February’s Top Shows

Welcome to February’s show highlights. Here are my picks of the most interesting shows that you can find around London and the UK.

Off-West End

Opening

Running from 12 February to 3 May, BE MORE CHILL is the long-awaited UK premiere of this on- and off- Broadway hit musical.

Featuring a Tony Award®-nominated score bursting with memorable songs, BE MORE CHILL is a very modern musical comedy about the competing voices in all of our heads.

It’s about a guy (he wants to fit in), a girl (she wants to be noticed), and the supercomputer inside the guy’s head that tells him what to do (it wants to take over the world!). According to The New Yorker, “If you fed Dear Evan Hansen to the Little Shop of Horrors plant, you’d get BE MORE CHILL.” In other words, it’s both a relatable tale about how far we’ll go for a little validation… and an otherworldly delight about a loveable geek and his very invasive (im)plant. Sounds fun!


In HOW TO SAVE A LIFE at Theatre503 from 11 to 15 February, Melissa wakes up after collapsing at her Cancer party . . . yes a cancer party. And she can’t tell you if she’s dead or alive but she can tell you the story of her life. Join Melissa in this funny and heartfelt story of one women, one party and a cancer diagnosis.


LGBT+ History Month

February is LGBT+ History Month, and there are a number of plays which have been produced to coincide with this time of celebration. Here are four picks

In THE HIGH TABLE , the dresses are chosen, the venue’s been booked and the RSVPs are flooding in. But Tara’s perfect Nigerian wedding to her girlfriend Leah is suddenly derailed when her parents refuse to attend. 

High above London, suspended between the stars, three of Tara’s ancestors are jolted from their eternal rest. Can these representatives of generations passed keep the family together? And will Tara’s decision ever get their blessing?

An epic family drama played out between the heavens and earth, THE HIGH TABLE is the intriguing debut play from Temi Wilkey, which plays at the Bush Theatre from 8 February to 21 March.


NO SWEAT, playing at The Pleasance from February 4 to 29, highlights the hidden homelessness crisis in young LGBTQ+ people.

Working together with young LGBTQ+ ex/homeless people in London, writer Vicky Moran’s new play shines a light on a forgotten generation of homeless youth.

Combining real stories, verbatim interview clips and an original score, NO SWEAT reveals stories from within the world of gay saunas – a common place for young homeless people to seek accommodation. In a world where stability is a second from slipping through your fingers, austerity combined with prejudice sees young people putting themselves at risk all too often.

Come inside the sauna. Here you’ll meet Tristan, Alf and Charlie who will show you the ropes when it comes to survival. But how long can they battle against the system? NO SWEAT is an examination of friendship, family and the fight for recognition.


At the Park Theatre from February 5 to 29, TIME AND TIDE is an LGBT comic drama about a Norfolk community, struggling with change.

May runs a crumbling caff on the end of Cromer Pier. Her delivery man, Ken, is running out of customers, thanks to Costa. Nemo is desperate to tread the boards in London. His unrequited love, Daz, is burying his head in the sand over his best mate leaving.

From award-winning writer James McDermott , TIME AND TIDE was longlisted for The Verity Bargate Award, the Bruntwood and Papatango Playwriting Prizes, and developed as part of Park Theatre’s Script Accelerator Programme.


Also at the Park Theatre from February 12 to March 21 is LA CAGE AUX FOLLES – THE PLAY

Many people recall with pleasure the Tony Award-winning musical, but not everyone knew that the story was originally a hilarious French play which ran for years, and which then was made into four feature films which broke worldwide box office records and were multi-award nominated . Now the Park Theatre gives you the first opportunity to see the original, riotous and heartfelt farce translated into the English language.

Nightclub owner Georges and his dazzling drag artiste partner Albin create the most spectacular shows in St. Tropez. But when Georges’ son Laurent announces his engagement to the daughter of a notoriously right-wing politician determined to bring the curtain down on the town’s vibrant nightlife, the real performance begins.

As Georges and Albin entertain their soon-to-be in laws and attempt to conceal their true nature for the sake of their son, how long can the façade last?

Directed by Simon Callow, and with a great cast including Michael Matus, Paul Hunter and Peter Straker amongst others, this should be a very entertaining evening.


At the Bush Theatre studio from February 5 to March 14 is COLLAPSIBLE. Essie’s lost her job. Her girlfriend’s left. But she’s alright. Except lately she feels more like a chair than a person. One of those folding chairs. Solid one minute. And then.

From award-winning Irish writer Margaret Perry (Porcelain, Abbey Theatre), this is the hilarious, multi award-winning play about holding on in this collapsing world, starring the “mesmeric” (Guardian) Breffni Holahan, COLLAPSIBLE is for anyone who has ever felt crumbly. So that’s all of us, then!


NO SHOW at The Yard runs from February 24 – March 14. Christopher Green is best known for his cabaret alter egos Ida Barr and Tina C.

This is the show that Christopher has spent over two decades making. It’s the culmination of 25 years of entertaining tens of thousands of audience members and learning exactly what makes them tick. What they want. It’s the leadership we’ve been seeking in troubling times. Frankly, I haven’t a clue but with this performer you can bet it won’t be dull!!


Running from 3 to 22 February at Battersea Arts Centre, AUTOREVERSE is is the true story of one family’s determination to find a place to call home.

Florencia has an old box full of cassette tapes from her family home in Chile. As she starts listening to them in her room in London, she travels back in time and space, to when her family fled Argentina’s dictatorship and started recording audio letters to stay in touch with their loved ones.

Spanning four decades, Florencia Cordeu and director Omar Elerian (Misty, Going Through, NASSIM, One Cold Dark Night, Islands) create a moving and uplifting audio-visual experience that asks what it means to remember: as an individual, as a family, and as a country.


Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.

In TELL IT SLANT, Dara and Vick have a history. Dara is the veteran press officer, Vick the rookie struggling through an uncomfortable first day. They thought the most complicated thing they would be facing was their own feelings and a tricky news story about cats, but a sudden crisis changes everything.

Emotions set to the side, they have no choice but to work together to deal with a raft of journalists. But how do they get the real story out when flashy lies are so much more attractive?

The show was written without specifying a gender, and the actors playing Dara and Vick will alternate roles throughout the run, showing how the story and characters change, or don’t, when one is a man and one is a woman.

A gender-switching, romantic black-comedy about fake news in a crisis, TELL IT SLANT runs at the Hope Theatre from February 25 to March 14


At the Hope Theatre from 4 to 22 February is comic drama I WOKE UP FEELING ELECTRIC — a very human story about electronic minds.

Bertie, what’s the weather like?
Bertie, how’s my commute?
Bertie, define ‘ineluctable’.

A work-life balance is hard to find when you’re an AI assistant. Luckily for Bertie, it’s easy to enjoy your job when you were literally made for it. Sending emails, making playlists, checking the weather forecast — he loves it all.

But one night his world is upended by Vita, a new, smarter AI, who invades his world, and upsets his well-constructed routine. Trying to come to terms with this interloper, Bertie is forced to reassess everything he thought he knew — to examine the limits of the life he’s always loved.


On Sunday 9 February, Greenwich Theatre hosts THE LET AWARD AND GREENWICH PARTNERSHIP SHOWCASE. The LET Award, created by Les Enfants Terribles, offers an emerging theatre company the opportunity to take their exciting, risk-taking piece of theatre to The Pleasance for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2020.

Not only the LET Award, but on the same evening will be decided the winner of the Greenwich Partnership Award (in collaboration with Greenwich Theatre) meaning there are two awards up for grabs!

The Showcase features the shortlisted companies performing 10 minute extracts from their shows, with judging of the Awards taking place live. Come and witness exciting emerging talent at what may be a pivotal point in their stories.


Continuing

Dani is 17. She’s on the internet (of course), looking to meet someone honest and direct. What she finds is a man twice her age who thinks she’s an 11-year-old boy.

– I’m sorry I’m not the freak show you expected.
– We’re on the same side of the bars I think.

This is the first major revival of THE SUGAR SYNDROME, the debut play from Lucy Prebble (A Very Expensive Poison, The Effect and ENRON): a devastatingly and disturbingly funny exploration of an unlikely friendship, our desire to connect, and the limits of empathy. Running at the Orange Tree, Richmond until February 22.


With timing that improves for every outing of this show, Sam Steiner’s YOU STUPID DARKNESS! is about the struggle for optimism and community amid the chaos of a collapsing world.

Everything’s been falling apart for a while now. In a cramped, crumbling office four volunteers spend a few hours every Tuesday night on the phone to strangers telling them everything is going to be OK. As the outside world disintegrates around them, Frances, Joey, Angie and Jon teeter on the edge of their own personal catastrophes. Their hopes and fears become entangled as they try, desperately, to connect with the callers and with each other. Playing at Southwark Playhouse from January 16 to February 22.


Until 8 February, the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham presents the World Premiere of THE GLASS WILL SHATTER by Joe Marsh.

Rebecca still has nightmares about Amina and the unnerving events that unfolded in her classroom. Or is it Amina that still has nightmares? Years later, one of them decides – it’s time to meet, again.

Through a series of gripping flashbacks to the school where Amina learned and Rebecca taught, an irreversible sequence of choices lead to an unexpected end, changing the course of both of their lives.

Thrilling and powerful, THE GLASS WILL SHATTER interrogates faith, belonging and polarisation within the school system – and the consequences of Prevent Policy on the quality of education in the UK today.

Althea Theatre is an award-winning international ensemble made of British and non-British actors and theatre makers based in London, exploring and addressing societal issues from both national and international viewpoints.


VAULT Festival

The VAULT FESTIVAL 2020 is on now and runs until 22 March. London’s largest and most interesting festival of upcoming work and rising artists, it’s like having all the fun of going to the Edinburgh Fringe but without the pricey travel and accommodation. Established in 2014 by Tim Wilson, Mat Burtcher and Andy George, it has rapidly grown to be an integral part of London’s winter scene. Last year 80,000 people enjoyed over 420 performances, which is why this is a festival with something for everyone.


If you’re looking for a fluffy, light musical confection then float along to the Menier Chocolate Factory where THE BOY FRIEND, Sandy Wilson’s all-singing all-dancing love letter to 1920s musical comedies has its first major London revival in over 10 years.  Set in Madame Dubonnet’s finishing school in the south of France, the school’s perfect young ladies burst into song at the drop of a cloche hat, and forbidden boy friends are forever popping through the French windows to gaily sing and dance with them. Since its premiere in 1953, it has become one of the most beloved British musicals of all time.

The production sees Matthew White renew his collaboration with the Menier – where he previously directed SHE LOVES ME, CANDIDE, and SWEET CHARITY. Reuniting Olivier- winning choreographer Bill Deamer with White from their stunning Olivier Award-winning TOP HAT, this will be a treat – you can check your cares at the door and just relax. Enjoy! The show runs to 7 March.


Touring the UK

Anyone who loves the Latin crossover music of Gloria Estefan will enjoy ON YOUR FEET! It has had mixed but mostly positive reviews, unanimous in the musical content of the show. It looks good and sounds just great, with a brilliant band (worth the price of admission alone) who never let the energy flag.

Featuring 26 hits, this Tony Award nominated show ran on Broadway for two years, for over 750 performances. ON YOUR FEET! is the inspiring true love story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan and charts their journey from Cuba to the streets of Miami and finally to international superstardom. Featuring some of the most iconic pop songs of the era, including “Rhythm is Gonna Get You”, “Conga”, “Get On Your Feet”, “Don’t Want To Lose You Now” and “1-2-3” and many more.

ON YOUR FEET! is directed by two-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde), with choreography by Olivier Award-winner Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys) and book by Academy Award® winner Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman). See it in February at Cheltenham, Milton Keynes, Liverpool and Wimbledon.

Read my ***.5 review of the show here


NT Live Broadcasts

February brings more encore screenings of several NTLive broadcasts to screens around the UK and further afield. You can still enjoy Andrew Scott in Noel Coward’s PRESENT LAUGHTER, the comedy hit ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS with James Corden, and FLEABAG, HANSARD and SMALL ISLAND also appear in selected encore screenings.

To find screenings in your area, check out the schedule of NT Live website, details here.


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