The best theatre for spring 2013

Heart Stamped Hand


Adrian Lester plays the Moor and Rory Kinnear Iago in Nicholas Hytner's production of Shakespeare's most painful tragedy. After Lester's portrayal of Ira Aldridge, the African-American actor famed for playing Othello, in last year's Red Velvet, expectations are high. National, London SE1 (, 16 April until autumn.

The Pajama Game

Pay grumbles in a pyjama factory may sound like an unlikely subject for a musical, but this 1954 show by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross has some cracking songs, including Hey There and Hernando's Hideaway. The two juicy leads are played by Hadley Fraser and Joanna Riding, while Richard Eyre directs. Minerva, Chichester (, 22 April to 8 June.

Passion Play

Richly complex and savagely funny, Peter Nichols's 1981 drama explores the intricacies and unforeseen consequences of middle-class adultery. David Leveaux's revival stars Zoë Wanamaker. Duke of York's, London WC2 (, 1 May to 3 August.

Titus Andronicus

Strange how Shakespeare's blood-filled and once most-despised play has gained popularity in recent years. Michael Fentiman directs with Stephen Boxer, best known for his role in the daytime soap Doctors, as the battered Roman general out to avenge the slaughter of his sons and the rape of his daughter. Swan, Stratford-on-Avon (, 16 May to 26 October. MB

Life and Times: Episodes 1-5

This epic postmodern pop opera – from New York's Nature Theater of Oklahoma company – charts the extraordinary life of an ordinary American (episode one: first smells, first bruises, first enemies). It's been variously described as disjointed, digressive, discursive and a "stoopid masterpiece". See the episodes separately or catch the 12-hour marathon, complete with barbecue cooked by the cast. Norwich Playhouse (, 21-25 May.

The Contents of a House

The Brighton festival kicks off with a performance by Peter Reder that takes audiences on a guided tour of Preston Manor, an Edwardian house with a history that stretches back to the Domesday Book (completed in 1089). Reder sifts through artefacts to unearth a story that may or may not be true. Preston Manor, Brighton (, 4-26 May.

The Seagull

Blanche McIntyre, who has proved an outstanding young director, gets a crack at Chekhov courtesy of the Headlong company. The aim is to make this 1896 play about love, theatre and mindless destruction seem entirely fresh. Nuffield theatre, Southampton (, 11-20 April, then touring.


A dark tale of humanity facing calamity as nature, from menacing mushrooms to strutting voles, goes on the rampage. Thomas Eccleshare's award-winning script, receiving its premiere at the HighTide festival in Suffolk, is directed by Steve Marmion of London's Soho theatre, where it tours to. The Cut, Halesworth, Suffolk (, 2-12 May. LG

Powered by article was written by Michael Billington and Lyn Gardner, for The Guardian on Monday 1st April 2013 07.00 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010