The Memory of Water (Hampstead Theatre)
Once described as a play that puts the fun into funerals, Shelagh Stephenson’s comedy premiered at Hampstead Theatre 25 years ago and then transferred to the West End and Broadway. The set-up is familiar: three sisters gather in their cliff-top family home for their mother’s burial. But the ghosts won’t go away, and the skeletons are soon tumbling out of the closets as sibling rivalry, resentments and old wounds start to fester. Stephenson managed to make it fresh and funny and director Alice Hamilton should be well up to the task of finding the balancing act between the macabrely funny and the seriously painful. Maybe don’t take your sister.
Pecs: The Boys are Back in Town (Soho Theatre)
The all women and non-binary Drag King collective are back, and they are fabulous stuff. If your ideas of drag are limited to RuPaul’s Drag Race this will be an eye-opener as the Kings celebrate queerness, liberation and empowerment and cock a snook at ideas of gender binary. Judging by previous shows it should be filthy, riotous and with a fair share of silliness as it challenges gender norms.
Salome (Southwark Playhouse in person and live streamed)
If you need reminding that Oscar Wilde is not just dry one-liners take a look at this 1893 play (originally written in French) that proved such a shocker that it was banned from performance until the 1930s. It is both louche and lush and has attracted plenty of directors including Steven Berkoff, who treated it as a symbolist poem, and Jamie Lloyd, who brought it right up to date. Lazarus Theatre Company go all immersive and seat the audience around Herod’s banqueting table. The lustful Salome becomes a young gay man. The trick of any production of this play is to make sure it feels like more than a curiosity.
Cover image from Salome.