If you’re not one of the hundreds of thousands of people making the cultural pilgrimage up to Edinburgh this month, there are plenty of shows to enjoy in the capital. Take in the weather with some of the top open-air shows on offer, or introduce the kids to the best theatre London has to offer during the summer holidays. Here are our top picks of it all in August.
This year’s Open Air musical is a cult classic: Alan Menken’s monstrously funny musical Little Shop of Horrors. Directed by Maria Aberg, the production promises to be an absolute rout, and stars Jemima Rooper, Busted singer Matt Willis, and US drag artist Vicky Vox taking on the role of Audrey II. What better way to spend a summer’s evening than sat outside laughing with this hilarious musical, just keep an eye on the Regent’s Park wildlife…
Dominic Dromgoole’s Oscar Wilde season at the Vaudeville Theatre comes to a close with what is one of probably the Irish playwright’s most-loved worked. Sophie Thompson, Stella Gonet, Fiona Button and Jeremy Swift star in Michael Fentiman production, which will pay homage to the lies, deception and comedy of Wilde’s play.
Brian Friel’s play is set at Ballybeg Hall, which used to host lavish balls or tennis parties for the upper classes, all courtesy of its owner Judge O’Donnell. As the Hall prepares for a wedding, O’Donnell’s children return home to find what state the home has really been left in. Lyndsey Turner directs a cast that includes David Ganly, Paul Higgins, Aisling Loftus and James Laurenson.
David Walliams has established himself as a hilarious comedian, a pretty good judge of talent, and one of our most imaginative children’s story writers. Walliams’ top-selling book Gangsta Granny tells the tale of Ben and his thieving Nan, and together they set out on an almighty heist. It was adapted into a play in 2015, and it returns to London just in time for the summer holidays.
In £¥€$ (pronounced ‘lies’, very clever), Belgian theatre group Ontroerend Goed give you the power of the 1%. Placing you at the centre of the economy, you’re in control as markets fall and banks collapse. This hugely-interactive piece of theatre sheds light on greed, power and human nature, and will probably teach you a thing or two about yourself, too.
Mark Rylance returns to the South Bank at the theatre he ran for eleven years since its construction for the first time since 2012. Rylance stars as Iago, one of the Bard’s prickliest villains, opposite Andre Holland’s Othello. Directed by Claire van Kampen, this could prove to be the centrepiece to Michelle Terry’s inaugural Globe season.
Is there anything more wonderful and awesome than space and theatre? Probably not, and the two world’s combine at the National Theatre this summer, with a play by Wardrobe Theatre aimed at kids aged 3 to 8-years-old. Alph, Betty and Gammo need help to reach the space station, and you’re the only person that can help. This show is a must for any budding astronauts out there.
More excellent outdoor theatre comes in the form of Iris Theatre’s production of The Three Musketeers. Taking place at Covent Garden’s beautiful St Paul’s Church, Iris Theatre take over the church and gardens to create stunning set pieces, transporting you this time to 17th century Paris to join the King’s Musketeers as a young d’Artagnan looks to overcome her barriers and become a female musketeer.
New musicals are always a welcome sight in London, but it’s not often that one will premiere at a major West End theatre straight out of the gate. That’s the plan with Broken Wings, the new musical by Nadim Naaman and Dana Al Fardan. It takes the autobiographical account of poet Kahlil Gibran’s first love and brings it to life on stage. Click here for a glimpse at one of the song’s performed in rehearsals.
It’s impossible to get a ticket for Hamilton, and while spoof musical Spamilton is a fun-loving alternative, another of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical creations is set to open in London. Bring It On ran on Broadway in 2012, and is set around the world of competitive cheerleading and the rivalries that come with it. It’s set to be performed by the British Theatre Academy at Southwark Playhouse, in rep with their production of Goodnight Mister Tom.