Sofie's choice

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A glance at some upcoming plays to intrigue and challenge you


An Ideal Husband
Royal Exchange, Manchester
Until 26 January

A chance to see what Oscar Wilde thought of sex and politics, human frailty and social hypocrisy when we are, as ever, concerned with good conduct in public and private!


Noughts & Crosses
The Civic Hall, Stratford upon Avon
Until 2 February

In a story adapted and directed by Dominic Cooke, and inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Noughts & Crosses sets out to challenge our perceptions of race and power as it dramatises the love story of two young people kept apart by bigotry, terrorism and injustice.

Sephy, a prime minister's daughter from the powerful Crosses, falls for rebel Callum, son of a dangerous Nought agitator. Cooke recently commended Shakespeare for "daring himself and his audience" in a way that he wished more playwrights would do today.

The story is retold with a black ruling class oppressing a white minority. See if this "dare" pays off.


Metamorphosis
The Lyric Hammersmith
From 11 January to 2 February

This production of Kafka's fantastical tale of a man who wakes up one morning as an insect combines a mind-bending, gravity-defying split-level set and an original score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

"You can, of course, interpret the story in many ways: autobiographically, Freudianly, symbolically. But here it is seen as domestic tragedy and political metaphor. Gregor becomes an image of marginalised people everywhere... Kafka wrote his story in 1912; but in this version it becomes a prophetic vision of the European nightmares to come" - Michael Billington, the Guardian.


The Arab and The Jew
The Lyric Hammersmith
From 18 January to 9 February

The Gecko theatre company traditionally combine physical theatre with storytelling in a whirlwind of energy and skill. Not necessarily linear stories but more a piece of music that heaps layer upon layer of observations, moulding an emotional journey out of bodies and images and extraordinary athleticism.

This new show promises to explore the lives of two men who have grown up on opposite sides of the Arab-Israeli divide, based on the experiences of the two artistic directors themselves, from Israel and Algeria.


The Vertical Hour
The Royal Court
From 17 January to 1 March

David Hare, a playwright of the polemical, although not revolutionary, left is renowned for probing the corrupt entrails of capitalism. An acerbic chronicler of his time, Hare is best known for Plenty and Stuff Happens, and here pits personal philosophies against global politics.

This is the British premiere of a new play that opened on Broadway in 2006 about a woman, a former war reporter, who has advised the president and seen action in Sarajevo and Baghdad, and who has her opinions challenged by a chance encounter with an equally opinionated man.