League of Gentlemen
Twenty years after they made their names, the individual members of The League of Gentlemen are riding as high as ever – with Inside No 9 a cult smash on BBC2, and Mark Gatiss prominent in practically everything on TV. But they’ve carved out time – after a screen revival last Christmas – to return to their sinister Royston Vasey-based sketch comedy for an autumn tour (their first since 2005). Gatiss promises “some old favourites, some new stuff and some sort of sequels” to the three recent Christmas specials.
At SEC Armadillo, Glasgow, 28-29 August, then touring
The Lovely Bones
Bryony Lavery memorably dealt with loss and grief in Frozen. Now she has adapted Alice Sebold’s acclaimed 2002 novel about a young girl watching how her family reacts to life after her rape and murder. Charlotte Beaumont, recently in Broadchurch, stars as Susie Salmon and Melly Still directs.
At Royal & Derngate, Northampton, 1-22 September, (01604 624811) and then on tour
Women in Power
A raucous musical comedy based on Aristophanes’ Assemblywomen, in which a coup d’etat ushers in a world of all-female government and economic communism. Blanche McIntyre, as director, has gathered a crack team of writers, including Jenny Eclair, Shappi Khorsandi, Jess Phillips and Natalie Haynes. Lydia Rose Bewley heads a strong cast in a play that seems right for our times.
NST City, Southampton, 6-29 September
Pinter at the Pinter
To mark the 10th anniversary of Harold Pinter’s death, the Jamie Lloyd Company is staging a hugely ambitious season comprising 20 of the dramatist’s less familiar one-act plays. The venture kicks off with a remarkable quintet including One for the Road and Ashes to Ashes, with a cast headed by Paapa Essiedu and Maggie Steed. Then comes The Lover and The Collection, starring David Suchet, with much more to follow, including Mark Rylance reading Pinter’s 2006 Nobel lecture.
Harold Pinter theatre, London, 6 September-23 February
Nadia Fall begins her tenure at Stratford East with April de Angelis’s bold reimagining of Lope de Vega’s masterpiece, Fuenteovejuna. The action has been shifted from classical Spain to contemporary India, where a government inspector tyrannises a village and seeks to exercise his seigneurial rights. Anya Chalotra plays the victimised Jyoti and Art Malik plays her tormentor.
Theatre Royal, Stratford East, London, from 7 September.
Touching the Void
David Greig has adapted Joe Simpson’s bestselling 1988 memoir, subsequently filmed, about a near-death climbing experience in the Peruvian Andes and a perilous rescue attempt by Simon Yates. Tom Morris, as director, faces his own challenge in putting mountain-climbing on stage.
Bristol Old Vic, from 8 September. Then on tour to Northampton and Edinburgh
From jobbing musical comic to one of Britain’s most prominent political satirists – no one (herself least of all) foresaw Rachel Parris’s elevation to the big league. Her work (with the impro troupe Austentatious, and in her comic-song solo shows) has always been excellent, but it took spoof TV news magazine The Mash Report – and specifically, a few viral sketches on sexual harassment, Piers Morgan and Jacob Rees-Mogg – to secure her the success she deserves. This autumn’s tour synthesises her best songs and standup with the more recent satirist persona.
Birmingham Glee Club, 12 September, then touring
Jeanie O’Hare’s play promises a fresh perspective on The Wars of the Roses in that it makes Margaret of Anjou, Henry VI’s militant queen, the pivot of the action. Jade Anouka, who was part of the Donmar’s all-women Shakespeare trilogy, plays the title role and, in Elizabeth Freestone’s gender-fluid production, Lorraine Bruce is her deadly rival, the Duke of York.
Royal Exchange, Manchester, from 14 September.
Antony and Cleopatra
A great love affair or the story of romantic self-delusion? Either way, Shakespeare’s play always grips and offers superb roles for actors. Ralph Fiennes is now the ageing Antony, Sophie Okonedo the Egyptian queen and Tim McMullan Enobarbus at the National Theatre. Simon Godwin, whose impressive recent credits include Twelfth Night and Man and Superman for the National and Hamlet for the RSC, directs this opulent tragedy.
National Theatre’s Olivier stage, London, from 18 September
The Lord of the Flies
William Golding once claimed that his dystopian fable proved the indestructible nature of the British class system. But it is also a classic story about the myth of childhood innocence and the big twist in Emma Jordan’s revival of Nigel Williams’s adaptation is that the boys will all be played by girls, including Gina Fillingham, Kate Lamb, Lola Adaja and Hannah Boyce.
Theatr Clwyd, Mold, from 20 September; then at Sherman theatre, Cardiff, from 17 October
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake
The work that made Bourne’s name back in 1995, and still one of his best, the male-chorus Swan Lake returns for an extensive national tour. A refresh is promised, but at its core remains the story of a fragile , troubled prince, floored by his love for the elemental Swan. Bourne’s trademark wit is here, but it’s the doomed love story drawing on the beauty and eerie tragedy of Tchaikovsky’s score that’s most affecting.
Theatre Royal, Plymouth, from 22 September. Then on tour until May
Rebus: Long Shadows
Rona Munro has joined forces with Ian Rankin to bring the latter’s abrasive, hard-drinking Edinburgh detective to the stage in a brand new story. This, however, will be a retired, on-the-wagon Rebus dragged back into sleuthing when the daughter of a murder victim turns up on his doorstep. In a rare return to the stage thriller, Charles Lawson plays Rebus, with John Stahl and Cathy Tyson in support.
Birmingham Rep, from 24 September
Memoirs of an Asian Football Casual
Dougal Irvine has adapted Riaz Khan’s 2012 book which is both a coming-of-age story and a portrait of a hybrid youth culture and the violence surrounding it. Nikolai Foster, who directs, promises a production that will take in both the vibrant Leicester street life of the 1980s and the terraces of the iconic Filbert Street football ground.
Curve, Leicester, from 26 September
Stephen Sondheim’s superb 1970 musical gets a gender-switch in Marianne Elliott’s new production. The 35-year-old protagonist, unable to settle into marriage or a permanent relationship, is now a woman, played by Rosalie Craig, with other roles adjusted accordingly. Sondheim has given the idea his imprimatur and the strong cast includes Patti Lupone and Mel Giedroyc but, as always, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.
Gielgud, London, from 26 September
A stimulating lineup from the annual contemporary dance festival, featuring an eclectic selection of work from around the world. There’s contemporary ice-skating from Canada’s Le Patin Libre, spirited South African pantsula dance led by Gregory Maqoma, Chinese dance artist Wen Hui re-evaluating the Cultural Revolution and experimental Irish dancer Colin Dunne taking on some notoriously “undanceable” fiddle music. Plus, 200 women from across London performing together in celebration of celebrating female movement.
Various venues, London, 26 September-21 October
I’m Not Running
David Hare’s 18th play for the National Theatre promises to deal, as so often, with the intersection of the personal and the political. His protagonist, Pauline, is a doctor famed for leading local health campaigns who, through an encounter with an old boyfriend, is offered the chance to stand for public office. To run or not to run? That is the question. Sian Brooke, of Doctor Foster fame, plays Pauline and Australia’s Neil Armfield directs.
Lyttelton, London, from 2 October
The Height of the Storm
Two of our finest actors, Jonathan Pryce and Eileen Atkins, star in the latest play from Florian Zeller, who enjoyed a big hit with The Father. They play a couple who have been in love for 50 years but who find everything is thrown into question by the arrival of their daughters for a family visit. Amanda Drew, Anna Madeley and Lucy Cohu complete a strong cast, and directed by Jonathan Kent directs.
Wyndham’s, London, from 2 October
A coming-together of bodies, voices and sounds in this three-way collaboration between National Dance Company Wales, Music Theatre Wales and the London Sinfonietta. French composer Pascal Dusapin’s 2009 dance-opera Passion gets its UK premiere in a new treatment by opera director Michael McCarthy and choreographer Caroline Finn. Dancers embody the story of a couple’s intense love and loss played out across Dusapin’s shifting tensions and textures.
Anvil, Basingstoke, 11 October. Then on tour to 12 November
Tom Burke plays the freedom-fighting Marquis of Posa in a rare revival of Schiller’s magnificent historical drama: one in which political idealism is seen in the context of the titular hero’s love for his stepmother. The production also marks the first venture of a Ara, a new company set up by Burke and Israeli theatre director, Gadi Roll, to offer non-naturalistic stagings of classic plays.
Northcott, Exeter, from 11 October. Then touring to Southampton and Kingston.
Cyrano de Bergerac
Edmond Rostand’s famous hero with the big conk turns up once more in a legendary Scots translation by Edwin Morgan, premiered by Communicado 25 years ago. The play, with its verbal bravura, physical bravado and theme of unspoken love, never fails to captivate. Brian Ferguson, recently seen in A Number, stars, Dominic Hill directs and Tom Piper designs.
Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, from 12 October
Troilus and Cressida
You would have thought Shakespeare’s play, a cynic’s Iliad taking an acerbic view of war and heroism, would have been highly popular today. Yet Gregory Doran’s production will be the first at Stratford since a dismal venture with the Wooster Group in 2012. This time round Doran promises us a version based on gender-equality and close collaboration with the virtuoso percussionist, Evelyn Glennie.
Royal Shakespeare theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, from 12 October
A Very Very Very Dark Matter
Jim Broadbent plays Hans Christian Andersen in Martin McDonagh’s new play. But it doesn’t sound like a cosy, Christmas show full of Tommy Steele (who previously played Andersen) jollity. In fact, the suggestion, in a direct echo of Jane Eyre, is that the secret of the Danish fabulist lies in a woman secreted in the attic. Matthew Dunster, who made a brilliant job of McDonagh’s Hangmen, directs this promisingly eerie piece.
Bridge theatre, London, from 12 October
Manon by ENB
A rare chance to see Kenneth MacMillan’s iconic (and steamy) drama Manon outside London, thanks to Tamara Rojo’s English National Ballet. Beautiful young Manon navigates 18th-century Paris, torn between her love for a poor student and a wealthy benefactor. It’s a meaty, multifaceted role for a ballerina to explore – is she ingenue, femme fatale, naive or opportunist? And will it all end in tears? [Spoiler alert: YES.]
Manchester Opera House, from 17-20 October. Then on tour until 20 January.
Dave Chappelle/Jon Stewart
It doesn’t get much bigger-hitting than this: a double-bill of two of the world’s (read: America’s) most celebrated comics. As a live act, Dave Chappelle is better known to UK audiences, having visited on several occasions since his career resurgence earlier this decade. The standup of ex-Daily Show host Jon Stewart is less familiar but keenly anticipated. Seeing both of them together – they have been touring together in the US – will be one of the season’s big draws.
Albert Hall, London, 21-22 October
Ear for Eye
Ever since her debut in 2000 with Two Women, Debbie Tucker Green has written a string of poetic plays that haunt the imagination. In her new piece, which she also directs, she examines the brutal effects of ingrained racism and suggests the time for polite, peaceful protest is past. “Marchin’ days is over, man” is one line from a play that sounds like a call to arms.
Jerwood theatre, Royal Court, London, from 25 October
Sneaking up on the outside – five consecutive Edinburgh comedy award nominations without winning it helped – James Acaster became one of the decade’s must-see standups, and the first UK act to shoot multiple Netflix specials when his Recognise, Represent and Reset trilogy was released earlier this year. So it’s big news that a brand new set, Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999, will launch in the West End this autumn, promising reflections on “on the best year of his life and the worst year of his life”.
Vaudeville, London, 29 October–3 November
All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
Acclaimed last year in Edinburgh, this is gig theatre from the Hull-based company, Middle Child. While Luke Barnes’s words take us from the Cool Britannia of 1997 to today’s Brexit Britain, James Frewer’s live music chimes with the progress of each decade. Paul Smith’s production of a work about lost dreams and vanished hopes had Edinburgh audiences bopping in their seats.
Bush, London, from 31 October
One of most talked-about shows on this year’s Edinburgh fringe, from one of the hottest new acts in world comedy, Natalie Palamides’ character comedy/clown show Nate is in London for three weeks. Buckle up for a bumpy ride as Palamides’ alter ego flaunts his masculinity, teaches us about consent – then goes on a date. (To treat yourself, book the show alongside Jessie Cave’s equally brilliant Sunrise in the same theatre for the same three weeks.)
Soho theatre, London, 13 November-1 December
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui/GöteborgsOperans Danskompani
Sculptor Antony Gormley has form when it comes to collaborations with dance, and an especially fruitful relationship with Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Here he designs two new works with Cherkaoui for Sweden’s GöteborgsOperans Danskompani: Noetic, where pliable carbon-fibre strips make what looks like a giant cat’s cradle, and Icon, in which Gormley heaps three-and-a-half tonnes of clay on to the stage and lets the dancers do the sculpting. Things could get messy.
Sadler’s Wells, London, 30 November-1 December
Orla O’Loughlin bows out as the Traverse director with a darkly comic play, co-produced with HighTide, by Kieran Hurley, which looks at class and culture today. The story starts with an encounter between Libby, who spends her days writing in New Town cafes, and Declan, who is a talented, impecunious artist with a story to tell. But the play pertinently asks whether there is a degree of exploitation in appropriating someone else’s experience.
Traverse, Edinburgh, from 1 December
• This article was amended on 12 September 2018 to correct the spelling of Lola Adaja’s name.