composer Michel van der Aa, whose prize-winning music theatre piece After Lifepremiered here in 2010.
11 - 13 April
Keegan-Dolan reimagines his Olivier-nominated version of The Rite of Spring, which premiered at the London Coliseum in 2009 to great critical acclaim. Named as one of a few accounts that has truly realised Stravinsky’s vision alongside those of Vaslav Nijinsky, Kenneth MacMillan, Pina Bausch and Léonide Massine, it has been described as “inspired” (The Times).
The evening is completed by Keegan-Dolan’s new interpretation of Petrushka, composed by Stravinsky in 1911. Performed by the exquisite dancers of Fabulous Beast, both pieces together create an intoxicating double bill of dance theatre that honours the searing modernity of Stravinsky’s music. Both pieces in this thrilling double bill will be accompanied by the celebrated concert pianists Lidija and Sanja Bizjak.
5 - 27 April
Bri is a school teacher. His wife, Sheila, loves amateur dramatics. But their daughter Josephine is more than they bargained for and life is getting difficult…
This fast-paced black comedy blazes with the love and pain, the anger and strain of a young couple raising a disabled child. Highly theatrical, frequently heart wrenching and often very funny, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1967) is one of the great plays of the modern British theatre.
Peter Nichols is amongst Britain’s most successful playwrights. His many successes include The National Health (1969), Privates on Parade (1977), Born in the Gardens (1970) and Passion Play (1981).
7 - 11 April
Sleeping Beauty sees Bourne return to the music of Tchaikovsky to complete the trio of ballet masterworks that started with Nutcracker! and the international smash hit, Swan Lake.
This timeless fairy tale, about a young girl cursed to sleep for 100 years, was turned into a legendary ballet in 1890. We meet our heroine, Aurora, at her Christening, when fairies and vampires fed the gothic imagination, before the story moves forward a century to the modern day.
Matthew Bourne’s haunting new production is a Gothic Romance for all ages; a supernatural love story that even the passage of time cannot hinder.
Theatre: Fragments, Theatre-Odeon, Paris
A taxi driver tries to forget his memories of the Balkans. A nurse is pregnant the husband of another woman. A teenager wants nothing to do with his father and painted their faces black. A mother will do the weekly shopping at the supermarket. A woman is cared for by her husband at their home. He has an affair with a neighbor. A guy takes his sister take a trip to Denmark for the day. A mother hides her adult son in the closet. A girl trying to have a discussion with her mother, away ... In a series of short scenes, we meet different people in the same city, in close proximity to each other, and yet remain completely or partially invisible to each other. It is these invisible beings, and human destinies which usually remain unspoken, which are highlighted here. What happens to it within our fellowmen, the people we meet on the street every day? Something that never ceases to be present.
Theatre: Romeo and Juliet, Schaubuhne, Berlin
17 April - 19 May
After Schiller’s The Robbers, Lars Eidinger returns in his role as director for the Schaubühne’s new production of Romeo & Juliet. Shakespeare’s classic becomes a laboratory for exploring what constitutes our emotions and social co-habitation by analysing their very nucleus, the smallest social unit: the relationship between two people. Which mechanisms stir passion and desire? Can one find fulfilment in love in this world or is it nothing more than a promise of transcendence? Does the love that Romeo and Juliet have for one another not owe the intensity of its passion to the very impossibility of their union? To what extent do we fall prey to the romantic glorification of love? And how big is the urge to make this glorification tangible and experiential in the present moment? Is the absence of love in life a declaration of a love of death?
Until Spetember 2013
Set in post-war Brooklyn, My Name Is Asher Lev tells the story of a young art prodigy who must reconcile his passion for painting (particularly nudes and crucifixion pieces) with his life as a young Hasidic Jew. With the help of a gifted mentor, Asher reaches his full potential as an artist and learns exponentially about himself in the process. However, Asher's religious father cannot understand the artistic path his only son has chosen. When Asher's breakout piece causes controversy, he must decide whether to be true to himself or appease his family and community.
Until 24 April
Don Quixote is on a quest: to find the idealised beloved of his age-addled dreams. The mettlesome lovers Kitri and Basilio are also on a quest: to end up together, despite Kitri’s father and his plans for her to marry the richest fop in town. Their paths meet; and after a storm, a vision, much high-jinks and a little emotional blackmail, ballet’s funniest happy ending is achieved. Reinvented by Rudolf Nureyev for The Australian Ballet, and with plenty of classical pyrotechnics, Don Quixote is a benchmark for dancers. This ballet is a tonic, and a must for first-timers and children.