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The Best Theatre in London this July

6 July 2018 Will Rathbone

We’re in the midst of the finest summer in recent memory, so we understand it’ll take a lot to tempt you inside on one of the many beautiful evenings and afternoons we’re enjoying. Fortunately this July’s harvest is a vintage crop, with an immersive adaptation of Fantasia at the Vaults, Edinburgh Fringe previews galore and al-fresco theatre at the Globe, Regent’s Park and Southbank, where you can enjoy superb theatre and balmy summer evenings all at once.

Adam Godley, Ben Miles and Simon Russell Beale in rehearsal for The Lehman Trilogy. Photo by Mark Douet

First up, the National Theatre’s summer blockbuster comes in the form of a modern epic which charts the rise and fall of a modern dynasty. Opening on 4 July, The Lehman Trilogy is formed of three parts, told in one sitting, and sees Sam Mendes on directing duties. This European smash-hit shows how a small family business turned into the financial powerhouse whose collapse triggered a century-defining economic crisis. Elsewhere in the building, the long-awaited return of Laura Wade’s new play Home, I’m Darling opens on 24 July. Best known for the Bullingdon Club-inspired Posh, Wade’s latest stars IT Crowd actor Katherine Parkinson as a woman determined to become the ideal housewife. As long-awaited returns go though, there’s only one winner this month. Enter Sir Ian McKellen, who’ll be playing King Lear at the Duke of York’s Theatre from 11 July. One of the finest Shakespearean actors of all time will be chewing the scenery as the ultimate tragic hero. Unmissable really.

Jordan Tice and Stephen Spinella in As You Like It. Photo by Joan Marcus

In fact, if you’re really keen, you can also catch Mark Rylance, another of the finest Shakespearean actors of all time, as he stars in Othello at Shakespeare’s Globe from 20 July. He plays Iago to Moonlight star André Holland’s Othello and Sheila Atim’s Amelia. It’s a superb cast, and there’s nothing quite like the open-air Globe on a summer’s evening. Nothing, that is, apart from Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. A Bard-tastic month is completed by a revival of As You Like It, opening on 6 July, with music from former Noah and the Whale frontman Charlie Fink, as the glorious surrounds of Regent’s Park provides a perfect setting for Shakespearean comedy. Every year Underbelly Festival provides Londoners with a summery smorgasbord of cabaret and circus, and 2018 is no different. An ideal location for a post-prandial refresher, highlights this month include the extraordinary circus troupe Circa and Irish rap-improvisers Abandoman.

A Monster Calls at the Old Vic Theatre Photo by Manuel Harlan

Searching for something you can literally get stuck in to? Head down to Waterloo’s Vaults for an immersive experience based on Disney’s Fanstasia. Sounds and Sorcery fuses binaural sound - an immersive headphone technology - with a series of light installations and 3D projections to bring the family favourite to life. Dancing hippos, battling dinosaurs and creepy broomstick men await you from 3 July. Sally Cookson is a director with a brilliant track record for capturing the energy of classic children’s stories and transferring it to stage. Her latest production, A Monster Calls, opens at the Old Vic on 7 July. Based on the award-winning novel by Patrick Ness, the play follows 13 year-old Connor who is befriended by a monster during a particularly trying time.

Maddie Rice in Pickle Jar

There’s only one month to go until the Edinburgh Fringe kicks off, and all across London companies and comedians will be previewing shows. Battersea Arts Centre, Pleasance Islington and Soho Theatre will all be showcasing a multitude of artists, but our attention has been caught by Theatre 503’s line-up, in particular Pickle Jar, which previews on 17-18 July. Maddie Rice, who garnered critical acclaim for her performance in the revival of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s cult smash Fleabag, has penned this solo show about the eternal struggles of growing up. Rice is undoubtedly one to watch, and for anyone interested in catching tomorrow’s talent today, the Orange Tree in Richmond’s annual Director’s Festival is well worth checking out. Ella Hickson, Nine Segal and Luke Barnes have all submitted new short-length plays, showing in rep from 13 July.

The One at Soho Theatre

In other Fleabag-related news, the team behind the production also have a new show opening at Soho Theatre on 5 July. The One, Vicky Jones’ follow up to last year’s popular success Touch, follows a couple’s self-destructive relationship. Finally, the King’s Head Theatre launch their 2018 Queers season with For Reasons That Remain Unclear by Mart Crowley, writer of the West End success The Boys in The Band. It details a chance encounter between a Hollywood screenwriter and a Catholic priest in 1990s Rome, raising questions of faith and honesty.
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