Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
Theatre Royal Bath Productions will stage a prospective pre West End tour of Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party, the embarrassment, hysteria and pathos of a 1970s nouveau riche suburban cocktail party from hell, with Amanda Abbington, directed by Sarah Esdaile, opening at the Theatre Royal on 8th March.
The musical Anyone Can Whistle, book by Arthur Laurents, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, a surrealistic satire about madness and nonconformity, set in a small bankrupt town, where the Mayoress invents a miracle to improve her cash flow, with Rachel Deloose, Felicity Duncan, Oliver Stanley, James Horne, Mark Garfield, Christopher Laishley and Richard Foster, directed by Phil Wilmott, with choreography by Holly Hughes, will open at the Union Theatre, in Southwark, opening on 11th February.
English Touring Theatre will stage Shakespeare's Othello, with Abraham Popoola, Mark Lockyer, Norah Lopez Holden and Katy Stephens, directed by Richard Twyman, a co-production with Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol, where it will open on 21st February; Sam Holcroft's Rules For Living, set at a Christmas extended family gathering, directed by Simon Godwin, a co-production with the Royal and Derngate Theatres Northampton, where it will play from 12th September, and the Rose Theatre Kingston; and Connor McPherson's The Weir, in which men in a pub swap ghost stories, a co-production with the Mercury Theatre Colchester, where it will open on 14th September.
Forthcoming productions at Theatre503 in Battersea will include Michael McLean's Years Of Sunlight, charting shattered dreams through a 30 year friendship, with John Biggins, Bryan Dick, Miranda Foster and Mark Rice-Oxley, directed by Amelia Sears, from 25th January; Sonya Hale's Homecomings: Glory Whispers, a contemporary domestic thriller about ex-cons, directed by Juliet Knight, from 21st February; and John Stanley's Homecomings: The Monkey, a darkly comic portrait of dishonourable thieves bound together by addiction, directed by Russell Bolam, from 7th March.
The spring season at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh will include Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, directed by Max Webster, from 9th February; Noel Coward's Hay Fever, the story of a weekend at the country retreat of a bohemian actress, her writer husband, and their two adult children, all of whom behave extravagantly badly in front of their mystified house guests, directed by Dominic Hill, from 10th March; and the premieres of Douglas Maxwell's Charlie Sonata, in which a charming but hopeless man is on a mission to save a life, directed by Matthew Lenton, from 29th April; and Linda McLean's Glory On Earth, about the relationship of Mary, Queen of Scots and John Knox, directed by David Greig, from 20th May.
The spring season at the Old Red Lion Theatre, at The Angel Islington, will include the premieres of Harriet Madeley's The Listening Room, a verbatim play about the victims of violent crime meeting the perpetrators, directed by Max Barton, from 7th February; One Last Thing (For Now), a devised piece inspired by letters written during wartime in varying cultures and languages, directed by Lilac Yosiphon, from 7th March; and Tallulah Brown's Sea Fret, mixing stories of friendship and coastal erosion, directed by Carla Kingham, in April.