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Top London Theatre Drama this September
With summer now firmly upon us and many theatrical eyes looking north to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to provide top drama, September brings with it not only its usual back-to-school vibe but also a whole host of exciting new plays to London's West End and beyond. Whilst musicals have been the focus of much of 2016, London is gearing up to welcome a number of excellent plays that are bound to suit a wide variety of tastes. From the RSC revivals at the Barbican Theatre to celebrity led productions and performances in unusual spaces, we look forward to some top drama this September and beyond.
Here's our Top 8 London Dramas opening this September:
25 August to 8 October
Following the critically acclaimed, sold out productions of The Dazzle and Bug at Found111, Emily Dobbs Productions presents the London premiere of Unfaithful, a blackly comic new play at one of London's most exciting theatrical venues. Running in the old Central St Martin's building on Charing Cross Road, this atmospheric studio style theatre will welcome a cast that includes Sean Campion, Niamh Cusack, Ruta Gedmintas and Matthew Lewis directed by Adam Penford.
"Tom is enjoying a quiet pint after work. Tara lies awake whilst her boyfriend finishes his shift. When their paths cross, a spark is ignited that reveals the hidden truths of two tangled relationships; the unspoken desires, the piercing regrets, and the postponed conversations." Written by award-winning playwright Owen McCafferty, Unfaithful promises to question what it means to be lovers, partners and people.
See this if: You enjoy discovering hip London venues and have a crush on Harry Potter's Neville Longbottom, Matthew Lewis. A probing and dark comedy.
RSC's Barbican Season - Barbican Theatre
2 September to 1 October playing in rep
The Royal Shakespeare Company return to their spiritual London home at the Barbican Theatre bringing with them two new revivals of classic Jacobean texts. Marlowe's Doctor Faustus sees Maria Aberg’s punchy production updated for our times featuring ritual, cabaret and carnival. Described as having "originality and vision" the production will see Sandy Grierson and Oliver Ryan share the roles of the doctor and the demon, decided by the burning of two matches. Whoever’s goes out first ‘loses’ and must play the fated doctor, while the other plays the demon Mephistophilis, in this notorious tale of vanity, greed and damnation.
This is accompanied by Ben Johnson's The Alchemist, which has been described as a "savage satire" that revels in just how vain we humans can be. Directed by Polly Findlay, this new production also transfers from Stratford Upon Avon and promises to be an exciting addition to the Shakespeare 400 celebrations that have also shone a light on the Bard's most famous contemporaries.
See this if: The recent Kit Harington production left you looking for substance and whetted your appetite for all things deadly.
(7 September to 16 October)
Following a successful sell-out run earlier this year, this gripping drama returns to the St James Theatre this September. Adapted by Hershey Felder from the book The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen, this tells the true story of Lisa Jura, a young Jewish pianist who is dreaming about her concert debut at Vienna's storied Musikverein concert hall. Set between Vienna in 1938 and London during the Blitz, Lisa's life is forced to change, but her love of music and self determination remain firmly in tact.
See this if: You enjoy a powerful wartime story and enjoy fantastic musical accompaniment.
10 September to 1 October
This brand new commission by Australian writer Andrew Bovell comes to the UK following a world première in Adelaide earlier this year. Co-directed by Frantic Assembly's Tony and Olivier Award nominated Artistic Director Scott Graham and State Theatre Company's Artistic Director Geordie Brookman, the production is described as "a complex and intense study of the mechanics of a family that is both poetic and brutally frank".
“The story of a family and marriage through the eyes of four grown siblings struggling to define themselves beyond their parents’ love and expectations. Parents Bob and Fran have worked their fingers to the bone and with their four children grown and ready to fly the nest it might be time to relax and enjoy the roses. But the changing seasons bring home some shattering truths.”
With a knock-out cast that includes Matthew Barker, Natalie Casey, Richard Mylan, Kirsty Oswald, Ewan Stewart and Imogen Stubbs, this highly original and inventive staging is set to be on of the most exciting openings in the London theatre calendar this autumn and is not to be missed.
See this if: You like to be ahead of the theatrical trend and be the first to enjoy an exciting UK première.
8 September to 17 December
This eagerly anticipated revival of Harold Pinter's classic play stars Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, reuniting on the West End stage following a hit run on Broadway. A genuine theatrical treat this brilliant and entertaining play by Britain's Nobel Prize laureate is directed by Sean Mathias and comes to the UK with a string of accolades and rave reviews.
One summer’s evening, two ageing writers, Hirst and Spooner, meet in a Hampstead pub and continue their drinking into the night at Hirst’s stately house nearby. As the pair become increasingly inebriated, and their stories increasingly unbelievable, the lively conversation soon turns into a revealing power game, further complicated by the return home of two sinister younger men.
McKellen and Stewart are joined by Owen Teale and Damien Molony to make this a real celebration of top-drawer drama that'll have you delighted in every respect.
See this if: You're a fan of classic British drama and can't resist the draw of two of the finest stage actors of their generation reunited once again.
The Royal Court Theatre present the UK première of Pulitzer Prize-winning American writer Suzan-Lori Park's powerful new play which opened off-Broadway in 2014. Set in West Texas, 1862, Hero, a slave, is promised his freedom if he joins his master in the ranks of the Confederacy against the Union. In a nation at war with itself, he must work against those striving to abolish slavery. The family he leaves behind debates whether to escape or await his return, and they fear that, for Hero, freedom is an empty promise that may come at a great cost.
Suzan-Lori Park is one of America's most exciting dramatists whose work also includes Venus, Fucking A and Topdog/Underdog, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2002. The Royal Court's production will be directed by Jo Bonney, and is set to be one of their most talked about productions of the season.
See this if: You enjoy stirring theatre with a message and have an affinity towards American playwrights.
17 September to 16 October
As one of the most exciting production's in Emma Rice's inaugural Wonder Season, Imogen is a retelling of Shakespeare's Cymbeline directed by Matthew Dunster, “renamed and reclaimed”. One of the Bard's late plays, this re-imagining follows Imogen, daughter of Cymbeline who enrages her father by marrying against his will. Lies are then told about Imogen to her husband, Posthumous, and he decides she should die. In an urban world that is as strange, erotic and violent as Shakespeare’s ancient Britain, Imogen is forced to re-imagine herself as she fights for the life she deserves and not the one that is being determined for her.
The cast will star Maddy Hill (Imogen), Jonathan McGuinness (Cymbeline), Ira Mandela Siobhan (Posthumus), Matthew Needham (Iachimo), Claire-Louise Cordwell (The Queen), Martin Marquez (Belarius), William Grint (Arviragus) and Scott Karim (Guiderius).
Whether you've already enjoyed a Shakespeare's Globe production once this summer or not, September is usually a time of steady weather where an outing to this fantastic venue can be greatly rewarded.
See this if: You enjoy your Shakespeare with a spin, and don't mind standing or getting a little wet if it rains...
22 September to 3 December
Sneaking into London at the tail end of September comes a new production of Stephen Jeffreys’ play which tells the true story of John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester – a charismatic poet, playwright and rake with a legendary appetite for excess. This most ardent of hedonists is forced to reconsider everything he thinks and feels when a chance encounter with an actress at the Playhouse sends him reeling.
After originally premièring at the Royal Court Theatre and later Chicago's Steppenwolf starring John Malkovich, Johnny Depp took the title role in the 2004 film adaptation. Terry Johnson directs Hollywood and West End heartthrob Dominic Cooper in the title role for this strictly limited season which comes to London following a run at the Theatre Royal Bath.
See this if: You enjoy your drama to err on the side of hedonistic and want to allow Mr Cooper to get you hot under the collar.
Visit our Openings page to see a full list of openings for September and beyond.