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Best theatre shows: our critics’ picks (August 22)

A scene from Our Carnal Hearts. Photo: Claire Haigh A scene from Our Carnal Hearts. Photo: Claire Haigh
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Natasha Tripney

Don’t Miss

Circa: Humans – Underbelly Circus Hub

A celebration of the possibility of the body, Australian circus company Circa’s new show is an astonishing showcase of human strength and physical prowess, but also an altogether more poetic piece about the need for people to support one another.

Also worth seeing


Morgan and West: Return of the Time Travelling Magicians – Underbelly

Morgan and West, time-travelling Victorian magicians, mark 10 years of fringe shows with this supremely entertaining compilation of their best tricks of the last decade. They’re also performing a new show for family audiences, More Magic for Kids, earlier in the day.

Mouthpiece – King’s Hall

Part of the Canada Hub at King’s Hall, Mouthpiece sees performers Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava play both sides of one woman’s psyche in a production of precision and skill. “Astounding stuff,” as we said in our five-star review.

Our Carnal Hearts – Summerhall

Rachel Mars’ deliciously funny mixture of performance and choral singing is the perfect way to start your day on the fringe. Shaped like a church service, Our Carnal Hearts is an essay on envy featuring brilliant compositions by Louise Mothersole, one half of Sh!t Theatre.

Mark Shenton

Don’t Miss

The Lady in the Van – Theatre Royal Bath

Jonathan Church wraps up his inaugural season at the helm of the annual summer season at Bath by directing Sara Kestelman in the title role of Alan Bennett’s The Lady in the Van, based on the true story of the playwright’s long-time Primrose Hill impromptu neighbour. Originally played on stage and film by Maggie Smith, it opens in Bath on August 23.

Also worth seeing

Judith Roddy and Christian Cooke in rehearsals for Knives in Hens. Photo: Marc Brenner
Judith Roddy and Christian Cooke in rehearsals for Knives in Hens. Photo: Marc Brenner

Knives in Hens – Donmar Warehouse, London

Yael Farber, who directed this summer’s controversial Salome at the National, now makes her Donmar Warehouse debut to direct a revival of David Harrower’s first play Knives in Hens, written in 1995 and now a contemporary classic. It opens August 22.

Loot – Park Theatre, London

Michael Fentiman directs a 50th-anniversary production of Joe Orton’s magnificently black farce Loot, opening August 23. It will subsequently play at Newbury’s Watermill from September 28.

Late Company – Trafalgar Studios 2, London

First seen at the Finborough Theatre earlier this year, Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill’s Late Company transfers to Trafalgar Studios, opening on August 24. The play explores restorative justice, cyber bullying and the challenges of parenting.

Windows – Finborough Theatre, London

Rare outing for John Galsworthy’s play Windows will be the first professional UK production in 85 years, opening August 24. Set in the aftermath of the First World War, the production will mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of its playwright.

Last chance to see

  • Half a Sixpence – Noel Coward
  • Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour – Duke of York’s
  • Hamlet – Harold Pinter

Three West End transfers all close on September 2: Chichester’s production of the 1960s musical Half a Sixpence, in an overhauled version that features new songs by Stiles and Drewe and a revised book by Julian Fellowes; National Theatre of Scotland and Newcastle’s Live Theatre co-production of Lee Hall’s Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour; and Robert Icke’s Almeida production of Hamlet, starring Andrew Scott in the title role.

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