So some people might argue that like fun runs, fringe festivals and all personal grooming below the neck, Valentine's Day should be cancelled for the duration of the pandemic. But even though 2021 has clipped Cupid's wings somewhat, the 14th of February is still a great excuse to curl up in bed with your most faithful lover, theatre. Here are some shows that'll reignite the romance, whatever your relationship status.
James McArdle and Andrew Garfield in 'Angels in America'. Photo: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg
❤️ For a transcendental day in bed
Angels in America is coming to NT at Home and right now, it feels heaven-sent. Tony Kushner's epic offers eight unforgettable hours of sex and death, love and heartbreak, and heaven and hell during the AIDS crisis in 80s New York, combined with more emotional highs and lows than many long-term relationships.
❤️ To take the piss out of romcoms
Are you horrified that the protagonists of My Best Friend's Wedding make a pact to marry if they're unwed at the age of 28 (28!)? Or disappointed that no one's ever crashed through a plate-glass window for you, Bridget Jones-style? Then Mischief Movie Night is for you. West End improv masters Mischief Theatre will dream up a live romcom based on audience suggestions, in a ridiculous antidote to movie tropes.
❤️ For a memorable fling
Enjoy a five-minute play performed just for you with Love Down the Line. The idea's brilliantly simple; book a timeslot, and an actor will ring your phone and perform a live monologue about love and heartache.
Emily Redpath in Romeo & Juliet. Photo: Ryan Metcalfe Preevue
❤️ For big-budget, star-crossed romance
Dear Evan Hansen star Sam Tutty is playing Romeo to Emily Redpath's Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, a new film of Shakespeare's timeless story of teenage love and meddling apothecaries. Yes, lockdown has crushed your dating aspirations, but compared to the epic tragedy on display here your own romantic issues will look reassuringly minor.
❤️ To spread a little love
Project Perfect Stranger hooks you up with an anonymous partner and gives you daily shared tasks over WhatsApp, from 10th-14th February. It's masterminded by immersive theatre company ZU-UK, who want to explore what it's like to form a new relationship with no historical or emotional baggage. Will you fall in love? Maybe not, but in contact-starved 2021, forming any new bond is something to celebrate.
❤️ If the way to your heart is through your stomach
Then May Contain Food is for you. This interactive online show emails you a delicious recipe for sticky toffee pudding. As it bakes, four singers and dancers will explore the wondrous world of food, and guide you through some simple tasting exercises to woo your palate.
If cooking a theatrical tasting menu sounds a bit too much like hard work, then no one will judge if you catch up with BBC's Musicals: The Greatest Show instead, featuring Idina Menzel owning up to the odd post-Wicked trip to the pub. If anyone spotted her downing a pint, we'd love to hear more!
Until next week,
ASK LYN: How often do critics change their minds?
"I sometimes come across old reviews I’ve written, and gasp out loud: 'Lyn, how could you have thought that?' But that of course only comes with the wisdom of hindsight."
Quotes of the Week
“If they couldn’t find me they’d know I was in the dogs’ dressing room.”
- Sheridan Smith, who co-starred with a pooch in Legally Blonde, tells The Guardian about her passionate love of dogs
"I was surrounded by an amazing cast of Brits and Aussies who taught me how to party and do eight shows a week at the same time"
- Idina Menzel on discovering the world of pubs during her time in the West End's Wicked on BBC's Musicals: The Greatest Show
Romeo & Juliet (Online, 13-27 Feb)
'Dear Evan Hansen' star Sam Tutty lights up this new film of Shakespeare's doomed romance.
Roman Tragedies (Online, 14 Feb)
Lyn Gardner recommends the "steel cold brilliance" of Ivo van Hove's Shakespearean epic.
& Juliet (Opening 28 May, tickets from £25) This fab musical is packed full of super-catchy '90s hits and 21st century-style girl power.
Come From Away (Opening 19 Jun, tickets from £24)
Set in the aftermath of another world crisis, this show is just what we need when theatres reopen.
Life of Pi (Opening 26 Sep, tickets from £30)
This adaptation of a blockbuster novel will use puppets to bring its magical world to life
Anything Goes (Opening 8 May, tickets from £25).
Will and Grace star Megan Mullally makes her West End debut in this '20s musical
Cover Image: Emily Redpath and Sam Tutty in Romeo & Juliet.