Bored of the Olympics already? Here’s some lycra-free entertainment for August which might just get you hooked on something new: a ballet in a gorgeous theatre, an opera in a pub and a smart play in a vintage music hall.
Carmen and La Bohème are the easiest-access gold medal operas with clear stories and popular tunes – think of them as the stage musicals of their day. Britten in Brooklyn is all about the raffish lowlifes of 1940s New York.
Carmen, London Coliseum
Carmen is so visually straightforward, you could do it without words – which is why we’re recommending St Petersburg Ballet’s Her Name Was Carmen. It transposes the fatal love story of gypsy and soldier to a refugee camp in the Balkans, in modern dress but with a fifty-strong dance company. Bizet’s famous melodies are played by the full orchestra of English National Opera who just blew the roof off with Sunset Boulevard. Each ticket includes a small donation to Oxfam’s work in the region.
23-28 August. Tickets here.
La Bohème, King's Head Theatre
You could say the King’s Head in Islington is where pub opera came of age, and La Bohème was an early triumph. It's now pared down even further to focus on the four central characters – two broke students, a bar-room singer and a hooker, and set in present-day east London with spiralling rents, damaging relationships, drug dependency and social media. Don your hipster vest, hop on your fixie bike and join in the fun. Top tickets are only £21.50.
31 August-8 October. Book here.
Britten in Brooklyn, Wilton's Music Hall
You know how much we love the ramshackle Wilton’s Music Hall and its £2.5m refurbishment that left the crumbling plaster intact. Now it’s transforming into the ramshackle brownstone rooming house at 7 Middagh Street in Brooklyn Heights where in the 1940s writers, artists, outcasts and the near-perverted went to hang out at sordid parties. Based on true events and starring the remarkable Sadie Frost it promises to be a luxe event but with only 21 performances, you need to book now. Again, it's a big bargain with top tickets £27.50.
31 August-17 September. Book here.