By Mark Shenton
29 Dec 2013
A New Theatre and Old Plays
The year may have ended disastrously in the West End with the partial collapse of a ceiling at the Apollo, a 112-year-old Edwardian theatre that left over 80 theatregoers injured (seven of them seriously). But 2014 begins more happily with the opening of a brand-new indoor Jacobean theatre within the complex of Shakespeare's Globe on the South Bank that will turn the building into a year-round theatrical producer.
The Sam Wanamaker Theatre – named in honor of the Globe's American actor-founder – will seat 340 people with two tiers of galleried seating and a pit seating area, predominantly lit by candles. Its inaugural production will see Globe artistic director Dominic Dromgoole directing Gemma Arterton -- who made her professional stage debut at the Globe in 2007 -- in the title role of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi (from Jan. 9). Also in the opening season there will be a new production of The Knight of the Burning Pestle (from Feb. 20) and a solo show about Ellen Terry, performed by Eileen Atkins (from Jan. 12).
Looking ahead to the summer months in the main Globe auditorium, the 2014 season will draw together two momentous anniversaries: the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth and the centenary of the First World War, with a season of four Shakespeares and four new plays being presented under the umbrella title Arms and the Man. There will be new productions of Antony & Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and The Comedy of Errors, plus a revisiting of a 2006 staging of Titus Andronicus; and new plays by Howard Brenton, David Eldridge, Richard Bean and Simon Armitage.
Elsewhere around town, there's more Arthur Miller at the Young Vic, where Dutch director Ivo van Hove will stage A View From the Bridge (from April 4). Also at the Young Vic, Juliet Stevenson will star in Beckett's Happy Days (from Jan. 23), Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne will return with The Valley of Astonishment (from June 20, a new piece exploring the mysteries of the human brain), Benedict Andrews will direct Gillian Anderson as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (summer 2014, dates to be confirmed) and Katie Mitchell will direct Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard (from Oct. 10, in a new version by playwright Simon Stephens).
There's more Chekhov – in Russian – when Moscow's Moccbeta State Academic Theatre brings Andrei Konchalovsky's productions of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters (to Wyndham's from April 23).Continued...