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Caroline, or Change via Facebook

The Best Theatre in London this November

1 November 2018 Will Rathbone

The weather has finally broken, the clocks have gone back, the nights are getting darker, and getting cosy in a warm theatre to lose yourself in another world is one of the finest ways to spend a wintry London evening. This month sees two major West End transfers as both 'Caroline, or Change' and 'Summer and Smoke' land in town, while the much beloved 'War Horse' returns to the National and the incomparable Scottee performs 'Fat Blokes' at the Southbank Centre.

National Theatre via FacebookHadestown arrives at the National Theatre from 2 November amid a wave of buzz before opening on Broadway. A modern twist on a classic Greek myth, the plot sees songwriter Orpheus venturing into the bowels of dystopian Hadestown to save his muse Eurydice. Singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell has adapted her celebrated concept album with the help of director Rachel Chavkin, and the show’s unique blend of American folk and traditional New Orleans jazz already has musical fans this side of the pond salivating. Caroline, or Change via FacebookAt both Chichester Festival Theatre and the Hampstead Theatre, the superlative Sharon D. Clarke won rave reviews for her performance in Caroline, or Change as Caroline, African-American housemaid to a Jewish family, whose relationship with her employers mirrors the shifting political landscape of 1960s America. Opening at the Playhouse Theatre on 20 November, West End audiences now have a chance to witness her virtuosic performance. Trevor Nunn’s new take on classic musical Fiddler on the Roof plays at the Menier Chocolate Factory from 23 November. The story follows highs and lows in the life of Russian milkman Tevye, who struggles to maintain his Jewish traditions and beliefs, and protect his daughters, in the face of a changing world.

Caroline, or Change via FacebookRomeo and Juliet - everyone’s favourite tale of star-crossed lovers - arrives on 2 November at the Barbican Centre in a sumptuous new touring production directed by the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Deputy Artistic Director Erika Whyman. Featuring different local young actors from the surrounding area at every stage of its national tour, the production puts the emphasis firmly on youth, and the resilience of the young to fight against all odds. Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke comes to the West End after a sell-out run at the Almeida Theatre, pitching up at the Duke of York’s Theatre from 10 November. Patsy Ferran reprises her acclaimed role as Alma, whose world is blown wide open when she meets the enigmatic John, in this Mississippi-set American masterpiece. Dalston’s Arcola Theatre presents award-winning playwright Gbolahan Obisesan’s adaptation of the Man Booker-shortlisted novel The Fishermen, by Chigozie Obioma, from 20 November. Two brothers get more than they bargained for after a life-changing meeting with a madman whilst fishing in a forbidden river. Continuing with literary adaptations, this next show needs no introduction. The National Theatre’s adaptation of Michel Morpurgo’s beloved children’s novel War Horse is one of the most successful shows of the last decade, and it returns to the National’s stage from 11 November to mark the centenary of Armistice Day. Featuring stunning life-sized horse puppets from South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, the tale of Albert’s quest to rescue his beloved horse Joey from the frontline of World War One is back for a limited run only. 
 
The Soho Theatre have two of today’s smartest and most innovative comics bringing their latest solo efforts to London. Jessie Cave’s well-crafted new show Sunrise sees her returning to the dating game following a traumatic break-up, and it opens on 12 November. Natalie Palimides' new show Nate sees the award-winning comic confronting the subject of consent via her eponymous creation - a “woke American douchebag” - from 13 November. Both shows promise depth to match the laughter. Lights Over Tesco Car Park via FacebookElsewhere in fringe-land, the New Diorama Theatre are hosting Lights Over Tesco Car Park, a fringe hit from emerging company Poltergeist Theatre. For two nights only from 15 November, this formally inventive show uses the real-life character of Robert - witness to real-life UFOs - and playfully questions how and why people believe each other, and each other’s stories.
 
To round things off this month, the inimitable Scottee presents Fat Blokes at the Southbank Centre from 8 November. Scottee’s work uses his trademark humour to soften up serious social commentary, and in Fat Blokes he questions why fat men are so universally seen as figures of fun, and the butt of the joke. Featuring dance choreographed by Lea Anderson and four non-professional fat male performers, this promises to be an entertaining look at masculinity and body image.
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