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The Best Theatre in August

3 August 2018 Will Rathbone

Whilst the majority of the country’s writers, performers, fringe venues and journalists decamp to the glorious surrounds of Edinburgh for a month, here in London there are a still plenty of new offerings - including an interactive experience at the Almeida and more open air magic at Regent’s Park. There’s also a chance to catch some of the capital’s finest long-running shows, with any little ones you may have in your entourage going for free during Kid’s Week.

Bring It On at Southwark Playhouse

Any nineties babies out there will be familiar with Bring It On, a classic rom-com that starred Kirsten Dunst as a cheerleader tasked with revitalising her high school squad before a fiercely competitive inner-city championship. Southwark Playhouse play host to a musical update of the cult classic that has a dream team of award-winning writers behind the scenes, including man-of-the-moment Lin-Manuel Miranda - the brains behind Hamilton. It opens on 2 August.
Vicky Vox and Marc Antolin in rehearsals for Little Shop of Horrors. Photo: Johan Persson

Musical fans have plenty to occupy them this month, as Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s revival of Little Shop of Horrors opens on 3 August. A doo-wop and soul-inspired soundtrack accompanies the story of outsider Seymour, a flower-shop owner who gets more than he bargained for when he begins breeding an exotic plant while trying to woo his sweetheart Audrey. Drag supremo Vicky Vox stars as the house plant with a killer appetite. Sharing the stage during the daytimes is Dinosaur World Live, a family-friendly interactive show that brings a prehistoric cast back to life from 14 August.
Anthony Spargo and Neal Foster in Barmy Britain Part 4. Photo: Mark Douet.

August traditionally sees family-oriented shows sharing stages with bigger West End productions, making use of dark time in the theatres and providing parents with plenty of afternoon activities to occupy the little ‘uns. The Harold Pinter Theatre sees David Walliam’s Olivier-nominated Gangsta Granny return to the West End from 14 August, where Ben’s dreaded Friday night with Gran turns into something very unexpected. Over at the Apollo Theatre, Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain Part 4 continues where the previous three left off - exploring the gruesome world of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and other famous dignitaries and bringing their sensational stories to life from 2 August. The Spiegeltent - part of Underbelly Festival - are hosting a show with one of the greatest titles we’ve had the pleasure to type. Aliens Love Underpants probably does enough with its title to get kids excited, and from 14 August you can find out why, as the beloved book gets a stage makeover.

sical by Royal Shakespeare Company 

Kid’s Week (which, rather confusingly, lasts for the whole month of August - but who’s complaining?) is a fantastic opportunity to treat anyone under 16 to the magic of the West End. A whole host of top shows - including Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Matilda and The Lion King among many others - are offering free child tickets alongside any adult ticket purchased, with the option of two further half-price child tickets also available. It’s a brilliant scheme, and the perfect chance to catch that West End hit you’ve been lusting after.

£¥€$ (LIES) at the Almeida Theatre. Photo: Thomas Dhanens
Elsewhere, the Donmar Warehouse have teamed up with director Lyndsey Turner and writer Brian Friel once again - following the success of the terrific Faith Healer two years ago. Aristocrats opens from 2 August, and sees a generation of siblings with a damaged past return to their family home for a wedding. Friel’s powerfully lyrical language and Turner’s understated, considered directing should make for an absorbing production. There’s another chance to catch Oladipo Agboluaje’s hit political comedy New Nigerians at the Arcola Theatre from 29 August, which follows Conservative politician Greatness’ attempts to secure a coalition without sacrificing his values. Finally, Belgian theatre makers Ontroerend Goed bring their Edinburgh hit £¥€$ (LIES) to the Almeida Theatre from 1 August. It’s an interactive show where audience members step into the shoes of the 1% and play a gambling game where the stakes are higher than you might think.

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