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Top 10 theatre openings in London this July
The weather outside may be gorgeous, but there are better ways to spend an evening than lounging around in a park, like having a drink with friends in an *air-conditioned* theatre, enjoying some of the best the West End has to offer. This July, we have some huge openings, from acting titan Ian McKellen to epic plays about Rome and finance. Here’s our pick of the best.
Coming into town from the Young Vic, producers Sonia Friedman and David Lan have taken on a mammoth challenge transforming the Playhouse Theatre into a replica of the Calais refugee camps. Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson’s urgent play tells the tragic stories of the residents of the Calais ‘jungle’, many of whom were attempting to cross the channel into the UK. Audiences have the option to be seated within the Afghan café of the camp where the action will take place around them (and they’ll be treated to rice and beans) or from the ‘Cliffs of Dover’ (dress circle), where broadcast news-style live footage will be relayed on screens to enhance the experience of watching from a distance.
Until 3rd November.
A Monster Calls
The Old Vic
Have you seen the production photos for A Monster Calls? If you haven’t already booked a ticket, then probably not. Michael Vale’s epic design brings to life the monster of Patrick Ness’ 2011 novel, who visits a young boy who's struggling to cope with his mother’s terminal cancer. The powerful adaptation just finished a run at Bristol Old Vic, and promises to be heart-breaking and awesome in equal measures.
From 7th July to 25th August.
The King and I
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic Broadway musical returns to the theatre where it belongs, having opened at the London Palladium in 1979 and returning 2000. Director Bartlett Sher, last seen in the West End with Oslo last year, brings his Tony-winning production complete with its stars Ken Watanabe and Kelli O’Hara. Only in town for the summer, get down to the Palladium, prepare to Whistle a Happy Tune, and witness Something Wonderful.
Until 29th September.
It’s a little difficult to decipher what Rory Mullarkey’s new play Pity is really about. But we do know designer Chloe Lamford might have her work cut out for her, as it promises an exploding ice cream van and the possibility of a tank on stage at the Royal Court, while also asking ‘whether things really are getting worse’.
From 12th July to 11th August.
Home, I’m Darling
Returning to the stage following the 2016 play Dead Funny, Katharine Parkinson steps back onto the stage in a new play by Laura Wade in which the IT Crowd star plays a woman on a quest to become the perfect 1950s housewife. In a co-production with Theatr Clwyd, Tamara Harvey directs, and if you want an insight into being a 21st century woman, check out her #WorkingMum tweets as she cares for her new born while spearheading the production.
From 24th July to 5th September.
Duke of York’s Theatre
In what is the most anticipated play opening of the year, Ian McKellen takes to the stage in one of Shakespeare’s most intense roles as he plays Lear. Jonathan Munby’s acclaimed Chichester Festival Theatre production transfers to London, and McKellen has said Lear’s descent into madness could be his last crack at one of the Bard’s major roles. A must see, if you can still get a ticket.
From 11th July to 3rd November
The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Noel Coward Theatre
Martin McDonagh’s satire which opens with an Irish man called Mad Padraic plucking someone’s toenails from their feet. As Padraic, played by Poldark’s Aidan Turner, receives the news that his cat is unwell, he returns to his hometown of Inishmore only to find his cat wasn’t sick at all, and we learn why he is considered too mad for the IRA. It sounds mental, and isn't that the best kind of theatre?
Until 8th September.
As You Like It
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Yes, it may be sweltering outside, but you don’t have to hide away from the sun to enjoy some quality theatre. Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s season is well under way with productions of Peter Pan and The Turn of the Screw having opened this spring. Next up is a production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, where you can experience the Forest of Arden in the heart of one of London’s favourite parks.
From 6th to 28th July.
The Lehman Trilogy
Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles star in Stefano Massini's play about the financial firm Lehman Brothers. Directed by Sam Mendes (Spectre, The Ferryman), the piece looks at how the corporation was formed by three brothers, how their sons continued the business, and how – under the leadership of their grandsons – the company was at the centre of one of the biggest financial crashes to date. Clocking in at approximately 3 hours and 40 minutes, it’s sure to provide a comprehensive insight into the world of finance.
From 4th July to 8th August.
The Royal Shakespeare Company will bring Mike Poulton’s adaptation of Robert Harris’ Cicero trilogy to the West End. The two-parter, starring Richard McCabe as Cicero, takes an in-depth look at Roman politics and the power struggles that defined it. The piece works as six plays spread across two productions (part one is titled Conspirator, part two is Dictator) in a huge theatrical task undertaken by director Gregory Doran.
Until 8th September.