Excerpted from What to See on the London Stage in 2013

New York Times, 10 January 2013
By Matt Wolf

With the new year come renewed theatrical hopes, which, in the case of London 2013, means having to equal the especially strong theater year just gone— both for the classics (Shakespeare especially) and for new plays (the 2012 place to be on that front was the Royal Court).

All manner of anticipation is stirring for the prospect of better and more exciting musicals and a bracing array of star directors and star actresses, sometimes both at the same time. This week has already brought an example of that commingling, with the director Phyllida Lloyd (“The Iron Lady”) guiding the actress Fiona Shaw in an audacious theatrical appropriation of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, performed alongside the young dancer Daniel Hay-Gordon in the bowels of the Old Vic Tunnels (in conjunction with the Young Vic Theatre).

Ms. Shaw’s delivery of Coleridge’s epic “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” — an achievement both fascinating and florid— is on view through Jan. 13 within the atmospheric depths of a venue well beneath Waterloo Station. Following are five shows that have yet to start performances but that promise much; we live in hope.

In order of their start of preview performances, they are:

1. Old Times   Kristin Scott Thomas has proven her stage mettle several times over in tandem with the director Ian Rickson, who guided her to a 2008 Olivier Award for “The Seagull” (subsequently seen on Broadway) before shifting from Chekhov over to Pinter for a 2011 West End revival of “Betrayal,” in which Ms. Scott Thomas also shone.

The two are teaming up again starting Jan. 12 on Pinter’s 1971 play “Old Times,” a shimmering, sensual piece that should be absolutely up Ms. Scott Thomas’s street. (The venue, aptly enough, is the Harold Pinter Theatre.) Her co-stars are the erstwhile Tony nominees Lia Williams (“Skylight”) and Rufus Sewell (“Rock ‘n’ Roll”), two thoroughbred colleagues by anyone’s reckoning. Roll on the pauses – and, one assumes, the passion, too.

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