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Top shows to see in 2019

Find out what WhatsOnStage's chief critic Sarah Crompton can't wait to see in 2019

Medea
© Sanne Peper

We've looked back, now let's look forward. Here's the shows you should be in line for in 2019, according to our critic expert, Sarah Crompton.


Death of a Salesman

Death of A Salesman

A bumper year for revivals of the work of Arthur Miller begins with a production of the rarely-seen The American Clock at the Old Vic (directed by Rachel Chavkin, from Feb 4), continues with Theatre Royal Bath's acclaimed production of The Price, starring David Suchet and Brendan Coyle (Wyndham's from Feb 5) and All My Sons (starring Sally Field and Bill Pullman, also at the Old Vic, from April 15). If Marianne Elliott's revival of Death of A Salesman is the one I anticipate most keenly it is because it seems to me an idea of genius to set this play in a black family, and to cast the magnificent Wendell Pierce and Sharon D Clarke as Willy and Linda and Arinzé Kene as Biff. Young Vic, from May 1 to June 29


Gillian Anderson and Lily James in All About Eve
© Perou

All About Eve

The great Joseph L Mankiewicz movie about showbusiness' unsettling and overriding obsessions with youth, beauty and power gets the Ivo van Hove treatment in this stage version which stars Gillian Anderson and Lily James in the roles originally created by Bette Davis and Anne Baxter as Margo Channing, legendary but ageing Broadway star, and her young fan, Eve, who insinuates herself into her life with devastating consequences. The play's most famous line? "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night." In the hands of van Hove, who can doubt it? Noël Coward Theatre, from Feb 2


When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other
© Gillian Hyland

When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other

There's not much contest for the most sought-after ticket in January 2019. Cate Blanchett is making her National Theatre debut in the Dorfman which means that the frenzy for seats had to be solved by a ballot. She's not the only reason for the anticipation, though. Martin Crimp's adaptation of Samuel Richardson's 18th century novel Pamela, about sexual exploitation, directed by Katie Mitchell and co-starring Stephen Dillane promises to justify all the hype. National Theatre, from January 16


Grief is the Thing With Feathers
© Tim Walker

Grief is the Thing with Feathers

The reunion of Cillian Murphy with Enda Walsh in this adaptation of Max Porter's novel about bereavement and grief won rapturous reviews when it premiered in Ireland last year. Murphy, now best known from Peaky Blinders, plays a father trying to look after his two young children following the sudden death of their mother. He also plays Crow, the mysterious winged creature whose intervention helps to save them. I love Walsh's multi-layered writing and I love Murphy, so the combination is irresistible. Barbican, March 25 to April 13


Annie Baker

The Antipodes

Given my admiration for all her previous work (John was my play of 2018, The Flick a contender in 2016), I can hardly wait for Annie Baker's The Antipodes to arrive at the National Theatre in October, especially since the New York Times described this play about professional storytellers brainstorming in a conference room as "in all ways fabulous." My expectation levels rise thanks to the fact that the British production is going to be directed by Lila Neugebauer, another rising star with perfect pitch. National Theatre, October


Tom Hiddleston in Betrayal
© Charlie Gray 2018

Betrayal

Tom Hiddleston fans breathe deep. Your idol will star in a revival of Harold Pinter's Betrayal, directed by Jamie Lloyd which is the full-length culmination of his excellent and revealing season of all Pinter's shorter works. Hiddleston is terrific on stage as his performances in Hamlet and Coriolanus have revealed; he's intriguing casting here as Robert, the betrayed husband rather than the lover in a play that is the story of an affair, which famously unfolds backwards. The other two characters in the triangle have yet to be announced. Harold Pinter Theatre, from March 5


Medea
© Sanne Peper

Medea

At a time when there have been some fine reworking of Greek myths from a feminist and female perspective, this contemporary retelling of Euripides seems both timely and interesting. Adapted by the Australian film and theatre director and actor Simon Stone, and transposed from a royal palace in ancient Greece to a psychiatric hospital, the production by Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (formerly Toneelgroep Amsterdam) stars the amazing Marieke Heebink as the vengeful heroine, now a former doctor trying to get over her husband's affair. Barbican, March 6 to 9


Katharine McPhee as Jenna in Waitress
© Waitress the Musical

Waitress

It's another year for major American musical imports, with the eagerly awaited Dear Evan Hansen coming to London at the end of the year. In the meantime, there's Waitress, with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles, a book by Jessie Nelson and American Idol star Katharine McPhee making her West End debut as Jenna, having played the part on Broadway earlier this year. One quality in the show's favour is that it is the first West End musical to have an all-female leading creative team, with direction by Diane Paulus and choreography by Lorin Latarro. In terms of British musicals, the best bet looks to be Local Hero, adapted by Bill Forsyth and David Greig, with music by Mark Knopfler, which opens at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh on March 19 and transfers to the Old Vic in June next year. Adelphi Theatre, from February 8


The Dark

The Dark

Different things attract you to theatrical events. In the case of The Dark, a play cum live literature experience by poet Nick Makoha, it's knowing that Roy Alexander Weise is directing that puts it on my must-see list. I'd follow him more or less anywhere, and the fact that this is an autobiographical story of how Makoha and his mother escaped from Idi Amin's Uganda in 1978, and is produced by the excellent Fuel, just adds to my excitement at seeing it. Tara Arts, 8 to 10 January, then touring

Tom Mothersdale in Richard III

Richard III

Tom Mothersdale is rapidly becoming one of our most versatile and compelling actors. After star turns in John, Cleansed and Oil, he returns to Headlong (with whom he performed The Glass Menagerie) to take on Shakespeare's compelling villain, at once terrifying and comic. Directed by John Haider, this is a co-production between Headlong and the Old Vic, which also tours to London, Manchester, Northampton and Oxford. For news of Mothersdale's fellow Peaky Blinders star, Cillian Murphy, see above. Bristol Old Vic, from March 1, then touring

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