Birmingham is jam-packed with theatrical venues, from the huge stages of The Hippodrome and The Alexandra, to smaller venues like the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) and the Old Joint Stock Pub and Theatre. Whether you’re looking for serious theatre, pantomime fun or amateur drama, there will be something for everyone at one of Birmingham’s arts institutions. Here’s a run down of some of the best productions running in the second city this month.
The Merchant of Venice 1936
RSC, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Wednesday 24th January to Saturday 10th February 2024
A little outside the city, but a very easy commute from Birmingham, the Bard’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is reborn in this production, which is about to begin its run in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Shylock (Tracy-Ann Oberman – Eastenders, Doctor Who, Friday Night Dinner) is a widow, single mother and a survivor of attacks on Jewish people in Russia. She runs a small business from her home in Cable Street, London, under the looming threat of Facism. When Oswold Mosley and the British Union of Fascists plan a march through the Jewish East End, a fragile peace is shattered.
When the antisemitic Antonio (Raymond Coulthard) enters Shylock’s world, in need of a loan, a dangerous deal is made. The play is a powerful reminder of a key moment in British history.
Captioned, chilled and audio-described performances are available for accessibility purposes.
Very limited tickets are available here.
The Full Monty
Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, Tuesday 30th January – Saturday 3rd February 2024
This brand-new production by Simon Beaufoy marks the 25th Anniversary of the 1997 smash hit film, The Full Monty.
A rollercoaster of emotional ups and downs, packed full of laughter and heartbreak, the show follows a group of lads who are trying to regain their pride, and their dignity. Staggeringly relevant amidst the present-day cost-of-living-crisis, watch as Gaz and his friends fight to build themselves back up after falling down on their luck.
For fans of the movie, or of a cracking trip to the theatre, be sure to catch ‘The Full Monty’ on tour when it visits Birmingham, right at the beginning of the month. The production is suitable for viewers aged 14+, and tickets are available here.
House & Garden
Crescent Theatre, Birmingham, Saturday 3rd February to Saturday 10th February 2024
If you’re looking for a theatrical weekend, House & Garden are the plays for you. Alan Ayckbourn’s impressive pair of comedies are performed simultaneously, on two separate stages, in the Crescent Theatre.
With two stages, two audiences, two overlapping storylines but only one cast, the plays are rarely performed due to their complicated set up. Actors will run from the Main House to the Ron Barber Studio, and one character’s entrance to the House is another’s exit from Garden!
The plays can be watched as standalone stories, or one after the other, in any order. There are ticket offers available if you purchase tickets for both plays, and there are limited opportunities to catch them both on the same day. We’re looking forward to attending both of the plays on opening weekend!
With a marriage collapsing in the house, and a fete being arranged outdoors, Ayckbourn’s signature witty style is on full display, and this rare staging is not to be missed!
To catch both plays, the theatre recommends booking your tickets in advance, here.
Life of Pi
Birmingham Hippodrome, Monday 12th February – Saturday 17th February 2024
Based on Yann Martel’s best-selling book, this five-star production arrives at Birmingham Hippodrome this February. The show has won five Olivier Awards, including Best New Play, and has rustled up a storm during its run in the West End and Broadway.
After an intense Pacific Ocean storm, Pi is stranded on a small lifeboat with four other survivors: a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a Royal Bengal tiger.
This production is adapted from the global phenomenon, selling over fifteen million copies worldwide and winning the Man Booker Prize in 2002. The story is one of endurance and hope, and has resonated deeply with audiences and readers.
With jaw-dropping visuals and world-class puppetry, this is a theatrical wonder that ought to be high on your list of things to do in Birmingham this February.
Tickets are available to purchase here.
Birmingham Rep, Saturday 17th February – Saturday 16th March 2024
Another exciting one! Bhangra Nation – A New Musical’s UK Premiere is landing in Birmingham at the Rep Theatre!
The musical follows Mary and Preeti’s Bhangra team as they qualify for Nationals. Drawing from competitive Bhangra, interspersed with a range of other Indian and Western dance forms, Bhangra Nation promises to be a vibrant and intoxicatingly joyful musical comedy.
Created by an international creative team, and brought together by Tony and Grammy Award-winning producers Mara Isaacs (Hadestown), Tom Kirdahy (Hadestown, The Inheritance) and Peggy Koenig, Bhangra Nation promises to be a must-see cultural phenomenon, with a predominately South Asian led cast and input from Bhangra experts Parambeer Samrai (dance) and Kuljit Bhamra (music).
Celebrating traditions both inherited and created, the Rep hope that Bhangra Nation will resonate with Birmingham’s South Asian community, and with a wide audience of theatre-goers. The musical is fast, fun, accessible and entertaining, and tickets are available here.
The Woman in Black
The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, Tuesday 6th February – Saturday 10th February 2024
After an incredible thirty-three year run at the Fortune Theatre, this spectacular production of Susan Hill’s chilling ghost story, The Woman in Black, returns to the Alexandra Theatre having conquered London’s West End.
Obsessed with a curse that he believes has been cast on his family by the figure of a Woman in Black, Arthur Kipps recruits a sceptical young actor to help him share his terrifying story and exorcise the fear that haunts his life.
The two-man show, played out on a sparsely decorated set, has elicited shrieks and gasps from its audience for over thirty years, having been seen by over 7 million people worldwide. Promising atmosphere, illusion and horror, this is certainly the production to have you on the edge of your seat or cowering behind it!
Tickets are available here but are selling out quickly – get them while they’re hot (or spine-chillingly cold).
The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham, Friday 16th February 2024
For fans of ‘Fleabag’, ‘Peep Show’ and ‘The Office’, Karen will arrive for a two-night stint at The Old Joint Stock, Birmingham’s famous pub and theatre, after a hugely successful debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year.
The play follows the hilarious and heart-wrenching journey of our Protagonist, who finds herself dumped on her 30th birthday at Alton Towers, only to find that her greatest heartbreak is yet to come. Her treacherous ex begins an office romance with the Protagonist’s arch-nemesis: Karen.
Gleefully witty, wonderfully human and packed full of unexpected twists, this is a fantastic piece of unconventional theatre.
Tickets are worth grabbing ahead of time due to the small number of shows, and you can pick them up here!
There is plenty to keep you entertained this month in Birmingham, and if these don’t sound like your cup of tea, fear not! We’ll update this list every month, to bring the best of Brummie theatre to your fingertips.