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Antony and Cleopatra at NT with Sophie Okonedo and Ralph Fiennes

The Best Theatre in September

1 September 2018 Will Rathbone

September is an exciting time for London theatre. With the summer break having passed, there’s an energy and a buzz in the West End and beyond, as the autumn season kicks off. This month you can catch cutting-edge fringe theatre fresh out of Edinburgh at the Soho Theatre, two heavyweight productions at the National Theatre and West End transfers of some of the year’s biggest hits so far.

The legendary Peter Brook in rehearsal for The Prisoner. Photo: Victor Tonelli

We’ll start, as is traditional, at the National Theatre, where the legendary (in theatre circles) Peter Brook presents The Prisoner - a play co-written and co-directed with his long-term collaborator Marie-Hélène Estienne. Brook pioneered the introduction of European directing techniques in England in the 1970s, inspiring generations of young British directors. The Prisoner is an extremely rare chance to see genuine theatre royalty, as Brook tackles notions of guilt, freedom and choice from 12 September. Shakespeare of the Month award also goes to the National, where Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo star in Antony and Cleopatra from 18 September. As Rome undergoes a bloody civil war, love and duty collide for the two powerful leaders. Recommended for fans of tremendous acting.
 
Underground Railway Game at Soho Theatre. Photo: Sid Scott

Next we travel to the Soho Theatre, which has such a strong month of programming following a successful Edinburgh Fringe it deserves a paragraph all of its own. Underground Railroad Game is a multiple award-winning play that sees a school lesson transform into a brutally funny demolition of modern America. The Political History of Smack and Crack follows a heroin-addicted couple during 80s Britain and delves into the destruction of people and communities during the decade. We’re extremely excited about both shows, which open on 4 September. Later in the month Abi Zakarian’s Fabric shines a light on domestic abuse from 11 September before touring to non-traditional theatre spaces throughout London, while from 24 September Karen Cogan’s Drip Feed explores queer female identity in late-nineties Ireland; both shows received rave reviews in Edinburgh. Finally, the exceptionally funny Rose Matefeo brings her latest show Horndog to London, where she explores the nature of desire and angst from 17 September.
 
The cast of The Inheritance. Photo: Simon Annand

One of the best plays of the last decade is transferring into the West End this September, as Matthew Lopez’s two-part epic The Inheritance opens at the Noël Coward Theatre on 21 September. You’ll have heard a lot of good things about this play - and they are all true. Told in two parts over six hours (you can see them on separate evenings or one mammoth matinee/evening day) the play charts three generations of gay men living in New York and is mesmerisingly acted, directed and written. The Trafalgar Studios are meanwhile giving a second life to two different one-person plays. Dust, opening 4 September in Studio 2, sees Milly Thomas play a young woman who watches life around her continue having just committed suicide. In Studio 1, Arinzé Kene’s Misty charts a course through London’s streets blending spoken-word, hip hop and theatre from 8 September. Both shows were sell-outs in their previous incarnations, and both writers are among the most exciting young voices in theatre, so take this second chance while you can.
 
The Fishermen at the Arcola Theatre

Fans of Kene’s work should head to the Royal Court this month, where poet, lyricist and dancer Debris Stevenson presents her semi-autobiographical debut show Poet In Da Corner from 21 September. Inspired in part by Dizzee Rascal’s groundbreaking 2003 album Boy In Da Corner, the play uses the rise of Grime as a backdrop to Stevenson’s journey through personal change. Over at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston from 17 September, award-winning playwright Gbolahan Obisesan presents his new adaptation of the Man Booker-shortlisted novel The Fisherman by Chigozie Obioma, where two brothers sneak away to fish in a forbidden river before a prophecy turns their world around. Finally, the Battersea Arts Centre re-open their Grand Hall following the fire of 2015 with the same show that was rudely interrupted by said blaze. Gecko’s Missing is a visually stunning journey into one woman’s psyche, and launches the BAC’s aptly named Phoenix Season on 6 September.
 
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