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Johan Persson

The Best Theatre in London This October

30 September 2018 Will Rathbone

Autumn is in full swing and, whenever the temperature outside starts to drop, that’s when London theatre really begins to hot up.

The Bridge Theatre host one of the most eagerly anticipated plays of the year with A Very Very Very Dark Matter starring Jim Broadbent, Kwame Kwei-Armah’s first show as Artistic Director of the Young Vic sees him re-invent Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and the Royal Albert Hall host a very special, all-star production of Guys and Dolls for two nights only. It really is a beautiful time of year.

First to the Bridge Theatre where A Very Very Very Dark Matter sees Jim Broadbent return to the West End to re-unite with Oscar-winning playwright Martin McDonagh from 12 October. Broadbent stars as beloved writer Hans Christian Anderson, whose secret muse is kept locked away in the attic of his Copenhagen townhouse. It’s a must-see if ever we saw one. The Wyndham’s Theatre continues its love affair with French playwright Florian Zeller, whose new play The Height of the Storm - starring Jonathan Pryce and Dame Eileen Atkins - opens on 2 October. Pryce and Atkins play a couple whose fifty years of blissful matrimony are thrown into doubt with the arrival of a mysterious bouquet. Over at the Royal Court, the sensational and deliberately un-capitalised debbie tucker green debuts her latest work ear for eye from 25 October. An excoriating look at the effects of institutional racism in America and Britain, this is essential viewing for anyone with an interest in social equality and race politics. Get tickets, and get woke.

Musical director Sean Green in rehearsals for Twelfth Night. Image Credit: Johan Persson
 
Now to the Young Vic, where new Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah is co-directing Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, opening on 2 October. Gender-swapping love triangles ensue when twins Viola and Sebastian are torn apart by a violent storm and left shipwrecked on the shores of Illyria. Shaina Taub has created an RnB and soul-inflected soundtrack (performed by Southwark Community Choir) to accompany the action. Over at the Lyric Hammersmith, othellomacbeth blends two of Shakespeare’s best-known tragedies and re-focuses on the women involved. Jude Christian directs, questioning the sexual politics of these two behemoths of classic drama, from 5 October.
 
Onward to musical-land, as the Royal Albert Hall host a star-studded, semi-staged, concert of the stone-cold classic Guys and Dolls on 19-20 October. Adrian Lester stars as gambler Sky Masterson in a toe-tapping tale full of charming criminals, crooked dice-throwers, sultry nightclub-singers and jazzy show-stoppers. White Teeth, a musical adaptation of Zadie Smith’s debut novel, is the perfect show to re-introduce Kiln Theatre to Kilburn High Road - set as it is on the same bustling, multi-cultural street the theatre resides on. Opening 26 October, it’s a raucous love-letter to North London that celebrates the multitude of characters who call this city home. Just down the road, the Bush Theatre hosts All We Ever Wanted Was Everything from 31 October, an acclaimed gig-theatre show that traces three decades of modern British history from Britpop to Brexit.

othellomacbeth. Image Credit: Helen Murray
 
Bryony Kimmings is an award-winning performance artist who continues to challenge, surprise and delight in equal measure with her multi-form work. I’m a Phoenix, Bitch - her first solo show in ten years - asks how trauma makes us stronger as she recounts her journey through a hellish 2016 and out the other side. It’s at the newly reborn Battersea Arts Centre from 3 October. At the Pleasance Theatre in Islington, Fran Bushe presents Ad Libido from 18 October. Her debut show gained stars and plaudits galore in Edinburgh, and discusses Female Sexual Dysfunction - a rarely mentioned condition that affects 43% of the female population. We’re big fans of Breach Theatre, whose Edinburgh smash It’s True, It’s True, It’s True opens at the New Diorama Theatre on 16 October. Their fascinating brand of documentary theatre relates little-known events from the past with modern concerns and their latest work stems from a transcript of a 1612 Renaissance rape trial, questioning how much has really changed since then.
 
Finally, something to get you excited for winter. Le Patin Libre are a Canadian Ice Skating troupe blending sport and choreography, and Dance Umbrella’s 2018 festival presents their new show Threshold at Alexandra Palace from 18 October. It promises thrills and spills in equal measure, and will almost certainly change your mind about the limits of the humble ice skate. 
 
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