Conflict and the centenary of the start of World War I, new musicals and Black History Month make a mark on London's fringe in the second half of 2014, says Francesca Young.
At the Finborough Theatre, which is staging a series of works to commemorate the centenary of the First World War between 2014 and 2018, A Dance Of Death (5th to 30th August 2014) is inspired by the medieval mystery plays for an epic telling of the world's descent into war from a German and European perspective.
Over at the Park Theatre, The Vertical Hour (23rd September to 26th October 2014) David Hare's play about Iraq, patriotism, and the Anglo-American cultural divide, sees former war reporter, Nadia Blye challenged on her opinion about Iraq when she meets her boyfriend's father whose musings have far-reaching consequences. Nigel Douglas returns to the theatre for the first time in 10 yearsafter working in TV on shows including This Life and Clocking Off to direct.
Given five stars by The Telegraph critic Jane Shilling, Luke Fredericks's revival of Carousel, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, at the Arcola is, "spirited, funny and achingly sad".
David Baddiel's film comedy The Infidel, a musical about an ordinary British Muslim man discovers that he was adopted and that his birth parents are Jewish, is adapted for the Theatre Royal Stratford East stage, and premieres from 3rd October 2014.
Following the sell-out success of its premiere at the Finborough Theatre, the "exhilarating musical adaptation" (The Telegraph) of the classic French novel Therese Raquin transfers to the Park Theatre from 30 July 2014, featuring music composed by Craig Adams and lyrics by the director, Nona Shepphard.
Over at St James Theatre, which enjoyed huge success with Urinetown earlier in the year, revives Marry Me A Little (29th July to 10th August 2014) Stephen Sondheim and Craig Lucas' musical about the secret and sweet fantasies of two singletons, both alone in their apartments on a Saturday evening.
To mark Black History Month, Rachel (30th September to 25th October 2014), a lost landmark of American theatre, gets its European premiere at the Finborough Theatre telling the story of a young, educated, middle-class woman as she confronts the harsh reality of a racist world. Also part of the Black History Month campaign, the critically acclaimed The Scottsboro Boys transfers to the Garrick Theatre following a sold out run at the Young Vic.
At the Park Theatre, The Ustinov Theatre presents Laurence Boswell's first-rate production of Intimate Apparel (2nd to 27th July 2014), Lynn Nottage's multi-award-winning drama which explores the dreams and desires of a successful black seamstress in 1905 New York City.
Set in 1830s New Orleans, Marcus Gardley's The House That Will Not Stand is a drama about jealousy, desire, murder and voodoo. At the Tricycle Theatre from 9th October until 22nd November 2014, it serves as "something of a lesson in the custom of placage, in which black, American Indian or Creole women were 'placed' into marriages, of sorts, with white men" (New York Times).
The brilliant Bush Theatre which seemingly can do no wrong (gaining a smattering of the five star reviews for productions realised in the first half of 2014), stages a new play by Robin Soans, Perseverance Drive. Set in the heat of Barbados and shifting to Leytonstone, London, 4 years later, the drama is an epic family story told in a witty and uplifting way.
For those in search of light entertainment, the multi award-winning Forbidden Broadway is at the Menier Chocolate Factory, taking viewers on a rip-roaring ride through some of the best productions from both Broadway and the West End, including The Book of Mormon, Once, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Miss Saigon.
Head to the St James Theatre for a little light relief during the Panto period when Eric and Little Ern, a tribute to the beloved double act Morecambe and Wise from Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens, is on from 16th December 2014 to 11th January 2015. Given twenty-eight million people tuned into their 1977 Christmas special its winter slot is well timed.
The Print Room, Notting Hill's newest theatre which has become one of the most respected off-West End theatres in London in just five short years, moves to a permanent new home at The Coronet from the autumn season 2014. The beautiful historic building, which started life in 1898 as a Victorian theatre, will be restored to become a theatre (with more comfortable seats than at the old print works) and cinema arts venue. For their first season performances take place in the smaller cinema space which will be converted into a 100 seat theatre, while the larger space continues to operate as a cinema.