This week’s best theatre shows: our critics’ picks (September 27)

Ophelia Lovibond and Dominic Cooper in The Libertine. Photo: Alastair Muir Ophelia Lovibond and Dominic Cooper in The Libertine. Photo: Alastair Muir
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There’s an eclectic programme of new work opening around the country this week, including new musicals and new writing, culminating in a weekend of Fun Palaces events across the UK.

Natasha Tripney, reviews editor

Don’t miss

The Suppliant Women – Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

For David Greig’s first play for the Lyceum main stage, The Suppliant Women, he is teaming up once more with the creative team behind 2013’s The Events to create a modern reworking of one of the oldest surviving plays in existence. Once again, community plays a major role in the production with 50 Edinburgh citizens playing the suppliant women of the title.

Also worth seeing

Aleksandar Mikic and Erin Doherty in Wish List rehearsals. Photo: Anneka Morley
Aleksandar Mikic and Erin Doherty in Wish List rehearsals. Photo: Anneka Morley

Plastic Figurines – New Diorama, London

Ella Carmen Greenhill’s delicate two-hander, Plastic Figurines, about the relationship between a young woman and her autistic brother, eschews cliche for a richer and more nuanced exploration of sibling love and grief. It returns to the New Diorama from September 27.

Wish List – Royal Exchange, Manchester

Katherine Soper’s Wish List won her the 2015 Bruntwood Prize (previous winners include Anna Jordan and Janice Okoh). The play receives its premiere at the Royal Exchange in Manchester on 28 September in a production directed by Matthew Xia.

The Machine – Barbican Pit, London

The Machine is a participatory promenade performance, co-created by circus company Collectif and Then (winner of this year’s Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award) and Serbian collective Karkatag, which creates specially devised machines. It cranks into motion on September 29.

Event of the week

Fun Palaces

On the weekend of October 1 and 2, 200 fun palaces will pop up around the country. Inspired by Joan Littlewood’s vision, there will be a programme of cross-cultural, community-driven and free-to-attend events happening at venues all over the UK, including a number of theatres: Sheffield Theatres, Northampton’s Royal and Derngate, Arc Stockton, the Orange Tree and Tara Arts among them. The brainchild of Stella Duffy, this is the biggest year of the Fun Palaces project to date.

Mark Shenton, lead critic

Don’t miss

The Libertine – Theatre Royal Haymarket, London

Stephen Jeffreys’ 1994 play, The Libertine, premiered at the Royal Court in 1994, before becoming a film starring Johnny Depp. Now Dominic Cooper – one of the original History Boys – returns to the stage for the first time in seven years to star in a revival, opening on September 27. In a recent interview, Cooper said of working in the theatre again: “It’s like going on a rollercoaster.” I’m looking forward to joining him on the ride.

Also worth seeing

Joseph Alessi in rehearsals for Adding Machine. Photo: Alex Brenner
Joseph Alessi in rehearsals for The Adding Machine. Photo: Alex Brenner

The Adding Machine – Finborough Theatre, London

Another interesting Off-Broadway musical, The Adding Machine was first premiered there in 2008 and is based on the 1922 Elmer Rice play of the same name. Written by Joshua Schmidt and Jason Loewith, they have commented that its themes “seem never more relevant than the time we find ourselves living in now, especially with the recent events in the UK. In adapting his provocative play, we set out to unearth the siren songs of the disenfranchised”. It opens on September 30.

No’s Knife – Old Vic, London

New theatrical version of Samuel Beckett’s Texts for Nothing, No’s Knife is conceived, performed and co-directed by Lisa Dawn, a leading contemporary exponent of his work who previously did stunning work with the trilogy of Not I, Footfalls and Rockaby.

This House – Minerva Theatre, Chichester

James Graham’s 2012 superb documentary play This House, set in the engine rooms of the House of Commons during the Labour minority government of 1974, is revived in Chichester, opening on September 29, with director Jeremy Herrin again at the helm. It transfers to the West End’s Garrick Theatre from November 19.

Anniversary of the week

Wicked – Apollo Victoria Theatre, London

The mega-musical global Broadway hit Wicked, which reworks the story of The Wizard of Oz into a contemporary story of friendship and being an outsider, celebrates its 10th anniversary in London with a gala performance on September 27. Rachel Tucker has returned to play Elphaba, with Suzie Mathers as Glinda and Anita Dobson as Madame Morrible.