(NOTE: The Royal Shakespeare Company reaches a much wider audience by extending its base from Stratford to London, where sumptuous production is not always the rule: witness the spare elements making up a “black box” mounting of King John in the Barbican pit, just downstairs from a full-dress offering of The Tempest. Harley Granville Barker, himself a producer and director as well as a playwright, brought pointed theatrical insight to his Edwardian study of a critical transition in domestic life, The Voysey Inheritance. Farce has been alive and well for centuries in London, as Ray Cooney’s new offering Out of Order, Arthur Murphy’s vital eighteenth-century afterpiece All in the Wrong, and Pinero’s century-old, full length masterpiece The Magistrate make equally evident. Prominent in almost any generic category, the RSC adds perennial, time-tested romantic drama, as in the instance of their fulsome revival of Cyrano de Bergerac, to fresh inspirations found in Shakespeare’s late romances, including Cymbeline.
Tom Stoppard likewise depends on a full-stage apparatus to enhance his typically unorthodox choice of a little-known character as central to a new comedy-drama, The Invention of Love. The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn has been the venue of choice for experiencing Irish drama well produced, as in the present example of Keane’s grim tragedy Sive. Alongside comedy and farce, serious drama at the Comedy Theatre engages with political themes in A Letter of Resignation, Hugh Whitemore’s play about Harold Macmillan and espionage, and thrives in the Aldwych’s offering of a work by one of England’s master dramatists. Amy’s View is a prime example of David Hare’s talent for working with burgeoning themes on a seemingly small scale.)