Straight White Men (Southwark Playhouse)
If you haven’t seen the work of Korean-American playwright Young Jean Lee you are in for a treat. Quite possibly a discomfiting treat, but no less stimulating for that. At first sight Lee’s 2014 New York hit suggests any other American family drama as three brothers gather with their widower father to celebrate the Christmas season. But there is a twist in a play which probes both gender and privilege with a rare fierceness. It may well seem even more current in this UK premiere than when it was first staged in the US seven years ago.
I Promise You That Tonight (Camden People’s Theatre)
Theatre is all about illusion so I am a glutton for shows in which magic and theatre collide to investigate the nature of truth and deception. Performed by Tom Cassani and created with Peader Kirk, I Promise You That Tonight features exploding wine glasses and glass that turns into sand as it explores what we can be persuaded to believe and whether we can always trust our eyes. Sounds like a show that very much suits the current moment. But is Cassani telling the truth? Or is he a charlatan? Only you can decide.
The Wife of Willesden (Kiln)
The Kiln theatre will be transformed into a pub for Zadie Smith’s playwrighting debut which reimagines Chaucer’s Wife of Bath as a five times married local woman, Alvita, hanging out in her Kilburn local and telling anyone her life story who will listen. It’s quite a life, full of triumphs and mistakes, and the way she tells it is bawdy and riotous. Smith wrote the play as a gift to the London borough of Brent where she was born, with Alvita as a 21st century Chaucerian heroine full of life, blag and stories.