Four plays to look out for in coming months

Stop Girl’s Sheridan Harbridge. Photo: Daniel Boud. Top: Appropriate’s Mandy McElhinney and Lucy Bell. Photo: Rene Vaile.

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has made himself one of the world’s leading playwrights inside a decade. Outhouse Theatre gave us his Gloria in 2019 and Kings Cross Theatre his Everybody last year, and now STC picks up an earlier play, Appropriate, directed by Wesley Enoch (Roslyn Packer March 15-April 10). This joins the great pantheon of US family dramas (while also subverting that idiom), as it tells of the Lafayettes reuniting in their Arkansas family mansion when their father dies, whereupon some deeply troubling skeletons come tumbling out of closets. The cast includes Lucy Bell, Mandy McElhinny and Sam Worthington.

You’d need a pathological aversion to the ABC not to have come across Sally Sara, one of the national broadcaster’s key foreign correspondents of the last 20 years, reporting from over 30 countries, including an intrepid stint in Afghanistan. Now she’s penned a semi-autobiographical play, Stop Girl, (Belvoir, March 20-April 25), about a foreign correspondent coping with the world she finds when she comes home. Sheridan Harbridge leads a cast including Amber McMahon.

Anita Hegh (A Room of One’s Own). Photo: Brett Boardman.

Given the virus-related capacity restrictions when A Room of One’s Own premiered last September, this 2020 highlight was ripe for a rerun (Belvoir, May 6-23). A play based on two lectures Virginia Woolf gave to female Cambridge students in 1929 might sound about as theatrical as queuing for toilet paper, but these lectures were incandescent polemics on women’s place in corporeal and literary patriarchies. Directed by Carissa Licciardello, actor Anita Hegh illuminates Woolfe’s poeticism and catches the shifting tempo and vehemence so well that you hang off each word like a jilted lover waiting for the phone to ring, while Ella Prince fulfils a role best described as Woolfe’s flaring imagination.

“Not for the faint of heart” warned the Edinburgh Festival advertising for Ulster American in 2018. David Ireland’s play might be billed as a comedy, but it has a way of getting under people’s skin. The three characters are a loud-mouth, Oscar-winning US actor, an English director and a playwright from Northern Ireland, and they don’t need to hit the rehearsal room for the fireworks to start. That happens at the first meeting, where myriad moral, political and social sacred cows are slaughtered. The consistently excellent Outhouse Theatre’s production is directed by Shaun Rennie (Baby Doll), with a cast including Jeremy Waters and Claire Lovering (Reginald Theatre, May 13-29).