Top 10 theatre openings in London this October
There are some familiar faces returning to the West End this month with Emma Rice's first show since her Globe departure, and Kwame Kwei-Armah beginning his tenure at the Young Vic. Along with three big Shakespeare productions, a Sondheim opening in the West End, and a couple of new plays at the National. Here's what October has in store for theatre lovers.
Young Vic, from 2nd October
Kwame Kwei-Armah’s highly-anticipated tenure at the Young Vic will get underway with his musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. He adapted the piece for New York's Public Theater in 2016 with music and lyrics Shaina Taub, setting the piece in modern-day American with a soundtrack full of soul. This ambitious piece will set the tone perfectly for what is set to be an exciting period in the Young Vic’s life.
The Height of the Storm
Wyndham's Theatre, opens 9th October
French playwright Florian Zeller has enjoyed success in London with plays such as The Father, The Truth and The Lie selling-out playhouses big and small throughout the city over the last few years. He returns to London with The Height of The Storm, translated by Christopher Hampton, a piece about a married couple in their 50s during a weekend when their daughters visit. Jonathan Pryce and Eileen Atkins play the couple in what is bound to be as compelling a family drama as any of those in Zeller’s repertoire.
The Height of the Storm tickets are available now.
I’m Not Running
National Theatre, from 2nd October
David Hare’s new play is about a doctor who spearheads a local health campaign, who comes across an ex-boyfriend, a loyalist in the Labour party. The pair have been friends for years, but their relationship spills over into the public eye, with some major repercussions. Hare returns to the Lyttelton at the National two years after his play The Red Barn premiered there. Directed by Neil Armfield, I’m Not Running stars Siân Brooke as doctor Pauline Gibson.
Marianne Elliot has given Stephen Sondheim’s Company a bit of a facelift, with the central character in the musical, written about a single man surrounded by coupled-up friends, to become a woman; Bobby becomes Bobbie, played by Rosalie Craig. The musical also stars Patti LuPone and Mel Giedroy. In even further gender-swapping, one of the couples, Amy and Paul, become a same-sex couple called Jamie and Paul, played by Jonathan Bailey and Alex Gaumond. Whether you’re a die-hard Sondheim fan who needs to know how this will play out, or simply curious about what the show is about, Company will be one of the big musical openings of the year so far.
Company tickets are available now.
Measure for Measure
Donmar Warehouse, opens 3rd October
Josie Rourke’s production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure could be a first for London theatre, as actors Hayley Atwell and Jack Lowden alternate the roles of Angelo, the leader of a city, and Isabella, the sister of a man sentenced to death by Angelo. The actors swap roles halfway through the piece, with some of the scenes being replayed. It is bound to raise questions about gender, power and morality, with Rourke saying about the piece: “Do you judge this thing differently if a woman is saying it and not a man?”
National Theatre, from 10th October
Following the West End transfer of her play Consent from the Dorfman, Nina Raine returns with her new play Stories, which is about a single woman in her late 30s trying for a child. Starring Claudie Blakley as the central character Anna after her role in Consent, Stories will also be directed by Raine when it opens at the National.
Wilton's Music Hall, opens 2nd October
Inspired by Dickens’ Sketches by Boz, which took snapshots from the lives of people around London, James Graham has enlisted the help of a diverse pool of eight writers to tell the story of a modern-day city. Sophie Wu, Samuel James and Penny Layden star.
Sketching tickets are available now.
The Old Vic, from 8th October
Emma Rice’s first new production since her departure from Shakespeare’s Globe comes as a play with her new company – both called Wise Children. Based on the story by Angela Carter, Rice’s adaptation tells the story of twin sisters celebrating their 75th birthday on the same day their father, a celebrated actor, turns 100… if Melchior Hazard is their real father… The production will dip into the twins’ histories, and features a gender-blind cast with several actors playing different characters at different stages of their life.
Wise Children tickets are available now.
The third major Shakespeare opening in London this month comes in the form of the RSC’s production of Macbeth at the Barbican. Starring Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack, Polly Findlay’s gripping production is full of pounding jump-scares, creepy effects and two solid performances from its lead actors.
Macbeth tickets are available now.
The Wild Duck
Almeida Theatre, from 15th October
A new version of Ibsen's play The Wild Duck has been created by Robert Icke, which will explore the nature of truth. The tragicomedy is about a man who is compelled to tell the truth no matter what, and reveals certain information about each member of a family, driving them to the edge of collapse. The play will star Lyndsey Marshal, Kevin Harvey and Edward Hogg when this version premieres at the Almeida.