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Listen To Theatre

Reading Time: 5 minutes

We don’t just need to watch great theatre. We can listen to it too. Get lost in the story. See the characters in our minds eye. Be enriched by the words of gifted playwrights. Audible produces some of the world’s best audio drama content and has been a great supporter of international, high quality theatre. The membership per month is really reasonable and you can give it a 30 day trial (90 days if you’re an Amazon Prime member). Here are a selection of ten fabulous plays available for you to listen to right now.

1. TALKING HEADS by Alan Bennett

The complete audio collection of Alan Bennett’s celebrated monologues performed by some of Britain’s best actors. The Talking Heads monologues are widely regarded as one of Alan Bennett’s finest dramatic achievements. First broadcast on BBC TV and BBC Radio 4 in the 1980s and 1990s, they won a host of awards and huge popular acclaim and remain among his most admired works today. Beautifully crafted and full of compassion and wry observation, each tale is ripe with the quirky, insightful detail that has become Bennett’s trademark. The performers include Patricia Routledge, Alan Bennett, Anna Massey, Stephanie Cole, Julie Walters, Thora Hird, Eileen Atkins, David Haig and Penelope Wilton.

2. ANGELS IN AMERICA by Tony Kushner

In this production, adapted especially for the listening experience, Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane, and the entire cast recreate their acclaimed performances from the 2018 Tony Award-winning National Theatre revival of Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. With narration by Bobby Cannavale and Edie Falco, and a musical score by Adrian Sutton, this Pulitzer prize-winning play by Tony Kushner is a complex and insightful look into identity, community, justice, and redemption. New Yorkers grapple with life and death, love and sex, and heaven and hell as the AIDS crisis intensifies during a time of political reaction – the Reagan Republican counterrevolution of the 1980s.

3. SEA WALL/A LIFE by Simon Stephens

Meet Alex, a photographer on a holiday with his family in the south of France. Meet Abe, a music producer with a baby on the way. Two men – both fathers, husbands, and sons – take us on a journey you will never forget. The plays star Academy Award® nominee Jake Gyllenhaal (Sunday in the Park with George) and Tony Award nominee Tom Sturridge (1984). Sea Wall / A Life by award winning playwright Simon Stephens, is a dramatic exploration of transformative love and devastating loss.

4. GIRLS AND BOYS by Dennis Kelly

When they met at an airport, it was love at first sight. But in time, everything collapsed. As an unnamed but unforgettable woman muses on her life—from meet cute to marriage and parenthood—her recollections inexorably build to a devastating truth. In this shattering performance, Carey Mulligan captivates audiences with playwright Dennis Kelly’s harrowing ruminations on family, ambition, gender, and violence. The Telegraph reviewed this show saying said “A devastating tour-de-force from Carey Mulligan.” After the play, this program includes an interview with Tony-winning playwright Dennis Kelly, who shares the inspiration behind his work. Note: Girls & Boys is intended for a mature audience and contains graphic descriptions of violence.

5. TRUE WEST by Sam Shepard

Kit Harington (Games of Thrones) and Johnny Flynn (Beast) smolder and burn as sparring brothers in Sam Shepard’s darkly comic 1980 drama. The Cain and Abel conflict is a showdown of sibling rivalry, to be sure, but also bears witness to a legacy of booze-fuelled family brawls. As Harington and Flynn duel it out, they bring a cagey, wiry energy to director Matthew Dunster’s West End revival of this Pulitzer Prize finalist. The portrait of the estranged pair is a riveting study in contrasts as Harington’s successful screenwriter and Flynn’s scheming grifter explosively collide in the California desert. The scorched, arid setting is more than just a backdrop; its expanse and emptiness make it a palpable presence in a play about wounded masculinity and broken dreams.

6. HAVE A NICE DAY by Billy Crystal

Tony and Emmy Award-winner Billy Crystal leads an all-star cast including Oscar winner Kevin Kline (President David Murray) and four-time Oscar nominee Annette Bening (First Lady Katherine Murray) in a performance of this hilarious and poignant story about a man desperately scrambling to put his affairs in order: to save his presidency, his marriage, his relationship with his daughter – and possibly his life. President David Murray starts the day in crisis. He’s lost control of Congress, has to decide whether to run for a second term, and his wife and teenage daughter are barely talking to him. What’s more, the Angel of Death has sent a rather inept “repo man” who is at the foot of his bed, giving him only one more day to live.

7. SAKINA’S RESTAURANT by Aasif Mandvi

Sakina’s Restaurant breathes new life into an age old story: the emotive tale of an immigrant coming to New York in pursuit of the American dream. Actor, comedian, and writer Aasif Mandvi originally performed his Obie Award-winning solo show off-Broadway 20 years ago. He seamlessly transitions from character to character, impersonating a teenage girl as she grapples with coming of age in New York under the roof of traditional Indian parents to an older male restauranteur clinging to his heritage. Entertaining and intimate, this story of what it means to be an American was written long before immigration became an intensely polarizing issue. Today, its revival feels necessary if not urgent, and certainly as honest and refreshing as ever.

8. REASONS TO BE PRETTY by Neil LaBute

What does it mean to be pretty? Do you really need someone to validate your appearance? Neil LaBute tackles our obsession with physical beauty head-on in a work nominated for multiple Tony and Drama Desk Awards. This production, directed by the playwright, includes original Broadway cast member Thomas Sadoski, whose acclaimed performance also earned a Tony nomination. It also includes a backstage conversation with Neil LaBute and the cast.

9. MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON adapted by Rona Munro

Tony Award-winning actor Billy Crudup shines as Harry Clarke, a shy Midwesterner leading an outrageous double life as a cocky Londoner. Moving to New York City and presenting himself as an Englishman, Harry charms his way into a wealthy family’s life, leading an outrageous double life. As the seductive and clever Harry, his increasingly reckless behaviour threatens to undo more than his persona. David Cale’s nuanced storytelling and Crudup’s magnetic performance combine, making Harry Clarke a sexually charged and wickedly funny thriller. The New York Times hailed Crudup’s performance in “a sly role terrifically suited to his gifts” while praising Cale’s story as a delicious conceit. This production also features a special performance of Cale’s Obie Award-winning, one-man show Lillian, starring the playwright himself in a typical tale of romance told through the eyes of a proper, middle-aged Englishwoman.

10. HARRY CLARKE by David Cale

Praised as ‘deeply affecting’ and ‘heartbreaking’ by The Guardian (UK), this is a faithful adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout’s best-selling novel of the same name. Unsteady after an operation, Lucy Barton wakes to find her mother sitting at the foot of her bed. She hasn’t seen her in years, and her visit brings back to Lucy her desperate rural childhood, and her escape to New York. As she begins to find herself as a writer, she is still gripped by the urgent complexities of family life. This is a unique opportunity to hear Academy Award and Tony nominee Laura Linney’s ‘simply superb’ (The Times UK) performance of this haunting, dramatic monologue.

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