Natasha Tripney’s top 7 shows from David Lan’s Young Vic

Phoebe Fox, Mark Strong and Nicola Walker in A View From A Bridge. Photo: Jan Versweyveld Phoebe Fox, Mark Strong and Nicola Walker in A View From A Bridge. Photo: Jan Versweyveld
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After 17 years in the role, David Lan is to step down as artistic director of the Young Vic.

He began his career as a playwright and subsequently moving into directing, taking on the job in 2000 and overseeing the transformation of the Young Vic into one of the most vibrant and exciting theatres not just in London or the UK, but the world.

Under his directorship, the Young Vic has sent work to the West End and to Broadway. It won an Olivier award for its entire season in 2003. He has programmed and popularised work by international directors including Simon Stone and Benedict Andrews as well as Ivo van Hove’s break-out production in the UK, A View from the Bridge.

He’s built fruitful creative relationships with directors Joe Hill-Gibbins, Richard Jones and film director Joe Wright (whose Life of Galileo is currently playing in the theatre’s main space) as well as Moonlight writer Tarell Alvin McCraney and performer Kathryn Hunter.

He also oversaw the transformation of the crumbling original building (in a project led by architect Haworth Tompkins) from a butcher shop attached to an ungainly concrete box, built on a bomb site, to the current cheese-grater-esque space that combines an endlessly versatile main auditorium with two studio spaces and a bar that all but demands you hang around for a post-show drink.

Here are my seven highlights from those 17 years:

Yerma (2016)

Billie Piper in yerma. Photo: Johan Persson

Australian director Simon Stone’s update of the play by Federico Garcia Lorca featured a mighty performance from Billie Piper for which she won Oliver and Critics Circle awards. It’s returning to the theatre this summer.

A View from the Bridge (2014)

Ivo van Hove’s radical production of Arthur Miller’s play, starring a magnetic Mark Strong, transferred to the West End and Broadway, won a slew of awards along the way and helped to make Van Hove one of the most in-demand directors of his day.

The Changeling (2012)

Joe Hill-Gibbins’ production of Middleton and Rowley’s murky, mucky tragedy was one of the most striking things to be staged in the the Maria studio, though it lost some of its power when it transferred to the main stage. Hill-Gibbins, who had previously directed a cracking Young Vic revival of Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane, would later fill the building with sex dolls in Measure for Measure.

The Scottsboro Boys (2013)

The Scottsboro Boys. Photo: Tristram Kenton

The Young Vic hosted the UK premiere Kander and Ebb’s musical about the wrongful accusation of nine young black men, previously seen on Broadway. Following a sold-out run, it transferred to the Garrick Theatre in the West End.

Hamlet (2011)

Ian Rickson’s production of Hamlet, starring Michael Sheen, repurposed many of theatre’s backstage spaces in recreating the look of a 1970s psychiatric hospital. The results divided the critics but it remains one of the most distinctive productions of the play to be seen in London.

Kursk (2009)

Sound and Fury’s Mark Espiner and Dan Jones and playwright Bryony Lavery evoked the claustrophobic and intense world of life on-board a submarine in the Maria studio, transforming the space – a recurring theme at the Young Vic – to create a bi-level, not completely immersive but never less than enthralling, production with moments of spectacular eeriness.

A Raisin in the Sun (2001)

David Lan’s own production of Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark play was one of the Young Vic’s biggest successes before its redevelopment. A 2005 touring revival of the production, part of the theatre’s Walkabout programme while its home was being rebuilt, featured Noma Dumezweni among the cast.

Mark Shenton: David Lan has been a great figurehead for British theatre