Theatre can be inspiring, thought-provoking, funny and emotional, serving to lift our spirits through a common experience thanks to our fine actors. It is also one of the arts that has been hardest hit by the pandemic, so show your support by showing up at one of these upcoming performances over the next couple of months. From James Norton at the Palace Theatre to The Crown’s Josh O’Connor starring in Romeo & Juliet, these are the theatre shows to have on your radar.
Based on the best-selling novel by David Nicholls, Henry Filloux-Bennett’s play The Understudy is being pitched as a semi-staged rehearsed reading in support of UK theatre. Boasting a cast of 14 over two nights that includes Lee Mack, James Norton and Mina Anwar, the play follows the story of an underdog understudy who faces the trickiest situation of a lifetime.
From 7-8 December at Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue,
Written by and starring the award-winning comedy duo (Ben Ashenden and Alex Owen in real life) behind The Pin, The Comeback is the rib-tickling comedy we all need after 2020. Directed by Emily Burns, it tells the story of two rival comedy duos battling it out backstage for the biggest big of their respective careers. Expect to laugh a lot — and perhaps cry a little, too
From 8 December to 3 January;
The National Theatre’s former artistic director sinks his teeth into Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol at the beautiful Bridge Theatre. Simon Russell Beale, Patsy Ferran and Eben Figueiredo join forces to tell the story of Ebenezer Scrooge — at once joyful, sad, funny and scary. Warning: even the hardest of hearts will be melted.
From 3 December to 16 December at The Bridge Theatre;
Inspired by the Greek myth of Iphigenia, the girl who was sacrificed by her father, King Agamemnon, for the good of his country, Gary Owen’s blindsiding one person show returns to London. Starring Sophie Melville as its protagonist Effie, expect her searing monologue about the welfare state to linger in your mind.
From 22 January to 13 February at the Lyric Hammersmith;
Director Alice Hamilton takes on Harold Pinter’s masterpiece The Dumb Waiter, sixty years after it originally premierered as part of Hampstead Theatre’s debut season in 1960. This brilliant comedy follows the unsettling tale of two hitmen, Ben and Gus, as they await instructions in the basement of a derelict building and start to receive strange messages via a dumb waiter.
Until 19 December;
Originally intended to have played to summer 2020 audiences, this retelling of Romeo & Juliet has been imagined for the screen. The star crossed lovers are played by Jessie Buckley (Chernobyl) and Josh O’Connor who most of you will know as Prince Charles in the latest series of the Crown. Running at 90 minutes, it has been shot by a team of theatre and film experts, making sure that the architecture of theatre space remains intact.
Released as an original film on Sky Arts UK, now available to watch on Freeview Channel 11;
This play does not do what it says on the tin. Nor is it, as The Almeida wants to make clear, “a Corona play”. Instead, these ‘stories for a long winter’ referencing the Christmas Day service, it explores the themes of connection and isolation through its six-strong company, who devised this drama along with director Rebecca Frecknall and playwright Chris Bush.
From 10 December to 9 January at the Almeida Theatre;
An exciting new project from The Royal Court, Living Newspapers sees the Sloane Square stalwart work with more than 60 writers to create six editions of living newspapers that can be watched live or from home. Taking its inspiration from the Federal Theatre Project which sought to mobilise and employ theatre workers after the Great Depression, Living Newspapers desires to help bring theatre in London back to life after this tumultuous year. Each edition will mimic the make-up of a real newspaper edition, created by a collective of writers and including performances relating to everything from dating columns to the weather.
From 10 December;
Based on Caroline Brothers’ novel Hinterland, this is an intimate stage experience quite like no other. You will be seated alone, given headphones and watch as cleverly detailed model sets and figures revolve to create the effect of a gripping 3D graphic novel about orphaned brothers and their odyssey across Europe, from Kabul to London. All thanks to the handiwork of Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison, the illusion designer for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Until 16 January at Bridge Theatre;