Wondering what show will stand out in your next university drama season? From much-loved classics to experimental new plays, take a look at our suggestions of plays and musicals to stage.
Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie and Ken Ludwig (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Dramatic Comedy / 5f, 5m)
Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed eight times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, the passengers rely on detective Hercule Poirot to identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again. For other great Agatha Christie titles, check out these collections in the US or UK.
Baby Doll by Tennessee Williams and Lucy Bailey (UK)
(Full-Length Play, Drama / 13m, 2f)
Lucy Bailey’s “steamy, blackly comic, and virtuosic” (The Telegraph) adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ notorious screenplay follows Archie Lee Meighan as his Mississippi cotton gin business is floundering in the face of Silva Vacarro’s Syndicate Gin. Added to this growing frustration is the sexual unavailability of his young wife, Baby Doll.
Blink by Phil Porter (UK)
(Short Play, Drama / 1m, 1f)
Described by The New York Times as “everything you want in a relationship play: funny, painful, affecting”, Phil Porter’s bittersweet two-hander tells the tale of Jonah, Sophie, and a fox called Scruffilitis. It’s a love story. A dysfunctional, voyeuristic and darkly funny love story, but a love story all the same.
Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties by Jen Silverman (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Dark Comedy / 5f)
Betty is rich; Betty is lonely; Betty’s busy working on her truck; Betty wants to talk about love, but Betty needs to hit something. And Betty keeps using a small hand mirror to stare into parts of herself she’s never examined. Five different women named Betty collide at the intersection of anger, sex, and the “thea-tah.”
Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen and Patrick Marber (UK)
(Full-Length Play, Drama / 3m, 4f)
Patrick Marber’s take on Ibsen’s classic, which premiered at the National Theatre in 2016, sees Hedda Gabler return from her honeymoon with new husband George Tesman. Struggling with her marriage and life devoid of excitement, Hedda strives to find a way to fulfil her desires by manipulating those around her.
Lights Over Tesco Car Park by Jack Bradfield and Poltergeist Theatre (UK)
(Short Play / 4m or f)
Basically, Robert reported lights over the Tesco car park. Then he told us that an alien was coming to stay in his spare room. With the help of some historical abduction stories, a latex alien mask, and a bucket of flying saucers, we’re working out whether to believe him. Lights Over Tesco Car Park won the 2018 Samuel French New Play Award at the National Student Drama Festival.
No Quarter by Polly Stenham (UK)
(Full-Length Play / 2m, 5f)
“Polly Stenham is our theatre’s expert on dysfunctional families.” (The Guardian). Fleeing a world he has rejected, Robin finds solace in his music and the sanctuary of his remote family home. But as his kingdom begins to crumble around him, how far will he go to save it and at what cost?
The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Drama / 4m, 2f)
Goldberg and McCann arrive at a seaside boarding house where Meg and Petey live with their guest, Stanley. They inquire about Stanley: we soon find out that McCann and Goldberg have a job to do. Learning it is his birthday, they throw Stanley a party…
The Coast of Utopia by Tom Stoppard (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Drama / Large flexible cast)
This epic but intimate drama of romantics and revolutionaries in an age of emperors, comprises three sequential but self-contained plays, Voyage, Shipwreck and Salvage. Set in the tumultuous years between 1833 and 1866 in Russia and Europe, the trilogy spans the lives of a group of friends who come of age under the Tsarist autocracy of Nicholas I.
The Pass by John Donnelly (UK)
(Full-Length Play, Drama / 3m, 1f)
In a high-end hotel room, rising football stars Jason and Ade are living the dream. Goals, girls and glory. Tomorrow they make their first-team debut. But the game starts before you’ve even walked out the tunnel. The Pass was hailed by The Financial Times as “a Faustian tale with a personal tragedy at its heart.”
Header Image: 2018 MCC Theater Production of Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties (Joan Marcus)